11. September 2008

si.Mail auto configuration, more thoughts

So if I continue yesterday’s thought on auto configuration (AC in the rest of the post), then there seems to be a big problem – updating AC file. At first I thought on just checking si.Mail’s homepage when creating new account if newer version of AC file is available, but this poses another problem, getting this information from ISPs and/or mail service providers. This would be tedious work and won’t be ideal. There should be another way.

Finally it came to me. Why not do it like DomainKeys, and spf records are implemented. Use DNS TXT record.  So In layman’s terms, we add new TXT record. Something along example.com. IN TXT “mailAC=http[s]://path_to_AC_file”. You are probably asking why AC couldn’t be put directly into the TXT record the main reason is, it’s too big and thus it would be hard to edit.

So how would this work? si.Mail extracts domain part of e-mail address and fetches TXT records from nameserver for that domain. If it founds correct TXT record it downloads the file and auto configures everything that’s needed to send and receive e-mail messages.

Now imagine that you are a hosting provider using Plesk, CPanel or any other software. (Usually all domains you host have the same type of e-mail access) You just add to your DNS template url to one AC file and all e-mail accounts for all domains you are hosting can be configured from a SINGLE file. Also you have complete control of AC file so if anything changes you can modify AC yourself without bugging anyone. This is also ideal for small companies where users can configure e-mail client by themselves.

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