A Rails gem to send messages inside an web application
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Mailboxer 0.7.x

This project is based on the need of a private message system for ging / social_stream. Instead of creating our core message system heavily dependent on our development we are trying to implement a generic and potent messaging gem.

After looking for a good gem to use we notice the lack of messaging gems and functionality in them. Mailboxer tries to fill this emptiness giving a powerfull and generic message system. It supports the use of conversations with two or more recipients, send notification to a recipient (intended to be used as system notifications “Your picture has new comments”, “John Doe has updated its document”, etc.), emails the messageable model (if configured to do so). It has a complete use of a Mailbox object for each messageable with inbox, sentbox and trash.

The gem is constantly growing and improving its functionality. As it is used with our parallel development ging / social_stream we are finding and fixing bugs continously. If you want some functionality not supported yet or marked as TODO, you can create an issue to ask for it. It will be a great feedback for us, and we will know what you may find useful of the gem.

Mailboxer was born from the great, but outdated, code from lpsergi / actsasmessageable.

We are now working to make an exhaustive documentation and some wiki pages in order to make even easier to use the gem at its full potencial. Please, give us some time if you find something missing or ask for it.


Add to your Gemfile:

gem ‘mailboxer’

Then run:

$ bundle update

Run install script:

$ rails g mailboxer:install

And don't forget to migrate you database:

$ rake db:migrate

Requirements & Settings


We are now adding support for sending emails when a Notification or a Message is sent to one o more recipients. You should modify mailboxer initializer (/config/initializer/mailboxer.rb) to edit this settings.

Mailboxer.setup do |config|
  #Configures if you applications uses or no the email sending for Notifications and Messages
  config.uses_emails = true  
  #Configures the default from for the email sent for Messages and Notifications of Mailboxer
  config.default_from = "no-reply@dit.upm.es"

You can change the way in which emails are delivered by specifying a custom implementation for notification and message mailer

Mailboxer.setup do |config|
  config.notification_mailer = CustomNotificationMailer
  config.message_mailer = CustomMessageMailer

User identities

Users must have an identity defined by a name and an email. We must assure that Messageable models have some specific methods. These methods are:

#Returning any kind of identification you want for the model
def name
  return "You should add method :name in your Messageable model"
#Returning the email address of the model if an email should be sent for this object (Message or Notification).
#If no mail has to be sent, return nil.
def mailboxer_email(object)
  #Check if an email should be sent for that object
  #if true
  return "define_email@on_your.model"
  #if false
  #return nil

These names are explicit enough to avoid colliding with other methods, but as long as you need to change them you can do it by using mailboxer initializer (/config/initializer/mailboxer.rb). Just add or uncomment the following lines:

Mailboxer.setup do |config|
  # ...
  #Configures the methods needed by mailboxer
  config.email_method = :mailboxer_email
  config.name_method = :name
  # ...

You may change whatever you want or need. For example:

config.email_method = :notifications_email
config.name_method = :display_name

Will use the method notification_email(object) instead of mailboxer_email(object) and display_name for name.

Using default or custom method names, if your model doesn't implement them, Mailboxer will use dummy methods not to crash but notify you the missing methods.

Preparing your models

In your model:

class User < ActiveRecord::Base

You are not limited to User model. You can use Mailboxer in any other model and use it in serveral different models. If you have ducks and cylons in your application and you want to interchange messages as if they where the same, just use act_as_messageable in each one and you will be able to send duck-duck, duck-cylon, cylon-duck and cylon-cylon messages. Of course, you can extend it for as many clases as you need.


class Duck < ActiveRecord::Base
class Cylon < ActiveRecord::Base

Mailboxer API

How can I send a message?

  #alfa wants to send a message to beta
  alfa.send_message(beta, "Body", "subject")

How can I reply a message?

  #alfa wants to reply to all in a conversation
  #using a receipt
  alfa.reply_to_all(receipt, "Reply body")
  #using a conversation
  alfa.reply_to_conversation(conversation, "Reply body")
  #alfa wants to reply to the sender of a message (and ONLY the sender)
  #using a receipt
  alfa.reply_to_sender(receipt, "Reply body")

How can I retrieve my conversations?

  #alfa wants to retrieve all his conversations
  #A wants to retrieve his inbox
  #A wants to retrieve his sent conversations
  #alfa wants to retrieve his trashed conversations

How can I paginate conversations?

You can use Kaminari to paginate the conversations as normal. Please, make sure you use the last version as mailboxer uses select('DISTINCT conversations.*') which was not respected before Kaminari 0.12.4 according to its changelog. Working corretly on Kaminari 0.13.0.

  #Paginating all conversations using :page parameter and 9 per page
  conversations = alfa.mailbox.conversations.page(params[:page]).per(9)
  #Paginating received conversations using :page parameter and 9 per page
  conversations = alfa.mailbox.inbox.page(params[:page]).per(9)
  #Paginating sent conversations using :page parameter and 9 per page
  conversations = alfa.mailbox.sentbox.page(params[:page]).per(9)
  #Paginating trashed conversations using :page parameter and 9 per page
  conversations = alfa.mailbox.trash.page(params[:page]).per(9) 

How can I read the messages of a conversation?

As a messageable, what you receive receipts wich are linked with the message itself. You should retrieve your receipts for the conversation a get the message associated to them.

This is done this way because receipts save the information about the relation between messageable and the messages: is it read?, is it trashed?, etc.

  #alfa gets the last conversation (chronologically, the first in the inbox)
  conversation = alfa.mailbox.inbox.first
  #alfa gets it receipts chronologically ordered.
  receipts = conversation.receipts_for alfa
  #using the receipts (i.e. in the view)
  receipts.each do |receipt|
    message = receipt.message
    read = receipt.is_unread? #or message.is_unread?(alfa)

You can take a look at the full documentation of Mailboxer in rubydoc.info.

Do you want to test Mailboxer?

Thanks to Roman Kushnir (@RKushnir) you can test Mailboxer with this sample app.

I need a GUI!

If you need a GUI you should take a look a this links: