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Custom web archives

This feature must allow Sympa users to store archives in a different place that the classical web archives based on MHonArc.

The development was requested and paid by Bendlin GmbH.

Storage database

The provided custom archiver stores the messages in a database. As long as a perl DBD exists for the chosen RDBMS, there should be no problem to transfer data from Sympa to this RDBMS.

Storage structure

Field name Data type Field description
message_key int(11) an autoincremental numerical key
message_id varchar(150) the SMTP message identifier
group_id varchar(150) the name of the mailing list to which the message was sent
timestamp int(11) the epoch date when the message was sent
subject varchar(300) the content of the SMTP Subject field in the orginal message
message text the full SMTP message, including all the headers
uid varchar(150) a header X-UID from the message

Customization mechanism

A parameter in sympa.conf activates / desactivates this feature : custom_archiver.

We add a test to When archiving a message, if the custom_archiver parameter is set to on, an external script is called – instead of the code using MHonArc – that will store the message into the chosen database.

A few details about this script:

  • Content: The script contains only the code specifically used for archive storage in an RDBMS. It uses the Sympa scripts and libraries to work. It then contains the path to the Sympa bin directory. However, details about the connection to the database will have to be final user defined by editing the script. We don't think it is relevant to include the connection parameters to the archives database in one of the Sympa configuration files. Consequently, the distributed script must be considered as an example script. It can remain in the sources or be installed in one of the Sympa directories. Either ways, it must be copied in a place that will not be overwritten during the next Sympa upgrade.
  • Distribution. In the Sympa sources, you will find the script in the <sympa_home>/bin/etc/scripts/ directory under the name
  • Name and path. We use a parameter named archiver_path that replaces the existing mhonarc parameter. This parameter can be defined at the list or virtual level. You can use any script name or path for the script. You can have as much versions of the script as you want. One for each list if you like.


You can download the script as a tar file which is version 5.4.6ca or a patch that can be applied in versions 5.4

This modification is allready in Sympa 6.0

You can use this version just now. As long as you don't modify wwsympa.conf, it won't change Sympa's behaviour. You will introduce the new archiver engine by changing custom_archiver parameter in wwsympa.conf.

CAUTION: Note that Sympa always guess that the custom archiver script accepts two variables : ”–list” whose value is the full name of the list (including the domain part) and ”–file” that will contain the absolute path to the message file that will be archived. Each time the custom archiver is called, it is called with these two parameters with their values filled.

To use our sample custom archiver, you need to:

  • create the database in which you want to store, with a table having the fields we defined above
  • modify the wwsympa.conf to add the following paragraph: custom_archiver <>
  • restart (you may check everything using debug mode : “archived -d”

In, the parameters related to the database are:

host name: 'localhost'
database type: 'mysql';
database name: 'custom_archive';
table in which data are stored: 'archive';
user name: 'toto';
password: 'tutu';

Either you use this values to test or you change them in

If you have any problem, please report first by mail with as many details as possible, you can also phone Serge : +33 2 2323 7147 1), we will pleased to help you. Let us known if this does what you ask for.

1) often not in my desk but ...
contribs/custom_web_archiver.txt · Last modified: 2011/05/30 08:50 by

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