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[VM] A few tricks with summary lines

From: Uday Reddy
Subject: [VM] A few tricks with summary lines
Date: Tue, 30 Oct 2012 20:51:21 +0000

Here are a couple of tricks for playing with summary lines, which might help
other people in managing their email with similar issues.

You might have noticed that VM has two variables


These are meant for stripping out prefixes like "Re: " and suffixes like
"(fwd)" that various mail clients add to the subject line.  It is the
stripped-out subject string that is used for things like sorting, threading,
making search folders etc.

Here is a somewhat unusual application of these features.  I participate in
various research-y discussions on StackExchange and subscribe to some topics
so that I am alerted whenever there is a new question or answer posted.
Unfortunately, StackExchange sends out a summary of posts on a daily basis.
(They don't have anything less frequent.)  Once I have subscribed to some 10
topics, my mail box was getting swamped with these alerts.  Each alert
message has a subject line like so:

  New category-theory questions for Sep 16 - Stack Exchange

So, I thought, why don't I strip out the suffix 

  "for Sep 16 - StackExchange" 

and then all "New category-theory questions" messages will get grouped
together in the Summary window?  So, I defined:

(setq vm-subject-ignored-suffix
      (concat " for 
              " [0-9]* - Stack Exchange\\|"

and reloaded the folder.  Bingo, I now have a few hundred lines in the
Summary window rather than thousands, and I get to see the other important
email that was getting swamped out by these alerts.


This second trick might be useful if you get a lot of email via mailing
lists or bug trackers that add "subject tags".  For example, the subject
line for a new bug report on the Launchpad looks something like this:

   [Bug 1072069] [NEW] summary crashes for international characters (8.1.0)

The stuff in brackets "[Bug 1072069]" and "[NEW]" were added by the
Launchpad mailer.  They were not part of the original subject of the bug
report.  In our parlance, these are "subject tags".

Given that I allocate something like 25 characters for the subject in my
Summary window, these subject tags were crowding out the real subject.  This
problem annoyed me enough that I ended up adding a feature to VM.  There is
now a new variable


using which you can describe the format of the subject tags, and a way to
turn on or off the inclusion of subject tags in the Summary window using a
variable `vm-summary-strip-subject-tags'.  My `vm-subject-tag-prefix' is as

(setq vm-subject-tag-prefix 
       "\\[[^]:]*][: \n\t]*"            ; mailing-list tags
       "\\|bug#[0-9]*:[ \n\t]*"         ; emacs debbugs

This removes all square-bracketed subject tags and also message from the
Emacs debbugs tracker which uses a different convention for adding its
subject tag.

That was good.  But I still wanted the subject tags retained in the INBOX
folders, because the mail comes from a variety of sources and I want to be
able to quickly eyeball it for important stuff.  However, once I have filed
away the mail in archival folders, I wanted the subject tags to disappear.
The solution was to make a buffer-local version of the variable
`vm-summary-strip-subject-tags' and turn it on/off based on the name of the
folder.  So, I added vm-visit-folder-hook as follows:

(defun retain-subject-tags-for-inbox ()
  "Setq `vm-summay-strip-subject-tags' to nil for all IMAP folders
named \"inbox\"." 
  (when (and vm-folder-access-data (vm-folder-imap-maildrop-spec))
    (cond ((equal 
             (vm-imap-folder-for-spec (vm-folder-imap-maildrop-spec)))
           (set (make-local-variable 'vm-summary-strip-subject-tags) nil)))))

(add-hook 'vm-visit-folder-hook 'retain-subject-tags-for-inbox)

I think the problem is solved now.


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