Watch Over Our Folders - Monitor important emails on a public mailing list

49565c4 Bump dependencies

~bzg pushed to ~bzg/woof git

2 months ago

25d560a Don't require email references header when sending to woof inbox

~bzg pushed to ~bzg/woof git

2 months ago

#Watch Over Our Folders!

When plugged to a mailbox subscribed to mailing lists, Woof! captures some of the emails sent to these lists (bug reports, patches, feature requests, etc.) and expose them on a webpage.

If you love emails and mailing lists and use them for free software development, you may consider giving Woof! a try: it can serve both as a replacement for traditional issue trackers and as a kind of personal information manager, e.g. tracking patches you send to various mailing lists.

Woof! has been developed based on years of relying on the Org mailing list for Emacs Org-mode development: I hope it can be useful to other projects too.


CAVEAT: Woof! is still in alpha, things can move.

See this howto for basic instructions on how to use Woof!

See woof.bzg.fr for a Woof! instance tracking the Woof! mailing list.

To follow what happens on this Woof! instance, you can also subscribe to this RSS feed.

#We don't want no issue tracker

Developing software by discussing on public mailing lists and sharing patches by email works fine.

At some point, you may need to track bug reports, patches, etc.

If you are using , perhaps you will set up a new tracker for your project. Or if your software is part of the GNU project, perhaps you will set up debbugs for your package. But these trackers create new communication channels, new "databases" that you will have to maintain—and they are probably overkill for your needs.

This is where Woof! comes in handy as a way to monitor mailing lists.

You plug Woof! into your mailbox, it monitors emails sent to mailing lists this mailbox is subscribed to and it extracts and exposes useful information: bug reports, patches, changes, announcements, etc.

Woof! is not a full-fledged project management tool: e.g. it does not allow someone to assign tasks to someone else, to close reports, etc. If you really need such tools, Woof! is not a good candidate.

#Design rationale

  • Read only: Woof! is not a database of issues you need to maintain. Useful information is extracted from upstream email interactions, emails are the sole source of truth. So Woof! is read only: there is no login, no way to update stuff from the website.

  • Decentralized: Since Woof! is based on mailboxes and only reflects upstream interactions, you can have several Woof! instances for the same mailing lists: each instance will reflect what is of interest for the person who deployed it.

  • Minimalistic conventions: Woof! tries to rely on minimalistic and realistic conventions for subject prefixes (e.g. [BUG]) and updates "triggers" (e.g. "Confirmed.").

  • Configurable: Woof! tries to be highly configurable.


  • Track various report types: bugs, patches, requests, etc.
  • Support tracking multiple lists
  • Expose reports as rss, md, json or org
  • Expose raw downloadable patches when possible
  • Support HTML and plain text emails
  • Track related reports and allow to list them
  • Track votes on requests (e.g. [POLL])
  • Allow complex searches
  • Support theming
  • Support i18n


There is no roadmap as I develop Woof! in my spare time, but here is a list of ideas for future versions.

  • An Emacs tool to keep track of various Woof! instances
  • Implement notifications
  • Implement the overview page
  • Separate woof-server/monitor from woof-web
  • Enhance the hero header
  • Expose data through GraphQL
  • Add pagination
  • Add "events" report type
  • Allow individual notifications based on subject matches
  • Use integrant more consistently (to stop)
  • Add webhook

#Running Woof!


You will need a mailbox accessible via IMAP that Woof! will monitor.

This mailbox must receive mails sent to the mailing lists Woof! will monitor and must also be able to send emails.

See the environment variables in <config_example.edn> for setting the email information.

Woof! requires Clojure and Java.

You can install clojure with ~$ apt install clojure or see this guide.

You can install Java with ~$ apt install default-jre or refer to your distribution instructions.


You need to copy config_example.edn as config.edn and to set environment variables: see <config_example.edn> for the list.

config_example.edn also contains other configuration parameters that you need to set. You can also refer to <src/bzg/config.clj> which contains other configuration defaults.


Once you are done configuring Woof!, you can check your configuration with:

~$ clj -M:test

#Run/build/deploy with deps.edn

Run with:

~$ clj -M:run

Build and deploy with:

~$ clj -M:uberdeps
~$ java --add-opens java.base/sun.nio.ch=ALL-UNNAMED --add-opens java.base/java.nio=ALL-UNNAMED -cp target/woof.jar clojure.main -m bzg.init

#Run/build/deploy with leiningen

Run with:

~$ lein run

Build and deploy with:

~$ lein uberjar
~$ java --add-opens java.base/sun.nio.ch=ALL-UNNAMED --add-opens java.base/java.nio=ALL-UNNAMED -jar target/woof.jar


Contributions are welcome! See .

Suggested contributions:

  • Write a new HTML theme
  • Support new languages
  • Enhance documentation
  • Enhance performance and accessibility
  • Add tests
  • Report bugs

#Support the Clojure(script) ecosystem

If you like Clojure(script), please consider supporting maintainers by donating to clojuriststogether.org.


© Bastien Guerry 2020-2024

Woof is released under the EPL 2.0 license.