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Parse Email on web server

Posted on 2013-01-23
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Last Modified: 2013-01-24
Is it possible to write a php script that can parse emails formatted in a specific way & save the extracted info in a database?

I know how to do all the parts EXCEPT getting ahold of the email electronically instead of it going to a persons email mailbox.

Thanks
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Question by:Richard Korts
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Accepted Solution

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Ray Paseur earned 500 total points
ID: 38813916
The thing you want is called an email pipe.  I'm teaching to day and I don't have time to document it completely for you, but basically the server has an email address that does not go to the inbox. Instead, the server starts a PHP script and places the entire email message, headers and all, in plain text in the PHP STDIN for this script.  Code sample below.  Ask the server admin how to set up the PIPE process.

Read the comments and code carefully -- this is a minimum example, and there are no unnecessary parts!

#!/usr/bin/php -q
<?php // /email_pipe/index.php


// THIS IS AN EMAIL PIPE SCRIPT.
// THIS SCRIPT IS STARTED AUTOMATICALLY FOR EACH MESSAGE.
// NOTE THAT THIS SCRIPT IS ABOVE THE /public_html/ DIRECTORY TO PREVENT ACCIDENTAL EXECUTION


// --> HOW DO WE KNOW WHICH EMAIL MESSAGES GET SENT HERE?
// THIS SCRIPT RECEIVES MESSAGES SENT TO email_pipe@your.org
// CREATE AN EMAIL MAILBOX EXCLUSIVELY FOR AUTOMATED PROCESSING.
// SET UP AN EMAIL FORWARD FOR THAT MAILBOX IN cPANEL->EMAIL LIKE THIS:
// 1...5...10...15...20...25...
// |/home/{account}/email_pipe/index.php


// --> WHEN YOU UPLOAD, THIS SCRIPT WILL BE MARKED RW-R-R BUT THAT IS WRONG
// THIS SCRIPT MUST BE MARKED EXECUTABLE x0755
// YOU CAN USE FTP SOFTWARE TO CHMOD TO RWX-RX-RX


// --> NOTE THE FIRST LINE OF THIS SCRIPT MUST SAY #!/usr/bin/php -q STARTING IN COLUMN ONE
// 1...5...10...15...20...25...
// #!/usr/bin/php -q
// <?php ... PROGRAM CODE FOLLOWS


error_reporting(E_ALL);

// USE THE OUTPUT BUFFER - THIS DOES NOT HAVE BROWSER OUTPUT
ob_start();

// COLLECT THE INFORMATION HERE
$raw_email = NULL;

// TRY TO READ THE EMAIL FROM STDIN
if (!$stdin = fopen("php://stdin", "R"))
{
    echo "ERROR: UNABLE TO OPEN php://stdin " . PHP_EOL;
}

// ABLE TO READ THE MAIL
else
{
    while (!feof($stdin))
    {
        $raw_email .= fread($stdin, 4096);
    }
    fclose($stdin);
}


// REMOVE MULTIPLE BLANKS - AND OTHER PROCESSING AS MIGHT BE NEEDED
$raw_email = preg_replace('/ +/', ' ', $raw_email);

// SPEW WHAT WE GOT, IF ANYTHING, INTO THE OUTPUT BUFFER
var_dump($raw_email);

// CAPTURE THE OUTPUT BUFFER AND SEND IT TO SOMEONE ELSE VIA EMAIL
$buf = ob_get_contents();
mail ('you@your.org', 'EMAIL PIPE DATA', $buf);

// PREVENT ANY BROWSER OUTPUT - MAY CAUSE ERROR RESPONSES AND BOUNCED MESSAGES
ob_end_clean();

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Best regards, ~Ray
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Author Closing Comment

by:Richard Korts
ID: 38814782
Thanks, Ray!!
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LVL 110

Expert Comment

by:Ray Paseur
ID: 38816350
Thanks to you, too, Richard!
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