#EmacsConf backstage: reviewing the last message from a speaker

| emacs, emacsconf, notmuch

One of the things I keep an eye out for when organizing EmacsConf is the most recent time we heard from a speaker. Sometimes life happens and speakers get too busy to prepare a video, so we might offer to let them do it live. Sometimes e-mail delivery issues get in the way and we don't hear from speakers because some server in between has spam filters set too strong. So I made a function that lists the most recent e-mail we got from the speaker that includes "emacsconf" in it. That was a good excuse to learn more about tabulated-list-mode.

Figure 1: Redacted view of most recent e-mails from speakers

I started by figuring out how to get all the e-mail addresses associated with a talk.

emacsconf-mail-get-all-email-addresses: Return all the possible e-mail addresses for TALK.
(defun emacsconf-mail-get-all-email-addresses (talk)
  "Return all the possible e-mail addresses for TALK."
       (lambda (field) (plist-get talk field))
       '(:email :public-email :email-alias)))
   " *, *"))

Then I figured out the notmuch search to use to get all messages. Some people write a lot, so I limited it to just the ones that have emacsconf as well. Notmuch can return JSON, so that's easy to parse.

emacsconf-mail-notmuch-tag: Tag to use when searching the Notmuch database for mail.
(defvar emacsconf-mail-notmuch-tag "emacsconf" "Tag to use when searching the Notmuch database for mail.")

emacsconf-mail-notmuch-last-message-for-talk: Return the most recent message from the speakers for TALK.
(defun emacsconf-mail-notmuch-last-message-for-talk (talk &optional subject)
  "Return the most recent message from the speakers for TALK.
Limit to SUBJECT if specified."
  (let ((message (json-parse-string
                   (format "notmuch search --limit=1 --format=json \"%s%s\""
                            (lambda (email) (concat "from:" (shell-quote-argument email)))
                            (emacsconf-mail-get-all-email-addresses talk)
                            " or ")
                            " and "
                            (and emacsconf-mail-notmuch-tag (shell-quote-argument emacsconf-mail-notmuch-tag))
                            "" "")
                            " and subject:"
                            (and subject (shell-quote-argument subject)) "" "")))
                  :object-type 'alist)))
    (cons `(email . ,(plist-get talk :email))
          (when (> (length message) 0)
            (elt message 0)))))

Then I could display all the groups of speakers so that it's easy to check if any of the speakers haven't e-mailed us in a while.

emacsconf-mail-notmuch-show-latest-messages-from-speakers: Verify that the email addresses in GROUPS have e-mailed recently.
(defun emacsconf-mail-notmuch-show-latest-messages-from-speakers (groups &optional subject)
  "Verify that the email addresses in GROUPS have e-mailed recently.
When called interactively, pop up a report buffer showing the e-mails
and messages by date, with oldest messages on top.
This minimizes the risk of mail delivery issues and radio silence."
  (interactive (list (emacsconf-mail-groups (seq-filter
                               (lambda (o) (not (string= (plist-get o :status) "CANCELLED")))
  (let ((results
         (sort (mapcar
                (lambda (group)
                  (emacsconf-mail-notmuch-last-message-for-talk (cadr group) subject))
               (lambda (a b)
                 (< (or (alist-get 'timestamp a) -1)
                    (or (alist-get 'timestamp b) -1))))))
    (when (called-interactively-p 'any)
      (with-current-buffer (get-buffer-create "*Mail report*")
        (let ((inhibit-read-only t))
          (lambda (row)
             (alist-get 'thread row)
              (alist-get 'email row)
              (or (alist-get 'date_relative row) "")
              (or (alist-get 'subject row) ""))))
        (setq tabulated-list-format [("Email" 30 t)
                                     ("Date" 10 nil)
                                     ("Subject" 30 t)])
        (local-set-key (kbd "RET") #'emacsconf-mail-notmuch-visit-thread-from-summary)
        (pop-to-buffer (current-buffer))))

If I press RET on a line, I can open the most recent thread. This is handled by the emacsconf-mail-notmuch-visit-thread-from-summary, which is simplified by using the thread ID as the tabulated list ID.

Figure 2: Viewing a thread in a different window

emacsconf-mail-notmuch-visit-thread-from-summary: Display the thread from the summary.
(defun emacsconf-mail-notmuch-visit-thread-from-summary ()
  "Display the thread from the summary."
  (let (message-buffer)
      (setq message-buffer (notmuch-show (tabulated-list-get-id))))
    (display-buffer message-buffer t)))

We haven't heard from a few speakers in a while, so I'll probably e-mail them this weekend to double-check that I'm not getting delivery issues with my e-mails to them. If that doesn't get a reply, I might try other communication methods. If they're just busy, that's cool.

It's a lot easier to spot missing or old entries in a table than it is to try to remember who we haven't heard from recently, so hooray for tabulated-list-mode!

This code is in emacsconf-mail.el.

You can comment with Disqus or you can e-mail me at sacha@sachachua.com.