Introducing Runbox 7 Contacts

It is our pleasure to announce that the new Runbox 7 Contacts is available in open beta test!

If you’re already using Runbox 7 you may have noticed them already, and if you aren’t — here’s another reason to try it: Runbox 7 Contacts combines the best of the Runbox 7 web interface with the world of email clients.

Modern user interface

The first thing you’ll notice after clicking Contacts in the main menu in Runbox 7 is the beautiful and smooth user interface.

Runbox 7 Contacts is built with the same Angular framework that powers the Runbox 7 Webmail, and you will recognize its design components and interactive functionality.

Runbox 7 Contacts
Runbox 7 Contacts

New Contacts storage (CardDAV)

One of the key parts of the new Contacts is how we store your contacts on the servers. So far they’ve been stored in a proprietary database, with no other way to access them than through the Runbox 6 web interface.

This has been an annoyance to those of you who would like to use your contacts across many different apps and devices.

From now on in the new Runbox 7, all contacts will be stored on a CardDAV server – an open standard for sharing contacts and address books between different devices.

The advantages of Runbox 7 Contacts

If you know what CardDAV is, chances are you were eagerly awaiting this and need no further encouragement to use it. If you’ve never heard of it before, here are two key benefits it has over the existing system

First of all, Runbox 7 uses the standard vCard for representing the contacts. You may have heard the name before — if you ever sent a contact to someone over an SMS for example, it was a vCard. Using vCards in Runbox 7 Contacts means that much more flexibility when it comes to the information you can store.

vCards in Runbox 7 and CardDAV can store everything Runbox 6 can, and more — as many emails, phones and addresses as you desire, all categorized. Pictures, links to social media accounts, messengers, public keys for encryption; whatever you can think of, it’s probably there.

Second, you can access your Runbox 7 Contacts everywhere. No need to even use the Runbox 7 app — you can use any email client, any contacts app on your computer or your phone, and you’ll have access to the same contacts everywhere.

Add them on your phone, edit them on your laptop, and then they’ll still be available Runbox 7 when you compose a new email. Runbox 7 Contacts contains all the information that you need to set up any other apps that you use.

Using Runbox 7 Contacts

Until you migrate your contacts they will not be available for synchronization yet. Migrating them will move them over to CardDAV and give you all the glorious new features of Runbox 7 Contacts.

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Try out the new Runbox 7 Contacts by logging into Runbox 7 and clicking Contacts in the main menu.

And let us know what you think over in the Runbox 7 Forum!

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GDPR implementation part 3: Mapping our “world”

This is the third post in our series on Runbox’ GDPR implementation.

After having structured our GDPR project, the next piece of necessary groundwork was to map out status on relevant facts about important areas of our business. The reason is that it’s impossible to establish and maintain good security and privacy – and to determine GDPR compliancy — if the “territory” is not clearly described.

The “territory”

The “territory” in question was foremost and first of all,

  • The email service delivery system, that is the Webmail and backend systems and files – the development platform that is used, the components of which the system is built, the dependencies between the components, description of access points etc. – while being well aware of that the GDPR compliancy also includes Privacy of Design requirements.

Other realms that are necessary to describe were for example:

  • The economic system in which the company operates; i.e. mapping out the network of organizations with which our company is involved – including partners, associates, suppliers, financial institutions, government agencies, and so on – in order to serve our customers.
  • Server infrastructure with all physical links and channels, and not the least: All software components.
  • Data networks, including how and where our serves are connected to the Internet, but also the Local Area Network at our premises.
  • Data catalogue, including of course all personal data, that is, what kind of data are registered on customers and also employees and partners/associates as well.
  • Applications of all sorts necessary to run the company – applications that are managerial of nature.

Level of description

One problem encountered is how detailed the descriptions should be. Too many details will make the job unnecessarily big in the first place, followed by a lot of maintenance to keep the documentation current.

We chose to start with a “helicopter view”, to obtain an overview of the different realms with the intention to fine-grain the documentation depending on the requirements of the ultimate goal: To identify areas where privacy and security is of concern, ticking off issues that are well taken care of in light of the GDPR, or followed up with measures to improve the situation to achieve GDPR compliancy.

Of course, the GDPR Implementation Project is not a sequential one, as development projects seldom are. Therefore, from time to time we had to go back and adjust our planning tools when needs arose.

The next blog post in this series will concern our Information Security Policy.

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Changes to TLS encryption security

At Runbox we are pleased to be able to provide you with secure email services. In order to maintain the security of email communications it is necessary to continually review how email systems connect and communicate with each other, and this includes how you connect to our service to send and receive email.

Encryption is important

When you connect to our service using an email program (such as Outlook, Thunderbird, Apple Mail etc.) the connection between the email program and our mail servers is encrypted so that nobody can intercept your username, password or email message content.

It’s important to use updated software that supports modern encryption methods to prevent that encryption from being broken and compromised as hackers increasingly use more and more powerful computers and techniques to decrypt data.

As such we will end support for outdated encryption methods to ensure that we provide the latest and most secure encryption between your email program and our service. This also helps us prevent unauthorised access to our servers and helps keep the Runbox service safe for all customers.

On 1 July 2019 we will retire some very old encryption protocols
and this might affect some older email programs.

The technical details

We will be retiring support for TLS 1.0 and 1.1 and will only support TLS 1.2 or later. TLS 1.2 has been around for 10 years so there has been a long time for email programs to adopt the use of this type of encryption. TLS is Transport Layer Security and is the encryption that protects your data. However, you don’t need to understand much about this to make any necessary changes.

Your email program

Most email programs that were released in the last 5 years will be compatible with the latest encryption. It is important to use the latest versions of email programs as the developers of those programs will have corrected bugs that could be a security issue. Where possible it is also advisable that you use the latest version of your computer’s operating system.

We have tested the email programs below and they all work with the most modern encryption that we use with our servers.

  • Outlook 2013 and later (Windows and macOS)
  • Thunderbird (Windows and macOS)
  • Apple Mail (macOS)
  • Windows Mail (Windows)
  • eM Client (Windows and macOS)
  • Gmail app (Android)
  • Mail app (iOS)
  • Maildroid (Android)

Many other email programs will also work with our service and those listed above are just commonly used ones that we have tested.

Further details and help

If you need any help on this issue, or would like us to offer advice on the email program you are using please get in touch with us.

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Using your own domain name with Runbox

When you read this blog post, you will see https://blog.runbox.com in your web browser’s address bar. Our domain name is runbox.com and domains are used in this way to make the Internet easier to use. The Internet uses IP (Internet Protocol) addresses to route information from one place to another. Without domains you would need to know the IP address of the server that this page is delivered from (http://91.220.196.127).

The same is true with email addresses. If you send a message to support@nullrunbox.com, the sending mail service can work out from @runbox.com that our mail server (mx.runbox.com) has IP address 91.220.196.211.

Domains also mean that if we change our network in a way that means our IP addresses change we don’t need to tell you to remember different IP addresses as we can just point our domain at the new addresses.

Changing email provider

When choosing an email provider once of the biggest concerns expressed to us by new customers is the fact they might need to change their existing email address and tell all the people they use that address with. There are some ways that Runbox can help smooth any transition such as this, and some things you might be able to do at your current email provider:

  • Forward email from your old email provider to your new Runbox account, but reply from your Runbox address to give people time to add your new address to their address book.
  • Use the Runbox POP retrieve feature to download new messages from your old account in to your Runbox account.
  • Use the Runbox IMAP Import feature to move all your existing messages from your old email provider to Runbox.

Never change your email address again

However, as you move to Runbox, why not make changing your email address the last time you ever do this?

We would be very happy for you to stay with Runbox for as long as you like and never need to change your @runbox.com email address. However, sometimes there are good reasons why you might need to use a different email provider, or you may want to use another email provider in addition to Runbox (e.g. for business reasons). This might mean you can’t use your @runbox.com address as you don’t own the domain and can’t configure it to work as you need.

The one sure way to avoid that problem and to have maximum control and flexibility over your email services is to register your own domain.

Registering a domain – an address for life

Domains are not expensive to register and the Runbox services can work with any domain you choose to own. We offer personal support to register your domain and to help you get it up and running. You can use a domain for both email and a website, and Runbox has web hosting packages if you decide you also need a website.

Once you have your own domain, you can have an email address for life.

To find out which domains might be available for you to register, you can go to Account >> Domain Hosting in your Runbox account and use the search feature to find out if a domain you are interested in is available.

Domains cost as little as USD 14.95 per year for a .com domain, and once you have your own domain it is yours to use for as long as you like and with any email provider you like whether you are a Runbox customer or not.

Help and support

If you have any questions about registering domains, please contact us at support@nullrunbox.com or via our support website at https://support.runbox.com

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GDPR implementation part 2: Structuring our GDPR project

As mentioned in our previous blog post about our GDPR project plan, we structured our implementation plan in 14 sub-projects.

In this blog post we’ll take a look at the first of these sub-projects.

Mapping status compared to the Regulation

The foundation for the sub-projects was (of course) the requirements in the GDPR Regulation, which we had mapped in subproject # 1: Compliancy Status Tables mapping Runbox’ status compared to regulations.

In order to prepare ourselves, we did that before the final regulation was decided. We also did this for the requirements from the Norwegian Personal Data Regulation at that point in time.

Of course, the mapping had to be made compliant with the final version of the GDPR after the EU decision in 2016 – and so we did.

Controller and processor

At that point in time, we had our project nicely structured in the 14 sub-projects mentioned above. That was pretty easy, because of the mapping we had done. An important fact in this context, is that Runbox is a controller and a processor as well, depending on the circumstances, according to the GDPR definitions. It was important to be exact about where and when.

Subprojects definitions and delimitations

In the GDPR we found some important points that we had to consider:

  • Our agreement with our main processor, Copyleft Solutions – and what about the agreements with our affiliates, partners and the like? Are confidentiality clauses regarding protection of personal data adequate any longer?
  • Do our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy correspond to the new requirements?
  • What changes have to be done in our systems to fulfill GPDRs requirement regarding customers’ rights?
  • Do we have a systematic documentation of our systems, and what about access control?
  • Does our information security policy cover the necessary elements, and is our risk analysis up to date?
  • What about the processing of personal data we do for internal processing? Obviously it was necessary to take a look into the agreements we have with internal and external personnel.
  • What about the internal control mechanism we have – do they comply?

Those points (and some more) made the foundation for establishing delimitations between each sub-project, which we will continue blogging about in the weeks to come.

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Runbox 7 Feature and Bug Bounty Program

The Runbox 7 project represents an ambitious plan to revolutionize the world of webmail services, and with the Runbox 7 open source launch on https://github.com/runbox/runbox7 we have invited skilled developers to join us in this quest.

Now we are excited to announce a bounty program to accelerate development further. The program is two-fold and introduces bounties for both features and bugs.


Feature bounties

We encourage you to contribute to Runbox 7 with your skill and talent by adding new functionality that all Runbox 7 users can enjoy.

All contributions must include tests and documentation in order to be accepted.

Gold – $1,000 reward

Gold bounties are rewarded for contributing major new features that involve substantial additions to the Runbox 7 code base.

Examples of such features can be found on the Runbox 7 Roadmap and include complete, new screens for Account, Files, or Manager with REST endpoint specifications.

Other examples are significant optimizations of the code that improve performance or substantially restructures or refactors the code base.

Silver – $500 reward

Silver bounties are given for contributions of medium-sized new features or additions of new functionality that improves existing features.

Examples of such features can be found on the Runbox 7 Roadmap and include new screens for sections under Account, Files, or Manager with REST endpoint specifications.

Bronze – $100 reward

Smaller features or functionality that extends or improves existing features.

Examples include those listed on Github as Runbox 7 enhancement issues (urgent and critical).

Iron – $10 reward

Minor features or functionality that extends or improves existing features.

Examples include those listed on Github as Runbox 7 enhancement issues (trivial, low, and medium).

Bug bounties

Integrity and reliability is paramount to our operations and although we take all reasonable precautions to prevent bugs, all open source software benefits from thorough reviews from the community.

Therefore we provide bug bounties with an emphasis on problems that could impact the integrity of our services.

High – $1,000 reward

Reporting severe errors that could lead to elevated privileges, significant data compromise, or service downtime.

To be eligible for this bounty:

  • You must not publicly disclose your finding.
  • You must never exploit any found vulnerability.
  • You must send a detailed explanation with steps to reproduce the bug.
  • You may submit a patch that fixes the issue for a double bounty!

Examples include issues listed on Github as Runbox 7 bug issues (critical).

Medium – $500 reward

Reporting vulnerabilities that provide limited access and that could result in denial of service, manipulation of individual accounts, or temporary problems that affect limited data sets.

To be eligible for this bounty:

  • You must not publicly disclose your finding.
  • You must never exploit any found vulnerability.
  • You must send a detailed explanation with steps to reproduce the bug.
  • You may submit a patch that fixes the issue for a double bounty!

Examples include issues listed on Github as Runbox 7 bug issues (critical).

Low – $100 reward

Vulnerabilities that have a low impact on our operations or that require significant knowledge about our systems.

Examples include issues listed on Github as Runbox 7 bug issues (urgent).

Trivial – $10 reward

Minor bugs that are annoyances rather than vulnerabilities, and that don’t affect the integrity or reliability of our services.

Examples include those listed on Github as Runbox 7 bug issues (trivial, low, and medium).

How to get started

To get started with our bounty program, have a look at our Runbox 7 GitHub repository at https://github.com/runbox/runbox7.

We are marking issues that are suitable for new contributors with “good first issue“.

Then review our contribution guidelines and follow the instructions there: https://github.com/runbox/runbox7/blob/master/CONTRIBUTING.md


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Know where your email is, wherever you are!

When you access web pages and other services such as email a whole range of things go on in the background to ensure that your request for a web page or accessing your email is achieved no matter where you are in the World, or which Internet Service Provider (ISP) you are using at the time. As part of that process, the companies that provide these services can do some useful things to ensure that your access is as fast and as reliable as possible.

Edge services

One thing service providers can do is make use of edge services that move data and processing closer to the location of the device you are using. This will mean that when you access the service the route that the data takes is shorter geographically, and that a central data centre is not having to handle all the network traffic and processing. This reduces the time it takes from when you perform some action on your device to when you get the response from the service. This is often referred to as latency.

As more and more devices become connected to the Internet, and 5G mobile services are rolled out fast responsiveness will become increasingly important for providing a good experience.

Runbox and edge services

Despite all the benefits of edge services and why they are used, we are pleased to say that Runbox doesn’t use any of them – and for good reason.

We understand that privacy and knowing who looks after you data is important to you as a Runbox customer, and to that end we are happy to say that we can offer you the confidence of knowing where your email is stored no matter where you access it from.

We only store your email on servers that are located in a data centre in Oslo, Norway. In addition to our own security features, it is protected by the highly regarded legislation of Norway which is very focused on the privacy of communications and data more generally.

All networks point to Norway

When you access your email with an email program or via our web interface data to and from your phone is routed between your location and Oslo, and the only place your data can be accessed from is the servers in Oslo.

Between you and our data centre the data can travel across many networks with your current ISP at one end and ours at the Oslo end. However, all our services encrypt your data between your device and our servers and this means the email content isn’t readable as it passes through the ISPs that provide your connection to us.

We believe that rather than distributing your data to data centres around the World, it is important for it to be treated as a valuable commodity and give it location specific protection. This means all access to your data is in accordance with Norwegian law.

Internet routing

Runbox doesn’t control the entire route of your data to our servers, and the further from Oslo you are the less influence our choice of ISPs has on the route your data takes.

The geographical distance between you and our servers can make a difference to how responsive our servers appear to be. This is because of the number of ISPs and routers involved in the network between you and us, as well as the quality and speed of the service those ISPs provide.

Usually this doesn’t cause any significant issues and we have happy customers in 170 countries including Australia and New Zealand, which is about a far as you can get from Oslo. However, sometimes it can cause an issue and we can help customers try to deal with this if they contact us.

Speeding up your email access

While we are pleased to offer the certainty of knowing where you data is stored, we are also keen to make sure that you have a good experience using Runbox.

Using an email program like Thunderbird, Outlook or Apple Mail and therefore having your mail stored on your device can improve access to your messages. Doing this means that instead of having to download details for all of your messages each time you access your account, mail that has already been downloaded to your device is already there and only new messages need to be fetched from the server.

Using an email program is a great idea for many reasons and not just because it helps solve potential network issues, but also because of the ability to manage more than one email account in the same interface, use the local search capabilities of the email program and access previous messages when you don’t have an Internet connection.

And now we can speed up your web access too

Recently we’ve introduced local storage to the Runbox webmail in the form of the Runbox 7 web app. When you log in to the new interface you will be given the choice to download an index of all your messages that will be stored in your web browser. This index will remain there and be updated as new mail arrives until you decide to delete it. We also pre-load the content of the messages that are shown in your message list so that when you open the message the content is already on your device ready to be shown to you. This makes Runbox 7 a very fast webmail client with excellent search capabilities.

Know where your email is, wherever you are

So not only do you have the peace of mind knowing where your email is stored when it arrives in your account, but you also have the option to store it securely on your own personal devices for even greater performance.

This means you don’t need to worry about what edge services are doing with your data, because with Runbox you know where your email is, wherever you are!

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Runbox’ road to GDPR compliance

How we did it and what we learned on the way

In our blog post May 25, 2018 we described the main areas of Runbox’ GDPR implementation.

On this Data Privacy Day we’d like to update you on our GDPR implementation, how we did it, and what we learned on the way.

There is an enormous amount of information out there describing GDPR content, simple copies of the regulation, some templates of varying quality – and a lot of warnings.

So first of all, let’s recap what the GDPR is.

What is the GDPR, and why did it come about?

In 2012, the European Union (EU) first proposed a set of rules for protection of data inside and outside the EU. An important reason for this decision was a desire to improve the ability for individuals to control data registered about themselves.

In 2016, the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) was formally adopted by the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union to take effect for all individuals within the EU and the European Economic Area (EEA).

Runbox’ approach to the GDPR

Runbox' GDPR Implementation

At Runbox, which is located in the privacy bastion Norway and within the EEA, we started the GDPR planning and implementation process as early as 2014.

At that point in time, we had followed the process in the EU about a comprehensive reform of the EU’s 1995 data protection rules. In the spring of 2014, the European Parliament demonstrated strong support for the GDPR proposal set forward by the Article 29 Working Party. (You can find more information about the history of the GDPR in the article The History of the General Data Protection Regulation.) Shortly thereafter, in September 2014, our GDPR Compliancy Project was launched.

We didn’t know at that time when the GDPR would take effect, but we knew the direction – that is: The GDPR was indicated to move in the direction of existing Norwegian privacy regulations, based on Article 29 Working Party documents.

Our GDPR project plan

We structured our implementation project in 14 partly parallel sub-projects, and after the decision by the European Parliament and of the Council by April 27, 2016, we updated our project plan towards the target date May 25, 2018.

We started out mapping exactly our position compared to Article 29 proposal, which in 2015 was replaced by The European Data Protection Board, and then we went ahead to work out our main planning document, Rules and Regulations for Information Security Management.

The groundwork was done, and we proceeded the project towards fulfillment of our obligations regarding privacy under the new legislation, implemented in Norwegian law by July 20, 2018.

We will share more information in forthcoming blog posts, so stay tuned!

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Data Privacy Day

January 28th is Data Privacy Day, and was initiated by the Council of Europe in 2007. Since then, many advances to protect individuals’ right to privacy have been made.

The most important of these is the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which was implemented on May 25, 2018. Runbox has promoted data privacy for many years, anchored in Norway’s strong privacy legislation.

At Runbox, which is located in the privacy bastion Norway, we believe that privacy is an intrinsic right and that data privacy should be promoted every day of the year.

Your data is safe in the privacy bastion of Norway

We’re pleased that Data Privacy Day highlights this important cause. Many who use the Internet and email services in particular may think they have nothing to hide, not realizing that their data may be analyzed and exploited by corporations and nation states in ways they aren’t aware of and can’t control.

While threats to online privacy around the world are real and must be addressed, we should not be overly alarmed or exaggerate the problem. Therefore we take the opportunity to calmly provide an overview of Norway’s and Runbox’ implementation of data privacy protection.

Norway enforces strong privacy legislation

First of all, Norway has enacted strong legislation regulating the collection, storage, and processing of personal data, mainly in The Personal Data Act.

The first version of Norway’s Personal Data Act was implemented as early as 1978. This was a result of the pioneering work provided by the Department of Private Law at the University of Oslo, where one of the first academic teams within IT and privacy worldwide was established in 1970.

Additionally, the Norwegian Data Protection Authority, an independent authority, facilitates protection of individuals from violation of their right to privacy through processing of their personal data.

For an overview of privacy related regulations in the US, in Europe, and in Norway, and describes how Runbox applies the strong Norwegian privacy regulations in our operations, see this article: Email Privacy Regulations

Runbox enforces a strong Privacy Policy

The Runbox Privacy Policy is the main policy document regulating the privacy protection of account information, account content, and other user data registered via our services.

If you haven’t reviewed our Privacy Policy yet we strongly encourage you to do so as it describes how data are collected and processed while using Runbox, explains what your rights are as a user, and helps you understand what your options are with regards to your privacy.

Runbox is transparent

Runbox believes in transparency and we provide an overview of requests for disclosure of individual customer data that we have received directly from authorities and others.

Our Transparency Report is available online to ensure that Runbox is fully transparent about any disclosure of user data.

Runbox is GDPR compliant

Runbox spent 4 years planning and implementing EU’s General Data Protection Regulation, starting the process as early as 2014.

We divided the activities implementing the GDPR in Runbox into 3 main areas:

  • Internal policies and procedures
  • Partners and contractors
  • Protection of users’ rights

This blog post describes how we did it: GDPR and Updates to our Terms and Policies

Runbox' GDPR Implementation

More information

For more information about Runbox’ commitment to data privacy, we recommend reviewing the Runbox Privacy Commitment.

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The secret behind Runbox 7’s speed

Runbox 7 SpeedRunbox 7 Webmail recently entered open beta, and if you haven’t tried it yet you are missing out!

When you log into Runbox 7 the first thing you’ll notice — aside from its beautiful design — is the speed.

Your folders and messages will load instantly, and no matter how many messages you have the message list will scroll without delay and without any limit.

Gone are the days of waiting for the next screen-full of messages to load, or having to click to navigate between pages. Switching between folders, sorting the message list, and moving messages — any action you perform is executed instantly.

Runbox 7 Speed from Runbox on Vimeo.

And the message search is lightning fast — results will show up immediately while you type into the search field. Combined with message threading and inline message previews, this makes email management extremely efficient with Runbox 7.

Under the hood

WebAssembly LogoWe have modified Xapian by porting Xapian to WebAssembly using the C to WebAssembly compiler from emscripten, which lets it run both in NodeJS on the server and in the browser. Our fork of Xapian will be merged into Xapian’s repository on Github so that it will become available for others to use.

Xapian logoThis is accomplished by utilizing a custom version of the open source Xapian email indexer. We have always been impressed with Xapian’s processing speed, reliability, and adaptability, and it’s ability to index large amounts of messages.

The Runbox 7 Webmail App is open source and is available in our main repo at https://github.com/runbox/runbox7. We encourage you to check out our code base, and invite you to join the Runbox revolution by getting involved in our growing community at https://community.runbox.com!

A separate repo at https://github.com/runbox/runbox-searchindex generates the xapian.wasm module in WebAssembly in C++.

The Xapian database is stored in the browser using IndexedDB, which is available through the IDBFS file system of emscripten.

Combined with a central message database and the use of websockets, this allows the indices to stay in sync when new email arrives on the server and when changes are made locally.

The user interface

The power of the WebAssembly Xapian port is matched by the message listing which is written in HTML5 Canvas. This makes it possible to handle large tables and quick re-rendering, and provides good control of the rendering process.

Ordinary HTML tables would suffer slowdown penalties on sorting, filtering, and resizing, and would require pagination, and would not be efficient enough for our needs.

The Canvas element is wrapped in a  user interface written in HTML/Typescript using Angular 2+, and is built using UI elements from https://material.angular.io/.

Mail parsing is done using the HTML parser from Andris Reinmann which is written for NodeJS and can be found here: https://github.com/andris9/mailparser.

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