Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP) was created before the onset of webmail and mobile access to the internet. As a result, IMAP performs poorly on slow networks and can also cause performance issues with email and webmail clients. Software companies have been forced to create proprietary protocols as an alternative to IMAP to fix those performance issues. For example, some developers are using intermediary connections (proxies) as a way to speed up its UX, but proxies aren’t a good solution because they add another layer that can create privacy and security concerns.
Five years ago, Fastmail created JSON Meta Application Protocol (JMAP) as a modern replacement for IMAP and Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP). They designed it for 1) efficient use of network resources, 2) ease-of-use for developers, 3) alleviating the need for insecure proxies, and 4) to keep the next generation of email an open standard.
Fastmail recently announced that the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) published the public specifications for The JSON Meta Application Protocol and the version specifically for Mail. The published specs are meaningful because the IETF reviews, refines, and publishes high quality, fully open technical specifications that enable interoperability on the web. It sets JMAP up as the true open standard and modern replacement for IMAP and SMTP that isn’t hindered by proprietary protocols.
- JMAP makes massive email archives ready for you remotely nearly as fast if you had the data already on your device.
- On mobile, instead of waiting for a refresh, you get instant push notifications when the server receives an email.
- JMAP makes it easy to add a subset of information from a mailbox or calendar to a new service.
- Developers can build on top of existing services, creating more tools and conveniences for customers everywhere.
- The data model is backward compatible with both IMAP folders and Gmail-style labels.
- The protocol is stateless. It doesn’t need a persistent connection, which is better for mobile use.
- Email can be sent using the same protocol, reducing confusing failure modes for users.
- There are also specifications for calendaring and contacts via JMAP
The official JMAP site stated that their
upcoming work includes adding contacts and calendars (replacing CardDAV/CalDAV).