Tutorial: Write an Evolution Plugin

Evolution Plugin

This tutorial will show you how to write a mumbles plugin for Evolution that sends a notification when new mail is received.

Plugin Files

If you want to save yourself some typing (or indenting!) time, or just want to grab the plugin, the files for the tutorial are available here.

[edit: If you're using a newer version of Evolution (I have 2.12.1 in Gutsy), a new parameter has been added to the NewMail signal. I have updated the tutorial below to include handling of this parameter, however the files linked above do not yet include this update. Updates will appear shortly in svn

Requirements for this tutorial

  • mumbles version 0.4
  • dbus-monitor
  • Evoultion

The DBus

As mumbles makes use of DBus, the first step in writing a plugin for mumbles is to look for the DBus signals, to which, we are able to connect. I like a simple command line application called dbus-monitor for this.

So, let's watch what happens on the DBus while running Evolution. First in a terminal type:



Next start Evolution.

In the output of dbus-monitor you should see (among other things) a few lines that look similar to:

signal sender=:1.62 -> dest=(null destination) path=/org/gnome/evolution/mail/newmail; interface=org.gnome.evolution.mail.dbus.Signal; member=MessageReading string "Inbox"


Here, we see a DBus signal named 'MessageReading'. In our example, we're interested in what happens when new mail is received. So send your self a test message and click Send/Receive. You should then see, when your message arrives, in dbus-monitor something like:

signal sender=:1.62 -> dest=(null destination) path=/org/gnome/evolution/mail/newmail; interface=org.gnome.evolution.mail.dbus.Signal; member=Newmail string "mbox:/home/dot_j/.evolution/mail/local#Inbox" string "Inbox" uint32 1


[edit: depending on your version of Evolution you may not see the last uint32]

We see that when, new mail arrives, a signal is sent to the DBus called 'NewMail'. A few other things we'll need to note are:

  • The signal name (member): NewMail
  • The path: /org/gnome/evolution/mail/newmail
  • The interface: org.gnome.evolution.mail.dbus.Signal
  • And the two paramaters that are sent to the signal:
    • "mbox:/home/dot_j/.evolution/mail/local#Inbox"
    • "Inbox"
    • [edit: "uint23 1" for newer versions]

Writing the plugin

We'll make use of those shortly in the code for the plugin. We got what we needed from dbus-monitor, so go ahead and close it and create a new directory in your home directory for our plugin:

mkdir ~/evolution_plugin


If you have mumbles installed locally and have dug around in the directories, you may have seen the structure of a mumbles plugin. Each plugin has a file named



and a directory named



The src directory contains another python file called



setup.py is just that - a setup file for our plugin and __init__.py in the src directory is the source file for our plugin.

Now let’s get down to business. Let’s setup that structure in a new directory for our plugin:

mkdir ~/evolution_plugin/src


Next, create setup.py in your favorite editor:

gedit ~/evolution_plugin/setup.py


And enter:

#------------------------------------------------------------------------ # A Mumbles Plugin for Evolution #   Copyright (c) 2007 dot_j <dot_j[at]mumbles-project[dot]org> #   Lisenced under the GPL #------------------------------------------------------------------------ from setuptools import setup import sys, os from shutil import copy __author__ = 'dot_j[AT]mumbles-project[DOT]org' __doc__ = 'An Evolution plugin for mumbles' __version__ = '0.1' setup(     name='EvolutionMumbles',     version=__version__,     description=__doc__,     author=__author__,     packages=['evolution'],     package_dir={'evolution':'src'},     entry_points='''     [mumbles.plugins]     Evolution = evolution:EvolutionMumbles     ''' )

And save setup.py

Pretty straight forward setup here. We define our author, documentation and plugin version tags and add what we need in order to build our python egg (plugin). For more information about eggs and setuptools see here.

Now create our plugin source file

gedit ~/evolution_plugin/src/__init__.py


And enter:

#------------------------------------------------------------------------ # A Mumbles Plugin for Evolution #   Copyright (c) 2007 dot_j <dot_j[at]mumbles-project[dot]org> #   Lisenced under the GPL #------------------------------------------------------------------------ # We'll extend the MumblesPlugin class to create our Evolution plugin from MumblesPlugin import * class EvolutionMumbles(MumblesPlugin):     # Give our plugin a name (using the same name we used in setup.py).     plugin_name = "EvolutionMumbles"     # Use the dbus interface we saw in dbus-notify     dbus_interface = "org.gnome.evolution.mail.dbus.Signal"     # Use the dbus path we saw in dbus-notify     dbus_path = "/org/gnome/evolution/mail/newmail"     # Configure our plugin icon     icons = {'evolution' : 'evolution.png'}     # setup the __init__ function where we define     # the dbus signal(s), to which, we are connecting.     # Note this function takes 2 parameters (mumbles_notify and     # session_bus) that we will hand off to our     # MumblesPlugin parent class     def __init__(self, mumbles_notify, session_bus):         # Here, we tell our plugin to connect the dbus signal         # 'Newmail' to our plugin class's 'NewMail' function         self.signal_config = {             "Newmail": self.NewMail         }         # and hand off our mumbles_notify and session_bus objects to our parent         MumblesPlugin.__init__(self, mumbles_notify, session_bus)     # NewMail function     # This will get called when a NewMail signal is received on the DBus from Evolution     # Note the function takes 2 parameters (the two we saw in the dbus-monitor activity)     # [edit: newer versions of Evolution may have a 3rd parameter,     # the follwoing should work with or without this parameter]     def NewMail(self, mbox_path, folder_name, some_int=None):         # Get our icon using the key we used above when configuring our icons dictionary         icon = self.get_icon('evolution')         # Define what we want to send in our notification:         # Send a simple title         title = 'Evolution: New Mail!'         # Let's send our folder name as our notification message         message = folder_name         # If you want to try an advanced version of the plugin,         # see if you can use the supplied mbox_path to get more information         # about the message that just arrived! And be sure to let us know         # about your efforts.         # Finally, using our mumbles_notification object, send the notification         self.mumbles_notify.alert(self.plugin_name, title, message, icon)

And just 60 lines of code (with comments!) - not too bad, right? And we’re almost there. But first, we need to create that icon we used and put it where our plugin can find it.

So, create a plugins directory in your hidden .mumbles directory in your home folder. If you have run mumbles already, you will already have a directory called ~/.mumbles. If not, create that first, then create the plugin and plugin/icons directories there.

mkdir ~/.mumbles (if you need to, but you shouldn't) mkdir ~/.mumbles/plugins mkdir ~/.mumbles/plugins/icons


The default themes that come with mumbles will support an image around 20×20 pixels. So for this example, I used the Evolution icon I had in in /usr/share/icons/hicolor/22×22/apps/evolution.png

cp /usr/share/icons/hicolor/22x22/apps/evolution.png ~/.mumbles/plugins/icons


Build and install the plugin

cd ~/evolution_plugin (if you're not already there) python setup.py bdist_egg


This will use our setup.py file to create our plugin. After it runs, you should see a file named



in the dist directory that was created by the build process. Here the -py2.5 part of the filename refers to what version of python you are using (it may vary, but if you are able to start mumbles, should not matter).

The .egg file is our plugin, so the only thing left to do is copy that to the mumbles plugin directory.

cp dist/EvolutionMumbles-0.1-py2.5.egg ~/.mumbles/plugins


Try it

That’s it! Now run mumbles and send yourself another email. You should see your new mail notification!

Thanks for following along. I hope you found this tutorial both helpful and interesting. And I hope it inspired you to write a plugin of your own. If you expand on this example, or write a new plugin for your favorite application be sure to let us know!


Download tutorial files here.

10 Comments to 'Tutorial: Write an Evolution Plugin'

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  1. Rigs said,

    It is working fine !

    Quick question.
    I have different name folders (Inbox/Personal, Inbox/Alerts, etc) mapped with different rules.

    Is it possible to send alerts only for a specific folder(s) ?

  2. Rigs said,

    Sorry again… question:

    And what about showing part of the subject?

  3. neil said,

    I followed this tutorial to the letter but cannot seem to make it work. I installed the .deb package as I am running Ubuntu. Does this make a difference at all? It seems the .deb places my plugins in a totally different directory. Please help, the other plugins all work great!

  4. dot_j said,

    Sorry to hear about your issues with the tutorial - could you please email me (dot_j@thisdomain) copies of the code you are using, your .mumbles directory and the output of ‘mumbles -v’? - hopefully we’ll be able to solve your problem.

  5. Deniz Dizman said,

    I had to add a 3 rd parameter to the NewMail function in __init__.py to get it to work correctly with evolution 2.12.1, on gutsy

  6. posburn said,

    Deniz -

    Any chance you could let me know what that 3rd parameter was? I followed the tutorial to the letter, but its doesn’t work for me. I’m also running Evolution 2.12.1 on Gutsy.

  7. dot_j said,

    Deniz: The 3rd parameter is an integer (haven’t bothered to look up what it is, as it appears to be unrelated to the functionality of the plugin). I have updated the tutorial with information about how to handle this. Please let me know if you have any issues.

  8. Jeroen said,

    mkdir ~/.mumbles # (if you need to, but you shouldn’t)
    mkdir ~/.mumbles/plugins
    mkdir ~/.mumbles/plugins/icons

    You can shorten this with

    mkdir -p ~/.mumbles/plugins/icons

  9. MumRah said,

    I got it installed and working, Thanks for the tutorials.
    I get this error when installing the evolution plugin

    python setup.py bdist_egg
    File “setup.py”, line 5
    SyntaxError: Non-ASCII character ‘\xe2′ in file setup.py on line 5, but no encoding declared; see http://www.python.org/peps/pep-0263.html for details

    Please help
    Regards, MumRah

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