MailNews:Address Book Native Formats

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Address Book currently uses the MailNews mork format (*.mab). This has its limitations and we are considering rewriting the storage system for local address books to an improved format.

Here are some possibilities (from what I've seen in bugs and discussions on IRC):

  • sqlite
  • vcard based
  • xml based
    • I vote for xml based format. It is simply to wait and easily expandable (also with a simple text editor). --Griffin 00:17, 8 Oct 2005 (GMT+01:00)

In due course we want to have the pros and cons for each of the formats and why some may be more suitable than others. So if you can think of a suitable format (for local storage), please add it to the list. Note that interfacing formats can be found under MailNews:Address Book Interface Formats.

--Standard8 14:09, 8 Sep 2005 (PDT)

The items below are my first attempt and are still WIP. --Standard8 05:19, 28 Dec 2005 (PST)

Mork (mdb)


  • We already use it ;-)


  • The file format lacks basic tools for working with it.
  • The file format is the worst format I have ever seen!!
  • Many people have tried to develop tools to deal with the format and have given up in frustration
  • No standard way for other applications to access the data



  • Proper database format and facilities. This should provide faster searching and better management.
  • Mozilla code base already has an implementation
  • Database locking already in place (?)
  • Follows the Mozilla2:Unified Storage suggestions

Possible Advantage (though currently a major disadvantage):

  • Standard set of tools and binds exist so that it can be accessed by other applications

See for more info


  • File format isn't readable by humans - is this really a problem?

VCard & XML Based


  • Readable by humans/others.


  • Readable by humans/others - how do we deal with file locking issues? what happens if something changes the file underneath us?
  • Slower processing - these formats typically take longer to process.
  • Doesn't follow the Mozilla2:Unified Storage suggestions