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Author Topic: ASRT 5/14/05 - EMAIL CLIENT  (Read 13892 times)
mouser
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« on: May 09, 2005, 01:17:37 PM »

Well..

I have to tell you that this one scares me a bit, but i'm thinking we should do email clients next week.

I know this one is bound to be controversial, and I'm not looking forward to it, but it seems like something that would be useful.

I could really use some help with this one, in identifying features and requirements to look at.

Let me give you my personal bias; i would really appreciate counter-arguments and as much detailed opinion and facts from people who have some experience with different email clients.

I have been using TheBat for many years now, and i'm a real fan. I have found their beta releases to be quite buggy, but the final versions have been wonderfully reliable.  I've never lost a single email, and i have over 60,000 emails dating back to 1996 which thebat handles perfectly (very nice import function).  I also really love the way it handles multiple accounts, which i have lots of.

As i see it, the two main competitors to the bat are Outlook (express) and the new thunderbird, which has tons of fans.

Thunderbird is sure to win excellence in open source no matter what, its incredible how substantial its become in such a short time.

But i have very little experience with thunderbird and outlook (+outlook express), and i really really could use some help from people who use these seriously and know the feature set, especially people who have used these and thebat.

as much help as you can give in terms of discussing issues, etc, would be welcome.

No matter what, this is bound to be a controversial review - people have strong attachments to their email clients, especially since they are used throughout the day by most people.

So, regardless of which program ultimately wins the best-in-class award, we will want to do justice to the others and properly talk about their advantages and disadvantages.

If someone has experience with all of these programs and would be willing to write a lengthy advocacy of one of these programs, i think this would be a good time to include such opinions in the review itself.  but only if you've seriously checked out more than one of these clients or switched from one to the other, and feel qualified to speak on why you switched, etc.

I'd also appreciate links to other reviews so we can see what aspects people liked/didnt like. and lists of features which are important to you.

i could really use your help on this review, so please give me as much info/details as you can.
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« Reply #1 on: May 09, 2005, 02:21:18 PM »

I'm still using Eudora http://www.eudora.com as it has excellent mail filtering, decent protection against viruses & phishing attacks, the best 3rd party spam blocking around http://www.spamnix.com and the single most important feature that no other mail package seems to have - editing of incoming mail.  I often like to edit incoming mail to add extra information or highlight a key area (such as a serial number) so it is easy to find in future.

If it wasn't for the editing I probably would have changed to 'The Bat!' ages ago as Eudora updates are expensive and startup is sloooowww if you have thousands of messages.
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Scott
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« Reply #2 on: May 09, 2005, 02:24:19 PM »

This post won't be very helpful, I'm afraid...  But to give you another alternative that may be worth including in the review, consider PocoMail 3.

I have been using PocoMail 3 for a long time, and it is a very well-featured client, with an emphasis on security and total separation from the lousy MSIE engine.  Native support for scripting (i.e. "PocoScripts") is a very nice touch as well (though the script language is quite limited).

PocoMail also has some minor-but-annoying bugs, some of which I've been waiting months and months to be resolved.

I really don't care how PocoMail fares in the review, though.  I've nearly abandoned it recently, because I'm sick of taking the time to submit bug reports that seemingly go ignored.

I am glad that mouser is price-agnostic though.  A lot of people would blindly go with Thunderbird, because of god's unwritten law that OS must always get the limelight.
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Jibz
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« Reply #3 on: May 09, 2005, 03:00:47 PM »

You can edit received message with a little hack in The Bat!

If you move a message from the Inbox to the Outbox, you can double click it to open it in the editor and put it back in the outbox when you're done editing. Then move it back to the Inbox again.

It does seem to change the dates in the headers though, but that's the price for a hack I guess mrgreen.
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« Reply #4 on: May 09, 2005, 03:29:25 PM »

Just switched over to M2 bundled with Opera.  The whole database concept beats any other email program I have used hands down!  I have used Pegasus Email (very nice... lots of config) and Outlook (only at work!!)  and M2 is cleaner and more powerful than those two, though it has a tad less configurability it seems.  My choice: M2.

Kevin
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mouser
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« Reply #5 on: May 09, 2005, 03:46:59 PM »

by all means keep the nominations coming.

ps. im not exactly price agnostic, but i definitely agree with the viewpoint of total cost of ownership. sometimes paying $20 a year is a better decision than spending an extra 20 hours a year fighting with an unfinished program.

though i do believe there are lot's of added benefits of open source that make it something worth supporting, encouraging, and always considering as an alternative.
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mouser
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« Reply #6 on: May 09, 2005, 03:49:15 PM »

eudora was once king, though it seems to be getting less and less attention..
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Jibz
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« Reply #7 on: May 09, 2005, 04:13:55 PM »

I was a happy Opera user back at version 3 and 4 .. marvelous program, and very fast.

Then they started protecting every exe and dll in the package with some executable protector, and all of a sudden the "fastest browser on earth" took more than a minute to start on my old box wallbash.

So I switched to Mozilla, which was fast compared to that .. a shame Roll Eyes.
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"A problem, properly stated, is a problem on it's way to being solved" -Buckminster Fuller
"Multithreading is just one damn thing after, before, or simultaneous with another" -Andrei Alexandrescu
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« Reply #8 on: May 09, 2005, 04:29:54 PM »

I use Opera 8; it's great for browsing, OK (I guess) for RSS and IRC, but I don't like it at all for news or email.  It's by no means slow for me though.
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« Reply #9 on: May 09, 2005, 05:07:37 PM »

Thunderbird has been my favorite for quite some time now.  If nothing else, I think it should definitely earn the open-source award.
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« Reply #10 on: May 10, 2005, 01:09:03 AM »

You can edit received message with a little hack in The Bat!

If you move a message from the Inbox to the Outbox, you can double click it to open it in the editor and put it back in the outbox when you're done editing. Then move it back to the Inbox again.

It does seem to change the dates in the headers though, but that's the price for a hack I guess mrgreen.

Jibz, that is horrible!  embarassed

I'm still gonna give it a go though.  Thanks!

Mouser, if you've ever had to deal with Qualcomm support you'll see why nobody uses Eudora any more.  Wink
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zridling
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« Reply #11 on: May 12, 2005, 04:08:25 AM »

Here's some thoughts by Scot Finnie that have proved true to my experience:

Thunderbird Is No Firefox
A lot of you have been bending my ear with the suggestion that I try Mozilla's Thunderbird. I don't really make a habit of reviewing email software, even though I do write about the subject a lot. Why don't I review email products? Because I've learned over the years that my needs are a lot more demanding than most people's.

For example, I need an email program whose message rules can filter both incoming and outgoing messages. Thunderbird can only filter incoming messages. I need an email app that can pull dozens of email accounts into a single inbox and folder hierarchy. Thunderbird is primarily designed to handle multiple accounts in separate inboxes. It has a feature that allows it to merge those accounts into a single inbox, but Mozilla decided to protect us from ourselves by creating a default SMTP server that's designed to serve all of your accounts, and that frankly turns the whole program into a giant mess for experienced email users who are able to work with multiple SMTP servers. I also need an email program that provides true individual account controls (plus an "identities" or "personalities" feature, which lets you create multiple account-like entries for a single mail account). Thunderbird makes a stab at this, but it's fatally flawed, primarily because of the compromises already mentioned.

One other pet peeve. Many of Thunderbird's settings dialogs are modal. Once opened, they prevent anything else from being opened. That can be annoying when you want to copy and paste settings from one account to another, for example. I also had trouble getting ThunderBird's import tool to import the Eudora address book, even though it offered an option to do so. My Eudora installation uses the default locations for all Eudora files, but Qualcomm made a change a couple of years back on those defaults. My guess is that some Thunderbird developer was using an old version of Eudora when writing the import script.

After just 30 minutes with the finished product, my assessment is this: Thunderbird looks a lot like Outlook Express. In fact, it reminds me of a cross between the cult-favorite Calypso emailer from the 1990s (which is now being marketed and developed by Rose City Software as Courier) and Outlook Express. It's actually less powerful than Outlook Express (though OE has other severe problems) and more powerful than the original Calypso.

Frankly, all, you can do better than this. There's a product called PocoMail that might be worth a look if you haven't tried it. It has much of the power of Eudora with a cleaner interface more like Outlook Express. My only qualm about PocoMail has been that the product is updated sporadically, and reliability hasn't always been excellent.

Sorry to pour cold water on Thunderbird when I know so many of you are newly fond of it. The interface is very slick but I do not like Mozilla's underlying strategy. The very same approach is perfect for the Firefox browser. But the world doesn't need another light-weight email package — there are already far too many of them. What we need is something that can go up against Outlook, Outlook Express, and Eudora head on. Something with significant features that will give us a real alternative. It's clear to me that Mozilla is more than capable of creating such an email application. They just went in a different direction. As a result, I find Thunderbird to be a bitter disappointment.


For its excellent filtering abilities, I just use GMail these days, and if I must use a POP3 client, I use PocoMail. I love FoxMail for its sheer simplicity and easy setup.
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« Reply #12 on: May 12, 2005, 04:59:11 AM »

I found the user interface of PocoMail to be crowded and somewhat messy redface.

Thunderbird can be a bit slow on old machines due to the GUI stuff, like Mozilla.

I like that The Bat! and Thunderbird are not using the MS HTML control to show HTML messages .. fewer security problems Thmbsup.

Don't know what PocoMail is using.
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« Reply #13 on: May 12, 2005, 06:35:55 AM »

PocoMail 3 doesn't look crowded or messy to me.  I think it just takes getting used to, because it has a lot of features that bare-bones clients like Thunderbird don't.  A lot of it can be disabled, too.

PocoMail uses its own HTML engine, and doesn't support JavaScript at all.
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« Reply #14 on: May 12, 2005, 07:25:22 AM »

It's of course a question of personal taste thumbs up.

What I wasn't so happy about at first glance were things like:

  • focus following mouse, and highlighting selected item in each part of the windows when entered -- I find it distracting
  • inconsistent coloring of the close icon (red in mailbox tree and address book, blue on message list, and on the left instead of on the right
  • doulbe-sized buttons on all dialogs (since there are more than enough tiny little buttons, it can't be for accesibility reasons)
  • Some buttons have tooltips (bar above message), some buttons show info at the bottom (inside message), others have no help at all (toolbar)

I'm sure it has tons of nice features though .. I was just describing my first impression Thmbsup.
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« Reply #15 on: May 12, 2005, 09:02:23 AM »

I normally hate "mouse hot tracking" too (the feature you mention where focus follows the mouse).  PocoMail lets you disable it, fortunately.

I hate the default orange colors.  I think it's a ridiculous choice as a default color--and in some cases (like the color of mailbox icons), you can't change it without using a resource editor (which I very hastily do after each PocoMail update).  That's nonsense.

Not sure what you mean about the buttons or the tooltips, and I'm too lazy and tired to look.  smiley
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mouser
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« Reply #16 on: May 12, 2005, 11:53:44 AM »

hot tracking is a horrible evil thing.
which makes me guess that microsoft invented it (or funded it , or rescued it from history's trash bin), like the wonderous ever-changing ever-hiding "smart" menus.

prove me wrong!

 trout
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Scott
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« Reply #17 on: May 12, 2005, 12:34:52 PM »

Prove what wrong, that hot tracking is horrible and evil?  Well, PocoMail is really the only application I use it in, and I think it's the only application I have ever really used it in.  I tend to appreciate hot tracking more in PocoMail more than anywhere else.  Once you get used to it--if you are inclined to in the first place--it's convenient, since you just move the cursor, then can hit the Delete key, or whatever.

Here's why hot tracking is cool: Personally, I hate having to click in a frame to give it focus.  If you have something selected in the target frame, such as a particular email message, clicking in the wrong place will change your selection.  This is an especial pain in the ass when you have made multiple selections, and then lose them because you have to click to give focus.  I've had that happen after painstakingly making a wide range of selections using Ctrl, Shift, and Ctrl+Shift.  It makes me literally scream when it happens.

And it's not just selections...  If there are radio buttons, check boxes, or other controls in the target frame, then you can accidentally select those, too.

Hot tracking prevents both problems.

Though few are, applications can be designed to ignore the first mouse click, so that first click just gives focus, and nothing else.  But as far as I'm concerned, that just adds another pain in the ass, since you then have to keep track of what has focus, and then keep in mind that sometimes, the first click will do something, and other times it won't.

Yes, you can also (usually) use the Tab key to switch focus, but that drive me absolutely nuts.  Half the time, the stupid application has a Tab order that makes no sense whatsoever, and in most cases, you end up having to hit Tab 3,500 times to get where you want.  And if you're me, you accidentally skip right past the object you want to give focus to on the first 10 tries, so you have to try again and again, with your blood pressure rising each time.

It's just easier to (1) Move the cursor, and (2) Do whatever you want.  Once you get used to it, that is.

So there you have it.  Cool


Then there is X-Mouse; now there's something that drives me bonkers!  I also just tried a little utility that made the cursor wrap around one edge of the screen to the other, rather than stopping at the borders...  Now that is something I just cannot get used to!
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« Reply #18 on: May 12, 2005, 12:35:36 PM »

Oh, how I loathe smart menus .. it's the first thing I turn off when installing a Microsoft product nono2.
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"Multithreading is just one damn thing after, before, or simultaneous with another" -Andrei Alexandrescu
mouser
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« Reply #19 on: May 12, 2005, 01:17:26 PM »

well i have to admit, that you do make me realize that "hot tracking" in the widest sense of the word is sometimes good.
For example, i use the scroll wheel on mouse to scroll windows, and it is absolutely essential to efficient work that this scroll wheel work in the panel/window under the mouse without having to first tab into that panel/window to give it focues.
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« Reply #20 on: May 12, 2005, 01:28:23 PM »

It's not so much the effect of hot-tracking itself I dislike, it's more the flashy color/border change that some apps have with it, like Corel Draw and PocoMail. Moving the mouse around the user interface, I get distracted by controls lighting up thumbs up.
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"A problem, properly stated, is a problem on it's way to being solved" -Buckminster Fuller
"Multithreading is just one damn thing after, before, or simultaneous with another" -Andrei Alexandrescu
mouser
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« Reply #21 on: May 12, 2005, 01:38:01 PM »

yes i agree 100% jibz, that is the thing that bothers me too.
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mouser
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« Reply #22 on: May 14, 2005, 09:16:56 PM »

just a warning - i might not get my review done until monday; been working too hard on screenshot captor.

guys i could use some more help here identifying useful features and comparing the programs..
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Jibz
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« Reply #23 on: May 15, 2005, 05:02:47 AM »

I am a big fan of security when it comes to e-mail clients. Here are some points to look for:

  • Should not use MS HTML component, but some internal viewer if at all
  • External images should never be downloaded by default
  • Java and/or *script has no place in e-mail
  • Should warn before opening attachment / link
  • Should integrate nicely with virus scanner
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"A problem, properly stated, is a problem on it's way to being solved" -Buckminster Fuller
"Multithreading is just one damn thing after, before, or simultaneous with another" -Andrei Alexandrescu
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« Reply #24 on: May 15, 2005, 01:28:57 PM »

If I can help answer questions or point out features of PocoMail 3, I will do so.  I can point out that it meets all of Jibz' points above.  And the functionality of PocoScripts is important to consider, I think, since it gives you quite a bit of control over handling your email, attachments, and even run external applications or perform other tasks.

BTW, regarding a border/color change caused by hot tracking in PocoMail; I see only one, and in the preview pane, and it's minimal (it's 1 pixel wide!).  I assume they do it there because otherwise, there would be no indication that the preview pane had focus.
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