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Last post Author Topic: Why I switched from Thunderbird to The Bat!  (Read 6051 times)

Tuxman

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Why I switched from Thunderbird to The Bat!
« on: October 18, 2012, 10:00:02 AM »
Maybe anyone here cares. I usually would blog things like this, but as most of my regular readers stick to webmail services nowadays, I would receive a shitstorm and destructive comments at best. So I'll just put it into a BBS where no one would ever flame me. This here. :D

(Preliminary note: I mainly work with Windows. On other platforms I might probably come to a different conclusion.)

My first half-decent mail client was Mozilla Thunderbird version 0.something. (Early adopters, anyone?) Before they came up with it, I had been using Outlook Express and similar clients. I just did not really use e-mail back in the days. I was rather contented with Mozilla Thunderbird, it did what it should, it was free, it was convenient and it did not even stumble about my preference for weird server configurations. (Don't ask me why. I seem to have no luck with my chosen hosters.) Moreover it allowed my to use GnuPG and NNTP which went very well with my commitment to the German Pirate Party and similar occasions.

Then the problems began.

Suddenly Thunderbird turned out to be fractious about IMAP management. The faster update cycle bothered Enigmail so it broke every few weeks. Also the application felt quite sedate at times. Previously appreciated features - e.g. the possibility to show/hide e-mail headers dynamically - disappeared from the core application and had to be added via third-party extensions. The fact that now and then there were essential improvements among the changes, like the new user interface of Thunderbird 17, did not compensate that for me.

One fine day after Thunderbird 11 or something I accepted that a replacement was needed. However, to find a decent one proved to be very difficult. The first result, due to convenience reasons, was to drop web mail services off my list of potential replacements. I have to manage more than ten separate IMAP accounts by now - try to manage them per web mail clients. (And don't even dare to throw in Google Mail, that ads-partner-polluted piece of something. Aside from my sane paranoia about Google's evilness: I would really miss the convenience of a decent desktop mail client. Again: A certain number of IMAP accounts with very different configurations are soliciting my more or less regular attention.)

My list of requirements for a decent replacement was rather short: GnuPG 2 support and a threaded view (for my subscribed mailing lists) were quite the only needed features. NNTP was optional, I could as well use Opera, still Thunderbird, SeaMonkey or the like for that. (I don't know whether SeaMonkey can handle GnuPG 2 or not - on the other hand I never really was into the Mozilla Suite either. I considered it - and Opera - too hard to use because of the different moduses - mail, browser, ... - when I only need one.)

The choice (this is a good moment to remind you that I primarily use Windows) was appropriately complicated:

  • I generally like Pegasus Mail but it crashes reproducably - I had reported the issue, but AFAICS it has not been fixed for months. Also the handling needs getting used to for a while.
  • Outlook has an awful user interface. No-go: No support for OpenPGP/GnuPG available (or would it require obscure plug-ins or something?), so it's out.
  • Claws Mail seems to be something like Thunderbird in hideous clothes. Also it can't work with HTML mails. ;-) (Don't take this too seriously.)
The consequence was my union with a good old friend, enter The Bat!. It can do anything I need and had been developed continuously for years now. Using the trial version was - apart from initial weirdness about using CA certificates which are monitored internally by The Bat! - almost fun to me, GnuPG 2 works out of the box and the templating system (you can define complete templates for new e-mails, replies et al.) are for power mailers like me a must-have. You know you need it when you use it for the first time. :D

The Bat! was well worth the (reduced) ~ 20 € for a full-featured Professional license (valid until version 6.0.99). I also get a Voyager (portable The Bat!) with the license, the very helpful and kind German community is one more reason to like it. The developers (RITLabs, a Moldovan company) replies to bug reports quite fast and fixes severe bugs in one of the following beta versions if possible. Also included: Profile encryption, schedulable backups of the complete application with all accounts, import from Thunderbird.

Of course The Bat! is mainly a mailing application. No NNTP, no RSS, only a rudimentary calendar without cloud synchronization. - Anyway, if you are a power user of RSS and/or calendars, you probably already use (like me) dedicated solutions. Compared to FeedDemon/RSSOwl and Rainlendar, Thunderbird's provided functions are sort of a joke.

As a side note here's some screenshot after having moved all mail accounts from Thunderbird into The Bat!:



Je ne regrette rien.

You are kindly allowed to make fun of me now.

mouser

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Re: Why I switched from Thunderbird to The Bat!
« Reply #1 on: October 18, 2012, 10:07:22 AM »
Thanks for the post Tuxman! Everyone has different needs but I'm still a fan of TheBat as well, and have been using it for over a decade now.

Tuxman

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Re: Why I switched from Thunderbird to The Bat!
« Reply #2 on: October 18, 2012, 10:12:51 AM »
Not necessarily different needs. When it comes to mail clients, you basically have the choice between full-featured groupware and simple IMAP/SMTP/POP3 management I'd always prefer the latter.

But it is good to know that I am not the only one here.  :Thmbsup:

rgdot

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Re: Why I switched from Thunderbird to The Bat!
« Reply #3 on: October 18, 2012, 10:13:38 AM »
Spoiler
Wasn't there a DC The Bat giveaway?


Thanks for posting Tuxman, the image alone says a lot

MilesAhead

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Re: Why I switched from Thunderbird to The Bat!
« Reply #4 on: October 18, 2012, 10:21:57 AM »
Heh. I went the other way.  From Pegasus to Thunderbird. For a long time I resisted html in email. But then again I used a text mode web browser before switching to Mosaic. Guess I'm stodgy.  :)

I should have known that people will use graphics and don't care if that's "standard" behavior.

It took me a while to remember the name, but back in the early 90s Eudora was the easy to use Gui email client. Thing is I didn't want to pay for it. So after I got tired of using hobbled versions I found Pegasus.

After briefly flirting with TB 14 I reverted back to 2.0.0.24. Seems to work smoother to me. I don't really need multiple tabs in my email client.

Tuxman

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Re: Why I switched from Thunderbird to The Bat!
« Reply #5 on: October 18, 2012, 10:23:54 AM »
Heh. I went the other way.  From Pegasus to Thunderbird.
That's not the other way.

For a long time I resisted html in email.
Why don't you anymore?
There should be death penalty on HTML mails IMO. Annoying.

Renegade

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Re: Why I switched from Thunderbird to The Bat!
« Reply #6 on: October 18, 2012, 10:26:39 AM »
Thanks for that post there. It's always good to have these issues revisited after a while.

I tried The Bat! once a long time ago, but it was just too difficult farting around with the trial, and I gave up.

I used to use Thunderbird... for quite a while, but was FORCED to abandon it due to critical bugs. I really liked it. Like, REALLY liked it. I was damn near heartbroken when I had to quit from it. :(

I use Outlook now. Outlook 2010. I LOATHED Outlook 2003, and tolerated Outlook 2007. But Outlook 2010 is usable now.

Before Thunderbird, I used Outlook Express, which was actually really, really good. That must be why MS killed it.

Now, for anyone reading... I have a serious question...

My Outlook PSTs are simply sick. Just damn sick. They're huge. GB huge. Several of them. I hate it.

Can The Bat! help me get my PST illness under control?  

mouser, you've been using The Bat! for long enough, would you say that it can help get 2~10 GB of email under control?

Slow Down Music - Where I commit thought crimes...

Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John Diefenbaker

Tuxman

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Re: Why I switched from Thunderbird to The Bat!
« Reply #7 on: October 18, 2012, 10:29:56 AM »
The Bat! can help you getting your PST illness under control by just not using PST files.  :P

MilesAhead

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Re: Why I switched from Thunderbird to The Bat!
« Reply #8 on: October 18, 2012, 10:40:16 AM »

Why don't you anymore?
There should be death penalty on HTML mails IMO. Annoying.

Because shoveling against the tide is futile.  Like using text based web crawlers. It's more fun with graphics. My first dial-up internet was terminal mode. I saved a few bucks. Plus back then ppp was a pita to set up.  They didn't have click a browser install and bingo it comes up working. You had to put in the IP numbers network mask and mumbo jumbo.  Anyway, I don't remember the name of the thing, but this dude came out with a ppp simulator. You had to get the Sysadmin of your ISP to let you run it on your account on his system. Then you ran a client on your PC.  Using a terminal based account you could then use graphical browsers like Mosaic, Netscape etc..

Once I browsed the web with graphics, forget that terminal account.  Went to another provider with ppp a bit cheaper.

I liked that Pegasus had the email server polling tray app thing built in. But it was just to quirky. I spent too much time reading the documentation instead of just using it.


Tuxman

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Re: Why I switched from Thunderbird to The Bat!
« Reply #9 on: October 18, 2012, 10:45:48 AM »
Shoveling against the tide is important. I, for one, prefer "view as plain text" settings, so annoying spam does not look annoying at least.

Seriously, what is the advantage of using HTML Mails? Many people can't read them properly and HTML formatting adds no real value to mails.

Carol Haynes

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Re: Why I switched from Thunderbird to The Bat!
« Reply #10 on: October 18, 2012, 10:55:04 AM »
PST files getting large is not good but why not use something like MailStore to archive everything over a year old? It is a great archiving system with instant access to all your old email with a super fast search engine and the emails can backed up easily to optical disks or an external device. Best of all the home version is free.

I actually quite like Windows Live Mail (which is basically Outlook Express with built in hotmail and a ribbon). Ignore the temptation to login to a Live/Hotmail account and just use it like OE - seems to work fine.

MilesAhead

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Re: Why I switched from Thunderbird to The Bat!
« Reply #11 on: October 18, 2012, 11:03:19 AM »
Shoveling against the tide is important. I, for one, prefer "view as plain text" settings, so annoying spam does not look annoying at least.

Seriously, what is the advantage of using HTML Mails? Many people can't read them properly and HTML formatting adds no real value to mails.

You're preaching to the choir. Why not find some proponent of html to argue with? Two people agreeing the argument never ends. :)

I've just accepted that it's part of the landscape. It's not going to reverse course because I don't like it. If that happened I'd be against paying for stuff.

Tuxman

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Re: Why I switched from Thunderbird to The Bat!
« Reply #12 on: October 18, 2012, 11:04:42 AM »
So why the tense of "I resisted"? :D

MilesAhead

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Re: Why I switched from Thunderbird to The Bat!
« Reply #13 on: October 18, 2012, 11:11:47 AM »
So why the tense of "I resisted"? :D

Is there going to be a Rorschach test next? I hope not. I'm a coffee short of tackling one of those. I'd rather have a shaman toss chicken bones. At least there's a possibility I'd get to eat the chicken first.  Like KFC or something. :)

Tuxman

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Re: Why I switched from Thunderbird to The Bat!
« Reply #14 on: October 18, 2012, 11:14:57 AM »
I see.  8)

cyberdiva

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Re: Why I switched from Thunderbird to The Bat!
« Reply #15 on: October 18, 2012, 11:44:55 AM »
Have you tried PostBox?  It's based on Thunderbird but I find it more configurable and more to my liking.  It's not free, but the price is $9, which is almost free.  It's not perfect, but it's as close as I've been able to come to reproducing the features I love and depend on in Mulberry.  Mulberry has been my primary email client for more than a decade.  It's still the best client I know for IMAP.  However, it has issues with graphics and with unicode, and it hasn't been under active development since perhaps 2005.  I tried The Bat several times, but I never got to the point where I could configure it to do what I wanted.  I also tried Thunderbird, but though I kept it on my computer to deal with an occasional email that Mulberry couldn't handle well, I was never tempted to use it on a regular basis.  It was too slow, for one, and I couldn't configure it as I wanted.  I tried PostBox not long ago and quickly found myself impressed.  It's now my backup, replacing Thunderbird.  One of these days, perhaps when PostBox gets more robust tech support and/or an active user's forum, it may even replace my beloved Mulberry.  Even now, though, I'd recommend PostBox to anyone looking for an alternative to Thunderbird.  (BTW, I too prefer plain text email, and PostBox permits me to decide whether I want plain text, basic HTML, or full-blown HTML, and it's easy to switch back and forth depending on the needs of the specific email message.  Another thing I like about PostBox is that it lets me set any number of mail folders as capable of receiving new mail, so it works well with the way I've set up my sieve file.)

Tuxman

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Re: Why I switched from Thunderbird to The Bat!
« Reply #16 on: October 18, 2012, 11:47:56 AM »
$9 for a Thunderbird (which is, as proven in my initial posting, buggy bloatware) with a few dozen built-in plug-ins? Are you serious?
When it comes to Mulberry, I have read a lot about it but never seen it in the wild.

Quote
It's still the best client I know for IMAP.

How do you define that? Where does Thunderbird/The Bat! fall short in terms of handling IMAP? I am not so tech-savvy when it comes to RFC specifications.


Edit: I've read through PostBox's website now. Looks like Apple Mail. Bleh.

superboyac

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Re: Why I switched from Thunderbird to The Bat!
« Reply #17 on: October 18, 2012, 01:00:05 PM »
Interesting read, tuxman.  I'm also interested in others experiences with the Bat (I have a love/hate relationship with it).

Can The Bat! help me get my PST illness under control? 

mouser, you've been using The Bat! for long enough, would you say that it can help get 2~10 GB of email under control?
Yes, the Bat is definitely a good client for optimizing your email data.  In fact, I'll go one step further and say it's really the only windows option available if your dedicated to storing your email on your hard drive.  That's one of things it's great at: sturdy/reliable email storage, responsive features, multiple account handling.  What it sucks at is customer support, and they will absolutely, positively not care at all about any feature you might want added to the program.  It's on version 5 right now...I assure you when it reaches version 8 not a damn thing will have been noticeably changed or improved.

Renegade

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Re: Why I switched from Thunderbird to The Bat!
« Reply #18 on: October 18, 2012, 01:05:24 PM »
Ok...

So, if I don't give a crap about new features or anything, does The Bat! offer reliable email storage?

I do not care about new features. I care ONLY about reliability. Well, that an the ability to filter spam in email, but 6 of 1...

Reliability - importability - compatibility... that's all I care about -- Does The Bat! meet that?

*Tried it a few years ago (quite a few) -- had no patience...
Slow Down Music - Where I commit thought crimes...

Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John Diefenbaker

Tuxman

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Re: Why I switched from Thunderbird to The Bat!
« Reply #19 on: October 18, 2012, 01:07:52 PM »
I have a love/hate relationship with it
Where's the hate?

What it sucks at is customer support, and they will absolutely, positively not care at all about any feature you might want added to the program.
They lost their bug tracker's database a while ago. Still they accept feature requests through it, you'll just have to find enough people who vote for it, then there's a good chance for it, I guess.

It's on version 5 right now...I assure you when it reaches version 8 not a damn thing will have been noticeably changed or improved.
Have you actually read the change log?
The latest beta builds have a quick reply window, for example. There are changes and improvements.

Tuxman

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Re: Why I switched from Thunderbird to The Bat!
« Reply #20 on: October 18, 2012, 01:10:47 PM »
does The Bat! offer reliable email storage?
Use IMAP.  :P

That aside, The Bat! (Professional/Voyager) features a scheduler for complete backups into a user-defined folder, so it is surely more reliable than many other e-mail clients.

Well, that an the ability to filter spam in email
The Bat! knows several plug-ins which do that, e.g. the AntiSpamSniper (which is available in a quite good free version). I use the Spamihilator with it. :)
(For the accounts which don't have SpamAssassin yet.)

superboyac

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Re: Why I switched from Thunderbird to The Bat!
« Reply #21 on: October 18, 2012, 01:21:17 PM »
(techie crowd...must remember to avoid hyperbole)
Yes, the Bat does add features, just not the ones anyone is asking for.  No big deal, I've ranted enough about that!

Renegade, the Bat will fulfill your requirements.  i don't think you have any alternatives either.  It will store your emails in files that will rarely get corrupted (i've never had a problem).  Even if the program or computer crashes, the files are always fine.  You can easily import/export from different clients without a problem.  It's also relatively easy (but not documented well) to move your files around to different locations, which is handy when reinstalling windows or if you want to move your data to another drive.  So it's the best for all these things.

cyberdiva

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Re: Why I switched from Thunderbird to The Bat!
« Reply #22 on: October 18, 2012, 01:31:19 PM »
$9 for a Thunderbird (which is, as proven in my initial posting, buggy bloatware) with a few dozen built-in plug-ins? Are you serious?

No, $9 for PostBox, which though based on Thunderbird, seems to me much faster and more configurable than Thunderbird.  And though I'm normally the kind of email user who should love The Bat, I found PostBox more to my liking.  But if you're happy with The Bat, that's fine.

Tuxman

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Re: Why I switched from Thunderbird to The Bat!
« Reply #23 on: October 18, 2012, 01:33:26 PM »
I am happy with The Bat!, but I love testing stuff I don't need. I would give it a very short try if it was not so ugly. :P

Shades

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Re: Why I switched from Thunderbird to The Bat!
« Reply #24 on: October 18, 2012, 03:09:58 PM »
If you want to play, try Foxmail. That one is free, comes in portable version and hooks up with Exchange if you want it to. Another goodie from China.
Softpedia has the english version available.