Tuesday, May 10, 2005

GyazMail is (Almost) Perfect

I'm a mac fanatic... and my matching tangerine iBook and iMac computers are proof. So when I upgraded to OS X last fall, I was really excited about Apple MAIL, but I never really enjoyed using it. So I soon started looking for a replacement — which is when I came across Goichi Hirakawa's little masterpiece GyazMail (I think that it's pronounced "gazz mail").

I fell in love with the e-mail client immediately: it was zippy and intuitive... and it was the product of a small developer. Of course, with time, I started noticing things I'd like to see improved. So I kept a list.

(Hey, what's love if you can't nag a little?)

As I've used the program, I've jotted down a few ideas that I had that I think would make GyazMail either behave in a more expected fashion or that are innovative in nature. I'm using so these are based on my experience on earlier versions of the software up to and including this one... but not the latest, as the installer doesn't like that I'm not the root user (even though I have root access).

Anyway, here are my suggestions for a new-and-improved GyazMail (in no particular order):

Accounts & Folders

UNREAD MESSAGE counts (#) at the ACCOUNT level: I want to be able to see the total of all unread messages for an entire account — even when the account folder is closed.

Clicking on ACCOUNT headers selects _all_ folders within (infinite children).

Clicking on any folder selects all sub-folders (infinite children).

Global and/or Account Folder for STATIONARY/TEMPLATES: There needs to be a place for me to store templates... and that should be in a folder that either resides within an account, or a global folder that resides outside of the account metaphor. I'm still undecided, though, which I'd prefer... it seems reasonable that some folks might have a template that would be useful for several accounts, which would lead me to say have a templates folder outside the account structure; the downside, of course, is that you've got a wonderful metaphor here that is very tidy — which is a big plus.

Which leads me to the next question:

Should DRAFTS be outside the ACCOUNT folder structure? I often write a draft before sending it out into the world... and it would be nice not to have to choose an account prematurely. Also, it would be nice to have a folder just of drafts that had a message count just of the items found within... sort of an encouragement not to forget to finish the draft you were working on.

OUTBOX is the incorrect term — should be SENT: The term "outbox" sounds like it hasn't been sent yet... which leads to confusion between it and "queue".

Each ACCOUNT should have its own ARCHIVE: Like Google, the assumption should be that people will find GyazMail so easy to use, and its search so powerful, that you'll _want_ to keep all the e-mail (that isn't spam)... so we should assume that _everyone_ will need an archive folder... and with a default archive folder, we'd get a keyboard shortcut for "archive this", and a button, too.

Here's how I see the structure of an account folder:




  • SENT

    • Sub-Folder 1
    • Sub-Folder 2


  • Sub-Folder A

  • Sub-Folder B

Of course, the folders would all be re-arrangeable, just as they are now.


Clicking on a name or an e-mail address in CC: field generates REPLY to that person alone.

Clickable "TO:", "CC:", and "BCC:" header titles that allow for "Add All (E-mail Addresses) to Group...", "Add All (E-mail Addresses) as a New Group..." and "Add (E-mail Addresses) Individually" to Address Book (with appropriate corollaries for when there's only ONE addy to add).

Easy mass-mailings: This is easier said than done, but basically, I'd like to see something like the ability I had in EUDORA, where I could click through my entire e-mail address book and send an e-mail to everyone I had chosen with a minimum of effort... this, of course, would require that GyazMail use a custom interface ADDRESS BOOK database.

Replace the SEND LATER command (and button) with a SCHEDULED SEND command (and button): First of all, it's not clear when "later" is with the command as it is currently... and it would be a coup (I don't think other e-mail clients have it) to offer this new feature, which would be a god-send for people like me who want to plan ahead. I'd want to click "schedule send", and be offered a small dialog... the dialog would offer a prominent button for "send on next check", which is what I think SEND LATER already does. It would also have a calendaring section that would allow me to send at a later date and time, and to set-up recurring sends. Finally, it would have a third section that would toggle notification/approval modes: "Send without approval", "Request approval", "Require approval". The first mode would send at the specified time and day without additional input; the second would offer the sender a chance to abort the send, but would send without consent after a reasonable period (2 minutes, say); the final would send only after approval was granted. Why is this handy?

Smart Mailboxes: I don't know yet, but I think this may be a very cool thing to copy from the new MAIL application.


Random signature selection: I love my signatures... but they get a little boring after a while, and I think it would be fun to have a way for GyazMail to randomly set my signature based on some variables in my preferences... specifically, I should be able to create a sub-set of my signatures (a sub-set as small as 1 and as large as ALL) that this account could choose from.

Remembering (and recalling) window states at closing/opening: This is pretty straight-forward... I want to leave messages "open" when I quit the program, open for me when I start the program up next time.

Need ALIAS selection for ACCOUNT type: I have a few e-mail accounts, some of which are only aliases, meaning that I only SEND mail from them. I don't need a POP set-up for them. Currently, I have to fill the POP information with dummy data... I'd rather just set the account type to ALIAS and only fill in the SMPT data.

Commands & Menus

The menu item NEW WINDOW should be under the WINDOW menu.

Add "Move to..." to contextual menu when clicking on a single e-mail or a group of e-mails in the listing area.

Contextual menu for ACCOUNT headers: Clicking on an account header should give me a contextual menu for DELETE, RENAME, and the like.

UNDO should also undo a move to the TRASH or a move to the archives: I accidentally delete an e-mail, or move an e-mail, and I have to go on a search mission to find it and bring it back to where it belongs.

CMD-D to repeat last action on selected item: I find CMD-D handy in Photoshop, I think it would be damned handy here!

CMD-I on folders: I want to be able to see info about the folders (NAME, SIZE, MESSAGE COUNT, etc).

HELP menu should contain a BUG REPORT feature.

EMPTY TRASH IN ALL ACCOUNTS from the FOLDER menu should always "work" ... as I don't always have my ACCOUNTS expanded to see whether or not there's trash for any given account.

CMD-SHIFT-K to EMPTY TRASH IN ALL ACCOUNTS: I just figured out that I can set this manually (cool short-cut key set-up, by the way!), but I think it just makes sense to have it as the default setting.

ADD "SENDER(s)" TO ADDRESS BOOK should toggle to ADD "RECIPIENT(s)" TO ADDRESS BOOK when sending mail: I'll often click on a MAILTO: link from a web page... but currently, I can't easily add the new person to my address book. This would change that!


Chime for new mail should come at _end_ of _all_ downloading... not at end of download for each account: it's annoying to get chimed for a bunch of accounts (I have several), and what's worse is that depending on how fast the download is, the multiple chimes sometimes crunch into each other. Ew.

Tie-in to OS X's new parental controls.

If I can get an error sending an e-mail about my text encoding, then I should be able to change the encodings right then and there... but TEXT ENCODINGS is off on SEND.

Clicking the icons in the columns toggles the state: I want to be able to click on the flag icon to un-flag something, or the orange sphere to mark something as READ.

Highlighting window status at start-up: I work with key strokes a lot, and it would be handy if there was ALWAYS an account activated — and that it was highlighted. I'm not sure if this breaks HUI, but I can't imagine it would.


Anyway, this isn't anywhere near as polished as a software post over at Daring Fireball, but hopefully it makes its point.

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