What would you like from a new email client?

by Giles Turnbull

Matt Ronge and co-conspirators are working on an open-source email client called Kiwi. Progress is being made but even early release versions are still some way off.

I contacted Matt recently to ask how things are going, (heh, so did Tim Gaden), and his reply was encouraging.

What he's most keen to get, though, is feedback from potential users regarding what features they'd like to see:

"I'd love to get feedback on what people want to see in an e-mail client. The first release is going to be very basic, but we have to start somewhere, and I'd love to find out what features users eventually want to see."

Aha, something close to my heart. I'd like to see lightning-fast searching of IMAP mailboxes, excellent threading, simple single-key shortcuts ('a' to archive, 'r' to reply, and so on), proper quoting, plain text for composing and decent display of HTML messages (cos people are going to keep sending them, whether I like them or not); and finally, maybe, sync-to-Gmail would be nice too.

TextMate developer Allan Odgaard has been devising his own email wishlist too. How about you? What would you like to see from Kiwi?


2006-06-19 06:57:30
Growl. Gmail-esque labels. Threading (of both the message kind and the CPU kind). Address Book integration.
2006-06-19 07:01:54
As hard as it may sound: Apple totally has me with Mail.app. It has all the features I *really* need and can be extended with nice bundles. I certainly hope that they improve performance (I could even live with *NO* new features for Mail.app in Leopard if only performance would go up, I fear it's going to be the other way 'round...). If Kiwi - or any other such project - wants to steal me away from Mail.app, they'd have to find a _killer_ feature. And I don't see such on the horizon (I'd be rich if I did)...
2006-06-19 07:11:45
Real important for is the integration of email encryption (GPG and S/MIME). Also a better threading feature, maybe like Gmail.

I think they should take a look on clients like Kmail. Which is pretty much what I want, just with a better IMAP support.

Tony Frey
2006-06-19 07:17:26
Growl integration, of course. Fryke mentions that Apple has him with Mail.app, as there are bundles for features that are missing. The issue, is that Apple has not made the Mail API public. So, while there are some bundles available for extension, they may break at any time.

If Apple would publish an actual API, I think Mail.app would be a lot more usable. I hope that Kiwi has a great API for extension. That would make it easier for me to integrate into LinkedIn.com and other social networking sites.

2006-06-19 08:10:52
Kiwi looks amazing! To compliment address book intergration and performance, built in growl support.
2006-06-19 08:19:19
I'm content with Mail except speed. Encryption is a must, as is the option of not downloading anything referenced as external such as images in spam.
2006-06-19 09:04:52
user definable keyboard shortcuts - specifically:
1. to enable operations like move email to user assigned folder etc
2. to switch which folder the user is currently viewing

basically, i don't want to have to use the mouse at all :)

2006-06-19 09:06:33
Something like the bundle I've got for Mail which alerts me when I've forgotten to attach an attachment...
2006-06-19 09:27:47
I'm still using Eudora, believe it or not, despite the fact that Qualcomm has basically told us Mac users to $#%& off, since Eudora development on OS X seems to have ceased completely.

But Eudora still offers something no other email app seems to be able to do: speed. Searching literally happens in an instant, even with hundreds of thousands of emails strewn throughout hundreds of inboxes. To me, the most important function of an email client is that it is a database and filing solution...those basics need to be fast, fast, fast...

2006-06-19 09:46:11
Eudora does it all but two thing: the ability to have my mailboxes on a central server so the same set of mailboxes serve whatever Mac I am using or multiple Macs and PCs at once. No, imap won't solve this since I want all my e-mail there (tens of thousands) from the last decade. Eudora also won't let me set up filters to transfer incoming attachments to a hard drive other than the one the program is installed on. If an e-mail client could solve these two issues for me, it would make it both a small business solution and appeal to anyone using multiple machines and platforms. I've tried to switch from Eudora in the past, but so far its search speed and flexible filtering can't be beat. I hope there is a contender out there eventually.
Dave Williams
2006-06-19 10:28:53
The ability to link individual emails, or groups of emails, or emails in a smart folder, to other documents, so that I can have access to all the documents about a particular project from one place
2006-06-19 11:06:23
What would you like to see from Kiwi?

A rich subset of the IMAP protocol and extensions implemented with a primary goal of never losing messages, which seems at least as much a responsibility of the LibEtPan library as the MailCore framework. Any wiz-bang user-level features won't matter to me without stable, reliable lower-level functionality.

IMAP is complex (and sometimes incomprehensible) so most client/server implementations are incomplete compromises. It's easier to leave out the harder and most powerful features, making "better IMAP support" a frequent request.

Small Paul
2006-06-19 11:22:36
- Save replies in the same folder as the e-mail to which I was replying.

- 3-column view option (mailboxes - messages - message) view.

- Stores my e-mails in an open format. (.mbox or something. Why yes I have read Mr Pilgrim's recent blog post.)

- Imports from Mail 2.0.

- Ditto Growl.

- Ditto Address Book integration.

James Welborn
2006-06-19 11:53:02
I also use Eudora still. One of my favorite features is auto-grouping: If you hold down option-command and click in a field iin the list view, you get all the similar messages grouped together and selected.

It's not a complete replacement for good threading (like in Netscape mail reader) or even so-so threading (like Entourage), but it's nice.

One thing I like about Entourage, though (used for my corporate Exchange account), is the custom views. I have one that groups by thread and then orders by date newest on botton within the thread, and orders the threads with the newest on top. (It replicates Netscape's threaded view.)

2006-06-19 13:03:57
I'm still using Eudora 6.0 which continues to serve well. I particularly like the wide variety of options of configuration and appearance. The single annoying factor which could could cause me to switch is limitations in the spam filter. Some spam gets through because it uses random header info: senders, and subjects. But I note there is often much repetition of content, including no content at all. It seems a filter allowed use of search of content, say for a common image or phrase, would be most helpful.
Tim O'Brien
2006-06-19 13:15:38
What would I like from a new email client? Gmail.
Michael Clark
2006-06-19 13:24:59
Eudora's limits needs to be fixed: (1) More than 32,000 messages in a mailbox. (2) Personalities should be able to be renamed safely. (3) better handling of filter rules that include the moving of attachments to another folder. If you move the Eudora Folder location, all the filter rules break, and your attachments all end up in the Attachments folder. Boo!

Mail client must save mail in mbox format.

2006-06-19 13:32:41
See a list of all the emailaddresses.
Then upon selecting an address show two tabs with all incoming and outgoing email.
Sort of smart mailbox but then smarter.
2006-06-19 14:35:13
The ability to EDIT or ANNOTATE emails (redline/whatever). So I can add my own notes like "replied, but still need to follow up". Or so I can edit the subject line to add *my* own keywords for easier sorting. How often have subject lines simple been "RE: somethingelse" and you wanted to correct them before they got lost in the shuffle.

The ability to have thousands of messages in a box. With fast searches so good, why do I need 30 email boxes....seems pointless to oversort these days, yet Mail.apps performance degrades quickly above a few thousand emails.

OPEN FORMATS (for both import & export). No more of the microslot .pst crap.
Integration: with iCal standards for sending calendar info, with POP/IMAP/Exchange (play nice), with drag & drop attachments.

Bouncing/Redirecting are very useful (and occasionaly stop a spammer or two).
Easy to use & powerful filters/rules.

Nick Lo
2006-06-19 16:11:55
- Ditto to Small Paul and an open format or at the least make it stupidly easy for me to try out Kiwi without feeling I may get locked in.

- On the saving issue he mentioned; I wish Mail.app could apply rules to outgoing as well as incoming mail so, e.g., mail replying to a particular project could be filtered into its project folder.

2006-06-19 22:08:41
1. Fast, really fast.
2. Able to handle huge attachments and large email.
3. Able to easily handle huge volumes (i.e., GB's) of email.
4. Automatic archival; settings by month, quarter or year.
5. Uses Address Book - can open in an integrated window.
6. Avoids iCal; uses a more robust and user friendly calendar.
7. iSync via a special folder with Bluetooth devices.
8. History (replies, whom, dates, etc.) shown in banner of each email.
9. Auto spell check and dictionary integration.
10. Junk mail filter.
2006-06-19 23:06:57
mail saved in standard, open, documented format like MailDir so I can get it out in case kiwi development ceases or I decide I'd rather use something else.
2006-06-20 01:04:41
1. Speed
2. Excellent IMAP support
3. Growl integration
4. Quicksilver integration
5. Ability to add metadata to mails
6. Extensibility (I'd prefer TextMate's Unix approach to Lua)
7. Public plugin API
8. Some kind of Calendar support (could be the killer feature required to attract market share. Maybe integrate with web-based calendars?)
2006-06-22 21:21:42
Smart folders with more complex criteria, and faster. For instance, to have several "match any" conditions, yet still be able to exclude based on other conditions.

To be able to create archives that are not searched by default, but could be searched separately or combined with main search whenever I wish.

Seamless and easy authentication built in, perhaps based on the credit card you used to purchase it. (digital certificate issued at time of purchase?) Based on open standards, of course.

AppleScriptability, including "record" support. The AppleScript commands in Mail.app are very lacking, and buggy.

The ability to mix smart folders and regular mail folders together into other folders, so that they are all organized the way I want.

The ability to add conditions to a fast search without having to create a new smart mailbox.

Brad Allen
2006-06-30 07:20:59
I'm another Eudora addict, but want to break the habit and find a good cross-platform mail app that I can use on Linux (Gnome on Ubuntu). But I also want it to run natively on Mac and Windows. Right now, Thunderbird is the only one I know that fits the bill, but it's nowhere near Eudora in functionality. Evolution may also run on the Mac under X11, but I dislike the interface. Right now, there's nothing close to Eudora in grace and ease of managing large quantities of email. I could rant on and on about Eudora's greatness, but I still want to move off it if I can due to the need for open source and cross-platform features.
2006-08-24 12:26:30
If you or anyone needs all of these email features, you need to get away from your computer and get outside. Your list is insane, or just idiotic.
mail forwarding
2007-11-19 04:41:46
Kiwi looks very promising. My current setup has me using Mail for my POP account and Thunderbird for IMAP because of Mail’s poor IMAP support (specifically the lack of prefix support which makes accessing my public mailboxes impossible). This looks like it would be faster and more integrated than Thunderbird, which would be nice.

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2008-06-20 14:25:26
give us a email