When Webmail 2.0 is Snail Mail

by chromatic

I went camping with my family a couple of weeks ago. True to form for an ironic universe, the day before I left, I received a hard copy of a book manuscript to review, with final edits due my last day on the beach.

I finished everything but a sixty-page chapter before we left. I knew that final chapter would only take a couple of hours, and I knew that I could actually review the hardcopy on the trip... and if I could get web access, I could type my findings and then mail them in one quick shot. Sure, that would take a couple of hours out of my previous vacation time, but we'd meet the book deadlines and everything would be good.

That was my assumption, anyway.


Dan K.
2007-09-11 08:09:10
For future reference, Zimbra's got an HTML-only version for low-bandwidth situations like the one you were in. The login screen should give you a choice of which client you want to use.
2007-09-11 10:10:15
Zimbra supports IMAP, which means that you should have been able to use a standard terminal MUA like Mutt to access your work email account. (Now, if the IT folks have disabled remote IMAP access, that's another issue entirely.)

That being said, I agree with the general sentiment that webmail applications are often a big step backwards from native (or even pure-text) email clients. Loading several MB of images and JS (in thousands of individual HTTP GET requests) just to display a few screens of text is a bad tradeoff, IMHO.

2007-09-11 10:13:07
@Dan, is that the "basic client" on the login screen? That's a good tip. I'll remember that, thank you!
2007-09-11 10:15:21
@lennon, I do normally use IMAP with our mail server. In this case, I thought it would be reasonably quick to use the webmail interface--at least faster than configuring IMAP access from someone else's laptop.

Perhaps I should configure mutt on my own mail server to be able to access the work server, just in case I'm in this situation again and have reliable SSH but don't want to download several megabytes of JavaScript.

2007-09-11 12:49:43
Zimbra’s not Web 2.0, simple as that. They have a very fat application, running on a very fat Java server with a totally selfcontained installation of everything under the Sun including a bad model running on dreaded MySQL. Web 2.0 my nose.
2007-09-11 14:18:44
Wow, so Zimbra is not Web 2.0 because it is "fat"? Everything about Web 2.0 has been fat so far. Besides does anyone take the words "Web 2.0" as being anything but a joke? See:


The rich Zimbra web client is a single page AJAX application. So it loads everything. If you had never used Zimbra before on your laptop, it has download about 1.3MB, just to show the login page.

Given that GPRS is probably about 30 to 50KB/s, that is going to be painful. I'm not sure how you missed the link to the basic HTML client though.

Dan K.
2007-09-11 14:24:40
Yeah, that's the "basic client". It's actually pretty good for an old-school webmail client.

@Leandro, you're smoking bad crack. What does the server using MySQL or Java have to do with whether something qualifies as "Web 2.0"? (I'm not certain exactly what "Web 2.0" is, but I'm pretty sure that the provenance of the server-side software has nothing to do with it.)

2007-09-17 14:24:44
Interesting typo: "Sure, that would take a couple of hours out of my previous vacation time" - or was it really so slow that you were on the next vacation before it had finished loading?