drunkenbatman is “some guy with a website ” and uses a 667 MHz Powerbook nicknamed “hairdryer.”
HW: How long have you been using Mail.app? What other clients have you used (and why did you stop)?
db: I’ve never been able to use Mail.app full-time, or at least I’ve never been able to let myself use it full time. In terms of CLI clients, I’ve used Pine, Mutt, etc. On the Mac, I’ve played with everything but primarily used Emailer, Eudora, Entourage and Gyazmail. On Linux it’s primarily been KMail and Evolution, and on Windows it’s primarily been Outlook, Eudora and Batmail, although now I think it’s called The Bat.
HW: What plugins and extensions do you use to make your email experience better?
db: The only two I really cared about were an Applescript for using Growl and a GPG plugin, heavy on the GPG plugin back when I really tried to give it a go. Back when OS X was new, there wasn’t (and still aren’t) a lot of ways to work with GPG natively within most mail clients. While I didn’t use Mail.app myself necessarily, having that available to setup for other users was lovely.
HW: What’s your favourite thing about Mail.app?
db: Err… it’s free? That’s generally a plus. I guess it isn’t really free, but rather some fractional percentage of people’s $130 or the price of a new Mac, but from a psychological standpoint it might as well be.
HW: What’s your pet hate about Mail.app?
db: I’m going to assume pet hate means something I just get annoyed at versus something that’s just fundamentally wonky, like its IMAP support drunkenly feeling around the alley looking for an excuse to wee on itself. Two pet peeves coming to mind would be:
- The inability to set the insert point after the quoted text by default, and quotation arrows. Not being able to set this as a preference is just plain inane. You have no idea how hard I am trying to restrain my language as I say this, nor the slew of adverbs I want to throw in front of “inane.”
- After x years of email, I associated quoted text as having a ‘>’ before it, and quoted quoted text as having ‘>>’, etc. In Mail.app, I get these damn lines. I don’t necessarily have a problem with the lines, as I know lots of others like them — but just deciding lines are what I should be using is arrogant. It’s not a coding issue, 95% of that is all there in order for the lines themselves to be there — it’s just Apple deciding I should be viewing and composing with lines. Damnit, when I am typing a plain-text email I want to be able to see it’s plain-text.
I suppose the lack of a wide-screen version when all their damn monitors are widescreen would probably classify, too. It’s just basic pixel economics — screens aren’t growing down, they’re generally growing out. Throw in the OS X Dock.app at the bottom and it’s just exacerbated — there’s a reason why every other damn mail client is working this in as an option. Some of them have been ironed out throughout the versions (like not being able to delete an SMTP server via the GUI, which I will never, ever forget) but most haven’t.
HW: If you could tell the Apple Mail development team one thing, what would it be?
db: Probably that I get it’s not really their fault, and they’re probably doing the best they can with the resources and direction they’re given — and even then using “their” instead of “his/her” is bordering on generous. In general, my impression is Mail.app is lumped in with a group of other apps which a larger team is responsible for.
In some cases, that’s meant one guy is working on it in addition to other projects, or a group hopping from project to project is, or no one is. Even when someone is working on it, what they’re doing is primarily handed down from management and marketing rather than a group of guys who live and breathe the app. You can talk to developers, you can’t talk to management and there is no talking to marketing, they’ll have their spreadsheet already well laid out for trinkets to sprinkle into the next version that show off xyz without costing too much to impliment because it’s free — a borderline commodity if not a defacto one — and they’re really just doing throwing it in because they feel they have to.
Which is kind of the problem. Apple is shipping a very basic email client geared towards people who have never touched email in their life, but all the other clients suck, and no indie who is borderline sane will pour development time into a serious effort because Apple’s is free and they’ve been conditioned that there’s no guarantee they won’t make it suck less just enough to rub out everyone else. It’s worth noting that while I say they all suck in various ways, Entourage does suck the least and I used it until I couldn’t justify people getting email that weren’t supposed to be getting it and actually losing email I knew I had. In terms of features and capabilities it’s right up there (well, a threaded email engine might nice since it’s 2006 and all) but it’s database corruption issues means it just isn’t trustworthy.
And of course there you have a small group of guys working on an entire suite of applications for the Office suite, of which Entourage is one, and the development effort required so that database isn’t stumbling around the alley with Mail.app on OS X probably just isn’t in the cards — it’s a borderline miracle in some ways they’ve been able to get the suite in the state it’s in on the platform at all with the resources they had. Kinda enough to make you want to join them in the alley with Mail.app, if only to make sure they’re both on their side when the vomiting starts so you can slink off with Evolution with no nigglers poking your conscience.
You can read other interviews with developers and Mac identities talking about their experience with Mail.app by following this tag cloud link.
- 12 tips for better emailing – Guy Kawasaki
- Don’t touch that subject line!
- Another three-pane Mail.app mock-up
- A signature treasure-trove
- SpamSieve 2.4.4: Mail.app tweaks and more
Tags: Apple Mail, dislikes, drunkenbatman, likes, mail.app, talking mail.app