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Show HN: Glider, a better email client (glider.io)
81 points by cj on Jan 27, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 53 comments

Hey HN,

Glider co-founder here. We hated how existing email clients treated an email from Paul Graham the same as newsletters and twitter notifications. Gmail's priority inbox tried to fix this problem by filtering out "unimportant" emails, but messages from different contexts were still being mixed together.

We think the best solution is to group emails by sender and context (people, notifications, mailing lists, etc). For example, if I'm a power-seller on eBay, my PayPal notifications are top priority, but I still don't want to see them alongside emails from friends. You already know what types of emails are important to you, so we designed Glider to allow you to easily see that information without having to create an intricate system of labels, filters and folders.

We'd love to hear your thoughts on email. We're looking for honest feedback, so please feel free to tear our idea apart. Is this something that you (or someone you know) would use? Thanks!

Neat. Glad there are still people not treating email as a solved problem. I tossed my address in for an invite.. Meanwhile.. Is there a security whitepaper or writeup somewhere? Handing over the keys to your email account isn't something I'm eager to do without some confidence in your product :)

[Edit] Also... please paste the "if sender == 'pg@ycombinator.com':" condition that I want to believe is in your codebase.

Security is one of our top concerns, and we're looking into different ways to make it as airtight as possible. We'll have more info on security before we launch.

At the moment, we're integrating through GMail through their API, so you can revoke access at any time, and we never see your password.

Hey, GMail doesn't have a public API does it? Could you tell us a bit about how you integrate with gmail, I thought they kept it pretty locked down?

You mean other than SMTP or POP? Those are both definitely public APIs.

And you can set separate passwords for various applications if you enable two-factor authorization.

Those also require your password, as far as I'm aware.

Baudehlo is correct. Gmail provides a SASL extension called XOAuth that allows you to authenticate IMAP/SMTP with OAuth tokens.

Well, that's cool.

Yes, you OAuth and then you can use IMAP with XOAUTH login.

but you must still store the emails in your own database correct? or do you never store them at all?

Same. I don't like each and every proposed solution that all the recent email clients have, but I live a life which, like it or not, involves a hell of a lot of email. So against all odds, seeing people trying to seriously tackle email from different angles is exciting.

I had a long conversation with a friend over lunch once where we both started by imagining a severely improved client, and eventually concluded that once you had traction with that the real benefits would come from a severely improved protocol. A lot of what makes email suck seems pretty baked into it historically.

Yeah, I agree. We came to a similar conclusion and that's definitely one of our long term goals.

Your landing page is nice, but I'd really like to see a proper screenshot available.

Did the tilted screenshot on the homepage show up? We had some JS issues earlier.

Here's a full screenshot of our current iteration just in case: http://i39.tinypic.com/xfug5d.png

yes, the tilted screenshot showed up, but a link to a proper screenshot would still probably help your sign-ups.

A video could be nice either.

In the abstract sense of having an electronic personal secretary that knew me well sort my email for me, yes!!! Absolutely yes and I'd pay $20/mo without blinking.

That said it appears a non-trivial classification / UI problem on a few fronts. Good luck :)

iOS apps would be awesome since I think that is where email is still suffering the most and where seeing the most important/relevant messages first matters most.

I sent a note via the website about parsing Amazon delivery notes for shipment tracking numbers, then pulling in delivery dates via FedEx/UPS etc APIs and displaying it inline in the message list (maybe even optionally in a sidebar widget, list my currently in-transit Amazon receipts).

I think that could be really interesting, and similar concepts applied to various services/notification emails.

Thanks for the feedback! We think that'd be an awesome feature as well. We've been looking into parsing automated emails from common senders (ie. amazon, twitter, etc) to display them in a more appropriate and useful manner, similar to what you've described.

This is fantastic! I've yet to find a client, web-based or otherwise, that even compares to gmail, which is a pretty low bar, IMO. It's 2012 and we haven't even solved this problem yet?

Why are you only supporting GMail? I mean, basically IMAP should do it, right? Considering the recent drop of "don't be evil", I'm seriously thinking about returning to self-hosted email and it would be a shame if such a hopefully great service wouldn't work with that..

One nice thing about talking to GMail is you can use OAuth (via IMAP, XOAUTH login), so that you never have to see the end user's password.

We're limiting to GMail (including google app accounts) so we can focus on nailing the interface and auto-categorization of email. We plan to add support for other providers and possibly self-hosted in the future.

I would include this information on your How Glider Works page, as well as a "Stay Notified" option for visitors who don't use GMail but are interested in Glider. Making this addition will allow you to build targeted lists of potential users for future versions of Glider.

Sounds great to focus on one good solution and then support more providers. All the best wishes for glider ( for selfish reasons :-) )!

Great stuff! Excited about this because of the team and the vision to fix email which seems to have stopped after Gmail launched. All of the other services are plugins ontop of Gmail which as a user I find incredibly annoying as it isn't the true experience and can't be replicated on other devices without installing the plugin.

I get quite a lot of emails a day so I'm interested to how this will work with that but I truly see this problem. Some notifications are really important such as Amazon Shipping, Paypal Issues and certain messages, while some direct emails are more important than others.

Some ideas. Truly important emails should give me a push notification on iOS if/once you get to creating an app, I see lots of value in mobile for this solution as there are few competitors.

Secondly I'd like to be reminded if I don't get to an urgent email as sometimes I forget to read emails after I've seen the subject but maybe haven't clicked.

I've personally fixed many issues with email sorting myself with Gmail filters and so forth but it would be nice if I didn't have to have these filters and my client did it magically.

I hope it keeps my Google address book and my ability to send from a selection email addresses I own. Losing those would be a deal breaker.

Glider will pull in your contacts and address book, and other similar data to make the transition viable. Definitely let us know if there are other features you rely on so we can work on implementing them.

Import Export won't be very effective for me. I update contacts on a regular basis and the Google Address book keeps it synced to my tablet, phone, and Home and Work computers.

"Robust search" is listed as the top feature. Is that really meaningful for something built upon Gmail which already outshines every other solution out there regarding search?

We're working on a non-standard search implementation that takes into account not only the terms you're searching for, but the type of emails your expecting your query to return (without adding additional operators or search complexity).

Our interface and the way we present emails on the page (contrary to traditional inboxes) decreases the importance of having phenomenal search algorithms.

Make it so that powerful spam filters (like Spam Sieve level) are built into the mail client package and are cloud-based. While I love Spam Sieve, the fact that it is essentially desktop software chained to individual machines makes it incredibly sloppy. Any time you pick up and turn on your phone/tablet, thus breaking the chain of protection, spam leaks through.

If there was a way to have spam protection as a service for email providers that don't already offer it (like Gmail does) that would be a great product indeed. I'd drop Mail/Sparrow and Spam Sieve if I could get it all in one package.

That's my #1 gripe, less the prioritization and/or labeling of email and message types. Creating folders has worked pretty well so far. But I'd even be willing to change my workflow for an all-in-one solution.

I'm not huge into email clients, but perhaps that's just because I never found one that offered me much that my web client does not. With that in mind, I sincerely wish you the best of luck and hope that you can change mind.

Unrelated, the CSS background on your marketing page is a little borked on larger screens:


I'm on a standard 27" apple display running at 2560 x 1440 (which was the default resolution).

Thanks for the heads up. I'll definitely take care of that CSS issue in the next iteration.

What web client do you use?

Website feedback: it looks terrible on iPhone. When the page loads all you see is the word 'Glider' and the rest is just a blank gray background. You have to scroll and pan to see any of the content.

Ahh, you're right. I neglected to test it on iphone/android before launching. I'll fix this in the next iteration. Thanks!

This sounds similar to OIB (http://otherinbox.com). How does it compare? I'm a long time OIB user, so I'm interested in finding out more.

I've also been using OIB as a GMail extension for auto-sorting my mail. Glider is a whole new interface, a new way to view your email/inbox. OIB is just a way to sort emails and apply categorical labels. In other words, OIB is an incremental improvement on GMail organization, and Glider is an entirely new webmail experience.

Can you get rid of the window.alert() calls please. Annoying enough to make me stop reading.

Hmm, I had some alert() calls in there a few hours ago for testing, but I thought I took them all out (just double checked). What does the alert say?

Something like:

    [object Object]

    Glider, the smart inbox


    [object Object]

    Glider, how it works


Ahh, those are from the History.js pushstate functions. What browser are you using?

Firefox 3.6. (Yes, I know it's old, it's the default browser in Ubuntu 10.04 LTS.)

...and now I've been upgraded to Firefox 9(!) and the alerts no longer happen.

Sad to see its Gmail only. It looks promising, and I definitly would see me using it.

Thanks for the feedback. What do you currently use for mail?

What's the pricing or a business model in general?

We're undecided. Possibly a free account, with a paid version to remove ads? What are your thoughts?

I'd love to pay you a self-hosted version. There is also a good chance I'd pay you for a hosted version, so long as I knew I had the opportunity to upgrade to a self-hosted version, at a reasonable price for an individual with multiple domains.

I'd not pay for a version that had adds, and personally would likely to pay to remove adds, but it's unclear if that'd apply to many people.

Yeah, self-hosted with ability to use generic IMAP/SMTP accounts would be awesome.

And multiple accounts at once.

But don't let these wishes distract you for now. :)

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