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.mail app (dotmailapp.com)
213 points by tomazstolfa on July 25, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 120 comments

Best of luck w/ the implementation. However, reading the concept, I am unimpressed.

In Mail.app, I can already mark e-mails with different-colored flags, which allows me to come up with my own "get back soon" or "get back later" type of a system.

The assertion that e-mail hasn't changed since 1970's is false. Modern e-mail clients manage it much better. Compare Mail.app, Outlook and GMail to PINE--the difference is staggering. The true innovator in the e-mail space has been GMail, which has brought things like autosave, concepts such as embracing the fact that it is not truly productive to file every single e-mail into a purposeful folder, embracing that tagging is better than folders. GMail also really pushed the conversational view and presented it in a single-screen way that was innovative (compare how long it took e-mail clients to catch up with that... and no, "group by thread" did not compare).

I'm also very wary of anyone advertising "clean typography." People start adding spacing and now I only end up previewing 2/3rds of what I could preview in one screenful.

Everything you say is very valid, and I whole-heartedly agree with you. In fact, the designer of this app truly doesn't understand the philosophy of choosing colors.

Being minimalistic is a bad idea when you don't know what you're doing. For example, there are reasons why a link is in blue and 'call-to-action' buttons are in red (like the 'Compose' button, as in Gmail). The purpose of red is to let the user know its something 'important'. The designer of this app in question chooses to ignore these UX concepts and seems to choose beauty and aesthetics over these fundamentals and over-uses the red color (even his navbar is in full red..duh). And that's truly a bad sign for someone wanting to show themselves/their products as professional, especially when the selling point IS the UX.

Just off the top of my head you know what I would like to see as an email interface: Reddit.

Each headline being the suvject being an email with all the comments being the replies. Different users can reply in a threaded way to all the recipients of the message etc.

Obviously it would need in-line attachements and in-line pictures.

It would be interesting to allow a vote system on messages. Rather than file them, you down or up vote them. But in your box, you have more than one vote so you can apply more or less weight to info. Along with tags and groups and many other things that I can think of...

That would be cool.

Google Wave tried to fix that problem but with the radical change in the way we use email, it failed.

I think wave failed more because the UI was horrible and of course it was linked to Gmail rather than being usable with exchange/other mail systems.

If you had some sort of standard with various different native clients, then it might work.

> Each headline being the suvject being an email with all the comments being the replies.

As in Gmail?

Do you use reddit?

As cookingrobot says, gmails threading is one dimensional and super clunky when you have lots of replies. It auto collapses to far so you can't easily reply to a particular message in the thread.

Reddit has the best comment threading system of any site online. Quora is near the worst. HN is just slightly frustrating.

I thought reddit and HN were using the same system. What's the difference?

Hacker News is written in Arc, a dialect of Lisp: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arc_(programming_language)

Reddit used be written in Lisp, but they switched to Python early on: http://blog.reddit.com/2005/12/on-lisp.html

I do agree that they look alike, Hacker News was inspired by Reddit.

Not the same exact software, just the same way of representing comment threads.

Collapsing threads, for one thing.

It's like, one line of javascript different (the equivalent of if score < threshold: thread.collapse())

I don't care about the code. Collapsing is a significant change in UX.


No one seems to get this, not HN, not Quora, Digg (though that doesn't matter any longer...)

Its about increasing the information consumption rate and navigation rate. Collapsing is critical to navigating threads with thousands of comments, even tens of comments!

Any UX designer who does not see this, is, in my book, worthless.

Inspect the source for both sites. I have to admit, I felt a little nauseous when I first read HN's markup & styling.

But when you open a message with lots of replies, there's no structure, and you can't reply to one person's comment (like I'm replying to your comment here). This would be messy in gmail.

  > you can't reply to one person's comment
You can, but it doesn't maintain proper threading. It just groups them all together and sorts by date.

As in Google Groups?

You think that google groups is an analogous email client?

No, but Google Groups brings the innovations mentioned above to email lists, so it's an analogous comparison.

voting aside (which I'm not convinced belongs in email), what is the difference between reddit's comment system and the threading algorithm used by muas like pine?

> concepts such as embracing the fact that it is not truly productive to file every single e-mail into a purposeful folder, embracing that tagging is better than folders.

I don't know if it was there from the beginning, but I have always used rules which say "apply filter and skip inbox" effectively giving me separate folders. To each his own; I don't like kitchen-sink inbox, and like separate folders to just tagging.

The issue with Gmail is that you can't affect the order in which the filters are applied.

For example: A error email gets sent to a development mailing list. Normally I tag all of the mailing list emails, and skip the inbox.

- What if I want the error email to stay in my inbox, but only if it's an error email?

- What if I want that email to get tagged as "ERRORS" and "DEV_LIST" and skip the Inbox?

I have to do weird filters like:

  filter #1 - if list:DEV_LIST and not subject:ERROR
              then tag w/ DEV_LIST and skip Inbox
  filter #2 - if list:DEV_LIST and subject:ERROR
              then tag w/ DEV_LIST and tag w/ ERROR

  filter #1 - if list:DEV_LIST and not subject:ERROR
              then tag w/ DEV_LIST and skip Inbox
  filter #2 - if list:DEV_LIST and subject:ERROR
              then tag w/ DEV_LIST and tag w/ ERROR and skip Inbox
As you can imagine that these can get quite unwieldy.

I don't use GMail so I've never come across their filtering before, but that looks crap. Sieve is much more flexible. And they could have also implemented ManageSieve so people with mail clients which support the protocol could configure their filtering rules directly from their mta.

Sure, re: skipping inbox, me too.

But tagging allows you to have a folder-like appearance but removes to 1:1 relationship. I can have a folder of 'emails sent to me specifically' and an 'emails from my accountant' that happens to have the same message. This is super useful.

GMail freed us from the tyranny of trying to build a single ontology for organizing email. To me it's the most radical and admirable thing Google has done by some measure. I would very much like to see this approach applied to other areas of HCI. The fewer flawed assumptions baked into semantics, te better.

Tagging also existed in Opera's email client as virtual folders, back when it was known as M2.

And zimbra

This is a great feature but is older than GMail. Lotus Notes mail for instance allowed the same mail to appear in different views, including an "all documents" view that had, as you might expect, everything in it. This advance was rather let down by the rest of the Notes client interface however: http://hallofshame.gp.co.at/lotus.htm

Wow, blast from the past. My first serious use of email was Lotus Notes. It had some really cool features but also really strange ones, such as using the escape key to send a message.

> The true innovator in the e-mail space has been GMail, which has brought things like autosave,

Small nit, Outlook 2003 had AutoSave. GMail was publicly introduced in 2004.

> embracing the fact that it is not truly productive to file every single e-mail into a purposeful folder

That's the "Inbox"

> embracing that tagging is better than folders.

I'm pretty sure that Outlook has had categories (the color-coded custom named things that can be multiply applied to emails) since 2000ish.

>> embracing the fact that it is not truly productive to file every single e-mail into a purposeful folder

>That's the "Inbox"

In Outlook terms it's search folders.

Someone loves Outlook

I'm a dedicated GMail user, but I think it's good to give credit where credit is due.

Autosave was definitely not first in GMail. Thunderbird also allowed messages to be sorted by thread a while back (which you could argue was a rough precursor to GMail's conversation view).

I really like Outlook. I switched to Gmail this year because I wanted free e-mail and Gmail is easier to configure. But, as a client, I enjoyed Outlook much more than I do Gmail.

So why don't you just point Outlook at GMail?

really pushed the conversational view and presented it in a single-screen way that was innovative (compare how long it took e-mail clients to catch up with that... and no, "group by thread" did not compare).

I love GMail's conversation view, but AFAIK, not really many other desktop email clients have adopted it. Who else has it?

I'm not really a fan of MS Outlook, but I am forced to use it at work. It does have support for conversation grouping though. Just do "arrange by" -> "show as conversations" from the context menu.

Apple Mail has it. I think you can tell it whether you want to see newest-first or the reverse, as well.

Actually, Mail.app's lack of conversation view was one of its definitive dealbreakers for me.

In particular, it doesn't include you or your sent mail in the conversation (http://i.imgur.com/Atkcu.png). It only lets you expand the email quotation to let you dig through nested context (http://i.imgur.com/1Zj2e.png).

Compare this to gmail (http://i.imgur.com/mLel3.png) that actually handles it as a conversation. It's one of the reasons I use Mailplane (thin wrapper around gmail) instead of Mail.app.

I too was frustrated by Mail.app's lack of a proper conversation view. Turns out, there's a setting to show messages you sent. In the "Viewing" section of Mail.app's preferences, enable "Include related messages". http://imgur.com/i5Eaq

This seemingly minor preference is what makes Mail.app useable.

Actually, Mail.app can include your own mail in a conversation, but only if you ask it to: select View->Show Related Messages.

Opera seems to have it too, but I don't use it much. It also has had "labels" (as opposed to folders) and message indexing for quite some time, I believe this was one of its main selling points.

What's the difference between conversations and threads?

I use gmail, and I use Outlook and PINE and Netscape Mail and Eudora etc and I can't work out what was improved.

Conversations typically trim portions of messages to make it look you only see what people actually type out. It strips things like headers, signatures, replies, etc.

Threads are a sort of pre-Web 2.0 way of doing things. The messages are linked together in the tree portion of the UI but are still viewed individually in the viewing pane. They aren't stacked together like they are in a typical conversation view.

Conversations are a more modern, succinct take on what threads were trying to be.

mutt's index view, ordered by thread.

Does mutt include your sent mail in that view? This is one of the gmail features I love. I don't have to dig around to see the flow of a conversation with gmail.

Also, if I receive a message, reply to it and archive that thread it goes away. But if that person reply's again it brings the whole conversation back to the inbox so I can see the previous messages as well.

As someone who uses the inbox as a partial todo list that is amazing. It makes it difficult to switch from gmail, although I've been using mu4e[1] inside emacs.

[1] http://www.djcbsoftware.nl/code/mu/mu4e.html

To include your outgoing messages in threads, just set up a hook that adds an Fcc: +inbox header. I used to copy all outgoing messages to a separate +sent folder, but that didn't turn out to be very useful.

Thunderbird has a conversation view (needs to be turned on in the settings)

Outlook has had that since 2003, though it was not very functional until 2010. It is not enabled by default.

I like most of this but Gmail's tagging has been so burdensome and then hard to use the results of such that I've given up on it entirely.

I like being able to sort things away that I don't read often, but GMail told me I didn't want a "read untagged messages" view so it wouldn't let me do that.

Open message, "Create filter from this message," add an appropriate label, check skip the inbox and automatically label and your folders are good to go. I wasn't keen on gmail's insistence that labels were all I needed either, but I find this workflow agreeable.

From: https://vanschneider.squarespace.com/mail-the-first-summary -- "Currently I'm developing a prototype and then hopefully move on to Kickstarter. But there's no plan yet if it's going to be a WebApp, MacOS or Windows app."

In other words, vaporware (so far).

He edited that post after you posted this comment, it seems.

It now reads "Currently I'm developing a prototype and then move into development. A MacOSX app is going to be the first release."

That summary was posted on July 18th, so it's not necessarily up to date.

Yes, a lot could have changed in one week... really?

Well, within a week someone can decide to turn a prototype into an actual project. Thus, not necessarily vaporware.

Yes, really. Someone can easily decide what platform to target in one week. What's so surprising about that?

Whoo boy does that site ever not work without javascript... Sort of ridiculous since it's a static page advertising a desktop app, neither of which should require javascript at all.

EDIT: Oh God, and hot pink highlighting does NOT complement their color scheme. And for all its javascript fanciness, it doesn't handle resizing at all. Sorry to be so negative, this site just pushes all my buttons.

well it's 2012, the overwhelming majority of users have JS enabled

You are right, but nowdays there is an (albeit small) trend in the opposite direction (dont enable javascript) with privacy-conscious users using noscript/scriptno and such.

In which case, those users should be accustomed to half-broken sites and creating exceptions where necessary, just as I am with Flashblock.

This site is not "half broken" without javascript, it just doesn't exist at all. I'd understand that if it did a bunch of fancy js tricks, but it doesn't, it doesn't even adjust the layout for small screens (which would be easy given their design).

I hope the majority of users enjoy having their keystrokes logged, since that's the new trend among analytics engines.

The pink highlighting is probably a result of using http://html5boilerplate.com/.

What sort of sites are you visiting that do work without javascript?

Nearly all of them.

Many agencies build their sites to work without JavaScript.

Highlighting is red on my end...

First thing I thought of when I read the heading Actionsteps was being able to tailor actions specific to each email. For instance, you receive an email from Twitter saying someone's following you, and you're given the options to either "follow", "@reply", "ignore", etc, and similarly for Facebook. Receive a bill from ATT and your next steps are "pay bill", "file as important", "put on to-do."

You're essentially containing all of the work necessary to resolve the subject of the email within the client itself. You could allow for app plugins/extensions so that others could develop hooks into various services.

Other than that, it looks clean and simple. I'm eager to try it out when it's launched.

I would pay for this. Great idea!

Is IFTTT too generic to do something like that?

I suppose it could handle some tasks that apply universally to one type of email message from a given source, but not for most that involve highly personalized/sensitive information – bank statements, scheduling appointments, etc.

What is it? It took me quite a while (and a few web links) to discover that it's a Mac email client.

Interesting how many new email clients are emerging this summer. I'm taking note due to the likely abandonment of Sparrow. Also due to come out "this summer" is Mail Pilot: http://mail-pilot.com/

From the video: "Our servers store metadata about your messages, but not the messages themselves"

It's difficult for me to invest the time (and effort) required to use a service like this, when that investment could easily just go away when the service is pulled for whatever reason. Or, if their servers are down will I have robust access to my mail client?

One of the nice things about old email is that it is portable. Metadata on 3rd party servers seems to cast this positive aspect about email aside.

Some aspects of these new emerging services are novel, specifically the UI and layout of features. As many have pointed out recently, similar functionality has existed in mail clients for years. However, not every email user is aware that their use of email could be made more productive just by utilizing the tools already in their email environment. I would guess these mail client-services are catering to that market -- the less technically inclined. Consequently, these customers are less likely to know or care about the implications of spreading vital work-related or important data across new and potentially volatile services.

That said, I do support nice-looking and more usable email clients, just not at the cost of dependence on a 3rd party service.

I've already looked at Postbox, made by some of the previous Thunderbird developers. http://postbox-inc.com/ I'd have to try these to even come close to figuring out what to use.

But the idea of SSO for email is a bad one, in my opinion. Email, more than my user account on a site, defines my online identity—and therefore needs the greatest protection.

I've just installed OS X Mountain Lion... and gone back to Apple's Mail (no more Sparrow). I'm too tired of chasing another email/to-do client that might get acq-hired, with no future support.

Having said that, the idea behind .mail app is elegant, well thought and a step forward. Kudos.

What do you mean no more Sparrow?

Last time I checked, it's still available for download. My understanding was that it just isn't in active development anymore.

I use it as my primary mail client on my personal machine, and it does pretty much everything I'd want as is.

I've used Sparrow every day for over a year.

It's got a great UI and I love it, but it's buggy as hell. Slow, sometimes doesn't refresh, the DB grows to 10s of GBs.

As much as I like it, the fact that there's not going to be any more updates has gotten me to switch off it.

Software is fluid, not static. Any software that is not being updated, I believe any rational user should move on to ones that are.

"Launching" on the heels of the announcement from Sparrow seems like a poor choice. A lot of people felt like they just got dumped. Then again, this is just another fancy "Give us your email address for whenever we get our act together" page, so maybe people will be more lenient.

Are you applying this to all your apps then, including webapps or are you treating email as a special case?

I'd like to be able to read my e-mail address while typing it please...

    $("input#email").css("color", "#333");
Otherwise, fantastic. Thanks. Ideally you just buy Sparrow and add the 2 features it was missing. We can only hope.

It's good to see some actual followthrough on the initial concept.

I honestly like the proposed Attachments and Notifications features (I'm also not a mail client aficionado, so I don't know if these are particularly groundbreaking), but the Actionsteps thing sounds clumsy to me. If my problem is that I don't have enough time to parse, read, and respond to all of my email, I don't understand how adding another step will alleviate that.

I don't know if these are particularly groundbreaking

Other than the "Actionsteps," a lot of what's in this proposed client sounds a lot like features in Postbox. I can switch to a "show me all attachments" view, for instance, and Postbox works very well with a lot of GMail-specific features (labels, priority, etc.).

> "When the first email was sent in the early 1970's there was no big difference to the email we know today." - And this is the problem.

Actually, this is the greatest advantage of email: its extreme portability across platforms and clients.

We can reinvent the way we interact with it, but we don't need to reinvent the technology itself. This is an immensely important distinction.

"Actionsteps solves the flagging problem, where every email you know that you need to respond to is of equal importance."

Wouldn't it be interesting if the sender of an email could specify what Actionsteps are required for a given email? i.e. The sender specifies that an email should be: read by the receiver, replied to by the receiver, forwarded to a specific department, complete a specific task, etc.

Sounds like it's time to party like it's 1992 with Lotus Notes.

A bone to pick with the name: Leading "." in filenames usually causes the Finder (and ls) to omit the files in listings.

Maybe not a great look for an email app.

For anyone who is confused, this is the implementation of a concept which was posted 2 weeks ago.

It's looking really good, can't wait to try it!

Link to concept post: http://www.vanschneider.com/work/mail/ And original HN post: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4223869

Looks interesting, there's definitely stuff that can be done to make email better. It'll be interesting to see how this works out.

If you're interested in this and you're a GMail user you might also be interested in Active Inbox[1] which adds some useful features on top of Gmail. It lets you mark emails GTD style as "Action" (requires an action), "Waiting" (waiting on someone else) or "SomeDay" (there's an action to take, but you might not do it now). It also has an easy way to sort emails by project and some other useful features.

Disclaimer: I met Andy of Active Inbox recently and ended up doing a few days work on the product. But I was a happy (and paying) user of Active Inbox before that!

[1]: https://www.activeinboxhq.com/

Just a heads up, if the creator is reading here, your page loads 0 content with javascript blocked. A minimal plea for javascript unblocking might gain you extra traffic - I know I didn't care enough to add you to my whitelist, since I had NOTHING to go on.

You intentionally disabled a chunk of your web browser, and are now complaining that some websites don't look right?

i agree. people that disable javascript these days are just plain weird.

Pretty nice timing: - Sparrow announces that they've been acquired by Google on the 20th - on the 23th http://dotmailapp.com/ gets created (as far as i can see it from the DNS record)

I'm confused. Is this only for Mac (it looks like it from the screenshots)? I find it a terrible business move to have a start-up release their product only for a platform that is much less than 10% of the world's personal computing marketshare.

It looks nice, but I think you have shot yourself in the foot for trying to release a Mac app first. Windows doesn't have any good email application that is still developed anymore. Pretty much the choices are Outlook and Thunderbird (the latter of which was just announced would have no more feature developing). People are looking for the next email client to flock to...

What I think is most interesting about this is how successfully implemented this PR campaign is. I think some of the criticism of the app is warranted: but we have nothing concrete to look at, and no real information about how the app will be developed. It seems likely to be a case of someone believing too much in the power of 'design' while overlooking the importance of 'implementation'. If I could somehow be convinced that these two things were conceived of holistically by the creator I'd be much more interested.

I do, however, really applaude the precision with which this project has appealed to people's desires.

With the gmail web interface I already have all of these features,

actionsteps are stars in gmail, i use yellow & red bang, and red star .. just press s to rotate,

attachments have never been an issue but maybe thats just me, searching for "from:a@b has:att<down><tab>" is quite quick enough

and using filters & labels gives me the notification functionality, e.g. messages from facebook get a label, i can see facebook (3) or whatever on the left, but it will work for any type of email i wish.

"meh" is my main reaction to this, unless it has something new and is as transparent to synchronisation across devices as gmail i won't be interested

This looks nice, but doesn't strike me as a revolution.

What I would love to see is a mail client that does away with the antiquated inbox/sent paradigm. It would be replaced by active/archived. If I send an email, it would appear in my active list until the expected outcome is achieved (eg. a reply). At that point I archive it. Sent and received would sit in the same view (like Facebook, etc), why they don't already on clients is beyond me. I shouldnt have to manage 2 views to ensure I've acted on received and others have acted on my sent.

Seem very similar to Mail Pilot (www.mail-pilot.com), although Mail Pilot seems that it will still be a monthly paid service, as .Mail app doesn't (at least I couldn't find if it is).

Which is a big deal for me. As for .Mail seems like you pay for the app such as Sparrow (which it looks similar too) and not have to pay monthly for it.

I plan on buying it if it comes out as it shows and does what it does.

Anyone know when it is coming out? And if it will have a monthly cost?

And or iPhone app? (Sparrow + Mail Pilot (or .Mail)) Would be my dream iPhone mail app.

Looks like Mail Pilot will have apps for Mac, Windows, iOS, and Android.

I am in the beta and it looks pretty heavily Java. Which I personally don't like as much as Sparrow being a native app in all OS's... I feel like the Desktop apps are going to be Adobe Air, or some web Java app as it is now.

Perfect timing on this, right after the demise of sparrow. I was starting to really get down on the idea of having no really nice desktop mail client for OSX.

Really looking forward to checking out this app, and I really hope Tobias is either secretly an incredible osx programmer or is going to get one on board to help, because it would be a shame to see a beautifully designed interface like this be brought down by poor implementation.

It would be great if instead of having to build a new app ground up every time we want to add a few features, if we could simply add those features to the existing application.

This would be a lot easier if that application was open source, but having a modular architecture and malleable/extensible design would be more important.

Does anyone have thoughts on application that are designed such that features can be added to it easily?

Thunderbird uses similar technology for it's addons as Firefox and is just as extensible. If you can write JavaScript, you should be able to figure out how to extend Thunderbird. The entire calendar and pgp functionality comes from addons.

As long as you don't sell your product to Google and stop development as soon as I get used to it and start liking it.

Isn't there too much emphasis on 'click' on the page? The interface gives a feeling that it not benefit power users.

I usually never leave my keyboard when reading/writing emails. Keyboard shortcuts on GMail (and Sparrow) have been the most important feature for me to get my mail done faster.

Smells like an acquisition in a year or so (and I mean that as a compliment). Congrats in advance.

I didn't think concept was flexible enough when it originally ran here on HN frontpage.

Any plans for cross-platform support or is this yet another Apple only affair?

Assuming one of the creators reads this: "A clean and Actionsteps."

I would like better attachment management than I've got now, so I'll probably take a peek. Thanks.

Issue in Chrome [v 20.0.1132.47 m]

Focusing in the email textbox, followed by tabbing out causes the box to shift down (pretty sure that's not intentional)

Now is the perfect time to re-create Sparrow.

Would love to have a ubuntu version of this. Will pay up to 30$. Or any other mail client

".Mail is coming to your dock" Well... I supposed it won't come out for Linux.

Am I the only one who worries about the branding of this?

Looking awesome

Someone wants to work at Google/Facebook then.

But on a more serious note, it doesn't look like a cocoa app to me so I'm not that keen on it. Too much custom UI and looks more at home on Windows 8

Really? Cocoa and Objective-C are ungodly messes that best be avoided, me thinks.

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