May 3, 2005

The Perfect Email Client

Word processors, such as WordPerfect and MS Word, have been around for some time now - over 20 years. Honestly, I can't think of anything that I would add to them. I have been using Word for over 5 years and I love it. For me, it is the perfect word processor. That isn't to say that it has flaws. I wish someone would come up with a way to do numbered lists and bullet points that isn't excruciatingly painful. There must be some balance of automation there that is helpful rather than frustrating... but that is another post.

With email being around for over 10 years now, it strikes me that there is yet to be an email program that is simple and easy to use. I have been a consumer of GroupWise, Outlook, Outlook Express, Thunderbird, Evolution, and various web clients. All of these products get the basic job down and each have their elements that are cool. The problem that I see is there is yet to be a single email client that is both simple and gets the job done.

Currently, I use Outlook because of the my reliance on an Exchange Server where I work. It is a good start and probably my client of choice right now. The problem is that it is so slow and clunky. Because of the massive code base behind it, it is neither simple or easy to use. That takes me to my next favorite email client, Thunderbird. This is a small and easy to use email client, but lacks some of the simple functionality that I love in Outlook. One thing that I wish Thunderbird would do away with is the Mozilla, Netscape "To" line that requires every contact to go into a wierd list. That wouldn't be too bad if they could incorporate some easy-to-use key strokes to move from line to line. Instead, it turns out to be a hassle to send email to more than one person.

With a concept as easy as email there is still a huge void for a product that just works. If anyone runs across one, please let me know. If not, will somebody please just take the cool features from these packages and just write me a simple, easy-to-use, feature rich mail client?


Anonymous said...

pine. or gmail.

Gary said...

Gmail has its share of problems, too. Really, a perfect email client is an impossibility, because the users will never agree on a single standard of perfection.

My "perfect" email client, if such were to exist, would have the UI from elm, but with POP3, IMAP and PGP integrated in. Some decent search functionality would be nice, too.

A decent alternative for a GUI email client might be Thunderbird, but again, it needs PGP and search, and you should be able to use vim (or emacs, or whatever other editor you like) to compose messages.