Professional email app

Ignore that this post is a week late. While I was out sick last week there was a great discussion across blogs about email clients, starting with “Brent Simmons”:http://inessential.com/?comments=1&postid=3425 and then to “Paul Kafasis”:http://www.rogueamoeba.com/utm/posts/Article/Rise-of-the-OS-2007-07-05-12-00.html while passing through several good blogs in between.

Some of my additional gripes about Mail:

  • Text editor is terrible for text-only email, especially when quoting.

  • UI refresh glitches with mailbox unread counts.

  • Sluggish showing new smart folders.

  • Search is not powerful enough without making smart folders.

  • Overall stability problems.

I started writing an email client last year and worked on it in my spare time for a couple of months before abandoning it. It added a few new twists that other clients don’t have, including a server component in an attempt to embrace the benefits of both Gmail (access anywhere, automatic sync) and a native Mac client (better UI). No one I described it to thought they needed it, and I gave up before the UI was polished enough to actually show. Turns out the server piece was too complex and no matter how I juggled the numbers, it just didn’t seem a profitable endeavor.

The recent discussions really make we want to take some of the core pieces (great performance for huge amounts of mail and a tag-based filing system), rebuild it on top of IMAP instead of my custom web services gateway, and see what happens. But I probably won’t. Email clients are a tricky thing to get right, and I don’t have time right now to make it perfect.

I have no doubt that there is a market waiting for a great email client. You don’t need to compete with Mail.app, you just have to appeal to anyone who has been burned by an email client before. People who are serious about email.