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Wednesday, April 28, 2004

GMail: First Impressions

Replies are part of viewing a message.
When you hit the "Reply" link in a GMail message, it opens a pane underneath the original message for writing a reply (in MacOS X this would be implemented as a drawer, which I hate, but you get the point). This is "inline reply", something I've been working on (managing the screen space a single message takes up gets challenging for a number of reasons related to how the AppKit SUCKS). [Screenshot...]

"Conversation"-centered design.
Every view is a threaded view- I've never seen an email interface with more pervasive (and well thought out) threading. Some parts of GMail's threading have me rethinking the design of EvilToaster.[Screenshot...]

A surprise: no folders/mailboxes.
Currently in GMail, you have your Inbox and the Archive..... nothing else. I set up a filter (which works much like in most mail clients) today for a mailing list, and would have put that list in it's own mailbox. That's when I stumbled onto the lack of folders/mailboxes! [Screenshot...]

As realtime as a desktop application
Many users have noticed that GMail doesn't yet support Safari as a browser, and a few minutes of using GMail made it obvious why that is (supporting Safari is one of their high priorities, according to a recent [interview]). A lot of the behind-the-scenes functionality in GMail is implemented in CSS and Javascript. The webmail app is very obviously designed to work not like Hotmail or Yahoo! Mail, but like Eudora or Outlook - there is no "Check mail" button, because you are instantly aware of new mail as it comes in. For example, last night I closed up the PowerBook and put it to sleep with GMail open. When the PowerBook woke today, GMail had updated with all of my new mail in the browser window that had been open. As a result of the CSS, Javascript, and sever side interaction going on though, sometimes the GMail UI is sluggish, at least in Mozilla-based browsers. I haven't yet tried to fake the user-agent string with Safari to see what does or does not work.

No saved searches
While the search features are powerful, you can't save a search. A saved or live search mechanism would be a welcome addition.[Screenshot...]

Related Web Sites panel
Beside your mail message or "conversation" (thread), you'll see a "What's Related" type of function: a panel that shows related links. Similar conceptually to the Google AdSense panels you see on sites, but with useful, relevant links. I have been working on making linked content an integral part of Evil Toaster for some time - Toaster will index links separately and even prefetch and index the content at a link - but I could never touch the kind of functionality that Google can put here with their uberindex. When I noticed this feature while reading a mail message from the cocoa-dev list, it was giving me something relevant and helpful there.[Screenshot...]

4/28/2004 09:36:00 PM ] [  0 comments  ]
A good quick laugh