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It Done Broke.

Postbox Improves On Thunderbird

Okay, I don’t know if that’s actually true but the Features page of the Postbox site state it’s based on Mozilla technology, which to my mind suggests they’re either improving on Thunderbird or just using the XUL backend to put a better front end on their own code.  What do I know.

Postbox is a new email client for Mac OSX and they’ve just released their 8th beta of version 1.0.  I gave the 7th beta a test run and it wasn’t bad – pretty good actually.  Although, I’ve decided to stay with Apple Mail 3.0 for now since I’ve actually grown quite fond it its…um…stability.  Yeah, that’s right.

I was eager for the Thunderbird 3.0 developments and had decided to test out Shredder for a while.  It was definitely an improvement on T-Bird 2.0, not just cosmetically, but it kept crashing (as development versions do, hell – it was alpha).  So I had to make a change.

I had been a long-time fan of Thunderbird since pre-1.0 but just got annoyed with some of the clunkiness of it.  At the time, it was better than anything else out there.  But the developers of Thunderbird also seem to be a bit surly.  I might be wrong – but it was like they had their mind made up on certain issues and were intransigent about external input.  Fair enough.  It’s their free OSS pet-project and they can do whatever the heck they want with it.  But, for instance, there was some fairly constructive criticism on a seemingly trivial matter about how the activity throbber (that spinning animated icon in the top right of the window) would constantly be active.  This would suggest that the application was actually constantly doing something in the background when in fact, it was doing nothing at all.  So you couldn’t actually tell if it was ever actually doing anything.  This is a problem since, if you suspect there’s problem with the app, the absence of activity is a serious issue.  But you need to be able to tell the difference.  As far as a usability bug, it’s pretty understandable that people requested it be fixed.  Or at least consider to be fixed.  Not to the devs, though.  They insisted it was a minor bug and people should just live with it.  I believe there were words exchanged.

The other end of the spectrum was a request for an activity monitor (which would mitigate the perpetual throbber problem) which would tell you exactly what’s going on in the background at all times: checking Inboxes, deleting mail, junking spam, etc.; things you want to know are going on if you’re trying to determine a problem.  Nope.  To them, it’s superfluous.  You don’t need to know what’s going on.  If you really need to know, fire up a packet sniffer and break out your tracing tools.

Anyway, it’s little things like this breed ill-will towards projects.

So it’s nice to see that somebody’s possibly taken up the mantle for improving on the project, even if they haven’t.  It gives me something to rant about.  I have to say I wasn’t thrilled with the look & feel of it, though.  I still felt like I was emailing in a foundry while polishing metal.  I’m sure they’ll work that out, though, or just allow theming/skinning.  I’m just going to stick with Mail for now.  It’s matured into quite a decent application.

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