I got an invitation to join Gmail the other day (thanks Sara). Of course, I decided to take a look. So far I’m quite impressed! In order to test it without too much risk I have set two of my email accounts to forward to my Gmail account. That way I get a decent amount of email to play with.
I’m very impressed with the interface. I like the fact that so much is done on the client side. It makes things very slick without having to round trip to the server all the time. Strangely, I have been thinking about fat web clients recently. I’ve been thinking that quite often you really don’t want to take that round trip to the server to process a single click. I think I really want an opportunity to play with the the wonderful 204 HTTP response code so that the server can still know state changes.
Anyway, back to Gmail. I think that the labels are a great idea. Much better than folders, though I worry about the stuff I don’t label but which I do archive. I can no longer see it, other than in ‘All Mail’. Of course I can search for it, but I can’t really browse it. Unless I’m missing something? I like the ‘conversation’ view. It seems slightly more intuitive than Mozilla Mail’s (and every one else’s) tree structure for threaded emails.
I like the fact that it knows to apply the same labels to all mails in the same thread. That helps to compensate for the paltry 20 filters. I hope they increase that number soon. In Mozilla Mail I have 36 filters set up just for the two mail boxes I am echoing to Gmail. There are more in my other accounts!
Of course, I love the fact that they have so many access keys set up. Far less mousing around allows me to work quicker!
There are lots of things I need it to do before I could consider it a suitable replacemement for a decent fat mail client like Mozilla Mail. For instance, I need to be able to set lots of different from/reply addresses without having to edit preferences each time. I need more rules like ‘BCC to <email address>’ automatically, or request receipt, I need to be able to sort my mails! And backup! I must have backup. And import; the tools knocking about the web at the moment are no good for me as I must preserve dates, and folders. Mind you, one gigabyte wouldn’t be enough if I were to import all my email archives!
I think I like the way it deals with spam. I’ve noticed that it catches a lot and filters it to the spam folder, but I like it less that it’s silent about it. That is, I see no indication that I have spam to check through for false positives. I also noticed that it bounces some spam.
Still, first impressions are favourable so far.