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Aug 02 2010

eM Client: The Evolution Of The E-mail Client


image thumb43 eM Client: The Evolution Of The E mail Client A little over a year ago I did a review on very promising new e-mail client/Personal Information Manager called eM Client. I’ve been so impressed with the software that I’ve kept the application loaded upon my machine so that I could connect easily, later and do another review of the software.

It was time to revisit eM Client and do another in-depth review of the application to see what’s changed and to find out what improvements have been made.

When I do a review of an application, I’m reviewing the application based upon its usability, its practicality, and the raw function that brings to the users. I like to look at the applications as though if I’m going to be the one making the purchasing decisions and if the application offers everything the average users would be looking for […]

Since I haven’t opened eM Client in a while, there’s been a few updates to the application and I really like the way the eM Client team presents the updates. All the updates to the application that have been made since the last time that I updated have been concatenated into a single report, and if I was in the position of auditing eM Client for my work environment, this information will be very valuable.

Some developers don’t provide a what’s new informational packet when the applications are updated, therefore you don’t really know what’s changed in the new versions.

It’s hard to test new features when you don’t know what they are… here’s the list of features and fixes from the last time that I issued updates to eM client:

2.6.7605.0 (7/7/2010 5:36:47 PM)
- Updated icons and changed to new visual style
- Fix showing and editing web pages in contacts list view
- Fix database repair tool to work with older database versions
- Fix freeze when displaying iMIP message and login dialog is about to show
- Fix copying attachments when contacts, events or tasks are copied
- Fix calculation of week numbers at the end of year
- Fix several issues with font sizes when reading and writing emails
- Speed-up database checks by checking only files that we written to during improper application shutdown

2.6.7514.0 (6/17/2010 5:37:30 PM)
New features
- full socks proxy file transfers support for XMPP
- russian localization
- communication and attachment history now automatically scrolls to the newest item
- using non-advertised shortcuts to avoid deleting copied shortcuts during application upgrades

Fixes
- fixed adding attachments when the attachment file is opened
- fixed doubleclick on cells with long text
- several iTIP fixes
- many other fixes

2.6.7473.0 (6/11/2010 3:09:48 PM)
- Added support for Tentative and Out of office statuses in calendar.
- Fixed endless asking for credentials during application shutdown.
- On Reply All, put CCs from original message to CC in new message.
- List CCs in Original Message and Forwarded message blocks.
- Updated Czech, German and Portugese localization.
- Other minor fixes.

2.6.7445.0 (6/3/2010 5:53:10 PM)
- localization and a few other fixes

2.6.7436.0 (6/2/2010 6:19:35 PM)
Features
- Job support in Jabber VCards
- When pasting addresses from clipboard from Excel/Word semicolons are added now

Fixes
- IM file transfer fixes
- DBRepair is now able to fix some new database corruption scenarios
- Workaround for GMail bug (not showing subfolders of Inbox)
- Several minor calendar fixes
- Localization updates and fixes

2.6.7402.0 (5/26/2010 11:06:53 PM)
- showing progress dialog when copying and moving messages
- getting rid of beep sounds in certain shortcuts
- when drag-dropping to a folder destination folder now remains active
- german localization fixes
- several other CalDAV, IMAP and XMPP fixes

2.6.7366.0 (5/19/2010 9:14:53 AM)
- Use the file name specified in attachment as the temporary file when opening the attachment.
- Kerio Connect compatibility workarounds and fixes.

2.6.7362.0 (5/17/2010 4:42:06 PM)
- several iCal server compatibility improvements
- several bug fixes

2.6.7340.0 (5/10/2010 5:50:51 PM)
New features
- Reworked auto suggestions

Fixes
- several fixes

2.6.7323.0 (5/7/2010 9:23:26 PM)
Features
- Configurable column configurations for Global Folders
- Improved email recipients handling
- Show recipient’s IM online status (if contact has it)
- Attendee handling improvements
- On POP3 accounts, Received field now shows server receive time
- Updated help file.

Fixes
- Windows association fixes
- Attendees with iCal Server
- IM user interface glitches
- Avatar errors
- Correct time when printing email
- Correct received time when uploading to IMAP
- Many others

2.6.7254.0 (4/30/2010 7:04:40 PM)
- New text box control for editing mail lists (in New mail dialog, Advanced search and Event attendee lists)
- Select correct task folder on first use of tasks after startup
- Don’t show invalid values of reminders for tasks without start and imported recurring tasks and events
- Workaround a crash when account is taken offline during processing mail filters
- Fix mailto: protocol association on XP
- Fix support for IDLE IMAP servers that don’t support IDLE
- Add workaround for GoDaddy IMAP which has broken IDLE
- Fix processing Google Calendar iMIP messages
- Specify date on IMAP APPEND to make Received date correct
- Fix compatibility with Panda IMAP server

2.6.7225.0 (4/21/2010 2:43:51 PM)
- fixed messages on the right layout setting

2.6.7222.0 (4/20/2010 6:48:24 PM)
New Features
- German localization
- Portuguese localization
- Disable notifications rule option

Fixes
- Workarounds for Google Calendar alarms to work properly
- Pasting images in plain text emails
- Several fixes for items grouping
- IMAP personal namespace fixes
- CalDAV bootstrap compatibility fixes
- Several database resource leaks
- Many other fixes

2.6.7150.0 (4/7/2010 10:00:00 PM)
- fixed czech localization

2.6.7149.0 (4/6/2010 10:00:00 PM)
- several bug fixes

The interface…

One thing that I like the eM Client doing is keeping the interface clean in the application. The program looks very clean and very professional. It has a very Microsoft Outlook feel to it, but that’s okay, because this is supposed to be the Microsoft Outlook killer. The sheer functionality of this application is impressive and with each release of eM Client, it just keeps getting better.

The searching…

I found the global search for eM Client to be lightning fast. Surely the searches are based upon e-mails that are indexed, but eM Client searches the subject, the sender, recipient and the body of the e-mails; I thought the responsiveness of the searches were outstanding.

I didn’t see any responses from the calendar, but I would like to see eM client work on getting results from the calendar and tasks as they become available.

Email Interface…

The in my opinion the e-mail interface still seems to be very standard and very vanilla. Nothing about the e-mail interface stands out as super special. It looks just like any other e-mail client. From the last time that I used eM client, the impression I got from the eM Client team was that they were pushing for social integration. Just looking at the information that’s presented in front of me, I don’t see where there’s a great push to get more information in front of me that’s based on a social connection.

The sidebar

image thumb44 eM Client: The Evolution Of The E mail Client On the right-hand side of the application there’s a sidebar that seems to be there to provide more detailed information about the person that wrote the e-mail. The lacking portions of the sidebar still seem to be the same as the ones I presented when the application was in its beta testing.

I just don’t think I’m getting enough information from the sidebar for to be completely useful. I want to see what social networks those users are linked into, if possible, and where possible, I want to see the users face, based upon one of his social connections [like Facebook].

Contacts

For the contact details, this is something that still outstanding when the application was in its beta testing; the developers have not seen the benefit yet of being able to copy e-mail addresses or the sender’s name to the clipboard. My perspective, and to be productive, I think it’s important that if you’re going to offer information, make that information more accessible and more functional- make it productive.

My opinion is that I should be able to right-click on the contact details for the sender and copy their name. I should be able to right-click on the sender’s e-mail address, copy that to the clipboard. Overall make the involvement closer and easier to access.

Communication History

The sidebar for e-mail clients has been revolutionary for standard e-mail applications. Users are actually looking for statistics now about the people that they’re communicating with. the benefits of being able to click on a contact and get their name, their e-mail address, the communication history and any attachments they’ve ever sent is very productive.

Attachment History

The developers have done very well for the attachment history. They recognized that multiple attachments need to be selected and that they may need to be saved. I like how the developers have recognized this and provided the functionality to its users.

As you click on the contacts, or the e-mails, the sidebar will pick the information and start indexing; collecting all the statistical data about that contact. If information has already been indexed, it seems to pop up very quickly, but if it’s the first time that you’re clicking on a particular e-mail, and it’s brand-new to the system, the indexing seems to take just a few seconds more than I would like to see. I think the application needs to look into placing an indexing function into a separate thread and indexing each time new e-mails arrive, making application more responsive once the user returns to the application.

It may do this already, but I didn’t see any proof of it..

The Calendar…

Something that’s always been impressive about eM Client is the tight integration between the application and the services that are offered from Google [e-mail and calendar]. eM Client does an excellent job of meshing/interfacing from the application to the online Google calendar.

image thumb45 eM Client: The Evolution Of The E mail Client The calendar layout is almost identical to the layout of Microsoft Outlook. Editing or creating existing appointments is very simple; you just double-click on the date that you want, and information box pops up and you’re able to enter in your information very quickly. Once the information is saved it’s synchronized with your Google calendar online.

If you’re trying to synchronize your information with your online account and your portable device, such as a smart phone, this feature should make you very happy.

This will allow you to make changes in the application, through your PC, and carry that over to other applications that can interface with your Google calendar and all the functions that Google calendar offers.

Tasks…

eM Client again does an outstanding job in the category of organizing tasks. There’s nothing bad to say about the section on creating and managing tasks. I didn’t have any issues with the overall functionality of the section.

In the future, I’d like to see integration with eM Client tasks and those of Google tasks, but that’s not going to happen until Google actually issues an API for Google tasks.

The Internet community has been requesting for it least to the last two years for Google to provide API to developers to create a function in applications that will synchronize Google tasks with their applications; to date, that still hasn’t happened.

Instant Messaging…

I just can’t seem to get past the concept that eM Client has for instant messaging. eM Client uses the jabber protocol and jabber servers to communicate with other instant messaging services such as MSN, Gmail and Yahoo.

image thumb46 eM Client: The Evolution Of The E mail Client Several months ago, I had inquired about the process of interfacing even client with instant messenger and the developers from eM Client had indicated that they were going to build upon the instant messaging interface and make signing up, using and the overall interface with instant messaging; tightening that up with the e-mail and calendar and contacts in general; I don’t see that in the latest release.

I’m not saying that what they’re doing is wrong, I’m saying that what they’re doing is different. It’s not along the normal lines of setting up a instant message chat client. The process of creating instant messaging account, or signing into Instant Messenger account is quite different than anything that you can see on the Internet.

I was really expecting to see something a little more streamlined with my contacts in my address book. I’m not seeing the integration between the Instant Messenger and the contacts. I was expecting to see a information about the contact that I’m looking at; if they’re online or not, to see their profile picture that they’re using was that messaging service.

The overall process of instant messaging and eM Client is still a little bit convoluted. I don’t like it, it doesn’t work for me and doesn’t make a lot of sense we are trying to work with it. If the developers for eM Client are going to make this work I think they need to start working little more closely with the people who are actually using the application [forgive the comment] and ‘dumbing’ the application down just a little bit for the purposes of instant messaging […]

Contacts…

The contacts section of eM Client matches that of the e-mail functionality/layout; it’s very standard, nothing stands out as special about the contacts that are listed.

I think what’s really missing here is the social portion, and I’m back on integrating with social networking, aggregating of social data and making that information presentable to the user. Again I’m looking for who these people are associated with on their social networks [Facebook, MySpace]; there’s interfaces to Facebook that allow you to pull down a their profile pictures and their latest status updates.

I think the development team for eM Client is working in the right direction and the application is getting better; you can see the differences, you can feel the differences in the responsiveness of the application, but we keep moving in the direction of connecting the user with their contacts- personalizing the overall experience.

The Menus…

I’m not going to cover every function of the application is listed on the menus, but I think it’s important highlights of the important pieces are offered from the file menus, because they are extended functions and they may be important to people that are looking at evaluating the software […]

File

I think the most important thing in the file menu is the import/export options that are provided by eM Client. Typically getting into an application is very easy, but getting out of an application can be very cumbersome, or it may not be possible at all. The developers at eM Client have made it very easy to transition from any other e-mail client [basically] into their application. But not only have they created a plethora of import options to get into eM Client, but they have also created an export option, to get your information out of eM client; so you’re not held hostage. You do have options […]

View

Under the option for view, you can adjust the display of the sidebar, one of the things I think is missing from the viewing options for the sidebar is to have it automatically hide.

image thumb47 eM Client: The Evolution Of The E mail Client

There’s options for the regular sized, the minimized version and the hidden sidebar. I didn’t see any options to make this sidebar automatically disappear when the mouse was not on it. Real estate can be expensive on machines that only have one monitor.

I think it would be a good suggestion to have the option that when the sidebar is in a minimized selection that when the mouse is placed over the sidebar at the sidebar simply slide out and become available; it just seems more functional.

Tools

I think one of the more important things on e-mail client is be able to create rules on incoming e-mail/incoming information. You need to be able to create rules to organize the information that’s coming in and to help you get through the information that your processing. If the information is not organized, you’re going to be spending a lot more time than you need to on getting things done, resulting in placing other things on hold.

image thumb48 eM Client: The Evolution Of The E mail Client eM Client has functionality for creating rules that can be applied to incoming e-mails. The problem I have with the rules section other eM Client is that the rules are not account specific. The e-mail rules are set up and designated as a global setting; my opinion is that I don’t think this is the proper way to handle incoming e-mail for an e-mail client that serves several different accounts. There should be a set of rules per account, or the option should be there to do that.

Again, I don’t think that what they’re doing is wrong, I just think what they’re doing is different. Obviously I think it’s easier for them to manage a single set of rules for incoming e-mails as opposed to trying to set rules for individual e-mail accounts.

It’s a very good possibility that eM Client will have the ability to filter out her account in the future

Settings…

The last time I used eM Client there was a baseline of settings for the application and at the time of this review there have been a multitude of additional settings added to the application. I dare not go through all the functions and whistles and ancillary extras; it would take me all year, but the development team for eM Client has made great strides in increasing the functionality of the e-mail application, making it more robust.

image thumb49 eM Client: The Evolution Of The E mail Client A notable function that I want to point out is the account Wizard. The account Wizard by far has to be the most advanced account Wizard I have ever seen.

Serious effort has been placed into the process of creating the e-mail accounts, and streamlining that process so that it’s completely painless.

Going so far as to list specific providers, popular providers, so that getting things going through eM Client will be as smooth as possible.

If this doesn’t get you to try eM Client, just to try it- you have serious problems.

Closing…

eM Client has been under development for several years and the application is making great progress and is making huge strides to try to understand its user base; providing a quality product and an alternate to Microsoft outlook. Since coming out of beta last year, eM Client has added a multitude of new functions and corrected lots of imperfections. I think eM Client is a fantastic product and that its evolution may ultimately define what an e-mail client/Personal Information Manager is supposed to be in its entirety.

I don’t use eM Client as my default e-mail client, but I find eM Client such a quality product that I keep it loaded on my machine just so I can watch the progress and the evolution.

I hope this helps…

Until next time,
LEHenryJr
LEHSYS.com

Dictated with Dragon NaturallySpeaking v10.



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