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Mozilla 1.0 Not Ready for Prime Time -- Close but No Cigar and No Brass Ring!


Mozilla 1.0 Browser-Suite's E-Mail & News Quick Look

Mike Angelo -- 27 July 2002 (c) -- Page 2


Article Index

Overview of the Mozilla E-Mail and News Client

Bugs across the Mozilla Browser-Suite

Mozilla E-Mail and News Features

Mozilla E-Mail and News Desktop Layout

Oingo Address Book Bug Fiasco

Some Problem and Dangerous Mozilla Mail Default Settings

Customizability

Mozilla Skins (Themes)

Mozilla 1.0 E-Mail and News Is Immature and Not Ready for Prime Time!

Relationship of the Mozilla 1.0 and Netscape 7 E-Mail and News Client Software

Some Mozilla Problems

Standard of Review

The Mozilla 1.0 E-Mail and News Module Is Usable

Conclusion

Test Drive Mozilla 1.0

Resources

Mozilla 1.0 E-Mail and News Features

Overall, the Mozilla 1.0 browser-suite E-Mail and News module has a robust and useful feature set. On the surface it is an attractive product. The Mozilla 1.0 browser-suite E-Mail and News module has lots of potential and is impressive in many ways. Unfortunately, there are lots of problems with Mozilla 1.0 in general and with its E-Mail and News module in particular.

AOL-Netscape's Mozilla Organization's release of its Mozilla browser suite as a 1.0 offering on 5 June 2002 was premature. This is reflected in the Mozilla 1.0 browser. It is reflected in the Mozilla 1.0 E-Mail and News module too.

Among the more notable features of the Mozilla Mail and News module are:

(a) a combination e-mail and newsgroups client desktop,

(b) a handy message search bar,

(c) ability to disable JavaScript execution in e-mail and news,

(d) address book with automatic collection capability,

(e) message labeling, and

(f) multiple mail account handling.

  • Mail and News in Same Client

Mozilla combines an e-mail client and newsgroup client in a single E-Mail and News module and desktop. If you do participate in or read Internet newsgroups, you likely will find it very nice to have a single client that handles both e-mail and newsgroup work.

One advantage to having the e-mail and newsgroup clients together in the same module is that the look and feel of both e-mail and news are pretty much the same. Compare the face of the Mozilla News client in Figure 4, below with the face of its E-Mail counterpart in Figure 5, below.

Figure 4 is a screenshot of the Mozilla 1.0 News client running on Microsoft Windows 98 SE with the Mozilla Sidebar opened. Figure 5 is a screenshot of the Mozilla 1.0 E-Mail client running on Microsoft Windows 98 SE with the Mozilla Sidebar opened. The desktops displayed in Figures 4 and 5 are just about identical. The main difference is the list of newsgroup verses e-mail folders in the side panel and the messages indexed and displayed in the main panels.

Actually both newsgroup folders and e-mail account folders and mailboxes all are in the same side panel. The Mozilla E-Mail and News client software knows whether to proceed in e-mail mode or news mode because it senses whether you have selected a newsgroup listed in the side panel, or you have selected a mailbox listed in the side panel.

On the surface, the e-mail and news front-ends are pretty darn similar. The client back-ends and the servers are where the bigger differences are located.

There is an important advantage of having the same basic look and feel for both the e-mail and newsgroup clients. Once you have learned how to use one client, you pretty much already know how to use the other client without the need for any further learning or training.

Additionally, the Mozilla browser, e-mail, and news clients share a common basic desktop or user interface (UI) too. So, once you have learned the browser UI, you have a good leg-up on learning the e-mail/news desktop -- or vice verse.

That's important to you as an individual. The less time you need to spend learning to use a software product, the more time you have to use the software and do other things. Your time is valuable to you.

On the other hand, if you happen to own a business or manage other people, cutting down the time it takes to learn to use software products is important to you too. It saves training costs -- plus it gets your people productive sooner.

There is a downside to the common user interface across the Mozilla browser-suite. The Mozilla browser-suite UI is chock full of bugs, annoyances, and issues -- across the Mozilla suite. So, not only do you get the same look and feel across the Mozilla browser-suite, but you get many of the same bugs and annoyances across the Mozilla suite too.

Figure 4. Screenshot of the Mozilla 1.0 News client running on Microsoft Windows 98 SE with the Mozilla Sidebar opened

Figure 5. Screenshot of the Mozilla 1.0 E-Mail client running on Microsoft Windows 98 SE with the Mozilla Sidebar opened.

  • Search Bar

Have you ever have tried looking for an e-mail message or newsgroup posting that was from a particular person or mentioned a specific item or issue -- but, you cannot remember which particular e-mail message or newsgroup posting contained that item or information? If so you likely will appreciate the Mozilla 1.0 Mail and News Search Bar.

The Mozilla developers have placed a search-string input-box on its very own toolbar on the Mozilla 1.0 Mail and News desktop. It's right above the message index panel. Please see Figure 6.

Figure 6. Screenshot of the Mozilla 1.0 News client running on Microsoft Windows 98 SE with the Mozilla Sidebar opened. Please note the Message Search Bar under the Toolbar. Simply click the Advanced button to bring forth the search dialog box shown in Figure 7, below.

The e-mail and news search bar makes it quick and easy to make a simple search for a message containing a specified search string in its subject or sender's name. However, you might want to search more than the message-subject or sender's-name parts of the message, or for more than one search string. If so, you can drop the Advanced message search dialog box on the Mozilla Mail and News desktop search bar. That gives you lots more search options and search power. Please see Figure 7.

Figure 7. The Mozilla E-Mail Advanced search dialog box. (Screen-shot from Mozilla 1.0 running in Red Hat Linux 7.2.)

  • Disabling JavaScript in E-Mail

The Spam artists and other Internet pests have found ways to use JavaScript in e-mail to the detriment of millions of Internet e-mail users. Inter alia, JavaScript in e-mail can be used to put viruses and snoop/spy software on your computer. That's because JavaScript amounts to a program running on your computer.

Mozilla 1.0 lets you easily thwart these JavaScript lamers by offering a preference that lets you turn JavaScript off in e-mail. Simply go to the Mozilla 1.0 Menu bar (browser, mail, or news) and then click on Preferences > Advanced > Scripts & Plugins and then un-check Mail & Newsgroups.

Unfortunately, this layer of protection does not go far enough for people who are concerned about their privacy and the security of their computers. You should be able to block Web pages from being displayed in e-mail and news postings, and block hyperlinks in e-mail and news postings from sending HTTP Requests to external URLs. Mozilla 1.0 does not let you do that. However, Eudora 5.1.1 (paid edition) does let you block all that. So does KMail.

Although sending HTTP Requests usually is harmless, that's not always the case -- particularly in e-mail messages. Take a look at some of the hyperlinks in e-mail, particularly junk e-mail. In some instances you will see some rather complex URLs with lots of seemingly random number and letter strings.

These complex strings of seemingly random numbers and letters included in URLs can be trapped through Web server log analyses. Much the way cookies can be used to track who you are and what are your Web surfing habits, Spam artists and other Internet pests can use these complex URLs to track who you are and what are your Web surfing habits -- as well as letting the Spam artists and other Internet pests know that you received and opened their junk e-mail to you.

Disabling HTML in e-mail and news is planned for future Mozilla releases. However, an option to disable HTML in e-mail and news is not included in Mozilla 1.0! It should have been included in Mozilla 1.0.

If you are concerned about your privacy or the security of your computer, we strongly recommend that you disable JavaScript in e-mail and news. You ought to turn JavaScript off in the browser too.

Please keep in mind here that an e-mail message written in HTML is, for all intents and purposes, a Web page, even though it is contained in an e-mail wrapper rather than existing on a Web site. So JavaScript issues apply to e-mail-wrapped Web pages as much as they do to remote (over the Internet) Web pages. Moreover, some e-mail messages can open a Web page on a remote (over the Internet) Web server when you open the e-mail message, thus exposing you to JavaScript issues from Web pages on the remote Web server too.

The Microsoft Internet Explorer and Stilesoft NetCaptor browsers, and other IE-engine based browsers, let you set a preference that prompts you for permission to execute JavaScript contained in a Web page. That is another reason we recommend Internet Explorer and NetCaptor over the Mozilla 1.0 browser.

One nice attribute of prompting before allowing execution of JavaScript in a Web page is that it lets you know the author of that Web page has included JavaScript in that Web page. Another nice attribute of prompting before allowing execution of JavaScript in a Web page is that it affords you the opportunity to let the JavaScript execute if you trust the Web page author enough to let that Web page author run JavaScript on your computer -- on a page-by-page basis.

Mozilla 1.0 gives you only an all or none JavaScript choice. However, that same preference page (Preferences > Advanced > Scripts & Plugins) does let you make some selections of what you will allow scripts to do on your computer. Nevertheless, we believe that IE-based browsers offer a better way of protecting you and your computer from JavaScript than does the Mozilla 1.0 browser suite.

Open Source E-mail Security by Richard Blum is an excellent resource for learning more about how e-mail works and fighting e-mail Spam and e-mail spread viri. (SAMS, 2002. Link in Resources section on Page 6.)


See Address Book Automatic Collection of Mail Addresses

on Page 3 ----->

Related Articles

Article Index

Overview of the Mozilla E-Mail and News Client

Bugs across the Mozilla Browser-Suite

Mozilla E-Mail and News Features

Mozilla E-Mail and News Desktop Layout

Oingo Address Book Bug Fiasco

Some Problem and Dangerous Mozilla Mail Default Settings

Customizability

Mozilla Skins (Themes)

Mozilla 1.0 E-Mail and News Is Immature and Not Ready for Prime Time!

Relationship of the Mozilla 1.0 and Netscape 7 E-Mail and News Client Software

Some Mozilla Problems

Standard of Review

The Mozilla 1.0 E-Mail and News Module Is Usable

Conclusion

Test Drive Mozilla 1.0

Resources


Turmoil in MozillaLand: Current Status of Mozilla 1.0, 1.0.1, and 1.1-Alpha

Mozilla 1.0 Browser Unofficial Sneak Release -- Mozilla 1.0 is unofficially out!


Year 2001 in Review -- Mozilla and Netscape Browsers

Is Mozilla Actually AOL-Netscape's Mozilla?

Netscape 7.0-PR1 Browser-Suite Released


MozillaQuest the Series: Building Your Own Mozilla-Based Web Browser


Mozilla's ChatZilla -- The Lizard Speaks: Real Internet Chatting & Communication


Part II: The Many Faces of Mozilla -- A Preview Look at the Mozilla Application Programming Framework


Copyright 2000-2002 -- MozillaQuest -- Brodheadsville, Pa..USA -- All Rights Reserved


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