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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 3


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

Address Book with Automatic Collection of E-Mail Addresses

If you like to use an address book for your e-mail and/or newsgroup activities, Mozilla 1.0's Address Book has a nice feature for you. You can set preference so that Mozilla automatically will collect e-mail addresses.

The address collection choices are in Edit > Preferences > Mail & Newsgroups > Addressing. You can set Mozilla to collect automatically e-mail addresses from incoming mail messages, outgoing mail messages, or outgoing newsgroup postings. Mozilla puts collected e-mail addresses in a special Collected Addresses folder.

  • Labeling Messages

Another nice Mozilla Mail and News feature is message labeling. You can flag an e-mail or newsgroup message with one of five color-coded labels by alternate-clicking the message in the message index panel of the Mozilla Mail and News desktop.

You can use the five default color and text label flags or you can create your own custom color and/or text flags. Also, you can apply labels to messages in any mailbox folder such as the Inbox, Sent box, and so forth.

  • Multiple Mail Account Handling

Handling multiple mail accounts could be Mozilla 1.0 E-Mail's strongest feature. With Mozilla 1.0 E-Mail, you set up all accounts in the same general manner. It's pretty simple. When you have completed the account set-up procedure, each mail account is fully accessible and on an equal footing with each other e-mail account.

To setup either your first or additional e-mail accounts simply select Edit on the E-mail/News desktop Menu bar. Then click on Mail and Newsgroups Account Settings.

That pops-up the Mail and Newsgroups Account Settings dialog box. At this point, simply click the Add Account button and go through the Account Wizard dialogs.

(The first time you start the Mozilla E-Mail and News module, the Account Wizard will pop up. So, in that instance you would not have to go to the Mail and Newsgroups Account Settings to start the Account Wizard)

Please notice that each of the several e-mail accounts you create has its own account folder and control panel, and then within each folder there is an Inbox, drafts, Templates, and Sent subfolder. A main account folder, simply named mail in this instance, appears in the top, left, side panel in Figure 1, on Page 1. You can expand and collapse the sub-folder list for an account folder by toggling the +/- box to the left of a main account folder name.

Now, here is a very nice part. To download mail for a particular account all you have to do is highlight the main account folder or that account's Inbox sub-folder. Then simply click Get Msgs on the Mozilla Mail desktop Toolbar. That tells the Mozilla Mail client to fetch your Mail for that account (only) and to put it in the Inbox for that account (only). Of course, you can have Mozilla collect mail for all your e-mail accounts at one time too, if you so desire.

Unfortunately you have only an all-or-none choice of collecting the mail for all accounts you have set up or for just one account at a time. You ought to be able to select a subset of all your accounts from which you can collect mail for that entire subset with one mouse-click. However, Mozilla Mail does not provide that option.

You do not have to configure any special rules or filters to have Mozilla E-Mail fetch the Mail for a specific account and drop that mail in the Inbox for that account. The Account Wizard takes care of all those details for you.

Eudora 5.1.1 does this in a slightly different manner. With Eudora, you first must set up a personality for each different mail account that you have. Then you must setup an Inbox and filter for each personality in order to have Eudora 5.1.1 fetch mail for each account and place that mail in its own unique Inbox. Otherwise, Eudora will put the mail for all accounts in one mail Inbox, called the Dominant inbox.

The Mozilla approach to multiple accounts seems simpler and perhaps better than the Eudora procedure for handling multiple accounts. In simple terms Eudora brings all new mail into only one main or dominant inbox and then you have to configure filters to redistribute the mail to each unique personality (account). On the other hand, Mozilla brings the new mail for each account into its own unique inbox from the get-go -- without the need to configure any special filters.

We discussed (via e-mail) the different ways in which Mozilla and Eudora handle multiple e-mail accounts and which way is the better way to do it with Steve Dorner, Qualcomm's Vice President for Technology. Steve Dorner had a very good comment about that: reasonable people can disagree on which approach is "better". It comes down to a matter of which way best suits how any given individual works. If you prefer separate in boxes, then you will like Mozilla's approach better. If you like a single in box, you'll like Eudora's approach better.

We agree with that.

A nice aspect to the Eudora approach here is that you can have all your mail from all your accounts come into one main (dominant) inbox at first. This let's you see what mail has come in across your collection of mail accounts without the necessity of opening a separate inbox for each account. Then you can mark the messages to which you want to respond or you can respond to them, while they are in that one central inbox.

After you are done with your initial look at what has come in from all your e-mail accounts, you then can apply the filter(s) that distribute each new e-mail message to the inbox that corresponds to the account that received the message.

The Mozilla E-Mail and News Desktop Layout

The Mozilla Mail and News module has four main desktop panels. By default, two of the desktop panels, the index of messages in a mailbox or newsgroup and the message text/header display panel, are over and under each other. Two other desktop panels, the list of mailbox folders and newsgroups and the Mozilla Sidebar, appear to the left of the message index and text/header display panels. Please see Figure 8, below.

Figure 8. The Mozilla 1.0 E-Mail and News desktop running in Microsoft Windows 98 SE. On the left and under the Toolbar is the mailbox and newsgroup folders side-panel. Under the mail/news side-panel is the Mozilla Sidebar. To the right of the mail/news side panel is the index of e-mail messages for the inbox selected in the side panel. Under the index of e-mail messages is the message display area. The gray strip along the top of the message area contains message-header information. Here, only the very basic header information, subject, sender, and date, is displayed in the header area. You can expand the header area to include additional header information.

You easily can close the Mozilla Sidebar to make more room for the list of mailbox and newsgroups folders by hitting the F9 key or by un-checking View > Show/Hide > Sidebar. To close or open the message text/header display-panel, simply toggle View > Show/Hide > Message Pane. (Please see Figure 1, on Page 1, for an example of the Mozilla E-Mail and News desktop with the Mozilla Sidebar closed and only the Mail and News side-panel visible.)

For more information about using e-mail and newsgroups, presented at an introductory level, you might want to check Chapters 11-13 in The Internet for Dummies, Levine et al, Hungry Minds, 2002. In Chapter 9 of their Red Hat Linux 7.3 for Dummies book (Hungry Minds, 2002), Jon "maddog" Hall and Paul Sery discuss Surfing the Web and Managing E-Mail with Mozilla. (Links in Resources section on Page 6.)

In a sense, the message text/header display-panel is actually two, desktop sub-panels. The message text/header display panel has a gray, header sub-panel at the top of the message text/header display panel and a white, text sub-panel below the gray panel.

You can toggle the +/- button at the left top of the gray, header panel to toggle the header panel from detail mode to summary mode. You can toggle the amount of information in the detail-header mode by clicking View > Headers > All / Normal.

  • Sidebar Clutter

We discussed the Mozilla Sidebar at some length in our Mozilla 1.0 Browser Quick Look article. So, we will not discuss it again here. However, here is a brief recap of the discussion in the Mozilla 1.0 Browser Quick Look article as it applies also to the Mozilla 1.0 E-Mail and News module.

The Mozilla Sidebar does not use its real-estate efficiently. Please notice in Figures 2 and 3 on Page 1 the Eudora and KMail side panel areas are relatively clean and uncluttered. The Mozilla Mail side panel in Figure 1, above also is relatively clean and uncluttered -- because the Sidebar has been closed.

However, in Figure 9, below, the Sidebar has been opened and the boundary between the Sidebar panel and the Mail/News folders panel has been pushed up to allow all the Sidebar tabs to show themselves. The result is that there is only one visible Mail/News folder and only one visible bookmark item. All the rest of the entire side panel is consumed with the default Mozilla Sidebar folder tabs.

Of course if the Mozilla E-Mail desktop depicted in Figure 9 were maximized to full-screen size, there would be more room available for Mozilla Sidebar content. The Mozilla Sidebar clutter is more noticeable and aggravating when the Mozilla desktop is less than full screen in size. The more the reduction in Mozilla desktop size, the more noticeable and aggravating the Mozilla Sidebar clutter problem.

Figure 9. The Mozilla 1.0 E-Mail and News desktop in News mode running in Microsoft Windows 98 SE.

This is not unlike the similar problem with the Mozilla Browser Sidebar. In our Mozilla 1.0 browser article, we noted that "the Microsoft Internet Explorer sidebar . . . is cleaner than the Mozilla sidebar and the IE sidebar has more real-estate available for sidebar tab-contents than does the Mozilla sidebar. This comes about because the Internet Explorer sidebar-tab choices are on the toolbar rather than in the sidebar panel. The Mozilla browser unfortunately clutters its sidebar panel by putting the installed sidebar-tab choices within the Mozilla sidebar panel."

In that same Mozilla 1.0 browser article we also noted "the cleaner look of the NetCaptor sidebar. Almost the entire NetCaptor sidebar space is available for sidebar content. The NetCaptor sidebar . . . has room for eleven bookmark (Favorites) items whereas the Mozilla 1.0 sidebar . . . has room for only three bookmark items."

"Sidebar tabs rather than tab content consume most of the Mozilla 1.0 sidebar . . . NetCaptor achieves its efficient and tremendous sidebar real-estate advantage over the Mozilla sidebar by placing the folder tabs along the left edge of the sidebar contents".

Note: you can have an Address Book tab in the Mozilla Sidebar if you like. In that case you likely would not close the Mozilla Sidebar when using the Mozilla E-Mail and News client. If the Mozilla Sidebar were not so cluttered this could be a very handy feature. You can reduce the Sidebar clutter somewhat by removing other sidebar tabs. However, the real solution is a better UI design which cleans up the Sidebar clutter.

Fortunately, there is no compelling need for the Mozilla Sidebar when you are using the Mozilla E-Mail and News client. Therefore, you can close the Mozilla Sidebar as depicted in Figure 1 when you are using Mozilla E-Mail and News, thus providing more open space in the remaining side panel for e-mail and news folders and mailboxes.

Clutter in the Sidebar is not the only issue that carries over from the Mozilla browser desktop or user interface to the Mozilla Mail and News desktop. The Mozilla Toolbar in both the Mozilla browser and the Mozilla Mail and News desktops uses both icons and text labels. That text and icon duplicity takes up lots of Mozilla 1.0 desktop real-estate.


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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