Matt Gemmell

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Mailsmith and the Release Notes Pervert

tech 2 min read

Bare Bones has released Mailsmith 2.0. There goes my productivity for the rest of the week.

Now, before going any further, let me just note that I’m in the fortunate position of not caring about IMAP support. The impression I get from the versiontracker moron-reviews is that the two primary deal-breakers for those considering Mailsmith are (1) lack of IMAP support, and (2) the fact that you actually have to (gasp!) pay for it. I don’t care about IMAP, as I said, so let’s move straight to point 2.

I don’t mind paying for software that I’ll get a lot of use out of. I can’t think of an app which I use more than my email client. I have it running almost constantly. I put countless hours of work into its configuration, particularly with regard to getting my filters just perfect. It’s unfortunate that this general belief has come about that you shouldn’t have to pay for an email client or a web browser. A web browser has to be one of the most complex pieces of desktop software in existence, from an engineering standpoint. Email clients vary hugely in their complexity and capability, but they’re not REALbasic weekend project candidates either. This is particularly true for clients which really go the extra mile; those which “sweat the small stuff”. Of such clients, Mailsmith (in common with BB products in general) must surely be the very archetype.

At this point, I have to make the first of two confessions: I’m a Release Notes pervert. I obtain a great deal of pleasure from reading full release notes (both features and fixes) for products - at least products which I use regularly. I appreciate that this may sound a bit odd, but bear with me. I also really like keeping accurate release notes in minute detail whilst developing my own software, but that’s just an obvious consequence of my unhealthy obsession.

Occasionally, someone will catch me indulging my guilty pleasure - usually I’ll be sitting poring over a gigantically-long document in my browser, or even (albeit infrequently) looking through a printed copy (yes, my obsession runs deep). I’ll usually have a dopey sort of happy expression on my face. At those times when I’m caught in the act, as I rush to rationalise and justify my antisocial habit, I’ll usually say that I’m “assessing whether the upgrade is worth it”. I’m making damn sure that enough effort went into the new version, as indicated by the release notes, in order to justify either the cost (usually) or effort (less often, but still fairly common) involved in switching to the new version.

Bare Bones have always been good enough to keep me in burgeoning release notes in the past, for which I am eternally grateful. Mailsmith 2.0’s release notes are of an almost genre-redefining length, which is bliss for a deviant such as myself. Having waded through them in detail, savouring every ASCII character, I can conclusively say that as an upgrade, Mailsmith 2.0 is “worth it”. Accordingly, I was all ready to pay up, but then BB sent me a free upgrade, since I’d previously paid for version 1.5. Epic release notes and a new version free of charge? I must have done something good (or indeed very bad) in a past life!

I must now make my second confession: I am a serial philanderer with respect to email clients. I’ve never found one I was completely satisfied with, and I have something of a twice-yearly ritual whereby I must try out the latest version of just about every major client, to see if at last it meets my exacting standards. Memories of Mailsmith 1.5 still burn bright, as the only client which ever came close to my vision of the perfect email-handling companion.

Accordingly, I must now migrate all of my email, filters and so forth into Mailsmith 2.0, to give it a fair shake. I shall tweak and configure and organise. I shall write and attach scripts. I shall customise keyboard shortcuts with the very best of them. And then, this time (my naïve hope remains to this day, blinding all logic and reservation), I shall have built the perfect emailing infrastucture.

On that day, and ever after, all shall look upon my citadel of tightly-categorised subfolders and my impregnable fortress of precision-tuned filters, and they shall despair; for I shall be the King of Email.