[Claris announced last week that it has released Emailer, an all-in-one email application. The following text is excerpted and edited from Adam's just-released Internet Starter Kit for Macintosh, Third Edition. -Geoff]
Emailer was developed by Guy Kawasaki's Fog City Software - it's a program that Guy had a strong hand in because, like many people in the industry, Guy has a large number of email accounts on different services, and checking mail on each one is a royal pain. Enter Emailer, which Guy and the folks at Fog City Software designed to be your central email program. Emailer can currently connect to America Online, eWorld, CompuServe, and RadioMail and understands POP and SMTP for talking to Internet email accounts. Other services, like BIX or GEnie, may also appear at a later date.
Services with a Smile -- I tested pre-release versions of Emailer for several months, and it worked like a champ with the Internet, CompuServe, AOL, and eWorld. The configuration for each service is tailored to that service, so when you configure your Internet account, for instance, you enter things like your POP account, SMTP server, and return address. In a nice touch, Emailer is among the first commercial programs to support Internet Config, an increasingly widely used public domain utility that holds configuration information for use by any Internet Config-savvy Internet program.
Because many of us have multiple accounts on different services, Emailer takes that into account and lets you check all of your accounts, no matter how many you may have. In addition, many people travel around, and need to connect to the different services using different phone numbers. In the past, it's been a pain to reconfigure each different program - CIM, AOL, or eWorld - for the local phone numbers in the places you regularly visit. Emailer turns this task into a one-time event by allowing you to store a variety of connection-specific settings (including modem initialization strings and baud rates as well as telephone numbers) for each service in its Locations list.
But Emailer's elegant design doesn't stop there. Anyone who uses a number of different services doesn't want to connect to each of them manually throughout the day. It's much more convenient to have the program connect automatically at a preset time, and in fact, CIM, AOL, and eWorld can all do this. Well, so can Emailer, and it's more flexible than the lot of them, allowing you to schedule the time of day and which days of the week the scheduled connections are made.
Destinations and Filters -- All right, so we have a program that can connect to multiple services using multiple accounts in many different locations at pre-specified times. Emailer has to know how to send mail from one service to another, and as you'd expect, it relies on the Internet, which can connect to all of these different services. You can, of course, reply to CompuServe mail back through CompuServe, but if you'd rather use a cheaper connection through the Internet say, you can also set Emailer's Destinations settings to send mail back through a different service than the one you received it from. I especially like this feature, because I can have all my CompuServe replies go out through the Internet. In addition, if I want to send new mail to someone on CompuServe, Emailer uses this information to properly address the message so it's delivered to CompuServe via the Internet.
Emailer offers full filtering capabilities that can auto-forward or auto-reply to a message, based on a number of criteria such as its sender or its subject. You can set priorities, file messages, and filter on basically any piece of information in an incoming mail message. Thought they bear some resemblance to the filters in the commercial Eudora 2.1.3, Emailer's filtering capabilities - mostly thanks to the auto-forward and auto-reply features - are perhaps the best I've seen.
Reading and Sending Mail -- When you connect to a service, Emailer brings in all waiting mail and sends all mail queued for that service (assuming that you ask it to do that; the two actions can be activated separately). Mail comes into your In Box, accessible from the Emailer Browser window, and double-clicking a message opens it for reading.
Almost anything you could want to do with a message is available in Emailer's In Box, including deleting it (Emailer moves it to a Deleted Mail box in the Filing Cabinet part of the Browser for later permanent deletion), filing in a separate mailbox, printing, forwarding to another person, and replying (and Emailer quotes the selected text when you reply, a great feature). You can also move back and forth between messages in the current mailbox, and Emailer can automatically move read messages to a Read Mail box in the Filing Cabinet if you prefer. If you want to see who a message was sent to, the triangle in the upper left-hand corner flips down to display that header information, and clicking the "plus" button next to the sender's name adds that person to your Address Book.
Speaking of the Address Book, it's almost a work of art. You can easily store multiple addresses for users (including multiple addresses at the same service); you can create groups of users; and you can filter the group based on text strings (this is useful if a list gets large). I could go on for some time, but that would spoil the fun.
Other useful features in Emailer include search capability within saved mail, multiple mailboxes for filing mail, support for enclosures, and even support for enclosures from CompuServe to other services - something that isn't possible any other way.
Not Perfect, But It's Close -- I don't use Emailer in favor of the commercial version of Eudora for two reasons. First, in a design mistake, Emailer stores each message as a separate file on your hard disk (in comparison with Eudora, which stores multiple messages in a single mailbox file in Unix mailbox format). Most messages are relatively small, but they can take up a full allocation block on disk. For instance, the partition of my hard disk that holds email is formatted to 700 MB or so. That means that a 500 byte email message in Emailer's format takes up about 20K on disk, since that's the smallest file size possible on such a large disk. Considering how many hundreds of messages I get and send and keep each day, this inefficiency is a problem, and it may be addressed in a future revision of Emailer. Second, although I like Emailer's interface and I think it's well done for the most part, I've come to enjoy Eudora's clever touches, such as turbo-redirect and automatically opening the next message after a deletion. That's purely a personal preference though.
Overall, Emailer is strong contender among email programs, and I strongly recommend it, especially to anyone who uses multiple email accounts on the commercial services.
According to announcements from Claris, Emailer has a suggested retail price of $89, with educational pricing set at $59. Emailer requires a 68020-based Mac or better, System 7, 1.5 MB of RAM and at least 3 MB of disk space. Emailer will be available from retail and mail-order companies, as well as from Claris directly. Also, a demo version of Emailer is available online from Claris.
Claris Corporation -- 800/544-8554 -- 408/727-9054 (support)