Re: Some hints for usability improvements

Hi Mişu!

On 01/19/2006 04:23:03 PM, Mişu Moldovan wrote:

First of all forgive me for the blasphemy of using Sylpheed to post to Balsa's mailing list.

Oh, this is a very inclusive, forgiving, list!

I'm using an old computer with very limited memory right now and I prefer to use Sylpheed here because of the lighter memory footprint.

Do you have statistics on the footprint? We've tried to make Balsa lighter...

Also, the latest Balsa compiled on this oldie, but crashes on startup (I'll investigate this some other day).

We had some reports of problems with old glib/gtk installations--what versions were involved?

Although I still prefer Balsa 2.3 over Sylpheed 2.2 or Sylpeed Claws
2.0, here are some little things from Sylpheed that would (in my
opinion) improve the usability of Balsa:

1) Balsa's message editor could use an undo history. For now there's a single level of undo and it works oddly, the cursor is moved out of place when doing an undo. Contrast this with the configurable number of undo steps in Sylpheed. (Ok, ok, maybe we don't need a preference for this, but 50 levels of undo/redo should be enough for anyone, especially if everything works right).

With current cvs, if you have GtkSourceView and configure --with-gtksourceview, you get multilevel undo (not configurable, it's GtkSourceView's default setting, which Iirc is 25). You also get highlighting of /structured phrases/, and quoted line coloring in the compose window.

2) Replying to a mail with several levels of replies breaks the paragrafs lines in crude ways. Granted, you may reflow manually by selecting the affected paragraphs and reflowing them manually with Control-R or the corresponding menu entry. But the logic of doing it automatically is not so complex. Sylpheed seems to get it right (and I think it's not the only MUA to do so).

Balsa handles it when the message you're answering has format=flowed, which afaict is the only format that allows a MUA to know when text is in paragraphs that should be reflowed, as opposed to arbitrary text (code snippets, etc.) that shouldn't.

3) Balsa's spell checker is primitive. I rarely use it because it's hard for me to follow it as it checks through the text. There seems to be no indication to what word is being questioned and you have to guess a lot. (Disclaimer: This message is not spell checked, but at work I've tried Sylpheed Claws with spell checking and it evens checks the spelling as you write).

Since 2.3.7, if you have GtkSpell and configure --with-gtkspell, you get, well, real spell-checking. The spell-check option (toolbar button and menu item) becomes a toggle, and spell-checking is as-you-type. We're still working on saving the state of spell-checking when a message is saved to and continued from Drafts.

4) Balsa, please be nice and ask me before sending a mail with an empty Subject header...

Yes, that would be kind!

And also ask me about automatically re-encoding to UTF-8 if my mail contains characters not present in the default encoding.

The current code tries quite hard to find a charset that can handle the text, but yes, it could ask for suggestions before falling back on UTF-8.

5) As someone that usually reads only the new mails on several folders and subfolders in an IMAP hierarchy I frequently navigate from one new message to another using the Ctrl-N shortcut. When there are no new messages in the current folder I have to manually switch to a folder with some new mails to continue reading them. Sylpheed does what I mean and asks me if it should change automatically to the next new mail in the next subfolder in my IMAP hierarchy. True also for other MUA's.

Maybe pop up a dialog saying "Next unread message is in %s" with "OK" and "Cancel" buttons?

6) In both Sylpheed MUA's it's possible to set up the folder pane to only show the folders and the number of new mails in parantheses along side the folder's name. No need to display the whole list of statistics just to see how many new mails you have in a specific IMAP sub-folder. As a side note, I got to distrust the new status of IMAP subfolders in Balsa especially with some (maybe broken) IMAP servers like Exchange.

Yes, that would be a useful option.

7) Sylpheed Claws manages to briliantly organize the multitude of
options from Sylpheed preferences in a window with chapters and
subchapters on the left side (no more sub-tabs in a tab of the
Preferences window).

Is that a custom widget? I don't know of a Gtk widget that would do that...

I'm sure I forgot some other issues, but it's late and I'm getting
tired. I'll save them for some other time. And please take everything
with a grain of salt, I wrote about options and shortcuts without
actually checking them one by one so I may be wrong in some cases. It
may be also that Balsa has some (unknown to me) ways of dealing with
the above issues. If so, please let me know of any workarounds, they
will probably help others too.

After using also Mozilla Mail, Thunderbird, Evolution and Mutt I think all mailers suck. But for me Balsa sucks less, that's why I'm still using it on two other computers daily. I really like it's elegance and hope for even more refinements.

...and we thank you for the suggestions--Balsa, the refined mailer, that's our goal!



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