[Evolution] Evolution 2.x feature request and commentary

Hi Everyone,

I know that this has been mentioned by Steven Marcotte and others on the
Novell support forum, but I wanted to add my voice to some of the
differences I encountered when upgrading to Fedora Core 3 yesterday.

I want to start with the fact that I've been using Evolution since it
arrived on the scene in tarball form.  2.0 seems to be faster for some
things and finally at least partially solves the "doesn't pay attention
to the system toolbar settings" problem which was pretty-much my biggest
outstanding gripe for a while now.  With 2.0, it has less text, but it'd
still be nice if it would pay attention to the system settings.

The short list:

1) lack of being able to hide the folders/buttons is really annoying
2) lack of message count for current selected folder makes it difficult
to monitor status of mailboxes
3) business/strategy problem for wooing Outlook users

The details:

#1:  Please, please, please put in a way to hide the folders/buttons

I am fortunate to have a big screen on my laptop, but I like to have
lots of overlapping windows present so I can see what's happening in
multiple places at a glance.  I run Evolution 1.4 sized to a 640x689
window.  After upgrading, the folder width was 200px (30% of the total
window).  I tried to figure out a way to hide the folders, to no avail,
then tried to do the old Netscape 4/6 trick of sizing the pane to zero. 
Nope.  That didn't work either.  The minimum width I was able to
accomplish was 115px (18% of the window).

My usage patterns are that I monitor my inbox and then file everything
as needed.  This means that I normally only ever care about one Inbox at
a time.  I also generally monitor external email boxes, but they aren't
as critical, so I manually check them from time to time.  I nearly
*never* use the folder view if you consider how many times I pop it up
vs the number of hours Evolution is running.  Now, I'm either forced to
enlarge my window so that my visible message area is the same, or I have
scrunched messages.  Either way, I'm wasting 115px of screen real

I'm not saying that the way I use Evolution should be the default for
all users, however, I find it very frustrating that I can't continue to
configure the application the way that I want--regardless of any
accessibility issues that it may cause.  If I had accessibility
problems, I wouldn't run it that way.  If I don't, I should be able to
use it as efficiently as possible.

#2 Monitoring mailbox(es) with minimized windows is also something I do
quite often

Generally, when I am able to do so, I have one version of Evolution
running for my personal mail and one version running for my work mail. 
One of these is always local and the other is always remote (xhosted to
whatever machine I'm sitting in front of).  With the message numbers in
the title bar, all I have to do is look at the window list to see if I
have mail.  Also, I shouldn't have to run a separate applet or icon just
to tell me if I have mail or not.  If I choose to, that's one thing, but
having the unread messages in the title bar is a very good usability

#3 Business, marketing, strategy and Outlook

As much as I hate to admit it, Outlook owns the email of the majority of
business users.  Originally, Evolution was designed to allow those users
to have an easy migration to a better tool (at least so it seemed to
me).  With the new design, you no longer have that edge.  Of course, the
reality is that it'll be a long time before *nix/Evolution will replace
the majority of the Outlook installations, but having the same metaphor
choices seemed to be a good idea.  Do I use things like the Shortcut
bar?  No.  Should it be there?  Probably.

I know that things change--there's no way around that, but I think that
providing features for "power users" or whatever you want to call them
so that they can work as efficiently as possible with the one thing we
have more of than we want (email) is a "good thing".  Taking that away
without providing an alternative way to accomplish more-or-less the same
thing can't be good.  I don't expect everyone to use the tools I use in
the same way, but that's exactly why they're such powerful and useful
tools.  I was forced to use Outlook for 6 weeks and felt like I'd lost
the use of both my hands trying to manage my email.

Fortunately, I didn't delete my 1.4 evolution directory (thank you for
the option!!!!) so I was able to re-install Fedora Core 2 (and Evolution
1.4) today with no loss of data.  I look forward to the advancement of
Evolution and am extremely appreciative of the work done by the team. 
You folks have made me not worry about how I was going to read my email
since you rescued me from the wasteland I was in between losing
(NeXT)Mail.app and finding Evolution.  Keep up the good work, but please
keep the business requirements driving the software rather than the
other way around.

Thanks for listening,

Andrew S. Townley <atownley eircom net>

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