Re: [Geary] Labels vs Folders (and Gmail vs Other)

Hey Federico,

On Fri, Dec 22, 2017 at 8:07 AM, Federico Bruni <fede inventati org> wrote:
Labels is a concept which is really true only for Gmail server, which stores all conversations in one physical place (folder/dir) but can display them in multiple virtual places (labels) *without copying them*. That is why they call it labels and not folders. Because we should imagine the conversation as always being in the same "folder", and label is just a property of the conversation which allows it to appear in different places without actually moving on disk.

The other IMAP servers I know of don't work this way. They know only folders and a conversation can live in more than one folder only if it's copied (which makes the database grow).

This is probably quite true, but personally (despite not using it) I think GMail's model is superior, and we should at least support it for GMail accounts. :)

However I don't see much of a problem with continuing to use the term "Label" for user-defined mailboxes. After all IMAP calls these things mailboxes, yet Geary calls them folders. I've been doing some related thinking about this on the wiki: <>, and I'm inclined to use the term Folder only for special-use mailboxes, since these typically represent places where mail either appears (e.g. Inbox, Sent) or goes permanently to rest (e.g. Archive, Junk, Trash). In the majority of cases, messages appear in user-defined mailboxes only because the user took some action to put them there, so Label seems like a good term for them.

While the storage issue for non-GMail servers is a problem, I'm not too worried since most people wouldn't use a large number of labels for a conversation, and a good IMAP server would de-duplicate the message in the underlying storage anyway. IMAP does at least make this possible since message bodies are effectively immutable. People who suffer from accounts with mailbox quotas can manage this themselves anyway however by moving instead of copying messages to a specific label, and I doubt support for that will go away any time soon.


⊨ Michael Gratton, Percept Wrangler.
⚙ <>

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