Since last year, April the 1st, Google is regularly releasing interesting new products and services. Last year they kicked off with gmail, a free email service with some interesting technical characteristics.

It basically shook up the whole web design community by demonstrating that html+javascript+xmlrpc (a.k.a. AJAX) allows for some nice, interactive applications. It and similar web applications that since have been developed basically show how the next generation of webapplications can and should work.

So gmail uses xmlrpc to implement some interesting things using ajax:

  • Spelling checker
  • Address completion
  • Auto save of new messages
  • Fetching content without refreshing the page

Plus they allow their users to store gigabytes worth of email. The entire collection of email I’ve collected and kept over the past ten years is less than that!

Recently I’ve abandoned thunderbird, which is a nice mail client, and started using gmail for all my things. I find it works very well and includes a number of features that I have not seen elsewhere so far. The most important feature for me is that it groups related messages (and replies) into conversations on one webpage. This allows you to keep track of long running conversations easily and is also very convenient for mailinglists.

Another thing that I like is that the mail sits on a server. It doesn’t matter where I am, I can always access my full mail archive. I’ve been messing with pop based accounts for years. Inevitably you answer some important mail via some webbased account while traveling. Then you need to forward the reply to yourself for archiving, which is error prone and generally forgotten.

3 Replies to “gmail”

  1. I use gmail too, but this is only for my second email. I would never use gmail as my sole email client. Who knows what will happen in the future. In a few months Google might start charging a fee to use it, didn´t that happen to Flickr?

    I guess I don´t trust free email services enough, even though I don´t think that Google will be doing anything to gmail that we wouldn´t appreciate.

  2. I can understand your concern. However, I’m going to do a bit of traveling the next few weeks. In fact, I’m moving from the Netherlands to Finland. Having a central place for my mail is really convenient. Also I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the usability of gmail.

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