With the default apps chosen and announced for 10.10, Maverick Meerkat, I decided that I wanted to take a look at a few apps in particular and look at some of their strengths and weaknesses, and what I hope happens in the next couple months to make 10.10 a perfect ten out of ten. I will really focus on those apps here on OMG!, although, (at a slower, more thorough pace) I will also be looking at those applications on my own personal Ubuntu blog, such as a post on Tomboy and GTG from a few days ago.
First up on the chopping block? Evolution.
I’m not a fan of email clients, and I never have been. In an age where I can get on the internet just about anywhere, and most of my computer interaction is online, it just seems cumbersome to jump through hoops to get to my email. The first time I installed Ubuntu almost 2 years ago, I decided I ought to give Evolution a try, being as, hey! It was there, and if its in Ubuntu its got to be awesome, right?
Well, I was wrong. After sweating and fighting the software for days, I gave up trying to access my Hotmail and Gmail accounts. Apparently, at the time, these were both impossible unless you sold your soul to the horrors of port forwarding or some nonsense that my noob computer mind couldn’t understand.
However, in more recent times, Evolution has smoothed out some of these compatibility issues. But this is still, by far, the most important feature to be worked on in Evolution. Better syncing across Gmail, Google Calender, Hotmail, tasks in GTG!, notes in Tomboy, contact syncing all need serious work to even catch up, much less make it a pleasant experience. I currently only use evolution at all to give me an offline backup of Hotmail and Gmail, just because there isn’t a better way right now.
First of all, syncing with both Gmail and Hotmail both need work. There are some interesting studies done showing market share of how people access their email (@fingerprintapp) and other tests showing over shares of @ addresses. Hotmail/Live addresses are still huge, Yahoo is still huge, and Gmail is growing very quickly. Yet Yahoo is the only one of these three that syncs well. On a near daily basis (and sometimes more than once a day) my Hotmail account in Evolution decides to download hundreds of messages and mark them as new… even when they are months old and marked as read in Hotmail. That sucks.
Furthermore, are we really still stuck in the age of setting ‘minutes between check’ stage? Lets get some push integration, for crimany’s sake.
Evolution is SLOW. Super slow. It sits and scans and I have no idea what its doing, I just know if I try to rush it, it crashes. I don’t know what its up to, I can’t figure it out. Its just slow, and sits there and cranks away at nothing. Lets please get faster, I don’t care why. Theres no reason to use an email client that is far far slower than just going to the website.
I really like the Messenging Menu. Its not perfect yet, but its pretty cool. But for 10.10, I’d really like to see Evolution find a way of integrating with the Messenging Menu so that it can check for new messages (again, with push!) without needing to be totally open. I don’t need my full calender, memos, task (which, I use none of that, because its slow and not compatible well) just to sit there and tell me when I have new messages. It would be great to not have to use a seperate program (Gmail Notifier) to tell me when I have new messages while their still new, and then have a new notification, several minutes late from Evolution, about the message that has already been read. Awesome.
Furthermore, it would really truly be fantastic if there was integration with Gwibber and Empathy, so that my contacts in one could be grabbed in the other.
Related to speed is just the huge gargantuan size of Evolution. You know what I’d love? If there was better syncing with Gmail, Hotmail, and Yahoo, then it could direct pull my contacts and I wouldn’t need a whole contacts app built in. I don’t need a whole calender app to load to check my email. I don’t need the to-do or memos either. If I don’t need those other apps, then why should I have them bogging down my email app? Please, let me just use a email app if I just want an email app.
Truthfully, I don’t want a huge monolithic email client, I want a program to tell me when I have new email, right when I get it, not 12 minutes later. I want it quick and stable. I want offline access that works, so that things are more convenient, not obnoxious. But those who want the notes and calender deserve those to be stable and usable as well.
Thank you for Evolution, developers. But lets hop on top of things. Announce some future plans, open up some discussion, tell us where you need help. I can’t even figure out who’s working on it or how to tell you my ideas, so I hope somebody who reads this knows who to tell, but theirs plenty of us who want a native GTK email client that works for us, instead of against us. I’d rather use a slim, fast, native app than something marginally better with its own peculiarities.