Posts Tagged ‘IMAP’

Microsoft Outlook and IMAP: When a Message ID isn’t a Message ID

Friday, October 29th, 2010

You would think that when your email client saves a copy of an outgoing message in your “Sent Items” folder, that message would be an accurate copy of the message that was sent, right?

Well, in the case of Microsoft Outlook and IMAP, you’d be wrong.

For some entirely inexplicable reason, Outlook assigns one message ID (i.e., the contents of the “Message-ID:” header field) to the message that it sends to its intended recipients, and a different message ID to the message that it saves in your Sent Items folder.

How anyone at Microsoft could think this behavior is reasonable is beyond me.

It prevents Outlook or any other email client from accurately tracking, or threading, conversations.

It prevents automated processes, such as the tool I previously wrote for automatically filing sent items, from working properly.

It makes it impossible for system administrators to accurately track and research mail delivery issues, because the users who sent the problematic messages can’t provide them with the correct message IDs to look up in the logs.

My next blog entry will detail my solution to this problem. Stay tuned!

Hack of the day: auto-filing IMAP “Sent Items” folder

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

I file my email in different IMAP folders, grouped by topic rather than the “received messages in one folder, sent in another” model imposed nowadays by most mail clients.  It’s easy to keep the messages I receive organized by topic — when I’m done handling a message, I simply move it into the appropriate folder.

On the other hand, organizing the copies of message I’ve sent is less straightforward.  Visiting my “Sent Items” folder every time I send a message and filing the message I’ve just sent is gross.  What I’ve done in the past is to leave all the copies in “Sent Items” and periodically file all of them one at a time.  This is time-consuming and error-prone, and what’s more, it could be at least partially automated — if I file a message I received in a particular folder, then something ought to be smart enough to figure out that the response I sent should go into the same folder.

After spending over an hour this morning filing “Sent Items” messages, my annoyance threshold was finally exceeded and I decided to automate the process as much as I could.  The result is file-sent-items.pl.  In a nutshell, this script reads each message in your “Sent Items” folder (or whatever it’s called), grabs the message IDs in the “Message-ID”, “Resent-Message-ID”, “In-Reply-To” and/or “References” headers, looks for a message with one of those IDs in your other folders, and if one is found, moves the sent message into its folder.  There’s a bit more too it than that, of course, which you can find out by reading the comment at the top of the script and running it with the “–help” option to get a usage message.

Of course, this script won’t be able to file messages that aren’t part of conversations already filed into other folders, but it still reduces by a lot the amount of filing you have to do by hand.

Share and enjoy!

Tiggit Mail: Good program, great author

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

TiggitLogoI recently set out to find a decent IMAP client for my BlackBerry Bold, since although the BlackBerry has native IMAP support, my employer’s IT department has disabled it.

I found two to consider: LogicMail, which is free, and Tiggit Mail, which costs $30.  Both are under active development.  I evaluated them and found them both to be inadequate.

I sent feedback to the authors of both applications describing the bugs I’d encountered and the missing functionality which I felt was essential.  The Tiggit issue list was significantly longer than the LogicMail list, ~20 items vs. ~5, and I really didn’t expect a fast or substantive response from the author.

To my surprise, he responded the same day: “Thank you for this very useful list of issues… I am happy to extend your trial period until such time as the defects are resolved… It is very helpful to get honest feedback like this, and if there are any other thoughts you have, please don’t hesitate to email.”

With this, he and I started a discussion which has continued for over a month.  Our exchanges spanned several beta releases of the application, each of which addressed more of the issues I’d reported.

Yesterday, I installed the most recent beta and found to my delight that all of the issues that I considered showstoppers were fixed.  This didn’t stop me from sending the author a laundry list of previously reported issues that still weren’t fixed and several new issues as well :-), but since all the major ones were fixed, I went ahead and purchased a license, as I’d promised the author I would do as soon as I felt the application was useable.

A few hours later, Paypal notified me that my license fee had been refunded.  I wrote to the author and asked him what was up, and he responded, “I could not take the money after all the constructive feedabck you have given.  The license is of course yours, free of charge as a token of my appreciation.  I hope tiggit will serve you well, and you will continue to provide helpful comments.”

With his prompt, courteous, and effective response to my feedback, the author of Tiggit Mail transofmred my initial, negative experience into a positive one.  He took my feedback seriously, recognized and acknowledged the validity of my concerns, and addressed them quickly.  He made it clear that he values his customers and understands that the point of what he’s doing is to make them happy.  Finally, refunding my license fee was a perfect example of what Jeffrey Gitomer talks about in Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless: when trying to turn around a dissatisfied customer, always give the customer more than he expects.

I heartily recommend Tiggit Mail to anyone who is looking for an IMAP client for the BlackBerry.  It’s well worth the $30 license fee, even if you don’t receive a refund. :-)