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Columns & Editorials

February 27th, 1997

The Skinny

[The Bottom Line:]
Yikes! What else can you say? Emailer 2.0 is well worth the ticket price. A complete, stable, intuitive package. Continues to impress even after the newness has worn off. Claris might have stumbled out of the batter's box with the original version, but they hit this one out of the park.

More features than you can shake a stick at. Flexible, powerful, fast, easy to use. Attractive, informative tool bar icons. Impressive, comprehensive manual even lays out the basics of electronic mail for beginners.

Sterile, industrial Windows interface. Relatively large memory requirements for an email client.

Claris Emailer 2.0
Processor: PowerPC or 68k
Memory Needs: 3-4MB
Hard Drive Space: 5-10MB
Price: $49.95
Publisher: Claris Corporation

by: Craig Cox ([email protected])

Claris has just cranked up the standard for email client software with its release of Claris Emailer 2.0. Friendly, flexible, fast, and feature rich -- it's like email on steroids. The product packs so many features that it would take pages of descriptions to simply to list the cornucopia of capabilities.

In the world of Macintosh email clients, Emailer 2.0 is about as "buzz-word compliant" as you can possibly get. Try a few of these on for size: integral spell checker, support for hierarchical folders, unlimited email accounts, multiple signatures, context sensitive on-screen help, powerful and sophisticated mail actions (apply up to 20 different tests), and the ability to set the limit of file sizes on downloaded mail. That's right -- you can download just enough of a message to see what it's about before you fork over your hard earned dollars for the privilege of downloading multi-megabyte junk mail.

While Fog City Software (the software's original developers) did an admirable job with the initial release of Emailer, a couple key areas were implemented in extremely odd ways (namely, the entire tabbed interface). Thankfully, Emailer 2.0 satisfies almost every one of our concerns.

One of the biggest downfalls of the first release was that all messages were stored in individual files, and for those of you using one large hard drive partition, you know the headaches hundreds of little files can cause. Emailer 2.0 fixes this by storing all mail in a single database, which ends up not only saving plenty of hard disk space, but it makes searching for that piece of mail you vaguely remember a swift breeze instead of a timely chore.

In terms of the interface, a new layout with flowing hierarchical folders replaces the obtrusive and mundane tabbed interface of the program's prior sibling. And though the 'browser' still does take up a large chunk of screen real estate, Claris included, through the flick of a cmd-3, the ability to have a small list of folders act like the browser. A simple double click in the folder list then opens up individual windows.

The address book has gone largely unchanged, but that's not a problem as the original had enough power to withstand the times. The filtering capabilities, which have been kept intact, probably are one of the more handy features -- it allows you to type a couple of characters, and as you type, in real-time, all your entries (based on either name or description) will be filtered.

Emailer is most widely known for its multiple online service capabilities, and while this version doesn't add any new services to the original list (Internet, AOL, CompuServe, RadioMail, and OfficeMail), it does add one much needed feature -- the ability to track an unlimited number of accounts. And road warriors will cherish it for the ability to set up local dial up numbers and special schedules for a variety of locations. In addition, Emailer even lets you store associated dialog codes such as credit card numbers.

But the downside to having support for multiple online services is that users who might only have a single provider (Internet email is probably the strongest proponent here) could become inundated by the seemingly unnecessary capabilities and features. To this complaint, it must be noted that Claris has done an absolutely tremendous job with not only providing a simplistic setup regime, but also an interface that tends to hide its rich strengths. About the only thing a single service user will notice is the extra bloat in Emailer's hardware requirements.

Extensive Apple Script support has been added and the program uses drag and drop for nearly every function. Add in a choice of compression formats (BinHex, Base64, and UUEncode) for enclosures and an elegance with handling incoming files and you've iced the cake.

There is, however, something eerily reminiscent about the look of the product when first viewed. It may take awhile, but it becomes apparent that Emailer bears more than a passing resemblance to the Windows standard look. Apparently, Claris has sought a more uniform look for the product so it would appear similar on both Mac and Windows platforms. The antiseptic, industrial Windows appearance is salvaged by the strong counterpoint of the new tool bar icons, which are works of art.

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