Letters: Open Source Mac Email Client in the Works

Thanks to a blog post from NetNewsWire developer Brent Simmons, the Mac community is now working on developing an open source alternative to Apple's Mail application dubbed Letters. The idea behind Letters is that power users need a strong IMAP email client, and there currently isn't anything on the market that fits the bill.

"I've been joking for years that I'm going to write an email client and charge $500 for it — an email client that actually meets the needs of developers and professionals who rely on email, folks who type for a living. But I'm not going to, and I don't know anybody who is," Mr. Simmons said on his blog. "Nevertheless, we need that email client. The only way to get there is via open source: there might be enough interest and energy in the community to make it happen."

Turns out the developer community had strong interest in just the kind of email application he described, so in only a few days the idea started to take form and the open source project began moving forward. So far, there's an email list, Twitter account, and Daring Fireball's John Gruber was elected president with the task of getting version 1.0 out the door.

There isn't a timeframe for the release of Letters 1.0, but a draft of the open source project's vision document is already online. The group is looking for developers and power users, and the framework for the application has been outlined, too.

The birth of the Letters project doesn't necessarily mean that a completed email application will ever ship. Considering the interest that's been expressed so far, however, there's a good chance that Letters will ship, and hopefully it will really will include the features email power users need.