e-mails organized in threads

I remember when Opera initially launched the concept in its e-mail client that you did not really need folders to organize your e-mail, but that it was sufficient to group them.
Fairly recently Google reviewed the same concept and defined the labels and a very similar way of organizing your e-mails. Google certainly added a very powerful search engine, but the original concept is very much the same.

Being a Mac user, I have been using Apple’s Mail for a few years now. Mail.app has a standard a hybrid approach to e-mails, the standard folders are available, but since Spotlight became part of the OS, users are also able to create filters and organize e-mails in “dynamic folders“.

I have never been a fan of Opera’s approach and the same applies to Google’s approach and Apple’s dynamic folders.
I really like the threaded view, though. Both GMail and Mail.app offer this feature.
For my normal inbox and for a few folders I use the standard view with e-mails sorted by date descending.
For mailing lists I just love the threaded view. Here are two screenshots of the same mailing list:

And here is another screenshot of the same mailing list with a standard view:

When you read and contribute to a mailing list with a fair amount of traffic and different topics discussed, maybe with a lot of replies to the same topic, the threaded view lets you have e-mails organized very well and lets you follow a full thread even if other e-mails were sent for other threads in the same timeline.

While both Google’s and Apple’s e-mail clients are not exactly perfect when grouping e-mails, it still is very helpful and works smoothly in most cases. I have been using this feature for a couple of years now and liked it. I realized how I’m not used to it when last week I read my e-mails using a web client and found myself lost in the e-mails, losing track and having a hard time identifying the context as I was moving through the list of my e-mails, but were actually about different topics.
Going back to check old threads is also very easy when using this feature as you immediately get all the e-mails together.

HTML in e-mail

If you read technical news and blogs (read for example HTML Standards Process Returning from the Grave from Surfin’ Safari) around the net you should by now know that the HTML Working group has been re-chartered until 2010!

You will certainly know that it has been a highly debated topic between supporters of the evolution of HTML and the supporters of XHTML as the next version of HTML, that is to say that HTML is dead.

On the other side Daniel Glazman has raised a very interested topic which is the HTML in e-mail. It did not get into the charter, but at least we had a new public mailing list to discuss and hopefully get our voice heard in the group. Read from Daniel’s pen, “HTML in email” W3C mailing-list.

I have never been a fan of HTML in e-mail, but I agree with him that it can be a very important tool for promotional purposes and not only. There is not only spam, there are also valid e-mails, newsletters and mailing lists in which HTML is appropriate and provides an extra tool for formatting and layout.
XHTML and CSS could be the markup and styling too, of course, but if the web browsers are far from being strict, e-mail clients were not born for HTML and XHTML and their support for the standards is often poor.
This mailing list is NOT to complain about spam or unwanted HTML, but it is to suggest a viable, satisfying solution for a secure and quality implementation of markup and style in e-mail.
It would be dumb to create a new markup specific for e-mail when we already have 4 major versions of HTML, 2 major versions of XHTML, 3 major versions of CSS and a number of minor versions. Let’s just agree on something that can work for everyone!

This said, I invite everyone that thinks to have constructive proposals on this topic to check out the online archive of public-html-mail, join and let your voice heard (even to say that XHTML should be used).