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Greeks bearing gifts and email

By Chris Williams. Published: 26th Jan 2005, 23:30:01 | Permalink | Printable

An introduction to the history and future of Hermes

HermesEvery so often, new commercial software is developed for RISC OS and upon release, is sufficiently covered by drobe.co.uk and other publications. However Hermes, the recently developed email software by Alan Wrigley for R-Comp, has managed to evade us - until now. We caught up with Alan earlier this week to talk about his latest application and what lies in store for Hermes.

As an email transport application, Hermes is described as being like POPstar but with advanced features; POPstar being the popular freeware email fetcher by Joseph Heenan. In a case of convenient timing, while R-Comp were looking for a replacement to POPstar for their Internet software suite, Alan proposed his idea of writing a new application from scratch. As a result, Hermes is now included R-Comp's Dialup2, NetFetch and MessengerPro commercial software titles, but can also be used as a standalone application if you wish.

"I had felt for a long time that POPstar was showing its age and had thought many times about writing a new mail transport, but it was really three things that actually provided the incentive to do it," says Alan, who has authored a book in the past on programming for RISC OS.

"Firstly, having launched the Feathermail anti-spam service a couple of years ago I felt it would be extremely useful to have a mail transport that could interface with it (having said that, Hermes as finally released doesn't actually interface with Feathermail although it will have anti-spam features of its own in a future release).

"Secondly, I have for some years been running Web-based businesses from a RISC OS machine with Datapower at the local end and MySQL at the server end and using email to communicate between them. The method I used was to write external scripts called from Datapower which inserted emails into POPstar's queue, but I always dreamed one day of having a more integrated system with a mail transport which could be activated directly from within applications using SWI calls, which would enable any application to send emails directly.

"And thirdly, the release of Gemini (the PC version of Messenger Pro) gave me some useful pointers on how a modern mail transport system should work, and I have derived inspiration for some of Hermes' features from Gemini."

Written in C++ and built using the Acorn compiler package, development work started shortly after Wakefield 2004 and the first version of Hermes was meekly introduced later that year in time for the October RISC OS show in Guildford. Although the application was initially to be called Weasel (as in POP goes the We... oh, you get it), this was changed to Hermes: the messenger of the ancient Greek gods.

Due to the fact that freeware alternatives are available, Hermes clearly needed an edge over the competition. At the moment its key features include the ability to send and fetch email to and from multiple accounts in parallel. As Alan puts it: "If you have several email addresses, you don't have to wait until every email from every account is downloaded (or until your 10 megabytes of family pics to Aunty Ethel has left the building) before you can read any of them." Hermes also supports various SMTP authentication methods plus APOP authentication, which ISPs are increasingly enforcing to ensure that accounts are used by legitimate users only.

Alan was particularly coy about the future of Hermes, although wistfully added that maybe one day he'll be able to send emails from Datapower with Hermes. He says, "I have agreed with R-Comp a roadmap for development over the next year which will involve probably three major upgrades. The first of these will be fairly soon and will add a useful bit of functionality that is so far missing from RISC OS. The second will add some anti-spam features as I mentioned earlier. As for the third, you will just have to wait and see."

The 'no fuss, no hassle' approach to managing email on RISC OS is considered by R-Comp to be one of the strengths of our platform, and as they told us last December in Birmingham, R-Comp are keen to see this advantage continue. Arguably, this is especially true in our modern virus ridden climate of the Internet: forget the headline of this article, it's a case of 'beware of geeks bearing exploits', more than anything else. The fact that Messenger (originally one of the crown jewels in the freeware Internet application family) has been ported to Windows is, in a way, proof of the strength of our email software. However, as the digital world moves deeper into the realms of instant messaging and similar forms of information and knowledge exchange, there is a real pressure now on RISC OS software development to keep up with these trends.

Links

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Discussion

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As can be read in GAG-News issue 77 I have Hermes and - wow - it is a good piece of software.

Since I have some 12 email boxes the parallel fetching is very nice and due to parallelism is much faster since fetching always means connect -> authenticate -> fetch list -> fetch mail and when one of them hangs a bit everything hangs with POPstar (which does happen sometimes) but with Hermes no hassles at all.

Migration was pretty simple and ever since Hermes runs happily and sleeker than POPstar.

 is a RISC OS Userhzn on 27/1/05 6:24AM
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So R-Comp wrap yet another free program and rebadge it as commercial?

Also, I really hope it doesn't take inspiration from the threading in Gemini, as it basically singletasks whilst fetching!

 is a RISC OS Usersimo on 27/1/05 7:00AM
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Not that I can see: Hermes is as far as I can tell a new piece of software and not a commmercial rebadge of POPstar but a completely new application.

But even it it was: A commercial rebadge of some free program which is then actively developed further and enhanced is better to have available especially when the free software is not or barely developed anymore and to have both the free and the commercial application around gives you the choice.

 is a RISC OS Userhzn on 27/1/05 7:19AM
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I am pretty sure there is no free version of Hermes, so no, this is not 'yet another free program rebadged as commercial' as far as I can see. (Not that I see a problem with a business-model like that)

I am very satisfied with the way the threading works, it certainly isn't singletasking!

 is a RISC OS Userjjvdgeer on 27/1/05 7:20AM
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Simo, if you don't want to purchase "rebadged" software then don't. Just carry on with the original lower specced and often unsupported free versions. I don't see the reason for your comment especilly since Hermes isn't rebadged but written new from scratch.

 is a RISC OS Usermripley on 27/1/05 8:28AM
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All we need now is a version of Spamstamp that multitasks!

 is a RISC OS Usermrtd on 27/1/05 9:53AM
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simo, not sure my bank manager would take too kindly to Hermes being classified as a free program. Its dev costs are high 4 figures (ongoing). That may also go some way to explaining why DialUp/NetFetch etc all cost money to upgrade.

 is a RISC OS Userarawnsley on 27/1/05 10:35AM
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Having used Hermes from the Guildford shown onwards I can only say that it is wonderful.

 is a RISC OS UserRevin Kevin on 27/1/05 11:34AM
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It cost you 4 figures to develop a POP client? Jesus christ, man.

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 27/1/05 11:42AM
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mrtd: SpamStamp multitasks all the time here... Just set it up to multitask, that's all that is needed... A lot of work has gone into that to make sure it is possible... I started out not documenting it properly in case it led (lead?) to problems, but I think the documentation does mention it nowadays. Can't verify that from here...

All that's needed really is wrapping the SpamStamp command with a TaskWindow command.

 is a RISC OS Userjjvdgeer on 27/1/05 12:29PM
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In reply to jjvdgeer: Thanks for that Jan-Jaap. I haven't re-read the documentation since the last few updates so I'll have a go. The current version can take a little while to process incoming email even on an Iyonix if you set the hashtable size too big. Having the machine freezing for a few seconds every 10 minutes is a pain. (And before you all flame me, I know this is OT - sorry).

 is a RISC OS Usermrtd on 27/1/05 1:22PM
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Why is 4 figures a suprise ? The lowest 4 figures is 1000 which at a quite low software developer salary of say 20,000 would mean 9.6 per hour so 1000 would buy you 104hrs work or 2.5 weeks......nah don't think so. I suspect it takes longer than that and the salary is higher !

 is a RISC OS Usermripley on 27/1/05 1:48PM
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Hermes sounds quite nice, but is it available on its own? I couldn't find any reference on RCI's website.

As to 'moving deeper into the realms of Instant Messaging' I think RCI has got that covered as well!

 is a RISC OS UserhEgelia on 27/1/05 4:21PM
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Where I come from you would be lucky to get away with 1000UKP a week for software effort! And before you comment, not all of it is paid to the actual programmers by any means.

 is a RISC OS Usermrtd on 27/1/05 5:22PM
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hEgelia - Hermes is part of DialUp or NetFetch - you have to buy either of those programs. If you don't like the idea of paying for those speciifc programs, think of Hermes coming with "free" NetFetch or "free" DialUp. Having said that, both dialup and netfetch achieve things that the individual components don't do alone, so really there's very few reasons not to use the software as is. Except that some users just like to be "different"!

 is a RISC OS Userarawnsley on 27/1/05 5:33PM
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mrtd: "Where I come from you would be lucky to get away with 1000UKP a week for software effort!"

Yes, but I doubt that R-Comp invited bids from consulting houses, for whom the 1000UKP would, as you suggest, slip into the (mis)administrative overhead.

 is a RISC OS Userguestx on 27/1/05 5:51PM
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arawnsley: Well, I don't need DialUp since I'm on broadband, but what is NetFetch? Again I could not find any details about that after a quick browse on the rcomp website.

Also, does Hermes come with Messenger Pro 3? That would be a very attractive set...

 is a RISC OS UserhEgelia on 27/1/05 6:00PM
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mripley: POP is a mind-bendingly trivial protocol. I can't imagine it taking more than 5 or 6 hours to get enough working properly, and then perhaps another 5 or 6 hours on the UI, and then another 3 or 4 doing the documentation.

There are also dozens of freely avaiable libraries that do POP and IMAP that you can integrate into commercial software quite freely that'd reduce the development time even further. If I were charged a four figure sum for somebody to develop a POP client for me, I'd expect to get a moon on a stick in the gold packing box it came in.

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 27/1/05 6:00PM
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hEgelia - NetFetch is DialUp, but for network/broadband users. It's in the RCI networking section of the site. Nunfetishest - I think you missed the point somewhat - Hermes design goal is "best of breed" ie. it has to come in a gold packing box, preferably with moon shaped gift wrap.

 is a RISC OS Userarawnsley on 27/1/05 6:20PM
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I think I just figured out a nice way of doing a WIMP application that can fetch concurrently from multiple POP and IMAP accounts, making use of SSL, TLS, numerous different methods of authentication, complete with a pretty GUI with percentage bars and what-not in about 5 hours. Write a front end to fetchmail.

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 27/1/05 7:55PM
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What MTA did you have in mind for fetchmail to talk to?

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 27/1/05 9:38PM
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I don't think we need to take nunfetishist's views on software development too seriously - his own Web site refers to software he's written in the following terms: "Most of them aren't engineered all that well".

 is a RISC OS Userinchiquin on 27/1/05 10:14PM
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The whole idea of serious software development and support for "a four figure sum" is quite amusing. Some of those costing that in the real world would expect it to be a poor day's wages, not a finished product.

dgs

 is a RISC OS Userdgs on 27/1/05 11:53PM
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In reply to nunfetishist

Do it then and charge less than rcomp then you will be on a winner.

 is a RISC OS UserRevin Kevin on 28/1/05 1:55AM
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mrchocky: fetchmail doesn't require an MTA to talk to - it can write mails to disc, or even a pipe.

inchiquin: It's called modesty.

dgs: Then there are people being stageringly overpaid for easy work.

Revin Kevin: I nolonger have a RISC OS box, and it's such a trivial thing to do, I'm sure somebody else will do it.

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 28/1/05 9:49AM
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nunfetishist: There is a word for people like you: Troll.

 is a RISC OS Userdansguardian on 28/1/05 10:18AM
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nunfetishist:

> it's such a trivial thing to do

I'm not living in his naeberhood. So, who is willing to lend Nunfetishist a RISC OS box for that purpose? A day would probably be enough.

 is a RISC OS Useregel on 28/1/05 10:20AM
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dansguardian: I prefer "realist" or "economist" in these terms. All I'm saying is that the development costs for a POP client should under no circumstances have run into four figures, because it's such a trivial thing to do. If I were a troll, I'd provide a link to the Jargon file's definition of it.

egel: I said "about 5 hours", not a day. I'm a busy man. And anyway, lots of you would just say I was bad for releasing something for free and damaging another company's product line if I did do it. There's really no way to win with you lot, sometimes.

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 28/1/05 11:17AM
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I can safely say that 5 hours work will not damage Hermes in any way whatsoever. If you think it will, you totally misunderstand the point of providing commercial, fully-functional, added-value, user-friendly, idiot-proof and bomb-proof software. Luckily, the people who buy software such as Hermes DO understand.

 is a RISC OS Userinchiquin on 28/1/05 11:30AM
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inchiquin: Does Hermes do all the forms and combinations of transport and protocol that fetchmail supports? From what's been said here, not even close. So it's hardly "fully functional" in that respect. What's the added value? Why should a free piece of software not be as user-friendly or idiot-proof as a commercial offering? As for bomb-proof, fetchmail has certainly had much heavier testing, by many many more people.

So you're right, I don't understand. Perhaps you could explain it to me.

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 28/1/05 11:50AM
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One of the most basic rules of contract software engineering is to meet the requirements (in terms of features, user interface and release schedule) of the commission. Failure to do this is not something which encourages future work. Being the commissioner in this instance, I can confirm that the work described by Mr Kendrick would not satisfy the requirements, and I would be highly dissatisfied if that is what I had been supplied with. Even in terms of features, I would be underwhelmed - they do not meet the requirements of the contract.

As such, there is really no further use to this discussion.

 is a RISC OS Userarawnsley on 28/01/05 2:24PM
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Nunfetishist, why do you hang out round here? From what I remember you don't seem to be impressed by just about anything related to RISC OS, and if you don't have a RISC OS machine it can't have any consequence to you. As a busy man I'm sure you have better things to do. Maybe Drobe has an interesting group of users you enjoy interacting with, but I'd expect the same to exist on a message-board/website more suited to your tastes. I'm not trying to be rude, I'm not asking you to leave or anything, I'm just curious.

 is a RISC OS UserLoris on 28/01/05 2:27PM
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arawnsley: What does yours do that others do not? This article doesn't appear to describe much. Why might people actually want to use Hermes in preference to anything else? You're being very vague indeed. Would it be things to do with the integration with the rest of your "Internet Suite"? Is there some weird API it must obey? If flexibility of how mail is fetched is considered an underwhelming feature, what exactly does Hermes do if it's first use isn't to fetch mail?

Tony Haines: For the same reason I like to catch up every so often with old friends who I don't meet these days very often.

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 28/01/05 2:38PM
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In reply to nunfetishist: I've never used fetchmail so I had a look at its homepage. It certainly has a lot of features but 90% of them are just not needed for the average RISC OS user who wants an efficient way of fetching email from one or more standard POP3 accounts, and sending outgoing mail to an SMTP server. While Hermes probably lacks some useful features right now, it is actively developed and will over time do what users want it to do, much like any other piece of software.

The notes on fetchmail state quite explicitly that it delivers its mail by SMTP forwarding and that all other delivery methods have been eliminated. This hardly makes it a drop-in replacement for POPstar. Even if it does deliver to file as you claim, where are you going to put it? Same place as POPstar so that existing clients can find it? Er no, because if you're fetching in parallel, two fetching processes that happen to belong to the same user can't write to the same file at the same time, unless each waits until the other has finished and then it isn't parallel fetching. Or you could process it in memory... oops, some other poorly-tested piece of software that was dashed off in a few hours has just crashed RISC OS and you've lost all your email.

On the subject of parallel fetching, the fetchmail notes are a bit obscure but they seem to suggest that "concurrent queries to multiple hosts" are too difficult to implement - so does it support parallel fetching or not? Funny, I didn't find it too difficult for Hermes.

The notes also suggest that using mail UIDs to prevent already-fetched mail being fetched again are a bad idea - apparently it requires "tricky, fragile implementation". How odd - this was a design feature of Hermes right from the start and I haven't found it tricky or fragile. Looks like Hermes might have a few features that people actually want that are missing from fetchmail, instead of cluttering it up with a host of features that no-one needs.

I'm sure you probably could write a POP fetcher in a few hours. I could also write in the same time an application that allows you to draw boxes and enter text into them in a font of your choice. So why has David Pilling spent years developing Ovation Pro? After all, 90% of DTP documents are probably just boxes with text in them.

Five hours to write a UI? So how will users configure your fetcher? Hermes has ten sections in its Choices window, with a mixture of checkboxes, radio buttons and pop-up menus. The Edit Account window has 14. All these have to have windows designed and handlers written for them. Or are you just going to get users to edit the Config and Users files by hand as POPstar does? That's neither user-friendly nor fully-featured, though it cetainly saves development time. The Status window has to cope with dynamically changing the number of accounts displayed and their progress since fetching can be triggered for any account or combination of accounts at any time, i.e. it's not just a case of churning out a window in FormEd with a few icons in it.

What happens when you get errors - incorrect login, server unavailable, corrupted data, malformed send address, lost network connection, file for reading doesn't exist, file for writing is already open etc. etc? Are you going to handle each one individually, make an intelligent guess whether the process can continue, and provide useful feedback, or are you just going to save coding time by sticking up a single-tasking box saying "Error"?

Of course free software can be as idiot-proof and user-friendly as a commercial item. That's not the issue. It's not the price that makes software usable, it's the amount of time and effort put into developing it. So do you also include testing in your 5 hours of development? Or are you one of those people who runs it a couple of times to make sure it doesn't crash and that's it? Good software is often tested for longer than its development time, and I would think that Hermes probably falls into this category.

To sum up, if you want a mail transport that works efficiently and effectively, provides the user with feedback (because most people haven't a clue what goes on after clicking Fetch or Send and don't know what to do if something goes wrong), has handlers for everything that's thrown at it, and timers to clean up later if files are not available when it wants them, and neatly-designed windows and all the other things that make software really usable, then you need many, many hours of development and testing time. If you want quick, cheap, badly-designed and poorly-tested software, that's fine - it's your choice. Luckily R-Comp has plenty of customers who don't.

 is a RISC OS Userinchiquin on 28/01/05 5:24PM
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fetchmail is quite able to write files to disc - examine the "sendmail" interface. And obviously, you'd never delete mail from the server until you had insured that it was safe on disc anyway. I was just planning on launching multiple instances of fetchmail for concurrent fetching. However, if it turns out it can do it itself, then that's great to. Fetchmail has been developed over many years, and has learnt to use usual stratigies to do things that sound simple, but are suddenly a bunch of no fun when people's varying implementations of POP servers come into play. Writing an interface that's sufficent for the vast majority of users to fetchmail wouldn't be anywhere near as complex as yours sounds. Fetchmail's errors are quite details and constructive to the solution. You forget that the vast majority of the logic of using a fetchmail-based solution has probably already had *hundreds of years* of man hour testing done to it. Are you suggesting that free software is buy default not as well tested as commercial software? That's the type of FUD that only Microsoft seems able to produce. If most people don't know about mail fetching past the fetch and send buttons, why is your clients configuration so incredibly complex?

Anybody who automatically thinks that any free solution to a problem will automatically be inferior to the expensive one is quite, quite deluded. Try again.

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 28/01/05 5:46PM
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"Are you suggesting that free software is by default not as well tested as commercial software?"

Apparently not, since I said quite clearly 'free software can be as idiot-proof and user-friendly as a commercial item' and 'It's not the price that makes software usable, it's the amount of time and effort put into developing it'.

 is a RISC OS Userinchiquin on 28/01/05 7:36PM
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"If most people don't know about mail fetching past the fetch and send buttons, why is your clients configuration so incredibly complex?"

There's no correlation between the two. You can configure the mail transport to fetch small messages first before large ones so you can get on with reading them quickly, or to automatically send whenever there's something in the queue, or to fetch large emails between 18.00 and 06.00 only, without having the faintest idea how it's done. Most users are interested in what software does, not how it does it.

 is a RISC OS Userinchiquin on 28/01/05 7:48PM
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Hey guys.

This isnt doing anyone any good is it?

I don't use riscos because I cannot get the software I require on this platform. However, I remember having to post somewhere for popstar help a few years ago just to get email. On MAcos at the time this was easy with a gui based system with dialoge boxes. Seems that heermes is the same simple to setup app. Good luck to them.

So up comes hermes and people start slagging it. If it makes things wasier for novices then it is a good app. Simple.

So what if a programmer could write one quickly!!!! They havent and didnt. RCOMP have and they sell it. They also offered me excellent service in the past (even phonecalls to the house) with another app.

It is a bit like one of my windows and palm apps.... One is an IDE for databases. Is it as good as runrev, VB, etc..... Well NO it is NOT. Is it easier to make a simple database with my app. YES. That is why it is usefull.

How long would it take a pro developer to make one themselves... Hmmmm 3 days max. BUT they havent.

Similar to RCOMP. They would not have commisioned it if it was not marketable..... so there IS a need for it.

Some people are slagging rob because he is here without a riascos box. I pop in now and then for general interest bout the platform I USED to use. No harm in that is there...

Cheers Bob

 is a RISC OS Useranon/213.162.109.94 on 29/01/05 11:01AM
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Bob: I really have no idea what you're saying here. Perhaps taking time to compose a coherent argument would result in a shorter, more understandle post. As always, using of "!!!!", etc, never improves readability.

As for fetchmail; I suspect I'm the only person who _has_ actually looked at it, and I even did a port of it to RISC OS at one point. I concluded that the effort to make it usable in RISC OS would be considerable - I think you could easily spend a week mucking about with it.

"5 hours" is a long way from realistic. I'm willing to bet, that for most people, even getting it to compile at all would take this long, because of the relatively complex process of ensuring you have the right cross compiling setup, working GCCSDK, correct libraries, etc, etc.

I know that Rob's having a bit of a laugh with his post, and I know he knows he's also being a bit of a troll.

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 29/01/05 12:14AM
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Although a little long, Bob's post made perfect sense to me. (I do think he read too much into the contribution by Tony Haines, however.)

Adam

 is a RISC OS Useradamr on 29/01/05 1:53PM
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Bob's "point" is clear amongst all the dialogue.

personally not knowing what work has to be done, I am inclined to agree with Peter's comment about being realistically more than 5 hours work?

I also agree with Bob's views claiming for software that may not need too many hours or weeks work, realistically does not encouragingly happen overnight (One RISC OS night can = one calendar year?).

Sadly though, there seems to be a larger number of programmer skilled users on RISC OS than I see on other platforms alone and yet we lack the goodies we moan for more than Windows users moan about their system's downsides.

I believe it is not the negative comments or way of thinking from RISC OS users that has not helped us progress more fruitfully and co-operatively, but the unnecessary public "put downs" some enjoy as complimentary towards one another.

But then, maybe that's what Drobe is for, the RISC OS let off "steam" valve!! :angel:

 is a RISC OS UserSawadee on 30/01/05 01:24AM
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Hi Peter.

Sorry I didn't take as much time to write the article as I did with my recent article to a scientific journal. I am a bit concerned that you could not understand what I was saying. I'll rewrite it for the benefit of you. I'll try and be breif with this one but hope you understand.

"Hey guys.

This isnt doing anyone any good is it?"

Slagging does the platform no good. I then wrote

"I don't use RISC OS because I cannot get the software I require on this platform. However, I remember having to post somewhere for popstar help a few years ago just to get email. On MAcos at the time this was easy with a gui based system with dialoge boxes. Seems that heermes is the same simple to setup app. Good luck to them.

So up comes hermes and people start slagging it. If it makes things wasier for novices then it is a good app. Simple."

Translated this can read as:- One fo the reasons I left RISC OS was because I had to compromise with, either function or setup time (manually editing lines in prefernce files via !ZAP). I did my bit by subscribing to software and projects like the unix porting project but in my opinion, this was money down the drain. I therefore, stopped. I do see it is getting apps ported but too late for me.

Applications like hermes may have persuaded me to stay in RISC OS.

Then I wrote:-

"So what if a programmer could write one quickly!!!! They havent and didnt. RCOMP have and they sell it. They also offered me excellent service in the past (even phonecalls to the house) with another app.

It is a bit like one of my windows and palm apps.... One is an IDE for databases. Is it as good as runrev, VB, etc..... Well NO it is NOT. Is it easier to make a simple database with my app. YES. That is why it is usefull.

How long would it take a pro developer to make one themselves... Hmmmm 3 days max. BUT they havent. "

Translated this can be read as:-

The app is being criticised because it could be written in a few hours. So could one of my apps but that is not the point. The app is there and fulfills a market gap.

Mrchocky. You wrote

"As for fetchmail; I suspect I'm the only person who has actually looked at it,..."

However, nunfettishist wrote "fetchmail is quite able to write files to disc - examine the "sendmail" interface." I understood that to mean theat Rob had actually "looked" at the application, yet you suspect that you are the only person that has looked at it.

Adam and Stephen. I'm glad you can read my hastilly written english.

Bye Bob

 is a RISC OS Useranon/213.162.109.94 on 30/01/05 8:18PM
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There seems to be plenty of chat on what people should be doing, how they should be doing it and when they should be doing it. The fact is, if you don't like what other people are doing, do what you want yourself or invest in someone else who is doing what you want.

Bob> All I got from your posts was that you no longer use RISC OS because it didn't or doesn't do what you want. If there was another point there, I'm afraid I missed it. You must let us know if your article gets published - not authored on TechWriter though, sadly.

My own opinion is that whilst I did regard RISC OS as a great platform for email (using Messenger Pro in particular), it is now lagging behind other offerings such as Mozilla Thunderbird. A good result for me would be a port of Thunderbird (obviously using the work from the Unix Porting Project) which has had further modifications to suit the RISC OS way of working. Currently the best way to see any possibility of this happening is to support the UPP - something which I believe is becoming more valuable every day.

 is a RISC OS Userjonix on 31/01/05 11:29AM
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To Jonix - you've not seen the Mpro or Hermes dev plan so I think it is rather rash to claim that Mpro is lagging behind Thunderbird. Right now, I can only think of 3 areas that thunderbird has going for it, one of which is html emails. The other two have already been sorted to varying degrees in internal releases of Mpro. I can also think of a lot of stuff the Mpro family can do that Thunderbird can't.

Sorry to jump on you, but there's a strange conception that somehow all the ported stuff is better thn anything RISC OS can do for itself. This seems a rather defeatest attitude to me.

 is a RISC OS Userarawnsley on 31/01/05 11:40AM
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Previous email should read "internal releases of Mpro and Hermes". Because email is so critical to people, we can't release betas left right and centre, so sometimes things appear to take a while as bugs are tracked and worked out. We've had a new release of Hermes in testing since Christmas, but until I'm satisfied that it is as bomb-proof as possible, it won't get released.

 is a RISC OS Userarawnsley on 31/01/05 11:47AM
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By the way, from an email angle, I find it hard to comprehend using any email client which follows the "one window divided up" philosophy that seems prevelent on Windows. I find it clunky and I'm all the time resizing windows etc to try and get the view I want. I really can't understand why people stick to that layout :-<

However, there are things that one *can* learn from programs like Thunderbird. It seems to me that the key is to enhance areas of the existing good software. Learn from what else is out there, improve on ideas, and deliver the best possible program.

 is a RISC OS Userarawnsley on 31/01/05 11:54AM
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arawnsley> I have been a user of Messenger Pro online for many years. I have no interest in the offline version because to me there is no point storing emails on a local machine, I need to be able to view them from anywhere in the world I happen to be (either via a secure tunnel directly to the mail server or a webmail interface to the same server).

Agreed, I've not seen the development plan which is why I'm in a position to say that it does indeed lag behind Thunderbird in terms of a released product. Thunderbird's IMAP facilities are, IMO, ahead of MPro. It supports subfolders, multiple active logins to different servers. If I delete a mail using a different client, it recognises that fact rather than requiring a restart. It has better error handling - most importantly a network error does not throw up a single tasking error box. Perhaps I am a unique user, but I want my RISC OS box to be online 24hours a day and apps (especially email clients that can run unattended) which use Wimp_ReportError are not acceptable in that environment. The network is bound to have problems, reconnections should be attempted and if all else fails, an error should be reported in a manner that doesn't lock up the entire machine.

I certainly don't believe that any ported apps will necessarily be better. I use an app and consider that it is better based on its merits and how it serves me.

Naturally, if MPro online did what I wanted I would happily continue using it and indeed pay some money for the facilities I use on a day to day basis.

 is a RISC OS Userjonix on 31/01/05 12:05AM
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The one window divided up vs multiple windows argument is a personal preference. In the case of an email client, I actually find it more useful to have all the email related components in one window (certainly the folder list and messages list) otherwise you are continually trying to find windows that have got lost behind any number of others.

A desktop utility which let you "glue" windows together would go some way to resolving this issue - I don't necessarily think it is something which every app should implement itself.

Leaning from others is definitely the way forwards. Take the pick of the best from each.

 is a RISC OS Userjonix on 31/01/05 12:09AM
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IMHO the devided-window layout requires a big, high resolution screen. Anything from a 17" TFT should be enough. Messengers approach works much better when you have a small screen.

 is a RISC OS UserJGZimmerle on 31/01/05 1:34PM
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As I mentioned, it is a personal preference. I would prefer the product to be functional in the ways I described above. Indeed, for all I know, some of these have been addressed in development versions and if not, I would like to suggest they are taken into consideration.

 is a RISC OS Userjonix on 31/01/05 1:56PM
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Jon, just to let you know there was an article in the last Archive by one of our users who uses his RiscPC and Mpro to happily make his email available wherever he is in the world. He was able to install Mpro server, go away to Japan for a period, read/write email from cyber cafes and then return to continue work on his RiscPC once home, then head off again. This sounds quite similar to what you describe, and that was using the older versions. We've made this even better in recent releases. He's currently beta-ing some other facilities which were requested too. I'm citing this example, as it shows that pure-RISC OS can make an excellent job of achieving what you mention in your message.

 is a RISC OS Userarawnsley on 31/01/05 3:03PM
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I wouldn't like to rely on a RISC OS system to perform server tasks whilst I have no physical access to the box. There is software which can make remote administration easier (VNC, remote shells) but a software error can cause unrecoverable problems. In situations that require a server, I would use an OS that is tuned to that end eg. Linux.

As a front end, RISC OS excels in every department. It's responsive, has a great UI and is generally a pleasure to use. Linux is a great OS for server software because it has a reasonable threading implementation and is more stable when software misbehaves.

This is not to say that either of the OS above could perform the other task, but it would be unwise to use RISC OS in a server environment in my opinion.

I don't want RISC OS to be an all rounder, I want it to excel in the area it's good at - the client side.

 is a RISC OS Userjonix on 31/01/05 4:42PM
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In reply to AnRawnsley:

The internal versions of MPro sound great. Is there any date - is there a plan to release every x months? Are we going to see subfolders?

 is a RISC OS Useranon/62.72.190.18 on 31/01/05 8:13PM
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Whoa did somebody mention Mpro subfolders.........you can take that as a big hint Andrew ;-)

 is a RISC OS Usermripley on 01/02/05 08:47AM
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I'm saying nothing. Oops. I already said too much.

 is a RISC OS Userarawnsley on 01/02/05 10:28AM
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No news is good news.

 is a RISC OS Usermripley on 01/02/05 1:32PM
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Prompted by this article, I've now installed Hermes and am *really* pleased with it. The configuration options are great, and parallel fetching is very nice. Options like 'fetch smallest messages first' are something that will really help: I'm on dialup modem access, and it's always been frustrating to have to wait for 20MB of photos (or somesuch) before being able to retrieve my other messages. Frustrating no more!

Thanks to Alan/Andrew for programming and investment in *new* RISC OS software. I look forward to future enhancements.

 is a RISC OS UserStewy on 01/02/05 1:44PM
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Malcolm Ripley & Markee - your wish is my command :-) Check your inbox. Everyone check your inbox!

 is a RISC OS Userarawnsley on 08/02/05 5:30PM
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Oooh, checked my inbox and there was MPro 3.10 with auto-refresh and sub-folders. A number of useful fixes too: The way that mesages from mailing lists are now handled is very welcome.

Andrew:

Although I have managed to create some sub-folders, I can't fathom how I did it. Any tips about creating sub-folders, please?

Ta, Stewy

 is a RISC OS UserStewy on 09/02/05 10:24PM
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Basically MPro (by default) will only "tree-view" the subfolders once it deems it is worthwhile to do so ie. you have two or more subfolders within any given folder. This can be a little disconcerting if you aren't expecting it. The reason is simple - if you have a tree of single folders, then there's little point displaying it as a "tree" cos it means lots of extra clicks. (At least, I think that's the logic). Mpro tries to intelligently "collapse" the tree so that you don't have unnecessary entries.

So, as demo - make a folder called Family Then one called Family.Brother

(no tree)

Then Family.Sister

(voila, there's the tree).

Hope this clarifies things.

 is a RISC OS Userarawnsley on 10/02/05 01:15AM
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Ah, now I understand what was going on... Thanks for the explanation, Andrew, all is now crystal clear!

All best, Stewy

 is a RISC OS UserStewy on 10/02/05 12:10AM
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