Issue: 6.3 (March/April 2008)
Author: Brad Rhine
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Article Length (in bytes): 3,787
Starting Page Number: 9
RBD Number: 6304
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In Brief Product ZyMail Manufacturer Open source, Project Admin Joe Strout Price Open source Contact Info http://sourceforge.net/projects/zymail/ Pros Great tools and code, from a project standpoint and a code study perspective Cons None to speak of
It began innocently enough. It began with a thread on the NUG called, "musings about an RB community email client", started by Joe Strout. Joe had recently switched to the email client built into Mac OS X and was discovering, as many of us have, its sometimes maddening quirks and limitations, such as a lack of delayed sending, its handling of quoted text, and its implicit encouragement of top-posting. Joe wondered aloud if there was interest in creating an open source email client, written of course in REALbasic.
The response was immediate and overwhelming. There was certainly interest, and a lot of it. Some ideas for a name were kicked around, and Joe settled on ZyMail.
ZyMail has been in development for about six weeks as of this writing. If you'd like to see what's working and what's not, check the SourceForge page for ZyMail at http://sourceforge.net/projects/zymail. In addition to Joe, several other prominent REALbasic developers are involved in the project. The lead developers on the project are Bill Johnson, Jon Johnson, Sam DeVore, Steve Garman, and Thom McGrath. There also several other developers contributing code.
The last build of ZyMail that I downloaded lets users manage accounts, send and receive email, which, while it may not sound very impressive (after all, even the most basic email clients are expected to do that much), is something of an accomplishment, given the young age of this project.
Perhaps most interestingly, ZyMail may also turn out to be one of the best resources for learning how to develop in REALbasic. This goes beyond the nuts and bolts of the code (although that's certainly valuable), and includes such issues handling platform differences in saving preferences and designing your interface (and the interface, while definitely falling more on the side of function than of form at the moment, is pretty nice). These issues tend to be some of the toughest parts of a project to crack, and ZyMail promises to be a treasure trove of solutions for such problems. And with its BSD license, that code is free for you to use as you see fit, whether in personal projects, other open source projects, or even commercial projects.
All that said, ZyMail naturally still has a long way to go. Aside from even the planned-but-not-yet-implemented features, it would be nice to see things like IMAP support, iCal integration, and, dare we dream, real Exchange support (although that last one may be wishful thinking).
In all, ZyMail is a very exciting project. Aside from the obvious aspect of a first-class mail client (made with REALbasic, to boot), it will be a great place for other REALbasic developers to learn some of the niceties of the language, especially when it comes to dealing with cross-platrom issues.
To get involved in ZyMail development or try it out for yourself, visit the Sourceforge page listed above. There's also a somewhat active mailing list for discussing all things ZyMail.
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