Post Road Mailer v2.0- by Tash Hepting

InnoVal Systems Solutions is making its next foray into the e-mail wars with the 2.0 release of Post Road Mailer (PRM). With competitors such as SouthSide Software's PMMail, and Nick Knight's MR2ICE outgunning the old version of PRM, it's nice to see an updated and feature rich product emerge from an OS/2 veteran. I had a chance to look at a version of the program almost identical to the release version made available to the general public on July 31 of this year.

Installation

The installation of PRM is easy; unzip it into a new directory and go. No messy modifications to your INI files, no hassles. An option under the file menu allows you to migrate your old inboxes from previous versions. Simply use the file dialogue to locate the directory your old copy of PRM was installed in, and it will present you with a list of which inboxes you wish to migrate. In my tests the migration proceeded smoothly, and finished in a couple minutes.

The help system has a quick-start guide that shows you what to do to create a new inbox and customize the settings to your e-mail environment.

Interface

When you first start the program, you are presented with a view of your inbox (GIF, 15k) with a toolbar below. If, like me, you prefer to see more information in less space, InnoVal has provided an alternate display which only uses one line per e-mail (GIF, 15k).

Each letter has a lot of information contained in the entry. By default, unopened mail has an icon that looks like a sealed envelope, unless it has a "Mood Icon" (see below). Opened mail has an icon that looks like an opened envelope, even if it was sent with a mood icon. If there are any files attached to the e-mail, there will be a paperclip around the envelope. If you have attached a "sticky note" (see below) to a message, there will be a small pushpin next to the message. Messages that just arrived this session have a "NEW" bullet next to them. Messages that you have opened this session will change color to red so you can tell what you have already looked at. Messages that have been replied to will have a red check mark over the opened envelope. Those that have been slated for shredding will be X'd out (unless you set PRM to immediately move them to the shred folder).

From the toolbar (GIF, 3.3k) you can perform a variety of actions such as composing a new note. Composing a note in PRM is a two step process. When you start to compose a new e-mail, the first thing you see is the message header window (GIF, 10k). From this window you can address e-mail, attach files (MIME or UUEncoded), change the mood icon, change your signature, or toggle the use of PGP (if you have it installed) to encrypt or sign your message. After entering all the header information, pressing the "Text" button on the bottom of the window will bring forward a separate window for composing your messages. When you are finished, simply press the "OK to send" button at the base of either window, and the note will be moved to your outbox and sent.

Reading mail in your inbox is accomplished with the expected double click on the message. Attachments, which used to be presented as icons in a folder with cryptic names like C345FB are now displayed in a "details view"-like window which lists the name of the file and who sent it, along with the aforementioned cryptic name. As before, you can associate applications with file types for easy viewing of attachments.

Some Features

Post Road Mailer v2.0 has many nice features including: ISO-Latin-1 Support:
Finally, PRM supports the ISO-Latin-1 character set allowing proper use of accented characters for foreign languages.

PGP Support:
From the settings notebook (GIF, 9.5k) you can set up your PGP information to allow encrypting or digitally signing your e-mail as easily as clicking a check box. You can also set the program to automatically decrypt incoming messages if you like.

Internet Support:
If you are on-line while reading a message which contains a URL (like http://www.os2ezine.com/) you can simply double-click on it and WebExplorer will appear and load the page. Unlike PMMail v1.5 which also features easy access to WebExplorer or other web browsers, PRM will send the URL directly to the running version of WebEx if it is already open.

Filters:
You can define custom filters to perform a wide variety of tasks on your incoming mail (generate automatic replies, move messages from a mailing list into a specific folder, redirect mail, etc...). The filter will search a specified portion of the e-mail for a text string, and do the selected action to every piece of mail that meets the criteria.

Mood Icons:
You can use OS/2 icons (.ICO files) to add character to your messages by either attaching a mood icon to messages you send out to other PRM users, or by configuring filters that will attach mood icons to incoming mail.

Sticky Notes:
Ever wanted to jot down a quick note about an e-mail and then be able to find it later easily? With sticky notes it's possible. Simply right click on the message, and select "Sticky notes..." (GIF, 5k). You can then enter a short message, set the date you want it to show up, click on the "followup" checkbox and hit OK. Now, when you pull down the "Features" menu, and select "followups", it will let you specify a date and search your inbox. Unfortunately, in this copy, it did not display the notes found in the search, making the feature rather useless. I have contacted InnoVal, and hopefully they will be fixing this before the general release.

Mail Search:
After subscribing to several mailing lists, and receiving tons of e-mail I find it hard to find specific messages after a time. Luckily PRM has a mail search feature which will scan through all the folders you specify for a particular string. This alone is worth the price of admission!

Mail Preview:
For people who are on slow connections or having problems with a particular message, PRM includes a mail previewer to scan your POP server and display the headers or the number of messages waiting. This feature allows you to delete messages directly off the server, peek at the first few lines of a message before downloading it, and retrieve selected notes.

Documentation

The on-line help in PRM is full of useful information. I was disappointed in the lack of documentation on the PGP feature, but everything else was well documented.

Problems

While PRM is a very good product, it is not without noticeable problems. Aside from various minor display bugs that were still present in the version I looked at (but that InnoVal has promised to fix before release to the public) some other issues are: I'm not sure if these will be corrected before the time you read this but InnoVal has insisted they will ship on July 31st and have promised to clean up the "loose ends".

Conclusions

PRM is strong product from InnoVal, and weighs up against the competition. I would recommend any current PRM customer make the upgrade immediately, and other e-mail users strongly consider it. The inclusion of PGP support makes it easy to have secure, private communications across the Internet; and makes this product stand out from the others.
 * Post Road Mailer v2.0
by InnoVal Systems Solutions
download the full function demo from InnoVal
MSRP: US$59
Tash Hepting is a Solaris Systems Administrator by day, and a self professed OS/2 guru by night.

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