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Summary: And then there were two. As an OS/2 user you may already be familiar with J Street Mailer from Innoval, but now there's another called Emerald Mail from Maccasoft. We'll take a brief look at the two programs side by side.
E-mail is one of the few categories so far that Java is represented by very well. J Street Mailer stepped out of the gate fully loaded, with little more to ask for. Now there's another called Emerald Mail, also emerging almost from nowhere with a pretty good array of features. Here we'll look at them both and compare their features briefly.
Installation: The Hard Way and The Easy Way
Each application takes a different approach to installation. While J Street Mailer leaves you to your own devices, Emerald Mail uses something called PackageWizard for Java* and was the first we tested that was able to setup a folder with icons on the OS/2 desktop automatically too (it still needed a little editing of the CLASSPATH, hovever, so it wasn't perfect). With J Street you need to create a script yourself that launches the program. This isn't hard if you've done it before, and the included Readme files tell you how. We would have appreciated more than this, however.
Both programs look almost the same, each following pretty much the same conventions. There's three main "panes" in each program's window, one for the account(s) and its folders, one for the list of messages in the selected folder, and a third pane to display the contents of the message itself. Under Emerald Mail (.GIF, 28K), a message is viewable in either the third frame (called the "preview") or a separate window. This is not so under J Street Mailer (.GIF, 26K). You can also switch between two other typical layouts at the click of a button with Emerald.
Both also have toolbars in pretty much the same location with pretty much the same functions. Emerald Mail's button icons look very similar, and sometimes identical to those found in PMMail. In fact, a lot of Emerald's interface bears a striking resemblance (.GIF, 36K) to PMMail, so much so we wonder if there'll be a lawsuit in the making.
Documentation can be found in the help files for both programs, but not only is J Street's help more extensive, it's help viewer is better too. Both store their help in HTML format, but J Street lets you search and flip between an index or Table-Of-Contents view.
Features is where J Street Mailer outclasses Emerald Mail by a significant amount. J Street is simply much more mature and rich with tools. It has everything from multiple personas, "Virtual Folders", newsgroup posting, sticky notes and the ability to check for new mail every couple of minutes - none of which we could find an equivalent of in Emerald. Both seem to match each other fairly well with address book support and mail filters, but J Street seems to have the better mail searching tool (part of its "Virtual Folders").
Emerald Mail handles multiple accounts a little better than J Street, though. Emerald Mail, copying its style from PMMail, displays all of your accounts and their folders as one grand tree and lets you easily move or copy a message to another account's folder. But with J Street Mailer, you must switch from account to account with the menu, you're unable to see the folders of the inactive account, and while you can copy messages to other accounts, the command to do so is buried two menu levels deep and doesn't let you select the destination folder*. It's a shame that neither program will automatically check for new mail in all accounts simultaneously, as PMMail can be set to do.
The comparison might seem a little unfair at the moment, since Emerald Mail was barely released a month ago, and J Street Mailer has been available for quite some time now. What's telling is how close to "prime time" they both are. Is e-mail just one of Java's "sweet spots"? Maybe.
* - The Oct 16th version incorrectly stated that Emerald Mail used InstallShield for Java, and that J Street Mailer could not copy/move mail to other accounts.
J Street Mailer
|Copyright © 1998 - Falcon Networking||ISSN 1203-5696||October 16, 1998|