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Thread: Zimbra Desktop and Gmail

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  1. #1
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    Default Zimbra Desktop and Gmail

    I downloaded Zimbra Desktop RC1 to see how it's progressed.

    While it does seem to have potential, there are some usability issues, in particular with Gmail accounts.

    As a side note: I don't get why Yahoo only offers IMAP using Zimbra. I could accept that if this were for free mail users, but they should at least be offering unfettered IMAP access to paid users. I moved my main mail accounts FROM Yahoo to Gmail precisely because of this...

    In any case, I like that there's built in support for Gmail accounts but when you use it I can't find any way to enable syncing to all Gmail IMAP folders, INCLUDING All Mail, Starred, etc. I did read somewhere that this is by design to avoid downloading duplicate messages. However, Gmail pushes the idea of keeping all mail archived rather than deleting mail. If you remove all labels from a message/conversation in Gmail, it will ONLY be accessible through the All Mail label/folder. Since Zimbra does not sync to All Mail, it makes it impossible to access Archived mail!

    Is there any way to enable syncing to all folders? I'd rather have duplicate e-mails than limited access.

    Also, it's not clear what the delete button will do. Will this send the e-mail to the trash (really deleting it from Gmail) or will it delete form the current folder, effectively removing the tag in Gmail and archiving it? There really should be a delete and archive/remove label button for the Gmail interface.

    Also, I disagree that there needs to be duplicate e-mails. What I'd really like to see (I've been hoping someone would write a Thunderbird extension for this but I'd more seriously consider switchin to Zimbra if you do it first) is an interface that more closely matches the Gmail interface. So to avoid duplicate e-mails you could look at the message ID which should be unique. So really, the only folders that need to be fully synced is All Mail, Spam and Trash. These 3 folders should contain all E-mail messages. Then rather than using folders the interface should use tags, since this is what Gmail does. I don't know if this information could be attained through a Gmail API or otherwise IMAP can be used to sync to all other folders but you would only need to download the headers in order to get the Message ID. Then this could be matched to the same Message in the All Mail folder and used to add the appropriate tag. Folders on the left could be search links (for tag) as in Gmail or treated as real folders but each message would contain all synced tags so messages may be moved either by dragging to a different folder or manipulating the tags. Tags, of course, should be synchronized with Google. A local tag could be added to Google by creating an IMAP folder.

    I did notice that conversation in the inbox did include messages from other folders, so it looks like Gmail interface is partially being mimicked, so why not go all the way?

  2. #2
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    We don't sync Gmail's All Mail and Starred folders because Gmail IMAP implementation exposes any Gmail label as folders. You can't get away from duplicating emails multiple times if you sync those.

    And if there's a way for us to track messages by some kind of ID we would. Unfortunately the IMAP protocol doesn't support such a thing. There is no way to know that a message in Inbox is the same message in another folder unless you do a diff.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by jjzhuang View Post
    We don't sync Gmail's All Mail and Starred folders because Gmail IMAP implementation exposes any Gmail label as folders. You can't get away from duplicating emails multiple times if you sync those.

    And if there's a way for us to track messages by some kind of ID we would. Unfortunately the IMAP protocol doesn't support such a thing. There is no way to know that a message in Inbox is the same message in another folder unless you do a diff.
    Hi,

    I could be mistaken, but I believe the "Message-ID:" header is unique to each message, but not unique to copies of each message in different Gmail IMAP folders. For example, I looked at 2 recent messages in Thunderbird (which will download duplicates the way I have it setup) and compared the Message-ID for the copy in "All Mail", "Starred", and "Inbox".

    Message1:
    Message-ID: <200902100431.5684aa273331@www.zimbra.com>
    Message-ID: <200902100431.5684aa273331@www.zimbra.com>
    Message-ID: <200902100431.5684aa273331@www.zimbra.com>

    Message2:
    Message-ID: <BY2ACNMSB01B8F3kKNA002378b2@by2acnmsb01.alerts.li ve.com>
    Message-ID: <BY2ACNMSB01B8F3kKNA002378b2@by2acnmsb01.alerts.li ve.com>
    Message-ID: <BY2ACNMSB01B8F3kKNA002378b2@by2acnmsb01.alerts.li ve.com>

    So if this is indeed, true, duplicate messages can be detected by this header. If you strictly use IMAP (assuming you can't get additional info using another Google API), you still only need to download the full message for the "All Mail" folder (and Spam and Trash if requested) since this folder will contain all messages. You will still need to download the duplicate messages from the other folders, but you only need to download the headers in order to get the Message-ID and not the full message. I imagine you don't even need to save the headers as once you've obtained the Message ID it can be discarded. Since a duplicate message with the same Message-ID will be present in the All Mail folder, you then just need to cross index to that message and add a tag to it that is equal to the IMAP folder name. It's probably more complicated than that since you need to somehow keep track of which messages are in each folder in order to remove tags if a message is deleted from another folder. Perhaps this would require maintaining all message headers in all folders, but that's still better than downloading duplicate full messages.

    On the other hand, even if a full Gmail-type interface isn't implimented, I'd still like to at least see an option (it can be off by default) to include the "All Mail" and other special folders. I'd rather maintain duplicates than not have access to all my archived mail. This is how I've set up Thunderbird and there doesn't really seem to be an issue with the fact that there are duplicates. Disk space and bandwidth are pretty cheap these days...

    The other issue I have with Zimbra desktop is there doesn't seem to be a way to have folders from more than one account visible on the sidebar at the same time, nor is there a favorite folders area. Any plans to improve the sidebar with these features?

    Thanks.

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    I can see that you have put some thoughts in this. While your thinking is valid, right now our Gmail mail solution is vanilla IMAP. Doing what you have suggested is no small deviation. We'd rather see if gmail will eventually open up their own protocol API for mail sync. Using undocumented hack (relying on something like ID header) is not our preference.

    Now there is a backdoor for this. Open <install>/conf/datasource.properties and you'll see we have disabled "All Mail". The ".ignore" keyword basically means we will skip those folders. You can try to edit this file to allow sync of those folders, but mind you this not a supported behavior so we never tested this way.

  5. #5
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    Yes, I agree that making an Gmail interface isn't trivial but would make Zimbra a very useful Gmail client. Gmail now offers an "offline" version but it has many limitations (limited number of messages saved offline, no support for logging into multiple accounts, etc). Zimbra would be a better Gmail than Gmail.

    As for Gmail opening up an e-mail API, who knows... It seems like Gmail is now testing Exchange Activesync server for their calendar and contacts. So I'm thinking it may even be more likely they will eventually offer MAPI access to e-mail, but Zimbra doesn't support that either. I believe there is a standard 'tag' field in IMAP but Gmail doesn't use it. I think if they were willing to use this field or even a proprietary (but documented) Gmail tag header, this would simplify offline usage since you'd only need to deal with the All Mail folder then filter by tags. Maybe you can have a word with them...

    However, providing an option to allow duplicate downloads/enable All Mail and Starred folders in Gmail would not be a big change and I urge you to add this option. Again, this can be disabled by default but should be there for advanced users who prefer it without having to rely on untested hacks.

    Thanks!

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