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Thread: Zimbra Desktop can't do basic things. Multi-account user-experience all wrong for me!

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  1. #1
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    Default Zimbra Desktop can't do basic things. Multi-account user-experience all wrong for me!

    I've spent the last few days researching for an alternative to my current Thunderbird installation to try and find a way I could access all my email accounts and communications in one place whilst also for them to be available on-line when out and about (GMail just doesn't cut it for me at all!). I really thought I'd found the answer with Zimbra, several years in the development and now owned by VMWare, it's got to be good I thought and I couldn't work out why I hadn't noticed it before?!

    But after just a short while of using the 7.2.2 GA Zimbra Desktop (on Win7 64) I'm stunned by how little it enables the satisfactory use of multiple domain emails and other services such as GMail. I speak mostly from a user-interface/user experience point of view at the moment, I have no idea if the program, Zimbra and its functioning is reliable and secure, etc. (NB can't find a way to password protect initial login/startup)

    My first gripe is that on my large-wide 30" monitor if I use the "Reading Pane On The Right" option then any meaningful overview (and specifically column view) of what is what about my emails just disappears! I can only get something vaguely useful (in terms of columns) when using either of the two other views which are entirely useless for my purposes - I can't see many emails in the list and the preview can't show much length whilst at the same time shows emails ridiculously narrow in width, or two widely spaced, depending on the email's formatting. This is just daft, why can't I have the choice of which way I want to see things? - I'm used to seeing a good full length of my emails (no need to scroll) while at the same time seeing a good long list view of other emails and at the same time seeing the extremely useful column headers.

    This brings me to my main grumble: Given that Zimbra's main benefit is all about multi-account access and being able to send and reply under various aliases/personalities, it's impossible to actually see any of those domains/identities/personalities, sender and/or receiver, in the main window in any meaningful way. I either get a "From" in InBox or a "To" in Sent and that's it! There's nowhere I can find to change this behaviour. I've scoured Google for answers and I've checked through the Zimlets, but there is nothing to add the features one might expect from the all singing and dancing communications miracle Zimbra claims and looks to be at first glance.

    In Thunderbird, with a simple extension I get an all-in-one view that shows me the claimed intended recipient, the actual Envelope To recipient, the Sender email address and the Name used for that email. All these key columns help me immediately see who is sending what to which identity at which domain, all in the one InBox. I can then quickly read, archive or delete accordingly hundreds of emails without having to examine each one by clicking, thinking, hovering, reviewing, scrolling, switching views, etc., etc. I just scan down one list and it's all there for me to read, file or delete at will and I can tell exactly by just looking which is spam, junk, fake, interesting, urgent, boring without even touching the computer. I can't do any of that with Zimbra (or GMail!)

    On top of all that, I read in this forum of people asking if there's a way around these severe limitations at least as far back as 2008 (6 years ago!), in fact most of the questions I've looked at seem to date from years ago and still the same problems exist such as column order, arrangement and sizing not saving between program close and restart, or things like the "From" column just showing the "Name" and won't switch to the "email address" used despite changing that setting in preferences.

    What's going on? I can't believe the actual practicalities of using Zimbra for its intended purpose is so painful. In a way I hope I've missed something really obvious that will enable these basic user-functionality needs that I see as so vital, but I fear they are missing from Zimbra and always will be if they haven't been found after 6 years of people asking. - Glad I didn't pay for that Zimbra hosting service I spotted a couple of days ago, I fear it would have been a waste of money.

    Sorry I'm so negative, but I'm really stunned!

  2. #2
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    Sorry for the frustrations Mr. Artist. :s But I really appreciate you providing your feedback. I'll make sure this feedback is viewed by our product team.

  3. #3
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    Many thanks for your comment back Jenn. It's a shame Zimbra Desktop is unable to provide a fully customisable user-interface/experience for a multi-domain, multi-identity/persona-based individual. As a web developer keeping an eye on various sites or just as a normal person with a few email addresses, there is a critical need for people to be able to choose column details for whatever info they'd like to see in the email list window. Just showing 'To' or 'From' depending on perceived context doesn't really help anyone with more than one on-line identity. Even with just one email identity, seeing the full details about an email can help determine an email's true (claimed) origin and also help protect against spam and fraud.

    ZD is so close to providing what people really need in terms of a fully capable system linked in with on the road remote access, but then it's so far away in terms of actually letting people see what they need or want to see. I have no idea what the Zimbra web interface provides (which I assume exists), but I'd be worried about what it also cannot do. I was really hoping the Zimbra system as a whole would help provide what is so lacking in normal email clients for remote access to email, social networks and calenders, tasks, etc. It all sounds so great in the promo video, but the reality seems far from it to me.

    Cannot someone quickly write a Zimlet that helps turn on any column detail we choose? The information I require is right there in the email headers and all you have to do is allow those to show in the column headers. Trying to provide some of that information by hovering or further clicking just doesn't cut it when we have to deal with hundreds of emails.

    Create the above and fix the column order saving and ZD might be a product that is quite a lot more useful to people than the current interface which seems to cater more for what the programmers/decision-makers think people want rather than what users need. Give the user the choice.

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