GMail UI issues

I read a lot of e-mail, mostly for Linux related purposes. Normally people use well behaved e-mail clients and everything is presented in a fairly standard fashion but there’s some that often stick out like a sore thumb.

The obvious one is Outlook, which has well known idiosyncracies but which some companies force their employees to use even for free software work. The  other is GMail. GMail has two problems. One is that the UI appears to encourage people to insert their text into the middle of messages without deleting any context. This makes it hard to notice the new content in big e-mail threads or when someone’s commenting on large patches – searching for the new text is like looking for a needle in a haystack. That said, this is at least partly a user issue – many people manage to use GMail without doing this, it’s just that the GMail UI seems to encourage it more than most other UIs.

The other thing is is that it’s recently decided to format the author information for quoted text in a very odd way:

On Sun, Jun 14, 2009 at 11:00 PM, Mark
Brown<> wrote:

What’s happened is that it’s decided to remove the space between the author name and the e-mail address. This causes a very odd word wrapping on the very first line of the message and is really noticable when you’re reading. I’m not sure what inspired that change, there doesn’t seem to be any motivation for it, but it doesn’t seem terribly helpful.

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