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A good tool to manage e-mail

Dec 12, 20054 mins
Enterprise ApplicationsMessaging Apps

A few weeks ago I wrote about the free, Web-based, open source image gallery called Coppermine. Many of you wrote asking to see the gallery we put online using this software (if you want to see it, drop us a note with the subject “Photos”), and we’ve had many favorable comments.

Reader David Hekimian wrote in to suggest we look at Gallery, another free, open source photo gallery system. We played with Release 1.0 long ago and forgot about it until David reminded us.

Of course, a good open source project isn’t going to stand still and Gallery is no exception. Now at Version 2.0, Gallery is really impressive. We’ll be taking a look at it soon.

In the Coppermine column, we offered our recipe for soy-brined turkey and scores of you wrote in requesting a copy (you can still get one by sending us a message with the subject “Turkey”). If you have tried this recipe, drop us a note and tell us what you thought. Maybe we should create a Gearhead Cookbook . . .

Now-Back-to-Our-Regular-Programming Department: With all of these messages flooding in asking for links to the gallery and copies of recipes, as well as voting for Backspin’s Golden Turkey Awards (if you haven’t voted yet, check out the poll in the online article or stir it up on Gibbsblog in the Golden Turkey forum, the issue of e-mail management once again raises its ugly head.

There used to be a sensational product for managing e-mail called Emailrobot that was published by GFI, but the company sold it to another company that must have buried it in soft peat to recycle it as firelighters (if you don’t get that last bon mot, send us a message with the subject “THHGTTG”).

Using the product’s GUI, you could define workflows to parse incoming SMTP message content and conditionally route e-mail and generate sophisticated replies with embedded tracking.

Emailrobot was a great product; we have yet to come across anything quite as good. If you know of something you’d recommend, we would love to hear about it.

In our quest for tools to manage e-mail, specifically, to find ways to stop Outlook from becoming a dead end for messages (the program’s export feature is pathetic), we came across a product that we now recommend highly: Aid4Mail from Fookes Software.

Aid4Mail is effectively an e-mail format transcoder and message-management tool kit. The transcoding part comes from Aid4Mail’s ability to read and write a huge number of e-mail formats, including Extended MAPI systems, which means Outlook (all versions except Outlook 97) and Windows Messaging and Exchange clients, Outlook Personal Storage files and MSG files, Outlook Express (Versions 4, 5 and 6), EML message files (*.eml), MHT Web Archive files, Mozilla mailbox files, generic mailbox files (mbox, Berkeley mail format, BSD mail format, Unix mail format) . . . the list is enormous!

Aid4Mail can be run from the command line or through a simple wizardlike interface that steps you through the process of identifying the source and destination of the e-mail to be transferred (note that with Outlook you can select individual folders). You can set up filtering by date and content, and select export options such as retaining formatting or converting to plain text.

Our exhaustive tests showed a time of about 25 seconds to process a single, 817-message Outlook folder (including de-duplicating) – that’s roughly 30 millisec per message.

A key feature of Aid4Mail is its ability to convert mail to a non-proprietary, RFC-compliant format suitable for archiving (this means that you should be able to read the contents in a decade or more unless the coughing chickens wipe out civilization), which could be really valuable in ensuring that all of your enterprise messaging is Sarbox- compliant.

Aid4Mail can directly create ZIP archives and extract attachments and embedded contents from messages and store them in separate folders inside the archive file. Aid4Mail also includes automatic removal of duplicate attachments and embedded contents.

This is an outstanding tool, and at $49.95 for a single-user license for the Professional version (the standard version doesn’t support Outlook), it’s a steal!

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Mark Gibbs is an author, journalist, and man of mystery. His writing for Network World is widely considered to be vastly underpaid. For more than 30 years, Gibbs has consulted, lectured, and authored numerous articles and books about networking, information technology, and the social and political issues surrounding them. His complete bio can be found at

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