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Tuesday 14 September 2004

The Bat now sucks [Lurks]

When I found the mail client 'The Bat' all them years ago, I was ecstatic. Here was a mail client which was clearly influenced by the proper way to write email as defined by Fidonet technology mailers, well before email came along. It had all your filters, it had templates, it had proper selective quoting features, wicked reformating short cuts and the ability to slap in random tag lines in your signature. Oh and you could personalise your signatures and identify per folder. It was brilliant and so I crowed about it from the roof tops.
I crowed loud enough that a good deal of other people took up the torch and made the switch to The Bat as well. However something has happened in Russia, Ritlabs have just lost the plot entirely. It started with The Bat version 2, when they demanded an upgrade fee and after upgrading a good many of us wondered what exactly it was that we paid for again.
I guess Ritlabs decided that upgrade fees is where it's at to make a living, rather than making the mail client more attractive and/or marketing it to a wider audience. Version 3.0 just came out with an even bigger upgrade fee. This time I wasn't going to be fooled but I realised that I didn't have my 2.0 key around and I had a couple of demo installs time-out after OS reinstalls. So I upgraded to 3.0.
Essentially I forked over money to upgrade to a version of the Bat which for the first time is thoroughly unstable. It crashes all over the show. It crashes just sitting there. It crashes on start up. What a nightmare. And seemingly the only two features which have been added are bigger icons (which are nice I guess) and the anti-spam plug-in Bayesit built in as standard. Now Bayesit never worked, in the past it just called everything spam. Now it calls everything not spam even if you've trained it with a couple of hundred mails. So this is completely useless.
Well, I've had enough really. It's time to part ways with ye old Bat. I need a new mail client and one which, hopefully, has these features;
  • Non-lame quoting, ability to not top post.
  • Setting things up by folder. Top post for one, proper for another.
  • Fast searching. (The Bat is a nightmare)
  • Hopefully ability to add random tagline.
  • Ability to do HTML mail when required for work purposes.
  • Stable, industrial, easy to back up.

Sadly Mozilla Thunderbird doesn't appear to be it. It's still quite buggy and it's missing a good deal of features. I'm actually considering using a tango team of gmail (which has the best search out of any mail client ever) and Outlook but that still isn't ideal.
Anyone got any suggestions.


  1. I had one last look at a mailing list archive for The Bat and found mention that it's actually Bayesit which is the unstable bit. It's always been pretty clear that the developers didn't test this plug in. Quite why they're adding bullshit features and not building in the essential anti-spam features directly, which ever bloody mail client needs, is completely beyond me.
    I guess they don't get much Russian spam.

  2. I've actually ended up using pretty much the tag-team approach you describe - all my mailing lists and a lot of my personal mail go through Gmail, while I use (the built-in mail client in OSX) as an IMAP access client for my work emails (or use Squirrelmail on the same mailbox if I'm ever without my laptop). I wouldn't use as a Bat-strength POP client, but once you learn to use procmail on the server-side, the lack of intelligent filtering and stuff isn't really an issue, and the client-side search IS very fast.
    Gmail is definitely the lifesaver here though. The big problem with moving away from The Bat is how fucking shite the other mail clients out there are at coping with big archives of mail - my install of The Bat had nearly 700,000 messages in it when I stopped using it, thanks to having five-year archives of some very high traffic mailing lists. Outlook falls over, chokes and dies on a mailbase of around 20 or 30 thousand messages in my experience. Thunderbird is a lot better, but still not quite there.
    Course, if your work mail is IMAP, it does basically restrict you to Thunderbird or Outlook (on the PC - Thunderbird, Entourage or on the Mac, fuck knows what on Linux), since as far as I can gather nothing else out there actually supports IMAP in an even remotely decent manner.

  3. I was under the impression since 2.0 the Bat IMAP stuff worked? Someone said that. IMAP is pretty fucking hideous though so it'd be no surprise if it didn't work right.
    Thing is, I talk the talk but when I get in to work and disabled the Bayesit filter, the Bat stopped crashing and I considered that really - there's fuck all out there which is a proper industrial strength mail client which does the things which have come to be important to me.
    I had a massive rant at Ritlabs. I wonder if they'll bother replying...

  4. I gave up on the bat mainly because of its awful IMAP implementation. Now I use a combination of server side procmail filters and Outlook XP. Don't laugh, Outlook is mighty fine these days. It's the most extendable (windows) email app bar none, you can script it, you can automate it, you can do pretty much anything you want with it without needing the developers to think of it first. Someone often has thought of most of what you want first however, which is also handy.
    The most amazing thing with this latest version of outlook is it's imap implementation. Hardly surprising, as MS is going standards based to make sure you don't dump exchange our outlook for something linuxy. The IMAP rocks, and doesn't hold you back while it processes shit like most imap clients do.
    It's also got the brillo PIM stuff, and syncs with just about every phone and pda around. Used to hate it, now I love it, that's progress eh?

  5. Oh and you can't beat imap for backupability, it's just files innit.

  6. a huge percentage of people here at SI have moved to thunderbird for one reason or another. Our email is unix based server and people can use pop3 or imap. I think most use imap, as it gets backed up and whatnot. I really like Thunderbird as an email client (best I have used on mac anyway). Like Rob, all my personal mail goes thru webmail, I have a good old php webmail system tied onto that does everything I want and nothing else - now thats the perfect email system :)

  7. I run my own email servers at home and at work, so I have the privilege of being able to ensure that everything is backed up on the server side to network shares
    and magnetic tape. With this configuration I also get to run industrial strength spam filtering, On The Server. Where it should be.
    Access to my IMAP mailboxes then becomes trivial. I get a consistant set of folders, server side filtering rules, sent-items etc from any IMAP client or web
    browser, from any location.
    As to particular IMAP client I use. I'm really not that fussed. Depending on where I am, I'll use a web browser from a machine I dont own or admin and a
    combination of Thunderbird on Linux/Mac/PC, Entourage on Mac, Outlook on Windows and Evolution or Kmail on Linux and the built in one on my Nokia 6600.
    I always see the same set of folders and the server does my filtering rules for me, so mail opens up immediatly and no workload is ever placed on the client.

  8. The Bat! still suffices for me, simply because I don't use IMAP, and my personal mail accounts aren't innundated with enough spam to make a spam filter a neccessity. I'd quite like to move over to Outlook, because it syncs with my iPaq, but last I used it, the mail client was absolutely atrocious. Anyone know of another e-mail client/scheduler that works on PPC and doesn't suck?

  9. Bollox: The load on the client would be the things Lurks listed as requirements which you completely ingored. Not surprising really, as you're a complete cunt. In fact, why don't you just fuck off? Nobody here likes you, wants you around or gives a shit about your opinion?

  10. lol, yeah. My 6600 just groans under the presure of my 4000 emails in my inbox. Having a bad day are we slimbo? :)

  11. We don't give a shit about your fucking email you thick cunt. We don't give a shit about you. Why don't you just take the fucking unsubtle hint and leave us the fuck alone you sad tossing cling-on?

  12. Waa, I'm telling a teacher on you

  13. I think I'd have far more time for you if you ever actually replied with anything that was remotely fucking relevant or interesting to the thread. Blog on a nifty PC muz has and you bang on about a fucking iBook. I'm looking for a mail client and you bang on about web mail shit as the best thing ever.
    So why do it? We don't want to read it - do you just do it to wind us up?

  14. I think it's because he's a complete cunt.

  15. There's something up at Ritlabs, because they ignore or just vape threads on their 'support' forums about TheBat turning to ratshit.
    Each version has steadily got worse - I fell for their ploy to re-register once for v2, I won't do it for v3. (IMAP remains broken, and they broke the Bayes-It plugin, which used to work under a previous version)
    I'm running Thunderbird now for multiple accounts (IMAP and POP3) and its nifty. Had to leech the nightly build to get the Local Folders feature thingy working though.

  16. I know nothing about this stuff.

  17. Clearly not.
    Beej: I might try Thunderbird again in a few months but it's a little too feature light and a little too buggy to want to use it full time. The address book is pretty horrible for a start. Since it just leaves your mail in one big file, I have reservations about what performance would be like with a big database as well.

  18. Thunderbirds also had a tendancy in the past to corrupt it's addressbook file too, which is a right pain in the breasts.

  19. Lurks - give thunderbird a month or two then, and give it a whirl then - version 1.0 is very close. I know the latest stable build of the mac version is great. So stabiliy is getting better and better. I use imap, and have a huge amount of mail and I cant remember the last time it crashed, or did something stupid (I leave that to the user, right here!)

  20. I also don't know enough on this stuff to add anything useful, yet remain silent and ridicule free (at least on this blog).
    Might want to try it Billox. Save yourself swallowing another grenade.

  21. I've had the address book going bannanas on a build I leeched last week actually, like Slim says. I don't think they're going to ever add the features I want though. It's kind of written for top posting lameness as that's about it. It's a good stab for free mind, no mistake. It's just not quite industrial enough for someone that actually is pretty fussy about what emails look like because they're a big part of my job.

  22. Despite swallowing grenades, expressing my "cunting fuckoff everyone hates you" opinion, ta very much love.
    I'd really like to ake this opportunity to grovel in the dirt, apologise for retrieving my email the way I do and to let it be known that I completly and comprehensivly retract all I have said about my email setup. And Slim

  23. I tried The Bat recently as many people were on about it, but found it just unusable for IMAP, which is quite a fundamental way I use email.
    Outlook has been great for me since XP, and Outlook2k3 is even better for IMAP. Plus from an enterprise POV, in a working enviroment on an Exchange server, OL is the nuts. Synched diaries, meetings, distributed tasks etc.
    Granted it's HTML hell, but I just top post automatically to people I know are 'real' email users, and bottom-post to proper netscum, and just turn off HTML for that mail.
    It's multiple account handling is quite natty for me too.