Google Answers Logo
View Question
Q: E-mail Application ( Answered,   5 Comments )
Subject: E-mail Application
Category: Computers
Asked by: andy_21-ga
List Price: $100.00
Posted: 03 Nov 2006 04:35 PST
Expires: 03 Dec 2006 04:35 PST
Question ID: 779715
I wish to develop an e-mail application that can be used by senior citizens.
I have the draft screen designs completed and have defined the user requirements.

I need direction on how to actually implement this. For example, could
I use a current ISP's e-mail and develop a skin that sits on top of
it? or is their a mail application that I can buy off the shelf and
design the screens etc as I want? or would I need a full client server
set up? if so how do I get that

Clarification of Question by andy_21-ga on 03 Nov 2006 04:48 PST
To clairfy, I need guidance on the the technological implementation.
Subject: Re: E-mail Application
Answered By: leapinglizard-ga on 30 Nov 2006 10:01 PST
Dear andy_21,

I base my answer on prior experience in application development and web
programming, as well as on research I have carried out for this question.

To answer one of your concerns, there is no need to set up a full
client-server system if your product consists mainly of a user
interface. All you are providing is the client at the front end, while
email delivery at the back end is supplied by the user's existing email
service, which is typically an ISP or a dedicated email provider.

When users install your client, they will configure it with their
personal settings, as instructed by their email service, so that your
client can talk to their server. You don't have to supply the server
yourself. Depending on how you go about developing the email client,
you may not even have to worry about implementing the communication
protocol between client and server.

One of the first decisions you will have to make is whether you want
to support one or both of the Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP)
and POP (Post Office Protocol). The chief difference between these two
is in where a user's email messages are stored. In the case of POP,
the mail client transfers all messages from the email server to the
user's local storage space. An IMAP client, on the other hand, leaves
the messages on the email server, and is therefore not responsible for
storing or modifying the user's messages.

    A client is simply a program that works in cooperation with
    a server to share the work load of processing information. An
    e-mail client combines the features of your workstation (Windows,
    Macintosh, UNIX, etc.) with the server's connectivity to the
    Internet or other network. Both POP and IMAP protocols handle
    attachments easily and have address book and signature block


    IMAP is better if you need to access your mail from work and
    from home, or while traveling.

    Your e-mail and folders can reside on the mail server so your
    e-mail and folders are accessible regardless of which computer
    you are using.


    POP is suitable if you are going to use e-mail only from one
    location, such as your home or office, because all your e-mail
    activities are performed on your local workstation.

    Mail is ?popped? (downloaded) from the inbox of the e-mail
    server to your local machine, either manually or according
    to a preset time interval. The e-mail is stored on your local
    computer where you can create folders that may or may not match
    the folders you might have on the e-mail server.

    Since the e-mail is normally deleted from the server when it is
    downloaded, you are responsible for making backup copies.

University of Arizona: CCIT: Comparison Between IMAP and POP

The following document describes each protocol in greater detail and
makes a full comparison of their implications for the user experience.

    There are three different paradigms for accessing remote
    message stores (or "mailboxes"). They are: offline, online,
    and disconnected. In "offline" operation, the mail client
    program, or "mail user agent" (MUA), fetches messages from a
    mail server to the machine where the mail program is running,
    and then deletes them from the server. In "online" operation,
    messages are left on the mail server and manipulated remotely
    by mail client programs. In "disconnected" operation, a mail
    client connects to the mail server, makes a "cache" copy of
    selected messages, and then disconnects from the server, later
    to reconnect and resynchronize with the server. In both online
    and disconnected access modes, mail is left on the server, which
    is important when people use different computers at different
    times to access their messages.


    It is the thesis of this paper that (a) supporting online
    and disconnected access is essential for a growing fraction
    of mail users, and (b) POP is inadequate for proper online and
    disconnected support, whereas IMAP does a good job for all three
    message access paradigms. This is not an indictment of POP, since
    POP is entirely satisfactory for its intended design center of
    offline mail processing. Rather, it is an explanation of the
    importance of online and disconnected operation, and why IMAP
    is a much better answer for those access modes. Message Access Paradigms and Protocols

If you decide that your email client only needs IMAP support and if
you want it to be a web application that users can access through any
web browser, you can implement your product on top of SquirrelMail,
a popular open-source webmail package. Application development would
then consist largely of web design, with SquirrelMail providing the
email mechanics. On the other hand, someone other than the user would
have to be responsible for hosting the completed application, because
you cannot expect your users to have their own web space.
SquirrelMail: Customizing Squirrel Mail
Squirrel Mail: About

You can also get a pre-existing base for your interface design if you want
to implement it in a desktop application, which users would install and
run on their own computers. As luck would have it, the makers of Eudora,
a popular email client that resembles and competes with Microsoft
Outlook, have recently announced that they will be releasing Eudora
as an open-source package. Eudora is a feature-rich application that
supports both IMAP and POP. On the other hand, adapting Eudora to your
needs would likely require more technical sophistication than customizing
a web application.

    QUALCOMM is announcing that its Eudora email program will become
    an open source product effective the first half of calendar year
    2007. As an open source product, it will be free to all customers.


    The open source version of Eudora is targeted for release in
    the first half of calendar year 2007 and will be free of charge.

Eudora: Announcement FAQ

Eudora: Home
Another powerful open-source email client is Thunderbird, distributed
by the same group that is responsible for the Firefox web browser. You
can make a skin for Thunderbird, here known as a theme, with relative
ease. Deeper changes in the behavior of Thunderbird, whether by writing
an extension or manipulating the core program, would require sophisticated
programming skills.
Mozilla Developer Center: Thunderbird: Theme Packaging 
Mozilla Developer Center: Thunderbird: Extension Packaging

Thunderbird: Home
A further possibility would be to commission a customized version of
the email client Emma, a Windows desktop application formerly used by
MCI's commercial email service.
    Emma is an email client for Windows that we offer on a customized
    and OEM basis. If you want an email client customized for your
    organization, look no further. If you want to develop your
    own email client, please consider licensing Emma as a base to
    work from.

Pete Maclean: Emma

You might also work out a partnership with the author of the Scribe
email system.

    Scribe has a plugin interface that allows people to expand the
    capabilities of the application. If anyone is interested in
    writing a plugin I can send you the libraries and documentation
    to do so. So far you can write plugins for 3rd party MIME type
    viewers, directory services and text handling utilities. In the
    future Scribe will support plugins for mail source/sink and mail
    storage. Which will mean that the very core of Scribe will be
    open to new ways of receiving, sending and storing email.

i.Scribe/InScribe Email Client: Home

I wish you all the best with your venture. 


Subject: Re: E-mail Application
From: vidoy-ga on 03 Nov 2006 10:52 PST
I would suggest using Microsoft Outlook automation (using code to
control outlook) and creating your own GUI around it. This allows you
to make the GUI whatever way you want and leverage the power of a full
email client application.

example code to control outlook
Subject: Re: E-mail Application
From: wessi-ga on 08 Nov 2006 05:15 PST
I think the easiest way is to create a theme for Thunderbird. 
Thunderbird homepage:

Another one possibility is to take an Open Source mail client, cut of
the GUI and write your own. You can find such applications on
.ient .
Subject: Re: E-mail Application
From: capsule-ga on 16 Nov 2006 01:20 PST

Maybe using a webmail and modify its template/stylesheet is the
easiest way to achieve this. You just need an ISP mail account, an
hosting (with CGI or PHP support, depedending on the webmail script
you want to use) and some web designer/integrator to customize the
thing (and maybe a PHP/CGI developer if you need to add or remove

Here is a list of some webmail scripts :

The advantage of this solution is it's totally server-side, so you can
update it easily, without asking your senior users to update there
current application, what they would probably not be able to
achieve... They just need a browser!

Subject: Re: E-mail Application
From: ironclaw-ga on 16 Nov 2006 10:43 PST
try is really easy to use and it can save your password too so
you dont have to remember it
Subject: Re: E-mail Application
From: netspaceonline-ga on 19 Nov 2006 04:12 PST

Some of the answers provided above are fantastic, I would opt more for
the open source type arrangement as its more flexible for users who
don?t have products like Microsoft Office. You could also learn AJAX
which is a very powerful, you could then either write a fresh e-mail
client from scratch or modify an existing one, you should be able to
find e-mail client scripts / web mail etc at places like:

You could even post on and find a developer
who will carry out the coding for you at a price of course, the final
decision is yours :) and if you need a full development mail server
etc, just purchase hosting from a website hosting provider, a really
basic account will at least provide you with a number of mail accounts
and a mail server which you can use to test your product on.

Best of luck,

Tahir Ahmed

Important Disclaimer: Answers and comments provided on Google Answers are general information, and are not intended to substitute for informed professional medical, psychiatric, psychological, tax, legal, investment, accounting, or other professional advice. Google does not endorse, and expressly disclaims liability for any product, manufacturer, distributor, service or service provider mentioned or any opinion expressed in answers or comments. Please read carefully the Google Answers Terms of Service.

If you feel that you have found inappropriate content, please let us know by emailing us at with the question ID listed above. Thank you.
Search Google Answers for
Google Answers  

Google Home - Answers FAQ - Terms of Service - Privacy Policy