The day the "GMail does IMAP" story broke everyone, myself included, spent a significant part of their day tweaking the GMail interface, in desparate attempts to emerge this craved new feature. The number one [missing] feature preventing many users from switching to GMail.

Since then everyone has praised the new feature, but it seems that everyone has been missing the obvious. The support isn't that great.

IMAP for GMail transforms this:

Into this:

Not that great ...

IMAP may be great, but it only truly rocks when used with folders, and many users have lots of nested folders - which, incidentally, imho kills the label concept of GMail. That is, you can have one or the other but you can't have both without compromising both concepts.

It seems the GMail support for IMAP leaves three options to would be users:

  1. Live with label explosion and ugly looking labels
  2. Transform your highly developed folder-archiving-approach to a new and untested label structure
  3. Stick to your existing folder-archiving-approach, and pass on the GMail IMAP offer for now

Indeed, those users that have been craving IMAP support the most, are probably also those most willing to change their archiving approach - it's a new system and technology to learn and adopt which is always fun.

However, for all the less technology craving and fascinated users for whom e-mail is just a tool, not being able to migrate their existing inboxes by dragging and dropping (another primary justification for IMAP) is going to be a real issue.

Myself, I chose the second option, and spent many hours devising a new label system :-)



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Published

05 November 2007