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Teaming Up with Zimbra's Collaboration Suite - page 2

Build It And It Will Be Easier

  • October 24, 2005
  • By Rob Reilly

Surprises can happen in the strangest places.

The Zimbra folks had originally planned a WebEx teleconference for the demo. For various reasons, Mozilla (version 1.7.2-17.12 for the X86_64 architecture) on my SUSE Linux 9.2 Athlon 64 laptop, wouldn't work. I didn't have Java installed or something. Dharmaraj and Dietzen handled the awkward situation by having me log into the hosted demo on the Zimbra Web site. They then walked me through the screens, while we were on the phone. Their confidence and knowledge were reassuring, even though they couldn't always see what I was clicking.

I guess I ought to look into the errant WebEx/Mozilla situation.

In no time, we were back in business.

The three features that I liked the most were roll overs, conversations, and searches.

Roll Overs

The main screen is pretty much like any other browser based mail client. Where it gets interesting is when you roll the mouse over a link. Links displayed in Zimbra are colored blue without an underline. It could be a Web address, a word like 'today' or a phone number.

Rolling over a Web address immediately displays a little thumbnail view of the page. If you roll over the word 'today', while in a mail message, appointments show up in the little floating window.

Hovering over an address in a mail message, brings up something really unique. A little floating window sporting Google Maps, showing the exact location. Now that's something I'd really use.

Zimbra solves the problem of context switching by seamlessly linking content or an application to the on-screen links. Why should you have to click to a contact manager window, just to get a phone number or find out where a business located?

Conversations

Forget about folders--back and forth mail messages are tracked automatically so you know what has been sent and what has been received, during a conversation.

The conversations can span folders. You can still broadly organize messages into folders, if you like.

Conversations save users the trouble of manually organizing their threads. One of the advantages of indexing with MySQL is that Zimbra keeps track of a thread or conversation automatically.

It also makes quick work of creating complicated searches.

Searches

Simple searches can be done using the text box at the top of the Zimbra screen. Punch in a text string, hit the search button and appropriate messages show up at the bottom.

Real search fun begins when you push the Search Builder button, at the upper right.

When you do that, a basic search form appears on the left. You can plug in values for From:, To/cc:, Subject:, and so on.

You can also push the various other search buttons, along the top, to bring up those forms. They include Date, Domains, Folders, and others.

The form approach, coupled with everything being indexed in MySQL make narrowing down a search easy and painless. I can see where this would really help out if you needed to find an obscure message, in a pile of fifty thousand emails.

You can give a search a name and save it for later use, too. Click on the little floppy disk icon at the top and it will put the name under Searches, in the window on the left.

The combination of roll overs, conversations, and enhanced searches will definitely make email more productive.

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