Monday, August 01, 2011

lost in email threads....

One of the most time expensive daily tasks is to identify the email required for the the current task in mind.

You know that you already received a email for a particular topic and you want reference it, you require the technical details for a certain topic, ....

Using email tags and full text search of todays email clients is a quite sufficient help to get those kind of tasks done. But once you find a particular email, they is almost ever part of a thread back and forth and getting what you want requires to get the context of the found email. To get the complete context in emails thread isn't trivial, even with thread functions of the common email tools. Most of them are limited in what is shown in particular for long running threads:
  • you loosing the message context around the identified message because the threading function re-arrange the way your inbox is displayed
  • you don't have an easy to use visibility of what really happens, what are the timings for each mail in the task the corresponding sender
  • you do not have easy navigation without loosing the context
Few weeks ago I got aware of ThreadVis a add on for Thunderbird email client.

Pretty cool, it provides a visual graph of the email thread based on the currently selected email with different colors for different sender, length indication for time durations and direct popup help for the content of each item:

You see where you are, what was and after and who was the sender. Even threads you not receive are visible. A easy navigation between the emails, and popup previous for each of the thread items.
Viola, what else could you want? Of course there are things can be improved by the way the basic idea and implementation is worth to take a look at....