Ishmail Product Information

Ishmail Explained

Electronic Mail for Unix Systems

Ishmail is a powerful yet easy to use tool for reading, composing, organizing, and filing electronic mail. Ishmail handles multimedia mail. It supports the Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions (MIME), a standard for mailing files containing various kinds of multimedia data across the Internet. Ishmail has a graphical user interface, built using the X Window System and OSF/Motif. It is compatible with the CDE Desktop. Ishmail is available for a variety of Unix systems, including:

Flexible Connections

IMAP, POP, and local mail servers

You can work with mail folders on your system, on systems on your local network, or on remote servers using the popular POP or IMAP protocols.

Ishmail lets you organize messages in folders, with various options for sorting the messages and searching through message contents.

Folders can be organized in directories. The file format used for the folders is common with the format used by other Unix mail tools such as mailx, Elm, mh, xmh, exmh, MMDF, and Z-mail.

Useful Features

Automatic filing, alerts, and more

Ishmail has powerful tools for automatically filing messages to selected folders as they arrive, or as they are sent. You select messages for automatic filing using patterns (simple strings or regular expressions) which are compared against message headers, body or both.

You can define alerts and icons for incoming mail. A handy dialog box allows entry of patterns to search for in incoming mail messages. When a pattern is matched, a command (alert) is run. You can specify both the patterns to be matched and the commands to be run.

Icons can be defined the same way. When incoming mail matches a pattern, the ishmail icon changes to the bitmap design of your choice.

Ishmail has a text editor tool for composing messages. It handles both standard ASCII text and MIME Enriched Text. You can apply formatting changes such as different font styles and sizes, colors, justification, and indentation. Multipart messages with attachments are easily created, and the attachments flow with the text rather than simply adding to the end of the message.

If you prefer to use a different editor tool, such as vi or emacs, you can do so easily. You can also use a tool, such as ispell, to check the spelling of your messages.

You can define aliases for other users' names or groups of user names. A dialog box provides an easy way to create or change aliases. The aliases are stored in a format (.mailrc) which is compatible with other mail tools. Ishmail can share alias files with programs such as Z-Mail and Elm.

Easy To Use Interface

Keyboard, mouse, and "drag and drop"

Whether you are a beginner or an expert, you will find ishmail easy to use.

Ishmail is easily customized. You can specify many attributes, ranging from cosmetic changes (colors, fonts, window sizes) to functional changes (number of and placement of buttons and menus, preferences for default actions). Special preference dialogs let you to modify most attributes, so that editing various files or programming are not required. You can define your own short cut buttons for various windows. You control where they are placed, what the labels say, and what actions they do.

Help When You Need It

On-line help text and messages

Each window in ishmail includes a help menu. Help text is available for the whole program, the current window, the context of the cursor, key definitions, the version of the program, and the help system itself. The lower left corner of each window is a message area. Brief messages are shown, describing the action that would happen if the mouse were clicked.

Moving the mouse around the screen shows messages about various parts of the window. The message area also shows status or error messages for completed actions.

A complete user's guide is included with ishmail. It is available in PostScript and HTML formats. The Help menu in the Main window has a link to a copy of the manual on the World Wide Web. You can download the manual to your system for faster performance.

MIME Explained

Multimedia data exchange

The MIME standard defines ways to attach body parts to mail messages, with each part potentially containing a different type of data.

Before MIME, arbitrary data types could be transferred by e-mail, using an encoding program such as uuencode, but instructions about how to unpack, decode, and interpret the data had to be sent separately.

Now with MIME, a standard way of encoding messages is defined. Many application programs now support MIME and the list is growing, including products such as Microsoft Exchange in addition to Unix products.

Data types understood by MIME-compliant programs include ASCII text, Rich Text, GIF and JPEG images, MPEG video, audio, and PostScript. The standard is extensible, and users can easily add their own, custom data types. Ishmail links to external programs to view and print various data types, similar to plug-in tools for Web browsers.

Ishmail supports creating and browsing Rich Text, as well as conversion to PostScript for printing. Rich Text consists of ASCII text annotated with various attributes, such as bold, italic, color, underlined, superscript, subscript, centered, justified, and mixed fonts and point sizes.

Message body parts can either be included into the message or attached to the message. Attachments are handy for large files which are undesirable to mail due to performance and space considerations. The recipient of mail can retrieve attachments a variety of ways, such as from a local file system, a remote file system, or by ftp file transfer.

For more information, check out the MIME FAQ.