Meet Penelope: Eudora and Thunderbird Join Forces for Email Software, and How Much it Matters for My Web Design Business

I learned in the Eudora discussion list this morning that my long-time favorite email program, Eudora, is going open-source. Mozilla’s new Penelope project is born. This move also made me reflect on the critically important role of email software with a Web design business. Today’s post covers Eudora’s major move, the important role of email software, especially in my small Web design business, and some of the current email software options.

From the Penelope project site,

The “Penelope” project’s intention is to join the Eudora® user experience with the Mozilla platform. We intend to produce a version of Eudora that is open source and based on mozilla and Thunderbird. It’s *not* our intention to compete with Thunderbird; rather, we want to complement it.

We are committed to both preserving the Eudora user experience and to maintaining maximum compatibility, for both developers and users, with Thunderbird. It is our goal to build a single development community around Thunderbird and Eudora, so that both mailers advance faster than they previously have.

Eudora’s website states that “the open source version of Eudora® is targeted to be released during the first half of calendar year 2007 and will be free of charge.”

There are also plenty of varied opinions about this at Slashdot, as you might expect. See the thread on it, Slashdot: Future Eudora Based on Thunderbird. Some think the merger will be a great one. Others didn’t know Eudora still existed, and others aren’t at all excited.

I’ve been a devoted Eudora user for many years now. While I’m hopeful that it will be a positive move, this is quite a major shift, and I’m not sure what to think at the moment. I know a lot of people like Thunderbird’s email program, but Thunderbird and Eudora are also so very different.

The Importance of Email Software as a Small Business Owner in the Web Design Business

Eudora’s change to open-source with the new Penelope project makes me reflect on how critically important a reliable email program is for my Web design business. Like many of us in the Web design business, there are quite a few programs that I use and rely on every single day that I rarely mention here in writing, including email software. They all play important roles in keeping my business running smoothly, though, including my email software.

In fact, most of my communication with clients is by email. That doesn’t seem at all unusual for the Web design business and probably many other businesses, too. Since I have a home office, my main connection with colleagues and others is also by email, along with all my discussion list subscriptions.

Deliver First Class Web Sites: 101 Essential Checklists, by Shirley Kaiser. (SitePoint, July 2006) In addition, when I wrote my book that was just released in July, I emailed all the chapters to my editor at SitePoint. Ian Lloyd, my fabulous technical editor, was traveling the world at the time and still managed to check in and send me his helpful comments, always packed with his silly humor. We handled the entire project by email, except for a couple of online chat sessions.

I also archive much of my email, dating back to about 1994, which I can open at any time within Eudora. In addition to archiving all my client email, invoices, and my own ebills, I have some very special emails in there, too, especially from a few of my dear friends and family who are no longer on this earth.

Of course I do continual backups of all my important files, and I’m a firm believer in redundancy, but I also expect my email program to be reliable. That’s been the case with Eudora, and I’ve never lost any email due to corruption problems or unreliability. While I want my email software to have many helpful and convenient features, it also needs to be totally solid, reliable, and problem-free. I need to know that it will never corrupt and lose any of my email, especially with my work and clients.

Other Possibilities for Email Software

It’s only been an hour since I heard the news about Eudora’s move to open-source with the Mozilla Foundation, but as I write this post I’m already thinking about various email software options in case I don’t like the open-source version of Eudora. During the coming months I’ll explore those further as I continue using Eudora and waiting to see how the software changes after this big move.

For myself, the first email software option that crosses my mind is from the same company who makes my long-time favorite contact manager, scheduling, and To-do list program, Time & Chaos that I’ve been using since the early 1990s. You might or might not have even heard of Chaos Software, but they create solid, reliable, user-friendly software for Windows. They recently released a new program, Chaos !ntellect, that integrates Time & Chaos with their email program, in addition to offering more features. I’m a big fan of their software, and I’m now using Chaos !ntellect, but I haven’t tried the integrated email program yet. As they state, “!ntelligent contact management with !ntegrated email for incoming/outgoing contacts, appointments, tasks, memos, and more.” I also love being able to synchronize my data with my main computer, my laptop, and my PDA, too. It’s so good that I don’t even have to think about it, as it’s all automated. With Eudora’s open-source announcement, I’ll go ahead and try the email program soon.

Of course there are many email software possibilities out there, too, such as The Bat!, by RITLabs, and Opera’s built-in email program. There are plenty of free and commercial programs for a variety of platforms listed at, Top 10 Free Email Programs for Windows, and quite a listing of free and commercial email programs, reviews, and tips for Windows, Mac, and more. I wasn’t going to mention Microsoft Outlook, even though it comes free with Windows, as I’m not a fan, but I know there are plenty of people who like using that, too.



Comments, Trackbacks: 4 so far. Add yours!

  1. I use eudora 5.2 for personal email and tbird for work. Eudora has some nice features that keep me using it:
    - filters are able to rewrite message subject
    - ability to delete individual messages from server (useful when traveling - leave important msgs on server in case of machine theft - until return home)
    - able to easily switch between fixed width and variable width font when viewing messages
    - reply with stationary (templates in tbird can’t be used in replies)

    04:52 pm, pdt11 October, 2006Comment by sean

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  2. Thanks for the update! The one thing I have found in Eudora that I have not found in any other e-mail client is the ability to save e-mails without all the headers. I sure hope they will not eliminate that feature. If they do, I will stay with v 7.01.

    05:59 pm, pdt11 October, 2006Comment by Lee Underwood

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  3. Lee and sean,
    There are so many great features with Eudora. You both brought up two handy ones. For me, it’s one of those programs that works so well that I don’t even have to think about it. It filters my mail, gives me voice announcements for email from a few select people or clients, and works so well and with such ease. I can’t even remember if or when it has ever crashed on me, either. I’m also glad their search feature is so speedy now, too.

    I’m certainly hoping that Eudora continues to be at least as good as it is now despite this huge shift. Time will tell.

    Wednesday’s announcement of the move to open source with the new Penelope project via the Mozilla Foundation was a huge reminder to me of how truly important email software is with my daily work and overall communications.

    09:26 pm, pdt13 October, 2006Comment by Shirley Kaiser

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  4. Shirley, if you decide to explore alternate options you may wish to consider Pegasus Mail. See for details.

    02:48 pm, pdt28 October, 2006Comment by Keith Petersen

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This discussion has been closed. Thanks to all who participated.

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