Evolution 0.8

(03/01/2001) – It’s been a while since I’ve looked at Evolution, the GNOME project’s answer to Microsoft Outlook. I wrote about Evolution 0.2 last summer, when it was barely out of the larval stage. While some serious progress has been made between 0.2 and the current 0.8 release, there is still work to be done before 1.0 goes out the door later this year.

The biggest difference is that I can now use Evolution in my everyday life. It still crashes and you should still back up your mail folders, but I’m using it now for two POP accounts, calendaring, and contact information.

What’s the same? Evolution is still very attractive. It still operates out of the same basic framework and looks like it will become the premier mail client for Linux. And it is still a work in progress. I don’t recommend throwing away your current mail client and moving to Evolution today. But brave souls — in addition to the Evolution hackers — are doing just that. If you’re not quite ready for mail on the edge, you might think about switching later. It’s going to be a dandy.

Inside Evolution

Evolution 0.8 has four major components: Executive-Summary, Mail, Calendar, and Contacts. Documentation is scarce, but I’ve been able to achieve most of my objectives just by following my nose and the GUI design. But beware: Not every option on menus and elsewhere is functional. If you become an early adopter, it’s going to take some trial and error to discover what works and what doesn’t.

I wasn’t at all sure after looking at it what Executive-Summary was supposed to bring to the app. When I clicked on its icon, it brought up an almost empty page (please, no jokes about how fitting that is for executive management) with a text box area marked “Search on Google.” However, entering text in the box and hitting enter didn’t do a thing.

I wrote an inquiry to the development team and Evolution’s project lead, Ettore Perazzoli, responded that the summary page lets you add plug-in applets to summarize how much mail you have waiting, remind you of appointments from your calendar app, or perhaps show you the latest Slashdot headlines. It’s going to be much more useful than I had imagined.

Perazzoli doesn’t claim Evolution as his own brainchild. He told me that Evolution began as the GNOME mailer project, then morphed into a Ximian (n