Evolution Review

excellent
key review info
application features
  • Junk filtering
  • (15 more, see all...)

The days when sending letters was done through conventional mail are long gone, at least for most of us. This is part of the evolution of the human specie. I'm convinced that everybody who is reading this review now has at least one e-mail address. Some use the webmail, others use an installed mail client and some of you use both.

The first mail client I used I think it was mutt. For those of you who are not familiar with it, you should know it is for command line and that I still use it on rare occasions. To be honest, I think I was fascinated at that point. Sending “letters” was far more easier, and the speed was incredible. The problem was that the only person I knew that had an e-mail address was the guy that created mine. This is a funny situation. Anyways, conventional mails I wasn't sending because the whole trouble just wasn’t worth the effort.

Evolution is something interesting. What I'm talking about now, it's an e-mail client with a twist for the GNOME desktop. It provides cutting edge technology for integrated mail, address book and calendaring functionality.

At first sight, Evolution looks like a pretty simple and easy to use email client which is just what most users need from one. The truth is that it a little more, and could easily satisfy the needs for almost anyone.

Because today mail can come from just about anywhere, we all need to control the junk mail. Evolution can do this easily. All we have to do is mark an e-mail as junk. The button for this is in the main toolbar and clicking it once should be enough for a lifetime. Evolution uses Bayesian spam filtering which is starting to be a standard in this area. This type of spam filtering is based on Bayes' theorem which, in the context of spam, says that the probability that an email is spam, given that it has certain words in it, is equal to the probability of finding those certain words in spam email, times the probability that any email is spam, divided by the probability of finding those words in any email. I apologize if you lost me there. Just ignore Bayes, and it's theorem because the only real life situation in which it can be useful is a statistics exam and in my case it wasn't even in that case, because I failed it faster than you can say 3.

Other useful things that Evolution has are the facts that all users that receive large volumes of mail include filters for automating the organizing of mails and the fast search feature. Filters allow you to bundle sort and distribute mail into various folders. A combination of different filters can be used to sort your mail just the way you want. Searching is very fast because Evolution indexes all messages and locating a mail requires only to know what you want to locate. In other words, the machines are taking over some of our boring responsibilities so we can focus our attention to other tasks.

Something interesting is support for web calendars. This allows you to see someoneÂ’s schedule inside Evolution. This can be a very good practice in various environments. Several websites are using web calendars for listing events and even TV schedules. As far as I know, this is starting to be popular among Mac users and a lucky guess is that it will be popular in general, because the idea is good and the framework is good too.

Any e-mail client that respects itself and hopes to be used in all kinds of environments needs to have support for collaboration servers. Evolution is among those that currently support Exchange and GroupWise servers. None of them are open source. At this point, I feel obliged to mention that GroupWise is Novell's alternative to Microsoft Exchange, and that Evolution is also powered somehow by Novell. Others would be nice to have on the list, but if everything was perfect, it wouldn't have a direction to evolve and the name of the software wouldn't make sense.

Because the Internet isn't what it used to be, security is a must have in an e-mail client. In this one signing and encrypting is possible with GPG keys and S/MIME certificates. This is not state of the art encryption support, but for the average user that sends confidential information trough mail it should be enough.

Evolution comes with a data server that facilitates the integration with GNOME. It allows using applets in GNOME panel for showing appointments and tasks and also to add buddies in Gaim from evolution contacts, when Gaim is patched.

Speaking of contacts, I want to tell you that if you want to easily populate your contact list, there is an option in mail preferences to automatically create entries in addressbook, when responding to mail. To easily access the contacts just press Ctrl+2 and Evolution will switch to contacts view and when you want to go back in e-mail view press Ctrl+1. The addressbook is LDAP compatible and when it is deployed in large environments this will be of real help.

I almost forgot to mention, but you should keep in mind that Ctrl+3 switches to calendars, Ctrl+4 to tasks and Ctrl+5 to the memos view. All this are almost hidden from the eye and I find ti an interesting approach. It keeps the software clean and full featured in the same time.

The Good

The simple and easy way to use interface and the effective features such as searching filters and junk mail support make this e-mail client one of the best e-mail clients from all operating systems.

The Bad

Evolution is a little slow. Since it is supposed to be the standard e-mail client for GNOME, and since GNOME 2.14 is incredible for speed, I am expecting in some way the same behavior from Evolution.

The Truth

The truth is out there in the review. Evolution is powerful, robust and easy to use. Currently I'm using it as my default e-mail client for the GNOME desktop and I am very satisfied.

Check out some screenshots below:

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user interface 5
features 4
ease of use 5
pricing / value 5


final rating 5
Editor's review
excellent
 
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