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Sugegstion for product roadmap

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Sugegstion for product roadmap

Postby r.appleton » Tue Jun 12, 2007 3:08 pm

IMS offers much promise, but is severely compromised by:
1) the use of a tree structure for email classification
2) the use of the subject line to denote message threads

These are manifest in many comments on these forums.

Looking at other products it is apparent that there is a solution to both of these issues.

Tags permit a classification mechanism to be imposed by users on an arbitary storage hierarchy, with overlapping classifications possible. Tags are much more flexible and can cope when email threads start to change subject matter, or the same subject line is used for different topics by different correspondents - which a single topic tree cannot do. Tags also are better over time as the storage tree changes.

Some tag systems (eg. Taglocity) permit tags to be included in an email so that they are reflected back to the sender - this permits message threads to have the same subject line, but be for different topics.

However, Taglocity does not appear to have the task and email management facilties of IMS.

Why not partner with Taglocity to comine the task and email management parts of IMS with tagging as a classification mechanism? As a product I think that this would be greater than the sum of the parts and solve many of the issues with IMS raised on these forums.

From the look of Taglocity it should be possible to map the existing IMS behaviour onto tag actions so that for a simple email storage tree IMS would be very similar to what it is now. However, it wouldl also cope with the more complex email handling, which IMS really cannot do at the moment.
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Postby brad » Tue Jun 12, 2007 7:12 pm

Thanks for your suggestions. We are always looking at ways to improve the way we handle Topics in IMS. Both of your suggestions are already on our list for future consideration. In particular, if we can work around some of the UI considerations, I believe that allowing the assignment of multiple topics to a thread would be very useful.

To address point #2 - we have looked at several other ways of identifying message threads, but have found Subject to be the only reliable way to determine a thread within Outlook. Unfortunately, largely due to the timing of thread assignment, using other fields such as Outlook's native conversation ID would require us to limit some of IMS's core functionality. We will revisit this in the next major development cycle.

I do still believe, however, that the productivity gained by thread based categorization and manipulation of email far exceeds the occasional issue caused when two different threads appears with the same Subject.
Brad Meador
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Postby r.appleton » Thu Jun 14, 2007 1:28 am

I agree about the productivity to be gained by thread based manipulation of email, which is why it is so frustrating that you appear to minimize the problem of relying on the subject line.

That approach is FUNDAMENTALLY broken and should be the top priority for fixing. It assumes a relationship between email message, email thread and issue that is incorrect.

For instance, today I got an email in reply to one that I had sent. Unfortunately I am dealing with sevral issues (ie. topics) with the same person, and they sent an answer that related to the other issue from the description in the subject line. IMS gives me no way to sensibly handle that. (At the very least I should be able to override the topic on a per message basis, leaving the rest of the thread alone).

In other cases the same subject relates to different issues, eg. 'Acacia Avenue' may be used as a subject by someone dealing with highways maintenance, or someone else about the leisure centre along it, or a third person about a planning application for a site on it. (This does happen to be a real example that I personally have). I cannot control what people put as the subject.

Assignment of multiple topics is not a solution to relying on the subject line (as can be seen from the example of 'Acacia Avenue'). Using very coarse grained topics reduces the problem, but does not eliminate it. If using coarse grained topics all of the related views and project management features are compromised in terms of usefulness.

I do not understand why the UI should constrain the use of tags. If a tag can be associated with an action then 'File msg' becomes 'Do tag action', likewise for the thread related action. Effectively tag(s) substitute for the topic.
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Postby brad » Thu Jun 14, 2007 11:26 am

Thank you for your feedback. We really appreciate the thought you have put into this issue. I'm sorry if my response was frustrating. Reading back through it I wasn't as clear as I should have been:

1. I recognize the issues you describe with using Subjects to determine threads and am sympathetic to them. This is something that I encounter myself from time to time and I would love to find a simple way to address the issue.

2. Unfortunately, we do not have an acceptable workaround to using Subject at this time. Given the choice between using the Subject or eliminating thread-based manipulation altogether, we choose to use the Subject.

3. We do, however, investigate the way we handle threads during every major development cycle as we strive to make the product better. Your suggestion of giving a way to break threads is one that is on our list to look into in more depth as we make plans for our next major release.

In the meantime, as a workaround, I suggest that you strive to keep your subjects unique and that you change them in replies if necessary to facilitate changing Topic assignments.

Thanks again for your feedback and please send more our way as you have it.
Brad Meador
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