GMail Threading Details

GMail is Google's new web-based mail system. It includes several exciting features that break new ground in email usability. This page describes one of these -- its innovative message thread display model. It is my hope that it might help inspire other developers of mail user agent apps to include some of these ideas.

GMail does not operate on messages -- the default UI for message display is oriented around 'conversations'. Here's a screen-shot displaying a conversation in an advanced state; it's a 7-level deep thread from the 'Linux-Thinkpad' mailing list: screenshot

Note the following:

Some key points regarding 'conversations' that are worth noting:

Another display of the 'collapsed-history' view is as follows: screenshot

By clicking on the name of a correspondent, a message from the 'conversation history' can be expanded in-place: screenshot

By clicking on the 'show quoted text' link, the quoting is expanded inline: screenshot

By clicking 'Expand all', the entire conversation is expanded inline. screenshot (warning: large)

Reply is performed inline, as well. Clicking in the text-box below the 'Reply' and 'Forward' buttons causes a set of text boxes to open inline: screenshot

The 'Print conversation' button creates a simple, one-column, grey-scaled representation of the conversation: screenshot


(please add your comments on this page here, and be sure to leave your name!)

I'm a bit confused by your comment here:

> An issue raised by this is that a message may appear in several conversations' history as a result.

Can you give an example, please?

Also, you should know that it *IS* possible to delete ("trash") individual messages. While it's a bit unintuitive, you need to get to that message in conversation view, click on MORE OPTIONS, then click on the TRASH THIS MESSAGE link.

Overall, though, very useful and readable review! :)



adam at the domain

(how does one do decent line spacing in a wiki anyway {sigh})

JustinMason: hi Adam -- the 'message may appear in several conversations' history' comment refers to this situation.

Suppose you have a thread like this:

message A
message B1 is a reply to A
message B2 is a reply to A

If you read "conversation B1", you'll see message A in the history. If you read "conversation B2", message A is also in the history there, too. That's what I mean...

Also, yes, you can definitely trash a message. updated the text. thx!

GmailThreadingDetails (last edited 2004-04-30 18:22:05 by ip68-4-10-228)