It’s that time of year again… time for everyone to get together with family and friends to eat, drink and be merry. And as much as we love our jobs, we’re going to take a break from the blog until the New Year to do the same as you. But rest assured, we’re going to come back to work refreshed, rejuvenated, revitalized and probably just a little bit heavier from all the holiday festivities.
It’s been an amazing year for the Yahoo! Mail Beta Team. We’ve put our heart and soul into bringing you the launch of Yahoo! Mail Beta and had a lot of fun along the way. The fantastic new mail interface lets you drag and drop mail items, gives you a preview pane and offers up tabbed messaging, to name just a few features available.
Now, I’m not usually one to make New Year’s resolutions, but I will make this one: to work tirelessly to continue to bring you the best Mail product ever! (Oh, and maybe go on a diet too.) So, watch this space in the New Year to see what’s coming next.
We also want to take this opportunity to wish everyone a very happy holiday season, and a very happy New Year.
Back in the day I used to post changelogs for Yahoo! Mail Beta on my personal blog. So many people turned to my blog for updates that people within the company took notice. That’s really how I got my start doing this evangelism gig. So, what better to post now than another changelog? However, unlike my past changelogs, this won’t just be a simple bullet list. I’m going to get into some of the more interesting items in the release one by one.
We’re just starting to roll out this new release. As always, we’ll be upgrading systems over a period of time, so if you don’t get the update right away, please be patient.
We hear complaints about the speed of the beta from time to time. Fortunately we have some superstar developers dedicated to optimization. In this latest release, there have been some good performance gains. You should notice the preview pane (the message reading area below the message list) loads faster. We also did some work to make tab switching a bit more speedy. We even did a bit of work on the compose message tab. In addition, message sending should be much faster, particularly if you’re sending to a large number of recipients.
Lastly, we had a look under the hood and took care of a nasty issue where your computer would sometimes hang for a bit while you were in the middle of composing that letter to the Y-Mail Yahoo! Group.
Not enough? Never fear. Our superstar DHTML gurus are hard at work on the next release, working to cut down the start up time of Yahoo! Mail Beta.
The welcome page has a welcome addition: the weather! The top of the welcome page now displays your local weather. Even better, the location is taken directly from your Yahoo! location preference. You can select other locations as well by clicking on the city name.
You do use Yahoo! Calendar, don’t you? Well, good news then. The calendar strip in Yahoo! Mail Beta now allows you to set reminders when adding and editing calendar events.
One usability complaint we received had to do with search results. When viewing search results, it wasn’t always clear that something had happened when you deleted a message (we update the location column, but that’s too subtle). Now we strikethrough the from, subject and date to let you know the message has been moved to the trash.
Yes, it’s true…we’re not perfect. To atone, we’ve gone back and tried to fix some annoyances people may have been seeing in the previous release.
And speaking of annoyances, if you’re an Internet Explorer user and you hate hearing all the clicks while you’re using Yahoo! Mail Beta, raise your hand. You’re not alone, we don’t like them either. So we did some work in this release to decrease the number of click sounds you hear when using the beta. We didn’t entirely eliminate them (we’re still working on that), so if you want to disable the clicks for good in Internet Explorer, see our earlier post on disabling clicks in Internet Explorer or our help page, Can I turn off the “click” sounds I hear?.
We also fixed an issue in the spam folder where the “To” column wasn’t showing up, even if you’d configured your preferences to display it. My man Kenneth emailed me about this very problem just last week. See Kenneth, I told you we fixed it. ;)
Also fixed is an issue that’s near and dear to my heart, using Cmd-w on a Mac to close tabs in Yahoo! Mail Beta. Previously this shortcut closed the browser tab immediately. In the new release, the shortcut closes the mail tab instead, just like Ctrl-w does on a PC.
We’ve added Windows Vista to the list of supported operating systems. No more seeing the “rough seas” page for Vista users!
Lastly, if you’ve explicitly set a reply to address, you may notice that it’s being ignored when sending mail. Not anymore! We fixed that one too (my fault, I think that was actually my bug).
I can’t say that I speak any of these languages, but the important news is that Yahoo! Mail Beta does. We’ve added support for five new languages in this release: Mexican Spanish, Spanish for the US, Argentinean Spanish, Indonesian and Malay.
Did you know that every quarter we have a hack day at Yahoo!? We do and Yahoo!’s on the mail team have been representing well. What is hack day? We get 24 hours to take an idea and turn it into something that can be demoed in front of several executives and fellow employees. This release sees one of the mail team hacks moving into the product.
The hack (I guess it’s actually a feature now since it’s in the product) allows you to quickly navigate through your messages using the keyboard. I know, you can already use the keyboard to move up and down your message list. Well, imagine if you took that and put it on steroids. You’d end up with Darren’s Extended Navigation Hack.
It works like this. Ctrl+Shift+Up Arrow and Ctrl+Shift+Down Arrow allow you to move up and down your message list. But unlike just using the Up and Down Arrow keys on their own, using Ctrl+Shift with the arrow tells Yahoo! Mail Beta to go to the next/previous message with the same subject. Handy, right? Well, it gets better.
Press Ctrl+Alt+Shift+Up Arrow (or Down Arrow, doesn’t matter) and you’ll get a dialog box allowing you to configure how the extended navigation works. You can select to navigate by subject (messages with the same base subject), by flagged messages (jump from one flagged message to the next), by unread messages (jump between unread messages, really handy for finding that one unread message in your 20,000 message Inbox) and by messages from a sender (useful for jumping between messages sent by your favorite Yahoo! Mail Evangelist).
See…and you thought hacking was a bad thing.
Is that it?
It might sound like we took an awful long time to get those changes out, but that’s not all we’ve been working on. Our engineers have been hard at work on IM integration and it’s awesome. So awesome that I’m going to need another post to do it the justice it deserves. So keep your eyes open in the near future for a big post about one of the most exciting new features ever to come to Yahoo! Mail.
If you can’t wait, here’s some external posts from the unveiling we did at the Web 2.0 Conference:
- Techcrunch: Single Ajax Interface For Yahoo Mail & IM Coming
- CNET News.com: Yahoo to embed instant messaging in e-mail
- Download Squad: Yahoo! Mail to get integrated IM
Yahoo! Mail Beta Evangelist
Since you started to use All New Yahoo! Mail, you’ve probably noticed a small bespectacled, geeky sort of character popping up around the place, in various nifty outfits.
Who is he?
His name is Liam. No, he’s not named after the Oasis frontman, or Tony Blair’s son for that matter. In fact, some simple Countdown-style letter juggling will reveal to you the reason for his name. I don’t really want to go into his origins – it’s complex, emotional and shrouded in mystery. All we really know is that he arrived with the All New Yahoo! Mail and he’s here to help.
What does he want? Why is he here?
Liam’s sole purpose is to help people use All New Yahoo! Mail. Here at Yahoo! we aim to design everything to be entirely intuitive in its simplicity but we also appreciate that this version of Yahoo! Mail is quite a departure from the old one. So, if you are having any problems finding ways to do anything, Liam is often on hand to provide hints and tips to help you through. He’ll also appear here and there to point out new features or highlight ways you can use existing features better, all so that you get the best out the service. Think of him as a signpost to useful information about Yahoo! Mail.
Is he slowing down my load time?
No, absolutely not. You’ll notice that Liam appears as you log in, typically showcasing his latest trick (currently shadow boxing in a pair of lilac shorts). He’s just there to fill the space and entertain you while your inbox quickly loads – like a warm up act before the main event. As we work to improve New Yahoo! Mail that load time will become so brief that Liam will lose his spot there altogether. However, in the meantime please enjoy – or at least put up with – his antics, safe in the knowledge that he’s not slowing you down.
Where can I find him?
If you need help and Liam’s nowhere to be seen, you can always go to him. Just visit the Overview by clicking Help then selecting Yahoo! Mail Overview from the dropdown. Or click here�to go there now.