Manufacturer: 3R Soft, Inc.
Price: starts at $299 US for 30 users
Reviewer: Jason Kroll
E-mail changed the way we communicate, and now the Web has changed the way we e-mail. Web-based e-mail has numerous advantages over traditional e-mail: access from any web terminal, no need for e-mail client software (such as Pine, Elm or Mutt) and multi-platform support (users have the same interface on Linux as on any other platform). MailStudio 2000 is a web-based e-mail server from 3R Soft for Linux, Solaris, HP and DEC that provides web-based e-mail service for users. It is accessible through web browsers such as Netscape and also through POP3-based mail programs such as Eudora. It can even be implemented on top of existing POP3 servers to provide a local interface. Unlike many web-based e-mail servers, MailStudio 2000 apparently aims to be a quality, functionality-oriented e-mail utility, rather than a commercial excuse for running advertisements (though you can, if you must, put ads on MailStudio 2000). Three main elements of a web-based e-mail server are its interface to the users, its interface to the administrator and the technical features of the server.
The uniform user interface offers a number of traditional e-mail features, such as mailboxes and address books, as well as some things which are quite modern (or even trendy), such as the ability to send e-mail as HTML with italics and graphics and all of that bother. (This tends to annoy people, actually.) By default, MailStudio keeps Inbox, Sent and Trash folders, and you can apparently add as many as you like, which will be kept in the user's folder menu. The Options folder contains entries for changing your preferences, folders, external mail configuration (for POP3 servers), address book, signature, user information and password. There is also a Question & Answer board for the system and a User Search function for finding others. The last option is “Log off” which kills the encrypted cookies used for user authentication.
a bit pricy
In order to use MailStudio 2000, a user must have Java and cookies enabled. In addition, it seems to take a while to load, with a lot of flickering during initial contact. The software is constantly being developed, so maybe this flickering will go away soon. Everything else is simple, like any other mailer. People who don't like command lines, vi, or typing in general will like this entirely graphical user interface. MailStudio 2000 used to have multi-layer folders and address books, which I think is a neat idea, but they eliminated multi-layers because they weren't entirely cooperative with frames.
From an administrator's viewpoint, MailStudio 2000 has a number of good qualities. Installation is easy, and should take no more than a few minutes. Likewise, starting and stopping the server is quite simple with start and stop. Administrators can change the user interface just by changing the HTML files, making all sorts of customization possible, as well as advertisements if you really want them. (Well, it wouldn't be the Web without ads.) The client/server model of MailStudio is based on open standards, so it integrates easily with other software. As an example, user database and mail files can be automatically backed up by cron; the manual gives the cron entries for doing this. For normal management of these user database and mail files, MailStudio's intended interface is a web based menu which is accessed by logging in as sysop. The interface provides menus for user management, application, admission and admin's (system) preferences. Of these, the administrator's preferences menu has the important, system-wide, technical parameters.
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