David Harris: Pegasus Mail version 4.50 released:
Version 4.50, August 2008
Sometimes, you simply have to bite the bullet and get going on a task you know is
overdue, but which is scary in its magnitude... Welcome to Pegasus Mail v4.5.
I expect most users of Pegasus Mail v4.4 will look at v4.5 and say "what's the big
deal?", because on the surface, very little appears to have changed - certainly not
enough to suggest that it might have taken two years of quite difficult - at times,
even harrowing development. Pegasus Mail has been around for a very, very long time
- the Windows version sent its first messages in 1992 - and a heritage that long can
become a serious problem over time. In the case of Pegasus Mail, the primary
problem I have had for years has been that it was developed using an ancient, but
wonderful version of Borland Inc's C compiler, version 5.02. Unfortunately, Borland C
has been out of development for many years, and by 2006 it was finally becoming
clear that its days were very numbered. The solution was to move the 460,000 line
Pegasus Mail codebase to a more modern compiler - in this case, Microsoft Visual
Studio 2003 (and subsequently Visual Studio 2008). On its own this would have been
a big job, but when the code you're moving is carrying around as much historical
baggage as something like Pegasus Mail, it gets huge. Of the 460,000 lines of code
that make up Pegasus Mail, more than 100,000 have had to be modified in some way
during the process of modernizing and moving it to Visual C++, and the testing
required has been just unbelievable.
On the positive side, the move to a modern compiler has resulted in the fixing of
hundreds of minor bugs, and creates a platform for future development that will allow
Pegasus Mail to exist as a viable project for a number of years, so it was definitely
worthwhile, even though it took as much effort as it did.
It's not all porting and bug fixes though - Pegasus Mail v4.5 does have a number of
small but worthwhile new capabilities:
· Transcript support Mercury/32, Pegasus Mail's mail server companion product,
can generate what are known as "transcripts" - reports showing the time and details
of the delivery of a message you send to someone else that can be used as pretty
reliable proof of delivery. Pegasus Mail now has an option on its message editor's
Special page to enable requests for Mercury transcripts on a message-by-message
basis, and you can specify that the option should be on by default in the Messages
and replies preference page. The option has no effect and is harmless if you do not
· HTML line drawing The message editor now has a new Draw line button that
allows you to draw horizontal lines in your HTML messages. When you reply to HTML
messages, the same line style is now also used to separate your text from the text of
the message to which you are replying.
· Full justification available in editor The message editor now supports full
justification of text in your messages. Choosing full justification will force your
message to be sent as HTML.
· Vista-ready help system The program now has a new help system (you're using
it to read this, in fact) which avoids the bugs introduced by Microsoft in the Windows
Vista operating system.
· New reply options The way the program initiates replies to messages has been
overhauled. If you press , you will get a normal reply using the reply-options
dialog. If you press
, however, you'll get a "quick reply" - a reply with no reply
options dialog using the last settings you used. Similarly, pressing will start a
"reply-to-all" without an options dialog using the last settings you used. Notice also
that the reply button now has a down-pointing arrow at its right-hand side: clicking
this arrow will open a menu allowing you to generate any of these types of reply, as
well as to change the default behaviour of the button itself.
· Signature top-posting You can now instruct the program to insert your
signature above the text to which you are replying when you generate replies. This
practice is called top posting, and to old-fashioned people like me it's hideous, but
who am I to argue with a new generation? . Enable signature top-posting in
the Messages and replies preferences page.
· Spell checker works on the subject line When you spell-check a message, the
spell checker now also checks the subject line.
· HTML generation and rendering improved As always, where HTML is
concerned, the never-ending process of "keeping up with the Joneses" continues in
this version of Pegasus Mail, with better rendering of HTML mail, and considerably
better generation across the board.
· Mailbox maintenance utility Pegasus Mail now includes a utility program called
MBXMAINT.EXE, which allows both commandline-driven and interactive maintenance
of Pegasus Mail mailboxes from outside the program. MBXMAINT can be used to move
mailboxes, check and repair folders, and to compress deleted space from folders. To
use MBXMAINT, simply run the EXE file without any parameters.