Alpha Release: Shipping Bits and Atoms
Over the last few weeks, we've been working hard to get the first ever Mailpile Alpha release out of the house. It's been an interesting several months, replete with successes, delays, wins and complexities - but we've made it.
This is an Alpha release. That means that it is not intended for production systems, it is not intended for widespread use, and most importantly, we expect it to break.
In the software industry, teams ship Alpha releases to show that they have a real technology, and that it's actually a good one. In some circles it's referred to as a Minimum Viable Product. The Alpha is then augmented and expanded on until it's got all the features it's expected to have for a full release, at which point a Beta is released to say "try using this, and let us know what breaks and how." When all the bugs are squished, the final production release is shipped.
So we're on step one of that journey now. We're very excited about what we have to show you, although we do feel the need to restate: this is only for seasoned technologists at the moment. As a result, there is no easy installation process yet. This is not a bug - this is an intentional step we're taking to make sure people don't get hurt. Enough caveats? Good.
The full details of the Mailpile Alpha release are in the release notes, but some highlights include:
- Modern HTML5-based interface design
- An original typeface "Mailpile" (still under development)
- Deeply integrated PGP support for secure transmission of e-mails
- UI feedback of encryption & signatures
- A fast, extensible custom search engine
- Integrated SPAM-filtering support
- Translations to around 30 languages (some are partially done)
We hope that you'll dip your toes in and tell us what you think. Your feedback is very much needed, as we need to understand where our users think we should take the project. This is why, in February, we are going to launch the long-awaited community site so that Mailpile community members (those who donated $23 or more!) can start to vote on various details and guide our development process.
But wait, there's more! Over the last weekend, thanks to an awesome bunch of volunteers in Reykjavík, we finally got the physical perks shipped. If you haven't received your perk, chances are it's just stuck in the tubes somewhere - you know what snail-mail is like.
So without further ado, we present Mailpile Alpha!
*** This picture will be explained later :)