11. September 2008

si.Mail auto configuration, more thoughts

So if I continue yesterday’s thought on auto configuration (AC in the rest of the post), then there seems to be a big problem – updating AC file. At first I thought on just checking si.Mail’s homepage when creating new account if newer version of AC file is available, but this poses another problem, getting this information from ISPs and/or mail service providers. This would be tedious work and won’t be ideal. There should be another way.

Finally it came to me. Why not do it like DomainKeys, and spf records are implemented. Use DNS TXT record.  So In layman’s terms, we add new TXT record. Something along example.com. IN TXT “mailAC=http[s]://path_to_AC_file”. You are probably asking why AC couldn’t be put directly into the TXT record the main reason is, it’s too big and thus it would be hard to edit.

So how would this work? si.Mail extracts domain part of e-mail address and fetches TXT records from nameserver for that domain. If it founds correct TXT record it downloads the file and auto configures everything that’s needed to send and receive e-mail messages.

Now imagine that you are a hosting provider using Plesk, CPanel or any other software. (Usually all domains you host have the same type of e-mail access) You just add to your DNS template url to one AC file and all e-mail accounts for all domains you are hosting can be configured from a SINGLE file. Also you have complete control of AC file so if anything changes you can modify AC yourself without bugging anyone. This is also ideal for small companies where users can configure e-mail client by themselves.

09. September 2008

New account creation window mock up

Because I’ve gotten quite a few complaints that account creation wizard is troublesome for some users I decided to change account creation drastically. si.Mail already has some sort of automatic account configuration, but I’ve decided to take it to the next level.

With current automatic account configuration you still have to go through entire wizard although that wouldn’t be necessary. At the moment there are some fields that could be auto configured but they are not.

Account creation mock up

As you can see at the mock up above in reality for auto configuration usually only first 3 fields are necessary and sometimes the 4th one, in cases where user name doesn’t equal any part of e-mail address (user name field would be hidden by default and would be displayed only if necessary). If there won’t be any data for auto configuration, user will automatically get the same window as if it would have clicked on Advanced settings.

So what is your opinion on this?