We’ve been talking a lot about our goal of turning webmail into a really fast web-based email client. We have two projects underway right now, Harbinger and Mercury, both of which are aimed at tackling our speed challenges. With Harbinger we’re rewriting our webmail client using what most people refer to as Web 2.0 technologies, like Ajax. With Mercury, we’re rewriting a lot of our backend software infrastructure. Together, the front end and the back end will ultimately provide a ‘better than desktop’ experience—at least that is the goal.
Both projects are huge and will be ongoing for months and even years. But yesterday, we started releasing the first speed related improvements associated with Mercury.
Here are the details:
We’re replacing our current IMAP server with Dovecot, an open source based IMAP server. Dovecot is much faster at IMAP sort commands, which are used every time a folder is displayed. This will especially improve message listing speeds when viewing folders with many email messages. The improvement will be implemented server by server, with the first server change on April 19th (yesterday).
Implementing Dovecot is a major step in the right direction for us and if you’re a webmail user, you’ll see some pretty decent speed improvements over the next few weeks. This isn’t the release of Harbinger or Mercury though, just a step in the right direction.
Thanks to Bill and his team, especially Matt, for making this happen. And a special thanks to Timo Sirainen, the creator of Dovecot, who worked with us to make some improvements we needed in a timely fashion.