Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Joys of Gmail's Basic HTML mode

Don't get me wrong, Gmail is great. It works really well, it makes using desktop mail clients a pointless endeavor, and overall I love it dearly.

Unfortunately, despite google working hard at making its javascript magic work everywhere, they don't quite succeed. Apart from weird browser-related issues that crop up once in awhile, its basic user interaction model is awkward. Pressing the back button creates a storm of loading screens, and it's never quite clear if the "Refresh" button does anything.

Thankfully, Gmail also provides a "Basic HTML" mode. In that mode, there is no client-side code being run, and all the pages are fetched from the server. Despite that, it is always just as fast as the standard mode (even faster on very big email threads, in my experience). Plus, all the usual browser interactions (like the back button, or hitting refresh) work exactly as expected.

I've been using this mode exclusively for almost a year now, and it is simply fabulous. Recently they have added email auto-completion on the From: field, which was the only standard feature I was missing in it.

There is a link to turn it on at the bottom of the screen, and it then provides an option to set it as the default. Oh, and did I mention that there are no ads to be found anywhere in the basic mode?