A word on the radio silence
If you’re observant you will have noticed that we tweeted more than two weeks ago that this release was “just a day away”; it turns out exuberant optimism was mocking (and possibly cursing) us. I’ve virtually worked around the clock since then, and we are still not quite there, but enough is enough and it’s time to open the kimono.
Before we go any further, please bear in mind this is not yet public. It’s a preview for the blog – for you – and if there’s any thoughts or opinions you have, please let me know (good or bad), and we can factor them in very quickly.
The New Name
Late last year you gave us a sackful – two sackfuls – of wonderful suggestions for a new name, inspired by the great fear that the benevolent beast of GTD might one day stamp on us for using its name. Despite ranging from the fanciful to the downright bizarre, we ended up going with a fairly straight replacement: ActiveInbox.
The one thing that matters is…. the name change does not signal anything uncomfortable. The basic feature set will remain exactly the same, Plus users will glide effortlessly to the new name/website, and the essential purpose is still to use GTD concepts to manage email.
It simply means we can tell the world about what we’re doing.
The New Website
Naturally, with a new name there is a new website. This is the work of Pete and it looks amazing.
It is isn’t finished yet, we’ve still got to move over the blog (which is still working on gtdinbox.com).
Your feedback/requests/gut-reactions here are much welcomed.
As long-term GTDInbox users, I think you will spot the improvements very quickly. Therefore I will be brief!
Upgraded Reviews Sidebar
You requested we restore the one-click ability to see all Active items (all Status/deadline emails in a project/context); and so we have. Also, as many of you asked for it, we’ve reintroduced the exclusion of all S/Finished emails from the search results. We’ve also cleaned up the UI so it feels more sturdy.
New Conversation Sidebar and Horizontal Action Bar
Our goal with the conversation view was to make it tidier and easier to spot, at a glance, what is going on with a conversation (its status, its schedule, its category). And to make it easier to expand in the future with new functionality.
Pinning Labels for Fast Processing
Amongst the new functionality is the ability to ‘pin’ labels to the UI for rapid selection. This is very useful for processing, where you might be focused on, or experiencing a lot of email around, a small set of projects or contexts at any given time.
The Preview popup in the inbox has been given a visual overhaul.
New ‘File’ Button in the header
And, in the Inbox, search results, and conversations there is a new ‘File’ button in the header; for easy GTD status/project/schedule filing.
New ‘Related Items’ and ‘Previous Emails’
The big, BIG new addition is Related Items. When in a conversation, you can click the button in the Conversation Sidebar to see all emails related to the one you are viewing, including outstanding actions and exchanged files.
It works by showing you all emails associated with the current contact and/or labels (e.g. project).
As a side thought, it is also interesting at a high level, because it lets you see the connections between emails (“across” emails), rather than just looking down from your archive or inbox.
With equal utility, you can now see “Previous Emails” (another kind of related emails) when you write a reply or compose a new email; so that you can see recent discussions to make small talk or check on progress, see if you have any history whatsoever (if you have lots of incoming email) and check there are no outstanding actions you have forgotten to do.
Improved “Send and File” and New “Label Suggestions”
For Plus users, the “Send and…” button has been overhauled to “Send and File” with a cleaner UI, so that every time you send an email or a reply, you can update the status with ease, keeping the system accurate at all times. And, there is a new ‘Label Suggestions’ feature that suggests categorization automatically for a new conversation (using previous labels for a contact, and text in the conversation itself – we are still refining this!).
A Quick Note About the Status Button Updates…
You will notice the biggest change is that we have removed the “Horizontal Action Bar” (the one with the blue Status buttons in the conversation view).
This is possibly a little controversial, but we do believe the new UI is the right direction. It’s cleaner and can be expanded more in the future. However, it does add more clicks in certain cases.
We’re very much listening on this, and I think we have a way to go to get it exactly right.
In the meantime, the existing buttons are still available from the Preferences, by checking the checkbox “Classic Horizontal Action Bar in Conversations” and reloading Gmail. But, please do not do this until you have given the new UI a chance! And if you do go back, let us know why in the new community forum.
For the last month and a half we’ve been dedicating all our (still limited!) resources to getting to this milestone; so that we can reduce our mental/work clutter and focus on just a single product and its improvements. Now we have reached the milestone, we are restructuring to dedicate the majority of our time on support – to be support heavy – and next we will be expanding the team to increase development capacity for new features.
At the heart of this change of direction is our new Community Forum. This is designed to replace the existing forum (which was riddled with spam), UserVoice (which was useful but limited in what it could do) and to an extent, email (which is wonderful, but not effective for group discussion and helping lots of people at once!).
One Last Thing
Thank you! Your support has been the only thing that has enabled us to keep updating and evolving ActiveInbox (and GTDInbox before it). I am deeply humbled by it all, and I’m very excited about what we can do this year (and beyond!) with the momentum you have given us.
Please go to the new website to install it for Firefox or Chrome: http://www.activeinboxhq.com/install.html
This was written by Andy Mitchell