Postler shouldn't download attachments along with new messages

Bug #727321 reported by landroni
18
This bug affects 4 people
Affects Status Importance Assigned to Milestone
Postler
New
Medium
Unassigned

Bug Description

Currently Postler automatically downloads headers, bodies and attachments when checking and receiving new mail. Although it makes sense to download headers and bodies together (to improve app speed), automatically downloading attachments could be problematic in some cases.

This can be an issue when big attachments (think 2-3 up to 10MB) are present in new messages. Then Postler could be particularly slow in receiving and displaying new mail (not even considering slow or dial-up internet connections). To make an analogy, webmails (Gmail, Yahoo! Mail and the ilk) are fast because they "fetch" the message without any attachments and leave it up to the user to download them if needed. Opera Mail, Opera's e-mail client, is fast because by default it does not download any attachments.

There are many reasons why one wouldn't want to automatically download all incoming attachments, such as internet speed or disk space. In most cases Postler couldn't know if the user actually wants to automatically download attachments, so it might make sense to disable this behaviour. What do you think?

landroni (landroni)
tags: added: attachments
removed: attachements
Revision history for this message
Sergio Spinatelli (spinatelli) wrote :

I completely agree on that, Postler should definitely download attachments only when asked (maybe when clicking on the attachment?)

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Allen Lowe (lallenlowe) wrote :

This is essentially impossible with our current backend, I have been thinking about writing a new custom backend for Postler however...

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blchinezu (blchinezu) wrote :

In my opinion the automatic attachment download shouldn't be removed but rather presented to the user as an option in the account settings.

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David Jaša (dejv) wrote :

For mobile laptop users, both kinds of behaviour are good -- at different times. Like when on broadband, it's great to get attachments downloaded so one is able to work with them when offline. OTOH, when using GPRS, every saved byte counts, so it makes sense to download just headers and everything else on demand.

Maybe it would make sense to:
- develop some heuristics to decide, if postler should download just headers, header and body or full message
- download headers first so user can see his/her emails as soon as possible and then download bodies/attachments in background.

Revision history for this message
Christian Dywan (kalikiana) wrote :

There are two cases here basically where attachments and large messages would be undesirable:

1. slow GPRS, slow dial-up
2. expensive UMTS or WCDMA, per-minute or per-kilobyte fixed line

So ideally we can ask for example connman for the data plan. It has the information but I don't know if/ how applications can find that out.

Alternatively a ‘Don't fetch attachments automatically’ option could be provided.

The current behaviour should remain the default in any case. I expect that in the future we can also fetch headers separately, but that may not happen soon.

tags: added: indexing
Revision history for this message
landroni (landroni) wrote :

Perhaps a third case:
- very large attachments (even if the network connection is not extremely slow, case 1, or expensive, case 2)

What about providing a checkbox option ‘Don't fetch automatically attachments bigger than ..’ (and provide several options in a combobox, say 100KB, 250KB, 500KB, 1MB, 2MB, 5MB)? Would this be unnecessarily complicated?

When I reported this bug my main concern was that Postler could start indiscriminately downloading big to huge attachments, hogging my bandwidth and disk space. In principle, I'm not against its downloading relatively small attachments, and I would actually welcome it. So a 'Don't fetch bigger than' option could be very handy.

A small remark regarding connman: it may easily fail to detect the case of slow DSL connections. The Wifi connection at my university is sometimes slower than the very slow dial-up connection that I had in my infancy at home. I sure wouldn't want Postler to start downloading big attachments on this connection. :)

Revision history for this message
Christian Dywan (kalikiana) wrote :

Specifying in steps how large attachments sounds tredious. You don't want to keep an eye on the size of your attachments, write up a table and switch depending on where you are and perhaps after having performed rudimentary performance measurements of the network, depending on hour and day...

Actually I wonder about Postler remembering if you disabled attachment fetching *for this particular network*, or offer to do so.

Changed in postler:
importance: Undecided → Medium
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