Electronic Mail

Project Description
The project intends to create a Macintosh mail function transparently connected to other systems. The Macintosh user should be able to send and receive mail regardless of the remote system using an interface that follows Apple's Human Interface Guidelines. The link between the world and the Macintosh mail user is a Macintosh mail server. It manages mail for all the users' Macintoshes. It also stores mail for Macintosh users not currently reachable. To reach the goal, the mail server uses a communication protocol called SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) based on TCP/IP. Both of these protocols are well established and widely used.

Project Status
The system is currently in use at Lund University Computing Center and is in beta test at other sites. The choice of SMTP and TCP/IP has shown to be correct, also indicated by other projects currently under development using the same techniques, and not at least by the response from persons and departments all over the world.

We released a beta version to be used outside our University in different environments. This resulted in comments and suggestions of great value to the project.

We added some new features and released a final version last summer.

Improvements
The mail server now uses MacTCP (a TCP/IP-package from Apple Computer). It has considerably increased the reliability and performance of the mail server.

The functionality of the client part has increased, basically due to the following improvements:

The Future
The project seems to fill the need for a large number of universities and institutions all over the world for interchange of mail between Macintoshes and other systems. There is today no other system that fully fills these needs. Due to the massive response and contacts with national and international institutions (we are working on an English version) the software will probably be distributed free of charge beside from a small license fee to cover the administrative costs.

The mail system will also be a part of a an overall mail project at Lund University. Every employee at the University has been given an electronic mail address, and can be reached at that address. To achieve this goal the connection of Macintosh personal computers to the existing mail systems is important.

The project has also triggered a similar project for integrating IBM personal computers to existing mail systems. This project is sponsored by the Swedish National Board of Universities and Collages and the intention is to offer all Swedish Universities and Collages mail systems for integrating both IBM and Macintosh personal computers into existing mail systems.

Extensions
A natural extension of the project would be to extend the functionality of the software (not ordered by priority):

Also see the enclosed list (in Swedish).

Response
After the presentation of the project in the conference system and Wheels For the Mind Europe a lot of persons and departments has been in contact with us. It seems like there is a great need for a system like this, and we know that there are similar systems under development right now.

Experience
The project has definitely improved the competence at Lund University Computing Center, especially in communication software for the Macintosh, low level programming and integration between different network environments.

Equipment
In connection to the overall mail project at Lund University a Macintosh II and an EtherCard has been purchased by Lund University Computing Center as a mail server for the Macintoshes.

Exchange of Experiences
Our contacts with Apple has been to infrequent to really have any influence about our development. Often the problems we encountered has been to special for the competence found at Apple in Sweden, problems with MultiFinder, programming, and questions about Apples communication protocols. These problems should probably have been handed to Apple technical support in Cupertino. However, the world-wide conference system (usernet news) has also been of great value for us when we ran into trouble.

Recently Apple Sweden has brought Apple Developer Team in-house. What we have seen (regular mailings, bulletin board, distribution of APDA products, etc.) looks very promising. To bad it took so long to start this service in Sweden.
An idea is that every project group should have a contact at Apple who handles the contact between the project team and Apple. It's not easy to call Apple and track that special person down with the right competence, especially when the person is not the same from time to time

The cooperation between the projects has been nearly non existent. A suggestion is to have some sort of informal meeting once a month. This could be a media for exchanging information and experiences between the project teams, and thus decreasing the the length needed to complete a project. This could also unburden Apple in answering questions specific to programming and connected problems about hard- and software.

· Project presentation in a world-wide electronic conference system (usernet news).
· Presentation at MacinLund (the local Macintosh user group), February 1989.
· Presentation at MacWorld Expo in Amsterdam, April 1989.
· Article in Wheels For the Mind Europe, issue no 2, April 1989.
· MacLund 89 Expo at the Academic Society in Lund, September 1989.
· The project was lectured on a conference regarding data communication at Lund University Computing Center, November 1989.

Project leaders:
Christer Kjörning
Roland Månsson

Project staff:
Joakim Bengtson
Lars Sigebo
Lund University Computing Center
Box 783
S-220 07 Lund
(electronic mail: macpost@macpost.lu.se)