Rob Norris on the Gmail API 

Rob Norris, a devops guy at FastMail, on the new Gmail API:

My response was “oh, its about time”.

To understand its purpose, and why its not (yet) a replacement for IMAP, you have to understand how it fits with the rest of the integration points Gmail offers to developers.

He goes on to explain about Gmail’s contextual gadgets, why the Gmail API is not a replacement for IMAP, and how FastMail solved the difficult problem of creating a fast web interface for IMAP. Read his whole post, it’s good.

I think the last thing the email ecosystem needs is another proprietary API for interfacing with a popular email system. There are good reasons why someone might want to switch away from Gmail, like the design direction, privacy concerns, or the lack of customer service.1 But if I come to depend on tools built around a proprietary API, it will be difficult for me to switch to a different email provider.

  1. Yes, you can sign up for Google Apps to get support, but then you lose your address (and have to get a domain name), and have all the overhead of having a Google Apps account. This is way too complicated for the average user who only wants to be able to talk to a human when their account is hacked. [return]

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