SurgeWeb Introduction

Surgeweb is the high performance web based user interface for surgemail users. It's core design goals are to provide a modern web email interface that is:

responsive, efficient, customisable/extensible, maintainable

This page describes some of the things you should know about surgeweb, particularly compared to the existing netwin webmail. For starters this is what the default interface looks like:

Login page Main interface

Why is it better? Here are some key features that may convince you:

Key user features

  • Much faster and more responsive
  • Address autocompletion
  • 'Drag and drop' message moving and copying New!
  • Allows sending of HTML formatted messages from any browser
  • Messages are automatically saved as drafts in background
  • Automatic image downsizing when emailing large images
  • Attachment upload in the background while continuing to edit email
  • Audio notification when new mail arrives
  • Support for collapsible, nested folders
  • Improved support for of display of HTML messages
  • Ability to mark messages as unread
  • Support for popup window and tabbed modes for message display
  • Relogin to timed out sessions without losing messages you are currently editing
  • Keyboard shortcuts for most email processing operations

Key admininistrator features

  • Proper support for international character sets (multiple concurrently)
  • Support for multiple sessions on the same account
  • Easy to customise
  • Customisable at the global, domain or surgemail user group level
  • Lower bandwidth usage
  • Proper message redirect, as well as forward and forward(attach)
  • Ability to add advertising banner
  • Extend and customise without modifying core interface templates - much easier upgrades!

And what else?

SurgeWeb is setup with three interfaces:

Ajax: Fast responsive for faster computers - particularly on higher latency network connections
Basic: A traditional HTML interface for older computers
Mobile: An XHTML interface for small screen browsers

The ajax interface is the primary interface and uses modern web2 / ajax techniques to do much of the communication with the server in the background so that you do not have to wait for the server to respond to each request. You do need a relatively modern computer (approx less than 4 years old) to make effective use of the Ajax interface or it will appear sluggish as the client side processing will be slower than the server roundtrip delays. In the case of older computers it is recommended that the Basic (HTML) interface be used. The surgeweb Basic interface is much faster than the equivalent old Webmail HTML templates.

The use of either SurgeWeb interface uses less bandwidth that the old webmail templates. In addition to this http compression is used on all requests to the server reducing the bandwith usage even further. The Ajax interface does have a slightly higher initial bandwidth requirement than Basic interface, and Basic interface does have a slightly higher ongoing bandwidth requirement than the Ajax interface.

There are also some nice features to make use of higher bandwidth if it is available. One of these is inbox caching. SurgeWeb will download the first page of messages in the inbox and cache these client side for instant display when when a user selects a message. This can be optionally disabled (useful for people on modem lines) or messages in other folders can be optionally cached for instant display. This means the end user experience when dealing with messages that are cached is as responsive / if not more so than a normal desktop email client.

In addition to the design goals mentioned above, work on SurgeWeb has concentrated on making SurgeWeb a reliable and maintainable email client - most importantly when it comes to HTML messages. We have plans for further integrating the surgeplus and user cgi features, but are not yet sure on the final form that those will take. For now these are accessible as pages within an iframe in the SurgeWeb interface.

Work in progress

SurgeWeb does remain a "work in progress", with many features planned and on the wish list but still to be implemented. Very roughly in priority order these include:
   - Addressbook "properly integrated" (both existing webmail & directory based ) Partly done, more to come SOON:-)
   - Sorting and searching capabilities Partly done
   - Drag & drop message moving Done
   - Additions to allow multiple front end webmail servers connecting to backend imap server Done
   - Completion of html editor
   - And a host of others

Anyway, it must be about time for more serious feedback from the surgemail user community. Please let us know the things you do like, the things you don't like, and suggestions for how SurgeWeb can be improved and of course any outright bugs you find.

The NetWin team :-)