Roundcube Webmail Logo

The developers of my favourite webmail client – Roundcube, have just announced the official release for version 0.3, which brings with it a bunch of new features and a whole heap of tweaks.

Probably the most interesting addition is plug-in support. Previously, any extra features required patching the main source of the application, which generally resulted in messy and hard-to-maintain code, which was very tricky to upgrade. Now though, there is a complete plug-in API. Hopefully this will mean a veritable deluge of useful add-ons in the not-too-distant future.

Roundcube's main mail view

The main mail view in Roundcube 0.3

For now though, I’ll happily make do with the default installation, as it already provides a handy selection of features. It may not be as versatile as SquirrelMail, but it is certainly better looking…!

My old Draytek 2800G router is on the way out, – it struggles to make it more than a couple of hours without resetting itself, even after reflashing the firmware. As a result, I’ve ordered one of Billion‘s new 7800N series devices to replace it. I did look at the current Draytek device (the Vigor 2820n) but it didn’t quite meet my needs, which were:

  1. 802.11n wireless
  2. Gigabit switch
  3. Built-in ADSL modem

The Draytek 2820n for some reason has only a single gigabit Ethernet port, which – seeing as I’m fairly often transferring pretty large files around – isn’t entirely helpful. The fact that the 2820n is pretty near twice the price of the Billion 7800n also was a point against it. Yes, I know the Draytek has a number of other features, such as VPNs that the Billion omits, but in my experience unless you’re working with lots of other sites using Draytek kit, it can be a pain to get things talking to each other.

In an ideal world, the new router would also support the 802.11n 5GHz standard, but as with anything technological you’ll end up waiting forever for the perfect product!

The 7800N actually arrived at work today, but since I’ve been recovering from ferry induced sleep-loss, I’ll be collecting it tomorrow. It’s actually only just been launched in the UK, so there seem to be very few reports on using it with UK ADSL connections, so I’ll put some notes up here in a few days.

Xara (now owned by German company Magix) have just released a new version of their flagship Xtreme product. Upgrades for both the standard and pro editions are available, and a comprehensive list of changes is available from this Google Docs document.

Over at TalkGraphics, it’s getting something of a mixed reaction; those who use Xtreme primarily for its vector graphics capabilities to create artwork are somewhat miffed at the apparent paucity of new vector-related features, but other users are happy to see such longstanding requests as a spell-checker, and better object/layer management tools.

Personally, I can understand both viewpoints; historically, Xara was very much focussed on the digital artist, but the last few updates seem to be an attempt at broadening its user-base to include basic website design and desktop publishing. If it brings in the funding to continue development, and doesn’t get in the way of creating artwork, then I’m all for it. Let’s hope the next version has some more groundbreaking vector-related improvements though.

Interestingly it’s one of the first software titles I’ve seen that specifically mentions Windows 7 support – I know that much everything that was Vista compatible should work under 7, but it’s always good to be reassured.

I’ve managed to avoid starting on the redesign of wightmusic.com by playing with Xtreme 5 for long enough… back to work it is…!

WordPress has just announced the official release of version 2.7  (codenamed Coltrane) of their blogging / content-management system. I’ve just upgraded both this site and the DataSwift one to the latest and greatest, with -so far- no issues at all!

The administration interface (known as the Dashboard) has been completely redesigned and is now a lot more customisable. It should also reduce the number of steps involved in carrying out everyday tasks.

Xara Xtreme

Although it’s been out for a couple of months now, there’s only a few reviews cropping up for the latest version of Xara Xtreme. For anyone considering buying/upgrading, the members over at the TalkGraphics forums have been keeping track of reviews as and when they find them.

Currently, the following reviews are known:

On the whole, the reviews are pretty positive – the main areas of criticism are in relation to the limited capabilities of the new 3D tools and the photo manipulation, and also some issues with importing from other design applications (but that’s always a bit of an arms race anyway).

Xara (now owned by German developer Magix) have just released a preview of the new version of their flagship Xtreme Pro. Version 4 (available in both Pro and non-Pro variants) has a bunch of new stuff, but the best things I’ve found so far are:

  • Automatically flows text around shapes
  • Integrated 3D extrusion tool (essentially offers most of what Xara 3D does)
  • Much improved photo editing tools
  • A very handy webpage export tool – ideal for quickly creating static pages, or for proto-typing designs
  • A new, “Very High Quality” display setting, handy for getting even cleaner bitmap exports
  • Multi-core processor support, – not that my current machine can take advantage of this, but it should speed things up on all those newer boxes out there

The upgrade from the previous version of Xtreme Pro (3.2) is currently a very reasonable $49, which, after delivery and other bits, comes to around $69 in total. In my opinion it’s the best update to Xara in since Pro was released.

I’ve been following the Roundcube Webmail Project for a while now, and yesterday evening it reached 0.1-stable – the first officially stable release. It’s an AJAX-based webmail system, running on PHP, with preferably MySQL for a backend database (although others are available). It’s pretty cool, looking much nicer than Squirrelmail (although it’s not as feature-rich – yet), and it runs quite speedily too. I’m wondering if it might be a good option for an internal-only email system for a school.