There are many Internet users who find it inconvenient to access mail from an e-mail client, preferring instead to access their mail from a Web browser. They may be using a device like WebTV and accessing everything from a Web browser, or they may be corporate road warriors who have Web access but no e-mail access. For these users, Emurl acts as a bridge between a Web browser and a mail server without the need of an e-mail package like Eudora.
Emurl has two main audiences: ISPs that want to offer electronic-mail access via the Internet and corporate system administrators that want to support remote road warriors who don’t necessarily have access to their own mailboxes and need a more generic way of accessing their mail. Emurl is middleware that grabs messages from a POP3 server and sends it to the user via the Web server accessed from a Web browser anywhere on the Internet. When the user responds to mail, the message is sent from the browser to Emurl, which then routes it to the POP3 mail server.
Emurl is middleware that grabs messages from a POP3 server and sends it to the user via the Web server accessed from a Web browser anywhere on the Internet. When the user responds to mail, the message is sent from the browser to Emurl, which then routes it to the POP3 mail server.
Most users won’t know that they’re using Emurl; as classic middleware, it’s designed to be configurable to the point of invisibility. The Web pages generated by Emurl can be configured to look like other pages from the same Web site: ISPs and corporations can place their logos and proprietary layouts on Emurl-generated pages, and ISPs can add banners for online advertising, as Seattle Lab includes the HTML code for page layouts. The Banner Editor, a separate Windows application, specifies the URL of the banner, when it runs, and the billing rate. In addition, a signature can be attached to every message handled by Emurl: an ISP may want to add a message that says something like “This mail from Internet.com: Your total source for Internet news.”
In terms of management, Emurl is relatively easy to set up. Most Emurl management is performed from a Web browser, so it can be done from anywhere on the Internet. You can perform mass deletions based on how long an account has been dormant. In addition, you can perform mass installations or deletions from data stored in a text file. If you’re installing Emurl on an intranet, you can let users sign up for their own accounts, but most ISPs and corporations will run a closed system with usernames and passwords assigned by a system administrator.
For end users, Emurl offers easy access to mail, but doesn’t offer the same level of functionality as offered by an e-mail client like Eudora. Emurl manages MIME attachments that can be loaded on the remote machine. The biggest benefit to users to that Emurl can be set up to gather mail from up to 20 POP3 mail servers, giving users a single consolidated mailbox. When a user received a message, they can reply to the author, reply to all recipients of the mail, forward the message to another user, redirect the message to another user while maintaining the original Reply-To: field, move the message to trash, and move the message to a folder. By default, Emurl includes four folders: Keep me, In, Out, and Trash. You can also create your own folders, but you can’t route message based on filters into these folders automatically. In addition, Emurl maintains an address book for each user.
Limited to ISAPI on NT
Not every Web site can take advantage of Emurl, since it has a rather narrow focus in terms of what Web servers it will work with. Emurl runs only under Microsoft Windows NT 4.0 in conjunction with Microsoft Internet Information Server (IIS) 3.0 or better, or O’Reilly’s WebSite Pro. It relies on Windows technology as an extension to IIS via an ISAPI DLL. In theory, one could use it with any Web server supporting ISAPI on the NT platform, but this limitation essentially means that Emurl can’t work with the Apache HTTP Server or Netscape Enterprise Server. It will work with any mail server that supports SMTP or POP3, but at the present Emurl does not support IMAP4. Any Web browser supporting frames (including Netscape Navigator and Microsoft Internet Explore) can retrieve mail via Emurl.
Offering Web access to e-mail is not a new concept in the electronic mail world, as some leading e-mail packages – like CommuniGate Pro — already offer this capabilities as part of their core e-mail server. And many ISPs and corporations will blanch at the list price of $499, which is as much or sometimes more than their e-mail server costs. But if the price doesn’t bother you and you see the need for allowing e-mail access to Web browsers, Emurl is an excellent tool.
Pros: End-user tools are excellent; Easy to set up and configure; No tools for importing usernames and password from anything other than a text file; Good administration tools
Cons: Works only under NT in conjunction with IIS or WebSite Pro; No support for IMAP4; $499 is a steep price when other mail servers offer the same capabilities free of charge
Version Reviewed: 2.0
Reviewed by: Kevin Reichard
Last Updated: 2/14/01
Date of Original Review: 6/21/99