March 8th 2014 - Pegasus Mail v4.70


Pegasus Mail v4.70 is yet another interim release. Internally, this version of the program is actually very different from any previous version, and is well on the way to being a version 5 build, but it's been a while since we've had a new version and there's a clear need for the new OpenSSL-based SSL code I've developed for version 5 so I decided it was time to freeze a checkpoint in the development and bring it out.

OpenSSL support   Pegasus Mail now uses the industry-standard OpenSSL libraries to handle secure Internet connections. A major internal change, this should allow Pegasus Mail to connect to almost any SSL-secured server.

IMPORTANT NOTE:  if you are using SSL connections to a version of Mercury earlier than the v4.8 release that parallels this release of Pegasus Mail, then you may need to turn on a new option in the Pegasus Mail SSL settings dialog you use to define the connection to the Mercury server.

Completely new multilingual spelling checker   Pegasus Mail now uses the "Hunspell" spelling checker used by OpenOffice, FireFox and other major systems. The new spelling checker supports multiple simultaneous languages in the same check, and is supplied as standard with US and UK English, French, German, Italian, Spanish and Czech dictionaries. Many other dictionaries are readily available, from sources such as the OpenOffice Extensions repository.

Completely new TCP/IP code   The routines Pegasus Mail uses to connect to the Internet have been totally rewritten, and should be faster and more reliable than ever before. It's kind of sad, given how much effort this took, that most people probably won't even notice it.

Hyperlink overhaul   The way Pegasus Mail locates and marks hyperlinks in plain-text messages has been completely overhauled. For properly-normalized links (that means, links enclosed in < and >) the program will now correctly find and mark them even if they span multiple lines in the message.

Updated and improved HTML rendering   Michael and Martin have been busy at work producing more updates to the HTML rendering technology in the program, and you should now find the quality of HTML display even higher than in previous versions.

Sidebar: why is version 5 taking so long?

I have been saying that Pegasus Mail version 5 was "coming" for a long time now, and I'm grateful for the patience that my user community is showing over the recurring delays in its release: as a kind of repayment for that patience, I feel I should offer an insight into why it's taking so long.

Modernizing old code   Pegasus Mail is now nearly 25 years old, and much of it was written in the 1990s, for systems such as Windows 95 and 98. The Pegasus Mail codebase (the stuff I write that gets turned into the program when I compile it) runs to over 400,000 lines of often very complex program code. To put that in perspective, Tolstoy's "War and Peace" has 1440 pages, which amounts to about 100,000 lines of text, so I'm maintaining something the size of four copies of "War and Peace" - and that's without considering that I'm also maintaining Mercury, which is about half that size. In the last four years, I have modernized more than 100,000 lines of the WinPMail code, a process which yields little in terms of visible external benefit, but which is essential to make the program viable for future development. It can be a terribly soul-destroying process, I promise you, but it has to be done.

Writing new code   As well as modernizing the existing Pegasus Mail code, many parts of the program have to be completely rewritten from the ground up: an example of this is the message store - the component that is responsible for finding, accessing and maintaining your physical mail and folders. The mail store in older versions of Pegasus Mail has served very well, but is now very difficult to maintain, so I've been in the process of writing a completely new, totally modern, industrial strength replacement for it. Even drawing on my 20+-years of experience, this is not an easy process - it requires extensive planning and a lot of careful coding and testing. Another example is the new Help System, common to both Pegasus Mail and Mercury: this is a component I had to spend a lot of time developing because Microsoft decided to stop supporting the perfectly good help system they used to offer without offering a viable alternative.

Funding Crisis   Put simply, Pegasus Mail and Mercury do not, between them, make enough money to provide me with a living any more. I made a conscious decision in 2007 that I had to keep them going, even if it meant using my own retirement funds to pay for it, and while I do not regret that decision, I cannot deny that it is getting harder and harder to live, let alone purchase the new hardware and software tools required to develop the programs. While I appreciate the financial support shown by many of my users, funding remains the single largest and most stress-inducing problem facing me and "my babies". The fact that I'm not good at fundraising and self- promotion doesn't help the situation either.

All told, it's a very big job, being done under quite difficult circumstances. I believe the result will be really worth it though, and hope you'll all stick with me.

Click here to go to the downloads page, where you can retrieve Pegasus Mail v4.7.

[ Page modified 8 March 2014 | Content David Harris  | Design by Technology Solutions ]