[FEATURE REQUEST] "Add To Mail Client / Device" Page Within Webmail
Idea shared by Shaun Peet - June 13, 2017 at 9:05 PM
Proposed
I thought I had a new idea, but after a quick search I found this feature already requested (and implemented) on the cPanel forum:
 
https://features.cpanel.net/topic/iphome-mobile-config-file-auto-emialed-on-email-account-creation
 
My idea shares much of that thread, but I wrote all this before I found that thread so I'll continue...
 
Since it's the domain administrator and not the end-user who creates mailboxes one of the first things the user needs to do (and should do) is go to the webmail to change their password.  If the user likes the webmail experience - great, they can continue on and nothing needs to happen.
 
However, if the user insists upon using their familiar email client, then I think there should be a page somewhere within the webmail (ie after they've logged in and set / changed their password) which has very specific instructions on how to add their account to a variety of the most popular email clients.
 
In particular, for iOS users, that page should have a button they can click which generates their personal .mobileconfig file, and opens it on their device to add the mail account.  It would be easy for the webmail page to even detect that the user is on an iOS device and only show the button if that's the case.  As far as I know, the only way to autoconfigure a mail account on iOS is via a .mobileconfig file.
 
By having this type of instructions page available within the webmail it allows the instructions on that page to be extremely specific because the user is already logged in, and the webmail should know the exact settings required in order to access that specific user's account via other protocols.  Ideally, if the autodiscover.xml file works properly most of the other major email clients should be able to use that, but if not, and the user is configuring things manually, the more specific the instructions the better.
 
Having SmarterTools do this once and maintain it as part of their core webmail client is probably much easier than having thousands of system administrators like myself trying to come up with our own instructions.  And again, having it available only within the webmail ensures that the user 1) logs in to set/ change their password as their very first important step, and 2) exposes the user to the webmail interface which hopefully influences them to at least give it a try and perhaps use that instead of their normal mail client.
 
 

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4
Shaun, why would anyone want to set up an email client on their iPhone when ST has spent the last 1.5 years (and still going) writing a new, mobile-friendly UI?  Just have your users run webmail on their smartphone and tell them to disregard the email client! <insert smiley, tongue out, sarcastic emoji here>
 
Seriously, this is a great idea and you have my vote. I actually proposed it last year in this post asking why is SmarterMail creating a new UI? I suggested the time might be better spent making it easier to configure mobile devices:
So instead of spending 6 months writing a mobile-friendly interface for 2% of users, spend the time writing code for the 98% that makes it easier and less expensive to configure and use your mobile device. For example, write an app or make a URL that sets up IMAP+CalDAV+CardDAV on a smartphone so it's as simple as ActiveSync where all you have to do enter your email address and password (no server names, no ports, sync mail, contacts, calendars, notes, & reminders).
OK, so I was a bit off with the 6 months (SM 16 was going to be released in Q3 2016). And before someone jumps all over my case, understand that discussion like this will hopefully result in customer-driven enhancements to SmarterMail. We all use and rely on SM for our business and hope for continued success.
 
Kevin
0
FWIW, I think MailEnable has a feature like this.
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"And before someone jumps all over my case" - anyone in particular? lol
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Looks like it. Hopefully it wouldn't be that hard to produce, after scouring the interwebs last night it doesn't look too bad.
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Matt Petty Replied
Employee Post
I can definitely see the use-case for keeping mobile apps setup. One major point is notifications. While the web technology is technically available to send remote push notifications without having an app installed. It is a web-feature that's still very much in its infancy and not supported on many platforms.
https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Web/API/Push_API|
https://developers.google.com/web/fundamentals/engage-and-retain/push-notifications/

I might have misread you what meant in your post, so this may seem off-topic, but I'll keep this comment here. :P
Matt Petty
Software Developer
SmarterTools Inc.
(877) 357-6278
www.smartertools.com
0
@Matt - I have no issues with making the webmail as awesome as possible, and push notifications would certainly help.

I think the overall theme though is that the end-users ought to be able to choose that they think is their most comfortable way of consuming email. So in that regard, there's a shared responsibility between SmarterTools and hosted email providers using SmarterMail to make sure that a user's email is *easily* accessible in virtually any popular client.

I've spent way too much time in the past few days trying to make autodiscovery work as advertised and researching what can be done to make it better. In the case of iOS, the generation of the .mobileconfig file seems to be a perfect silver bullet and I'm hoping this could be rolled into SmarterMail's interface sooner than later (it doesn't look like a large undertaking and would be quite similar to how you're generating the autodiscover.xml file - just a different format).
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Matt Petty Replied
Employee Post
@Shaun the feedback you provided is awesome. I noticed Larry already has an open ticket with you on this. We glossed over a couple of the suggestions made in our dev-meeting this morning. We are tackling some EWS issues right now but we definitely have been reading and keeping up with your developments on auto discover. Thanks for keeping us posted. Also, I agree choice of platform is huge especially lately with some of the speed issues that we have been working to fix lately. I'm the same, I'd prefer to use my built in applications on my phone, I usually only use the web interface on my phone if I need to do something more advanced than just checking email or calendar.
Matt Petty
Software Developer
SmarterTools Inc.
(877) 357-6278
www.smartertools.com
0
@Matt - Thanks for the comments. I've gotten our desktop implementation of Outlook 2013 / 2016 autodiscover for both EAS and IMAP / SMTP accounts working, and the autoconfig for Thunderbird working of IMAP / SMTP. I don't have a Mac so I can't test in that environment so if somebody in the community wants to help PM me. We have EWS enabled so I'm hoping that would be a smooth experience for the end-user.

Contacts & Calendar syncing for non-EAS account in desktop environments will be another thing on the list to figure out.

Right now I'm focusing on mobile experience, which is made even more complicated than just a battle between iOS and Android because both have alternative mail clients available - including the obvious Outlook for iOS / Android.

I'll probably start a whole new thread on the world that is Android unless there's a better way to have the discussion. In theory, EAS should always work but I've found that it doesn't in my own testing. Autodiscover for non-EAS may be a pipe dream but for the sake of the end-user I'm hoping to figure out something.
1
Another thing to add to this suggestion / feature request, and I'm not sure it's possible in a responsive environment, is to enable some sort of a "first time login" wizard / tour of the webmail.
 
I think there's room for improvement at the domain administrator level in the recommended process for creating and on-boarding a new user.  Specifically, a way make it easier for the domain administrator to send an email to a new user (using a different email address, obviously, since the new user can't login without this information).  In that new user email could also be some very basic "how to login" information and a recommendation to change the password.
 
Then, after the user logs in present them with that "first time here" wizard that showcases the awesomeness of the webmail, helps them change their password, and at the end of that wizard would be the page that says "want to keep using your existing email program?  no problem - here's how you can do that".
 
Perhaps related to this could be a flag within SmarterMail that a user can either be "Enabled / Disabled / Disabled Until Webmail Login".  That setting would prevent the mailbox from being used until the webmail has been accessed (again, to change the password as the primary reason) - and possibly even prevent the mailbox from being accessed on another device.  Sounds like fun for my auto-discover implementation but certainly doable because the web services has a way to track last login times for a mailbox.
 
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In addition to changing the password, another reason to force a login to the webmail is to set the backup email address for password reset / retrieval.
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I know Matt has commented on this thread already - any chance the status of this can be marked as under consideration?
 
The part that I think would be a really easy (and highly useful) first step to do is add the downloadable .mobileconfig file within the Settings area for a user who is on their iOS device (which should be detectable).  It's basically the same as the "Add to Outlook" / "Get CalDav URLs" buttons / functionality that already exist, just a different option for iOS users.
 
That said, I also still think that forcing a user to go to the webmail as the very first step in account creation is a good thing, for all operating systems / software which the user might end up using to access their email.  Baby steps...
 

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