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ZEROmail – Still looking for founders

February 28, 2011

It’s been an interesting month for ZEROmail (previously Project Inbox ZERO). We started with a team of four, but unfortunately Stephen decided to focus on his honours this year (as planned) and James wasn’t a good team fit. Also, Katrin has been working only part-time on ZEROmail and we took last week off because my sister was visiting.

Despite this we made huge progress and two weeks ago we entered closed beta with around 40 users. How does it work? ZEROmail copies all mail in your inbox to our system and you can manage your inbox on ZEROmail parallel to your existing inbox (GMail or any IMAP email account). Initially ZEROmail will not make any changes to your original inbox. When you are happy with the way ZEROmail works you can choose to synchronize your inboxes and keep them in sync.


Features already implemented include filtering out notifications, groups and newsletters. All three got their own spot in our ZEROmail interface and are displayed differently. All newsletters can be read in one view (like Google Reader) and notifications are displayed similar to notifications in Facebook which saves you heaps of time and clicks in dealing with these. We’ve also implemented sender profiles. When selecting an email a profile of the sender appears next to it. It displays details from Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Gravatar, Profile pictures etc. if available. Personally I already use it as my primary mail client.


All code is written in Python and the webserver is Tornado. As a database we’re running PostgreSQL and all attachments are stored on Amazon S3. Even though 4 weeks ago I wrote my first line of Python it has proven to be quite a fast development environment. The only downside has been that it’s still a somewhat immature language with standard libraries that still have bugs/no proper unicode support/etc and other libraries simply being incomplete or not available at all.

Today is an exciting day for ZEROmail as both Katrin and myself will be working full-time on ZEROmail from now on; no distractions. We’re still looking for founders. In particular we’re looking for great hackers in Sydney that can (eventually) work full-time on ZEROmail. Any founder will have the same equity arrangement that Katrin and I have. Interested in making email better? Email me now!

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From → ZEROmail

10 Comments
  1. > The only downside has been that it’s still a somewhat immature
    > language with standard libraries that still have bugs/no proper unicode > support/etc and other libraries simply being incomplete or not available > at all.

    Sorry, but this deserves a ‘lolwut?’. Unless you’re using Python 3, of course.

  2. Dev is 2.7, server still runs 2.6… hehe, you can never say anything negative about a programming language without stirring someone, can you 😛 Ask me about this sometime and I’ll tell you about my fun times with Encodings/Unicode/MIME/timezones etc… 🙂

  3. Plenty of negative things can be said about Python – I’m just unconvinced that immaturity and small library size are among them.

  4. Love the screenshot of Deal Pinch in Zero Mail. Really hoping it’s not going to your spam filter though… 😀

  5. Why did you choose Python, incidently? I know you probably think I’m a smug Ruby on Rails fanboy, but aren’t you supposed to be a Microsoft / compiled language / c# / .net / sql server man? Just interested to hear your experiences.

    • I use whatever works… the rest of the team preferred Python and it seemed good enough, so we went with that. The Tornado web server is quite nice and all the tools/code run fine on Windows. Also nice that there won’t be any growing licensing costs when we start to scale.

    • As much as I am a big Ruby fan, I think the most important part to take a decision is what developers are comfy with.

      It’s much easier and faster to make the language suit your needs if you know its weaknesses already.

  6. About 1/4 of backend of OzBargain runs on Python 2.6 with TornadoWeb as well. Great choice 🙂 Although being a Python developer for 10 years, I still haven’t found a case where the “battery included” is lacking. Python 3 has unicode throughout and even Python 2.6 has proper encode/decode from the beginning.

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  1. Delimiter – Jellema’s ZEROmail hits closed beta

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