Traditional Email Mode

One of the main reasons I’m attracted to Delta Chat is that it doesn’t require all my friends and family to go download yet another messaging app. I am getting really tired of the, “Download this messaging app, because it’s way better than that messaging app!” conversation. I think I might punch the next person that tells me to download another messaging app that doesn’t interoperate with anything else besides that app.

With Delta Chat, people can use their already-installed email apps to communicate with me. I don’t have to try to convince anyone to use my new favorite app. But there’s one major problem: Delta Chat messages are not designed for traditional email users. So it’s not really realistic for me to think I can communicate with my traditional email friends through this app. They’ll probably ask me to stop using my “annoying” chat app before I am able to convince them to download Delta Chat.

I don’t know the fine details of how Delta Chat works, and I’m still not very clear about the internal workings of the email protocol, so please forgive me if I suggest something impossible:

  • When I send a message to a traditional email user, I need to specify a subject that doesn’t change with every message, and is designed for humans reading traditional email. Most of the suggestions in the existing Subject topic lean toward having a standard format. But I’m talking about allowing me to write my own subject line for each conversation. This helps traditional email apps properly group messages into threads, and doesn’t make users think, “What the heck is Phil doing with his emails? This is an unhelpful subject line.”
  • When I change a group member list, or change the group name, Delta Chat shouldn’t send emails out to every traditional email user telling them that I changed the group. This is spam, and leaves a bad taste in my traditional friends’ mouths. Later if I tell them what app I’m using and why I sent that spam, they’ll think, “Oh, OK I’ll avoid that app, cuz it sure is annoying.”
  • When I respond to an email, it needs a subject line of “Re: [Original Subject Here]”


In other words, I would like Delta Chat to have a “Traditional Email Mode” for all non-Delta recipients. Where by default it produces well-behaved emails that blend in seamlessly with other emails in friends’ inboxes. And later when I convince my friend to use Delta Chat, only then switch to the verbose Delta Chat Way, just for that friend.

More concrete suggestions:

  • When starting a new chat, Delta could do a couple things:
    • Assume they are traditional email users, and then if they respond with an email that has a Delta Chat-specific header, then switch to “Delta” mode.
    • Give the user an option to use “traditional” mode or not.
  • For the email subject, I think this could look like having a text box at the top of the screen that allows you to type a subject line, and every message that gets sent would have that subject line. When Delta detects that the recipient is also using Delta Chat, that text box could go away.

I know I must be over-simplifying something, or asking for something unreasonable. If so, I’m sorry. Please let me know.

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Enough of this has been discussed on related topics in other parts of this forum, if possible we would like you to join us, so you can see all the opinions related to this topic …

I hope someone shares the links and related topics so you can easily access.

I want to tell you, that I share your opinion as to how uncomfortable the configuration messages of a group in a MUA are.

First of all you can find other feature proposals regarding this on the ( feature proposal list under “dc <-> mua interactions” section)

Subject line:

For each topic you use? Like selecting or typing in a topic for each message you sent? That’s to complicated to use for normal dc users.
I think putting the group name in the subject could solve it, but there is an entire thread devoted to this topic.

Don’t notify email users of audit actions:

For group name and image I can understand this, but for user list changes I don’t get your point, because it defeats the purpose of groups. For Example:
I make an group for planning a party/meetup with email contacts. After a few weeks I add someone that just joined the organization efforts so they can get the messages too. If I DC doesn’t notify my email contacts about this, then they won’t know that he ever joined and the messages from them never reach him.
Maybe we should change the wording so it isn’t perceived as spam.

Maybe other chattypes like broadcasts are what you are looking for. New feature: Group Types
Broadcast messages (for later version after 1.0 release)

Also you can tell them if they don’t have the app it’s annoying. (Letters and Chatmesages are still two different means of communication) Also it isn’t unlikely that new email clients will have some ways to handle those emails in a more beautiful way because of OX’s COI standard…

Respond to subject line:

This also belongs to Subject of emails.
Anyways tell your friends to turn on threads/thread-view in their email client, this makes conversations easier to follow.(some do this already, in others like thunderbird you need to turn it on)
Delta chat already uses headers that email clients use to determine that it’s an answer to another email. (AFAIK)

Extra handling for “classic email <-> deltachat” case:

For now we like as less as possible of this to keep the code simple to prevent having to deal with many bugs.
But I agree that somethings like locations shouldn’t be sent to email contacts.

We don’t aim to support manual subjects as DC isn’t meant to be an full email client - It’s primarily a messenger. Also such a second box is disrupting the user experience. If you still want that feature, fell free to fork the project and modify it to do that. If you have a magical way that to include a subject line without disrupting user experience I’d like to hear about it.:wink:

Pro tip: when we have group topic as subject you can just create groups with only you and them for this effect… but that probably needs some UI to allow creating groups with only 2 without creating a group of 3 and removing the person 3 from it before sending the first message :thinking:


I think traditional MUAs tend to support email fitering for such things, so if the administrative messages would be easy to filter, that could allow for this external solution for users at “classic” email clients.

On the deltachat side, maybe making the message properties (i.e. chat-compliant, known-contact, chat-contact, etc.) available to some abstracted filter / handling function could also be a solution. An internal messages “routing” table (mapping properties to targets like new-chat, existing-chat, inbox, etc.) might provide a maintainable filter definition level for deltachat.

Well, what do you think about the idea that you linked to above? Explicitly:

🔓 Using bold text to indicate the words that end up in the subject when writing messages that will get sent unencrypted (icon indicates the message as such, and they are the only ones in deltachat which use a subject).

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Personaly I believe the subject should be the groups title and for DirectMessages is could be sth like “Chat with Person” idk.

Also I just meant to link the topic not an exact post. :wink:


I see. When one enables predefined or auto-generated subjects by default, though, then:

  1. Manually overriding the subject (an “experienced email user” option without disrupting the UX) would need some type of delimiter. It could probably be the same as used for displaying received subjects, i.e. a first dash “-” in the message.
  2. There would be no directly noticeable “chat-like” experience on the side of the classic email client, i.e. directly visible “subject-line-conversations” possible.

Thank you.
That’s what I mentioned in a older thread :wink:

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Can you think of ways to reduce redundancy of repeating addresses again in the subject and shortening the text to provide more room for the actual information, like the group name?

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On DM’s there is no group name
But let’s discuss this rather in Subject of emails

Thanks for the links. I did a little bit of searching before posting, but didn’t see those. Regarding email subjects and group management messages, I’ll see if I can contribute to the conversation on other more specific threads.

However this is probably a better place to talk about the root issue: There seems to be an ongoing discussion about whether DC should be exclusively an instant messenger that uses IMAP / SMTP / Autocrypt as protocols, or if it should attempt to interoperate well with traditional email.

From a developer’s perspective, I understand wanting to keep it simple and just build for Delta Chat users. However from a user’s perspective, if I’m going to pick an ecosystem where everyone has to have the same app, I’ll pick the one that all my friends are using already. The key advantage of Delta Chat is the promise of interoperability with something that everyone already has: email.

I love that it’s FOSS, decentralized, private, and secure. But normal users tend not to care about such things as much as I do. What they care about is how difficult it will be to send instant messages with a reasonable level of privacy, and how many people I’ll have to convince to switch to my new favorite app.

If you have a magical way that to include a subject line without disrupting user experience I’d like to hear about it.

I do have an idea, and it’s less magical than you might think (at least user-interface-wise). But I’ll put it on the Subject of emails thread.


I had the same user experience. The volleyball team of my daughter (13 years and younger!) wanted to initiate a whatsapp group. I said no but offered to install a DC-group instead because they had a email list. In principle the interoperability to email lists would be good enough, but these annoying “features” pcrocett describes leads to exact the way he described: I got very fast emails: Pleas take me out of this list. - Before it could be established as a delta-Chat group.
A hint of mine: Is it possible to integrate the How-To with IMAP-Providers like gmail into installations-procedure? Nowadays user are not able to search. If something doesn’t work out of the box, they use another program (mostly whatsapp, that they use anyway).

Just my 2 cts

Yeah, I agree that the administrative info messages about recipient list changes have the clear potential to do more harm than good with contacts with classic email clients.

So, what would be the consequences of disabling these messages for classic email recipients?

One risk? is that if, after a change, these contacts send a regular message before a deltachat user sends one, they are still using the old recipient list, and re-activating it. Or is this OK?

Concerning email lists, AFAIK deltachat currently blocks email list messages, so using one would not work. An issue is open, but developing activity follows another stream, it isn’t correlated with existing issues.

Hello, just read this, and want to quote what i wrote somewhere else on this forum:
I dont want or need another Emailprogram. I have several mailprograms on several devices, which work expertly and comfortably.
I want and need a simple messenger though - for messaging.
If i want to write or read normal Emails i use my Email-program.
The development of DC should not be slowed down by trying to make it do everything, Mails and messaging.
Broadcast function like in other messengers would be more necessary than seeing normal emails as well.
At least this is my opinion…

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Sure, I don’t think anyone is wanting DC to become just another email client. But then again, we also don’t want just another messenger app either. There are plenty of messenger apps out there that refuse to interoperate with one another, forcing everyone to all use the same app. This “network effect” is what I hate about all these apps.

The strength of DC is the fact that it uses well-defined, universally-adopted messaging protocols. I’m just saying we should play to our strengths here - don’t try to force people to use DC. Instead, tell them DC can be used to communicate with anyone who has an email address. And then make it actually practical to do so. That’ll get people to switch.


Absolutely. But this does not mean that DC has to be able to administrate and show and use all of my emailfolders - which would make it another emailprogram but with chat-UI.
I think it should be a - universal - messenger, where on the receiving side a normal Emailprogram can be enough, while on the sending side it is a real, simple messenger without too many bells and whistles.


Right. Only the curren INBOX messages are needed, e.g. for a quick chat or ntice before a full reply, and already implemented withe the “contact requests” . It’s configuration just not yet coordinated well with a useful reachability option.

Maybe they would be happy if somehow limit the number of such emails so that they come in bundle or as appendix to mails with content. Though it doesn’t play well with email approach.

Personally I don’t see the difference between reception of notifications that somebody joined or left the group in closed networks like telegram and reception of such email for Delta.