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Mail merge?

Gnome Evolution - General mailing list
Hi Folks,

Returning to Evolution after seeing the mess that is Thunderbird 78.

Have just installed Evolution version 3.30.5-1.1 (the default in Devuan).

As per the subject, I am scratching my head on sending emails as "mail merge" - this is where I can put multiple addresses in the "to" field, send, and a little bit of behind-the-scenes magic means that each recipient gets ONLY their address, they don't get other people's addresses.

It seems there may be a way to do this via Libre Office but I would rather a decent method in Evolution itself if there is one? I don't often do this but when I do it is important to respect the privacy of each person in the group.

It's also nice to see a few things I wanted in the past have shown up - much thanks to the team!

Thanks in advance, KR

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Re: Mail merge?

Patrick O'Callaghan
On Fri, 2020-10-09 at 23:46 +1300, gnome via evolution-list wrote:
> Hi Folks,
>
> Returning to Evolution after seeing the mess that is Thunderbird 78.
>
> Have just installed Evolution version 3.30.5-1.1 (the default in
> Devuan).

That's several years old.

> As per the subject, I am scratching my head on sending emails as "mail
> merge" - this is where I can put multiple addresses in the "to" field,
> send, and a little bit of behind-the-scenes magic means that each
> recipient gets ONLY their address, they don't get other people's
> addresses.

You mean BCC?

poc

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Re: Mail merge?

Gnome Evolution - General mailing list
On Fri, 2020-10-09 at 11:59 +0100, Patrick O'Callaghan wrote:
>
> > Have just installed Evolution version 3.30.5-1.1 (the default in
> > Devuan).
>
> That's several years old.

Not a programmer nor do I maintain any of this. I just use Devuan
because it works without the issues that some other systems provide :)

>
> > As per the subject, I am scratching my head on sending emails as
> > "mail
> > merge" - this is where I can put multiple addresses in the "to"
> > field,
> > send, and a little bit of behind-the-scenes magic means that each
> > recipient gets ONLY their address, they don't get other people's
> > addresses.
>
> You mean BCC?

No I mean mail merge - each email is TO the person receiving it rather
than a BCC which often trips spam filters. Your email is to you, not to
someone else and BCC to you but only to you.

It's because of the spam filter issue that I started using a merge some
years back.

Thanks,
KR

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Re: Mail merge?

Andre Klapper
On Sat, 2020-10-10 at 00:06 +1300, gnome via evolution-list wrote:
> > You mean BCC?
>
> No I mean mail merge - each email is TO the person receiving it rather
> than a BCC which often trips spam filters. Your email is to you, not to
> someone else and BCC to you but only to you.
>
> It's because of the spam filter issue that I started using a merge some
> years back.

Nothing that I am aware of, plus it sounds like yet another workaround
for an existing and established solution (BCC).

andre
--
Andre Klapper  |  [hidden email]
https://blogs.gnome.org/aklapper/


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Re: Mail merge?

Patrick O'Callaghan
In reply to this post by Gnome Evolution - General mailing list
On Sat, 2020-10-10 at 00:06 +1300, gnome via evolution-list wrote:

> On Fri, 2020-10-09 at 11:59 +0100, Patrick O'Callaghan wrote:
> > > Have just installed Evolution version 3.30.5-1.1 (the default in
> > > Devuan).
> >
> > That's several years old.
>
> Not a programmer nor do I maintain any of this. I just use Devuan
> because it works without the issues that some other systems provide :)
>
> > > As per the subject, I am scratching my head on sending emails as
> > > "mail
> > > merge" - this is where I can put multiple addresses in the "to"
> > > field,
> > > send, and a little bit of behind-the-scenes magic means that each
> > > recipient gets ONLY their address, they don't get other people's
> > > addresses.
> >
> > You mean BCC?
>
> No I mean mail merge - each email is TO the person receiving it rather
> than a BCC which often trips spam filters. Your email is to you, not to
> someone else and BCC to you but only to you.

Evolution is a mail user agent (MUA), not a mail management system
(mass mailer, mailing list manager, etc.). The standard interpretation
of the TO header is that each recipient gets a copy of the whole
message, including the TO header itself. I've never used an MUA that
does what you suggest (perhaps Thunderbird is an exception).

poc

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Re: Mail merge?

Gnome Evolution - General mailing list
In reply to this post by Andre Klapper
On Fri, 2020-10-09 at 13:15 +0200, Andre Klapper wrote:

> On Sat, 2020-10-10 at 00:06 +1300, gnome via evolution-list wrote:
> > > You mean BCC?
> >
> > No I mean mail merge - each email is TO the person receiving it
> > rather
> > than a BCC which often trips spam filters. Your email is to you,
> > not to
> > someone else and BCC to you but only to you.
> >
> > It's because of the spam filter issue that I started using a merge
> > some
> > years back.
>
> Nothing that I am aware of, plus it sounds like yet another
> workaround
> for an existing and established solution (BCC).

BCC has a nasty tendency to get your mail server appearing in spam
filter blacklists last I checked.

BCC doesn't let you customise other things like Mail Merge does
(starting from simple stuff like adding in the person's first name).

BCC requires you to send to "someone" and add in others as if they're
an afterthought, Mail Merge makes it appear as if the email is directed
at a specific person (unless you mention otherwise).

BCC sends the same thing to everyone, MM lets you customise each
message at least to some degree. This is helpful in both personal and
commercial settings, especially when you're wanting to add a
professional touch to emails.

BCC is kinda almost like mail merge, but it's like BCC is a newborn
baby whereas Mail Merge is well along the way to being an adult. It's a
feature I am quite surprised seems to be missing from Evolution given
Evolution is supposed to be a fairly mature and professional program.

(Forgive me, it's been a very long day starting at 6am yesterday and no
nearly 1am today, I should quit while I'm only just a little bit behind
:) )

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Re: Mail merge?

Gnome Evolution - General mailing list
In reply to this post by Patrick O'Callaghan
On Fri, 2020-10-09 at 12:36 +0100, Patrick O'Callaghan wrote:

> On Sat, 2020-10-10 at 00:06 +1300, gnome via evolution-list wrote:
> > On Fri, 2020-10-09 at 11:59 +0100, Patrick O'Callaghan wrote:
> > > > Have just installed Evolution version 3.30.5-1.1 (the default
> > > > in
> > > > Devuan).
> > >
> > > That's several years old.
> >
> > Not a programmer nor do I maintain any of this. I just use Devuan
> > because it works without the issues that some other systems provide
> > :)
> >
> > > > As per the subject, I am scratching my head on sending emails
> > > > as
> > > > "mail
> > > > merge" - this is where I can put multiple addresses in the "to"
> > > > field,
> > > > send, and a little bit of behind-the-scenes magic means that
> > > > each
> > > > recipient gets ONLY their address, they don't get other
> > > > people's
> > > > addresses.
> > >
> > > You mean BCC?
> >
> > No I mean mail merge - each email is TO the person receiving it
> > rather
> > than a BCC which often trips spam filters. Your email is to you,
> > not to
> > someone else and BCC to you but only to you.
>
> Evolution is a mail user agent (MUA), not a mail management system
> (mass mailer, mailing list manager, etc.). The standard
> interpretation
> of the TO header is that each recipient gets a copy of the whole
> message, including the TO header itself. I've never used an MUA that
> does what you suggest (perhaps Thunderbird is an exception).

Yes, it's quite new. Only been around maybe 10 years in Thunderbird,
I'm sure that that horrid MS mess has had a version of it for some time
(at least as far back as 2010 from a quick DDG), power companies and
telcos and the like have been using it for decades (though email
versions only much more recent). Probably CLI mailers have had some way
of doing it for decades, though that'd be fairly easy to do via
scripting/batching I expect. I think I even vaguely remember doing
something like that with TimEd in Fidonet days (or maybe another
editor, but been a long time since I did any of that!).

Never said Evolution was anything other than an email client, but I've
come to expect to see this feature in clients (or at least as a plug
in) since I've been using it often for the last 6 or 7 years.

Anyway, as I said elsewhere it's late (or early), I'm drained, thanks
and good night :)

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Re: Mail merge?

Patrick O'Callaghan
On Sat, 2020-10-10 at 00:51 +1300, gnome via evolution-list wrote:
> Never said Evolution was anything other than an email client, but I've
> come to expect to see this feature in clients (or at least as a plug
> in) since I've been using it often for the last 6 or 7 years.

As I said, I for one have never come across this. It definitely is not
a feature of Evolution, nor of any MUA I'm aware of. Some references to
MUAs that do support it would be useful.

poc

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Re: Mail merge?

Patrick O'Callaghan
In reply to this post by Gnome Evolution - General mailing list
On Sat, 2020-10-10 at 00:44 +1300, gnome via evolution-list wrote:
> BCC sends the same thing to everyone, MM lets you customise each
>
> message at least to some degree. This is helpful in both personal and
>
> commercial settings, especially when you're wanting to add a
>
> professional touch to emails.

This is a mail management function. Mail merge as usually understood is
something handled by word processors, not by an MUA. See:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mail_merge

poc

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Re: Mail merge?

Gnome Evolution - General mailing list
In reply to this post by Patrick O'Callaghan
On Fri, 2020-10-09 at 13:17 +0100, Patrick O'Callaghan wrote:

>
> On Sat, 2020-10-10 at 00:51 +1300, gnome via evolution-list wrote:
> > Never said Evolution was anything other than an email client, but I've
> > come to expect to see this feature in clients (or at least as a plug
> > in) since I've been using it often for the last 6 or 7 years.
>
> As I said, I for one have never come across this. It definitely is not
> a feature of Evolution, nor of any MUA I'm aware of. Some references to
> MUAs that do support it would be useful.
>
> poc

it's an add-on for tbird

https://addons.thunderbird.net/en-US/thunderbird/addon/mail-merge/

reid

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Re: Mail merge?

Braden McDaniel

> On Oct 9, 2020, at 8:47 AM, Reid Thompson via evolution-list <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> On Fri, 2020-10-09 at 13:17 +0100, Patrick O'Callaghan wrote:
>>
>>> On Sat, 2020-10-10 at 00:51 +1300, gnome via evolution-list wrote:
>>> Never said Evolution was anything other than an email client, but I've
>>> come to expect to see this feature in clients (or at least as a plug
>>> in) since I've been using it often for the last 6 or 7 years.
>>
>> As I said, I for one have never come across this. It definitely is not
>> a feature of Evolution, nor of any MUA I'm aware of. Some references to
>> MUAs that do support it would be useful.

My understanding of this functionality is that it allows users to create a template for a mass mail event where values (such as recipient names and other recipient-dependent data) are substituted from a data source. It is useful functionality; but it is a bit beyond the capabilities of “just” a MUA because it requires knowledge of the data source.

BCC could only substitute in the most trivial of use cases.

It does seem like the sort of functionality that would be a good candidate for a plug-in.

--
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Re: Mail merge?

Patrick O'Callaghan
On Fri, 2020-10-09 at 10:22 -0400, Braden McDaniel wrote:

> > On Oct 9, 2020, at 8:47 AM, Reid Thompson via evolution-list <[hidden email]> wrote:
> >
> > On Fri, 2020-10-09 at 13:17 +0100, Patrick O'Callaghan wrote:
> > > > On Sat, 2020-10-10 at 00:51 +1300, gnome via evolution-list wrote:
> > > > Never said Evolution was anything other than an email client, but I've
> > > > come to expect to see this feature in clients (or at least as a plug
> > > > in) since I've been using it often for the last 6 or 7 years.
> > >
> > > As I said, I for one have never come across this. It definitely is not
> > > a feature of Evolution, nor of any MUA I'm aware of. Some references to
> > > MUAs that do support it would be useful.
>
> My understanding of this functionality is that it allows users to create a template for a mass mail event where values (such as recipient names and other recipient-dependent data) are substituted from a data source. It is useful functionality; but it is a bit beyond the capabilities of “just” a MUA because it requires knowledge of the data source.
>
> BCC could only substitute in the most trivial of use cases.
>
> It does seem like the sort of functionality that would be a good candidate for a plug-in.

Yes, I see. Well, I'm sure Milan is open to receiving actual code :-)

poc

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Re: Mail merge?

Patrick O'Callaghan
In reply to this post by Gnome Evolution - General mailing list
On Fri, 2020-10-09 at 12:23 +0000, Reid Thompson via evolution-list
wrote:

> On Fri, 2020-10-09 at 13:17 +0100, Patrick O'Callaghan wrote:
> > On Sat, 2020-10-10 at 00:51 +1300, gnome via evolution-list wrote:
> > > Never said Evolution was anything other than an email client, but I've
> > > come to expect to see this feature in clients (or at least as a plug
> > > in) since I've been using it often for the last 6 or 7 years.
> >
> > As I said, I for one have never come across this. It definitely is not
> > a feature of Evolution, nor of any MUA I'm aware of. Some references to
> > MUAs that do support it would be useful.
> >
> > poc
>
> it's an add-on for tbird
>
> https://addons.thunderbird.net/en-US/thunderbird/addon/mail-merge/

OK, thanks. Add-ons of course are not part of the core software, but I
get the point.

poc

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Re: Mail merge?

Gnome Evolution - General mailing list
In reply to this post by Gnome Evolution - General mailing list
On Sat, 2020-10-10 at 00:44 +1300, gnome via evolution-list wrote:

> On Fri, 2020-10-09 at 13:15 +0200, Andre Klapper wrote:
> > On Sat, 2020-10-10 at 00:06 +1300, gnome via evolution-list wrote:
> > > > You mean BCC?
> > >
> > > No I mean mail merge - each email is TO the person receiving it
> > > rather than a BCC which often trips spam filters. Your email is to you,
> > > not to someone else and BCC to you but only to you.
> > >
> > > It's because of the spam filter issue that I started using a
> > > merge some years back.
> >
> > Nothing that I am aware of, plus it sounds like yet another
> > workaround
> > for an existing and established solution (BCC).
>
> BCC has a nasty tendency to get your mail server appearing in spam
> filter blacklists last I checked.
>
> BCC doesn't let you customise other things like Mail Merge does
> (starting from simple stuff like adding in the person's first name).
>
> BCC requires you to send to "someone" and add in others as if they're
> an afterthought, Mail Merge makes it appear as if the email is directed
> at a specific person (unless you mention otherwise).
>
> BCC sends the same thing to everyone, MM lets you customise each
> message at least to some degree. This is helpful in both personal and
> commercial settings, especially when you're wanting to add a
> professional touch to emails.
>
> BCC is kinda almost like mail merge, but it's like BCC is a newborn
> baby whereas Mail Merge is well along the way to being an adult. It's a
> feature I am quite surprised seems to be missing from Evolution given
> Evolution is supposed to be a fairly mature and professional program.
>
> (Forgive me, it's been a very long day starting at 6am yesterday and no
> nearly 1am today, I should quit while I'm only just a little bit behind
> :) )
>

Gnome,

I don't use mail merge myself very often but having also come here from
Thunderbird, and having even advised Thunderbird users to try the
Libre/Open Office method, I am familiar with the concept and practice
of mail merge and I am very disappointed at the response (or should I
call it denial?) you have received here. I'm surprised that you've had
to explain it. I'd have hoped for a response more on the lines of "we
understand what you want, but sorry, we aren't planning on doing that."

I don't think I'll be staying with Evo. Lousy printing and absolutely
no control of fonts in sent HTML messages. Too many clicks to do things
where I'm accustomed to keyboard shortcuts.

Shame, it looked promising at first.

Chris.

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Re: Mail merge?

Pete Biggs

> I don't use mail merge myself very often but having also come here from
> Thunderbird, and having even advised Thunderbird users to try the
> Libre/Open Office method, I am familiar with the concept and practice
> of mail merge and I am very disappointed at the response (or should I
> call it denial?) you have received here. I'm surprised that you've had
> to explain it. I'd have hoped for a response more on the lines of "we
> understand what you want, but sorry, we aren't planning on doing that."

Mail merge as a process was always a function of office, not mail,
applications. It's not something that non-business people ever do so
I'm not surprised that people are not that familiar with the concept.
It's also a complex process to get reliably correct, even dedicated
programs get it wrong. It's easy to say "how difficult is it to get a
text file and put column 1 here and column 2 there", but it always goes
further than that with conditionals and extended logic. At least with
an office application you can check before mailing out a few hundred
sheets of paper that it's correct - with email, you don't even get that
chance.

Personally, if I want to send individual messages to multiple people I
use a shell script.  If I did it very often I would look at dedicated
bulk mail programs.

>
> I don't think I'll be staying with Evo. Lousy printing and absolutely
> no control of fonts in sent HTML messages.

There's a new editor in the next version; you can also use external
editors if you want to do more complex formatting.

Didn't there was anything wrong with printing.

> Too many clicks to do things
> where I'm accustomed to keyboard shortcuts.

So use keyboard shortcuts, there's plenty of them.

 Help (Alt-H) -> Contents (F1) -> Shortcut keys

P.


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Re: Mail merge?

Gnome Evolution - General mailing list
On Fri, 2020-10-09 at 18:26 +0100, Pete Biggs wrote:


> Mail merge as a process was always a function of office, not mail,
> applications. It's not something that non-business people ever do so
> I'm not surprised that people are not that familiar with the concept.

I'm not a business person, and I use it often. I've also taught many
other non-business people how to use it on TB.

It's really not hard, and while I suggest they use "send later" and
check the messages in their outbox, I've been using it once or twice a
month at least since at least 2014 and have not seen an error yet, not
in my emails nor the hundreds I've had from others who also use it.

> At least with
> an office application you can check before mailing out a few hundred
> sheets of paper that it's correct - with email, you don't even get
> that
> chance.

Even Evolution has a "send later" function (I think - it's not as clear
as in TB), where the emails are stored in an outbox and sent at a later
time. At least with TB's Merge plugin it prefers to send in that
manner. You can send as many emails as you want, until you click on
"send unsent emails" (or switch to 'online' from offline mode) nothing
will go out.

It's also quite easy to accidentally put every one in "cc" or "to"
fields instead of BCC, and accidentally give every one each others
email addresses - for me that would be a major failing, and under my
country's privacy laws could actually get me fined, even as a private
person.  

>
> Personally, if I want to send individual messages to multiple people
> I use a shell script.

Lots of us have moved on from scripts, and there are whole generations
coming behind us who aren't interested in or experienced with such
things. Me? on TB I visit my address book (card book plugin which makes
TB's useless default one a bit closer to Evos much better default
address books :) ), ^click each person I want the message to go to,
click "write" and fill in the details, then click on the "Mail Merge"
button in TB's menu bar. If I am feeling really brave (which is normal
after years without issue) I click on "send now". If the email contains
some really private stuff and I want to be sure of who it is going to,
I use "send later".

I've taught elderly relatives to use Merge with ease. I've got them
happily using Linux for daily stuff. But I'd not even begin to consider
getting them to access a terminal let alone use shell scripts!

>   If I did it very often I would look at dedicated
> bulk mail programs.
>

Lots of us would do it otherwise, hence the desire to see the same
functionality in Evolution. I don't do "mass" as such, I think the
largest number I've sent to is 20 or so family and friends members,
usually only around 5-10 depending on the topic

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Re: Mail merge?

Ángel González
On 2020-10-11 at 13:58 +1300, gnome via evolution-list wrote:
> It's also quite easy to accidentally put every one in "cc" or "to"
> fields instead of BCC, and accidentally give every one each others
> email addresses - for me that would be a major failing, and under my
> country's privacy laws could actually get me fined, even as a private
> person.

evolution will warn you when you address too many people visibly (it
can be disabled). It's still unsettling to send these large mailings,
the more people it is being sent, the more cautious one must be.

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