For the last few years I’ve been using Thunderbird for my email. A while ago I kind of switched over to Gmail for the portability factor. Byran had been using it, and if I remember right we had discussed it and I gave it a shot.

The big issue I had with Gmail was that you couldn’t view the inbox and see the contents of a message at the same time. Even worse, when you view a message and delete or archive it, you’re kicked back to the inbox instead of the next message!

This seemed completely ridiculous to me. I thought it couldn’t be so, and checked around. But sure enough, Google in its all-knowing wisdom designed it that way and there was no way change Gmail’s behavior.

I really liked the spam filter, I liked the labels and archiving features, I REALLY liked the portability aspect. But this fundamental usability flaw really made me hesitant.

Today at work I was whining to Justin about my gripes with Gmail. He tried to dismiss them as trivial, saying “I’m sure if everybody thought the way you did then Google would change it to work the way you want it to work, blah blah blah.”

A few minutes later he was changing his tune. He had done a quick search and realized that maybe I wasn’t being so unreasonable after all, a lot of others had been making the same complaints. So I took a quick look too, and look what I found.

I saw a post on the Google Operating System blog, a Google-watch blog, that was an announcement of the Auto-Advance lab. I took a quick look and realized it was just what I and so many other reasonable people wanted!

I use several of the labs but I hadn’t taken a look at the labs page in a while. And I had just told Justin, how hard would it be for them to make a simple lab to give us this functionality!

Thank you Google. It’s about time.

So I’m using the lab and it’s much nicer. I still wish I could see the inbox and a message at the same time, but maybe in the next few years there will be a lab for that too.

Edit:  There finally is!