a few days ago i logged into Gmail using Opera 8 beta2, expecting the full features as usual... after a moment i started wondering 'where the fuck did all the features go??' where indeed. Google even knew that's what I'd be thinking when I followed the link to use a fully supported browser, more info here... - the page heading is "Where have all the features gone?". Now, they could have scored serious points if they'd said "But... why are the features gone??" (capnjacksparrow@gmail? :)).
Some earlier info posted around the traps by Gmail developers cited an HTML version of Gmail as the solution to accessibility problems with the default version. I sincerely hope this isn't it, as it's a mess of tables and font tags (publishing that sort of thing in 2005 is the web equivalent of entering a stock Trabi into the Le Mans 24 hour endurance race). At this stage Google is only saying that it's for times when you can't use your own computer.
So anyway... I'm sitting here with Opera 8 beta 2, which I know handles Gmail with no real hassles (a few rendering bugs, but no show stoppers). Thankfully, unlike Blogger, there is a way to log in anyway: http://gmail.google.com/gmail?nocheckbrowser is your friend.
So... My thoughts on Gmail as it stands today?
- + excellent features for sighted users with supported browsers
- +/- cut down HTML version is better than nothing as an alternative
- - rotten accessibility in either version
The key thing to watch now is whether they update either version to be accessible, or if they claim the HTML version is their 'accessible alternative' - despite the fact you can't use most of the neat features.
Overall... It's disappointing that Google/Gmail would build a font/table "HTML" version in 2005. But it's not surprising given that Google's search tool is still a font/table piece of crud. Google could have been a flagship for good web development, but instead they're yet another example of 'great features, crap accessibility'.