Mailster is, to me, a critical component of the Joomlaverse in its ability to tightly integrate email, and particularly an internal mailing list, with a Joomla website. My client had used a Mailman mailing list for years for 130 lawyers and was reasonably happy with it, but it was completely separate from their website. They were two ships passing in the night. The user lists didn’t correspond, and a lot of very good information was shared on Mailman that didn’t make it to their website. That’s a critical loss for a group that is trying to build a searchable database of information that grows in value over time.
Mailster changes all that. It duplicates the capability of Mailman as a closed listserve and adds many more very useful (and kind of amazing) features:
1. It integrates tightly with Community Builder, so you only have one database of users. You no longer need to do painful user reconciliations between the group’s website and its listserve/mailing list.
2. You can add users, permanently or temporarily, to a mailing list who may not possess registered access to the website.
3. You can create as many mailing lists as you want, all from the same interface. This is useful in my client’s case for subgroups of lawyers who might be collaborating on a project.
4. The archives are immediately available on the front and back ends, and are searchable both with a Mailster search and a Joomla full-site search. Attachments appear in the archives (unlike Mailman, which drops them), and they are likewise searchable. This is huge. It means that all the information the group shares is available on the website and easily found either by search or using the menu items for the mailing list front-end archives. A list view and threaded view are both available.
5. Archives for multiple mailing lists can all be set up to be viewed on the website, each with their own menu item or all combined. Using Mailster’s user group tools and Joomla ACL, you can restrict archives to a subgroup of users.
6. Even a complete Mailman archive (but even better, including attachments) can be integrated on a website using Mailster. If you want to keep a Mailman list active, you can set up a public mailing list (perhaps with a complex, non-guessable email address) in Mailster with just one recipient, and list the complex address of that mailing list as a user on the Mailman list. That way, Mailman will send its emails to Mailster, which will incorporate the archive on your website (including attachments). The archive can be viewable by registered users only if you choose. (Note: Mailster is not a "Plugin" solution for Mailman, and imports no existing data from Mailman.)
7. There are lots of possibilities beyond even that. Many of us have clients that are terrified of adding something to a website. But they’re not terrified of email. You could set up mailing lists in Mailster by functional category and give each of them a separate email address. Users who email something to that address will find the contents of that email in the website archives for that category’s email address. This is not the same as Joomla categories … you can’t email an article to a category. But functionally, it gets pretty close to being able to do just that.
I think of Mailster as a flexible bridge between (1) the email interface that everyone is used to and (2) your website, a group’s listserve, specialized mailing lists, and the searchable content of the website itself. It’s a wonderful tool.
One other note: Holger, the primary developer, is extremely knowledgeable, professional and responsive. If you need clear and fast help, you’ll get it. But get Mailster Pro … it’s worth it and necessary to do much of the above!