Mail-by-Example: A Visual Query Interface for Managing Large Volumes of Data

Karin BeckerMichelle de Oliveira Cardoso

Email is a rich source of quality and up-to-date information, and users need advanced facilities to store, organize and retrieve information in large volumes of electronic messages. In this paper, we present MBE (Mail-by-Example), a visual interface integrated to the Lotus Notes email environment that enables users to define ad hoc queries for retrieving messages, folders, or information about them. MBE is based on a query by-example style (QBE), to suit the requirements of typical users of email environments, i.e. unfamiliar with database concepts and query formulation. The paper describes the striking characteristics of MBE, the various information access modules, and the current implementation using Lotus Notes environment. It also reports an experiment to test the usability of the interface, which confirmed its ease of use and user-friendliness with regard to the profile of its target users. Users who participated in the experiment expressed a generalized satisfaction towards MBE features

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