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Agent 3.0 Release Notes

Forte is pleased to provide Agent 3.0, a major release with many powerful, new features. There is so much to tell you that we've provided just a hint here of what you can do with Agent 3.0. Get more details by clicking the feature description.

Multiple News Servers and Multiple Connections to News Servers: Agent 3.0 allows you to use as many news servers as you like to retrieve message headers and bodies and to post messages. For each server you can use as many connections as that server allows.

Task Management: Agent 3.0 has a new Task Manager, allowing you to view and control all your online tasks.

Folder and Message Organization: Agent 3.0 features Desks, a powerful way to organize your folders, allowing you to create multiple subscription lists. Newsgroups and email folders now share properties, and can share messages.

The Newsgroup Directory: Agent 3.0 provides a powerful way to view and search all newsgroups available on all your news servers. Use the Newsgroup Directory to view newsgroups by any combination of news servers and according to your search criteria. Use the Directory to assign newsgroups to desks.

Menu and Toolbar Changes: Agent 3.0 has redesigned its menus to enable you to use Agent's features effectively. You'll recognize commands from Agent 2.0, but we have added many new commands and combined others to make Agent even easier to use.

Sending and Receiving Messages: Agent has created special folders to handle the messages you send and retrieve. The Outbox is now a folder, and we've added special folders for storing draft messages and sent messages. And, of course, Agent provides an Inbox for receiving email.

Bookmarks: We have added a new feature that lets you move quickly to messages, folders and desks that you use often.

Help Tips: When performing common operations you'll see pop-up tips that will help you use Agent effectively.

Other Features Added / Problems Fixed from Agent 2.0: We added a number of other features and fixed several problems reported with Agent 2.0.

Multiple Servers and Connections

You can now get news messages from any number of news servers. You can:

  • Specify how your servers can work together and complement each other, providing, in essence, a virtual server for each newsgroup.
  • Manage usage of premium vs. free news servers, so you can balance performance vs. cost. For example, use a free server for most downloads, and a premium server to fill in the missing messages.

Define your news servers in the News Server Panel in the new Servers and Accounts Dialog. For each server you can specify your online and retrieval preferences. And, you can tell Agent how many connections the server will allow, so that you can maximize retrieval efficiency. If you're not sure how many connections are allowed, Agent will figure it out for you!

Define an access plan for each newsgroup, using the new News Access Plan panel on the Folder Properties dialog. Here you can specify server priorities for retrieving messages and posting messages, so that you use your preferred servers for each activity. As with all folder properties, you can specify default behavior, and can override this behavior for specific folders.

You can manually add a newsgroup that is carried by, but not listed by, a news server.

Task Management

In previous versions of Agent all tasks were placed in a single queue. You could add items to this queue, but you could not control the behavior of individual tasks that were in the queue. With Agent 3.0 you have complete control over all tasks. Using Agent's Task Manager you can:

  • Track the status of all tasks. You can view completion status and a log of any errors that occur.
  • Reorder tasks that are in the task queue, making sure the tasks you want to execute first have highest priority. Agent allows you to define priority tasks, so that some operations will be done before others
  • Pause or stop specific tasks without affecting any other tasks in the queue.
  • Automatically retry tasks that fail. When an online error occurs, Agent will continue to process other tasks. Agent will retry the failed task, using a retry schedule that you can define. Customize this behavior using the Task Settings panel of the Options dialog. Working directly in the Message List pane, you can selectively remove tasks from the queue before they begin or while they're executing.

Folder and Message Organization

If you're an experienced user, the first thing you'll notice is that the Group Pane is now the Folders pane. Within this pane, note the following:

We have removed the distinction between groups and folders. Everything is a folder. What does this mean?

  • First, newsgroups look just the same. They still have the nice newspaper icon (although you can change this if you like). You download news headers and news messages into them. But they're really folders now.
  • You can move messages from one folder to another, including from one newsgroup folder to another.
  • You can have both email and news messages in the same folder, so you can organize your messages any way you like.
  • You can assign properties to folders. Previously only newsgroups could have customized properties.
  • As with previous versions of Agent, you can assign default properties for all folders, and override these properties for selected folders.
  • You can rename folders. This can come in very handy if you want to save horizontal space in the Folders pane. For example, you may have a newsgroup folder for a newsgroup that has a very long name (e.g. alt.usenet.offline-reader.forte-agent). You can rename the folder to something shorter, e.g. "Forte-Agent". The underlying newsgroup name will stay the same, but the name you display will fit in the Folders pane much more easily.
  • Renaming also allows you to add more descriptive information to your newsgroup folder. For example, you can append the news server name if you are specifying a particular server to accessing that group.

Agent now features desks, which allow you to group your folders into areas of interest.

Desks generalize the notion of subscribed newsgroups, allowing you to create multiple subscription lists. For example, create a desk that contains work-related newsgroup folders, another that contains automobile-related newsgroups, and another with text newsgroups that you track. With these desks defined you can view and use your newsgroup folders in any combination. The automobile-related desk might have folders which have a large number of messages, so you only want to update these newsgroup folders periodically. However you may want to update your text folders frequently. Simply select the desk with your text folders and get headers and messages in that desk only, using the Get New Headers in command ("selection" will be "folders" or "desks", depending on what you have selected) on the Action menu. You don't have to wait for the slower download of the automobile-related folders. To take advantage of multiple subscription lists, the command Get New Headers in Subscribed Groups has been replaced by the Action menu command Get New Headers in Desks. Use it to easily download new headers into your various desks. This command remembers your previous selection, so you can get headers in the same desks each time.

A folder can be used in more than one desk, allowing great flexibility in defining the contents of your desks. You don't have to decide on a precise organization. Rather you can let your desks "cross boundaries", containing the same folders. If a folder is updated in one desk it's updated in all of its desks -- because it's the same folder! This also provides greater flexibility than simply nesting folders. You can effectively "nest" a folder in many desks.

For a new installation, Agent 3.0 provides one desk: All Folders. This is a permanent desk, which contains, as the name implies, all the folders you create. As you create folders, they are added to this desk and to other desks that you specify.

If you are upgrading from a previous version of Agent, three desks are created:

  • All Folders, as described above.
  • Subscribed Groups, where you find all your subscribed newsgroups from the earlier version, as well as all your folders which might contain email and/or newsgroup messages.
  • Sampled Groups, where you will find all other newsgroups in which you had messages or for which you had defined special properties in your earlier version. In earlier versions of Agent you would have found these newsgroups in the All Groups view of the Groups pane, mixed in with all other newsgroups available from your news server.

Newsgroup Directory

Since Agent 3.0 has changed the Group pane to the Folders pane, where is the list of newsgroups? In the Newsgroup Directory!

From the new Tools menu open the Newsgroup Directory. The Directory has a number of useful features:

  • View the groups available on any single server, or any combination of your servers.
  • Filter the group list by key words in the newsgroup name or description. This helps you find just the newsgroups you're looking for.
  • View the most recently downloaded newsgroups.

Select one or more newsgroups and add them to desks in the Folders pane. This is how you subscribe to groups in Agent 3.0. You can add groups to a single desk (call it Subscribed Groups if you like) and Agent will work as it did with Agent 2.0. But you now can have multiple subscription lists, using desks, to give you much more control over the groups you use. Newsgroups added to desks will appear in bold text in the Newsgroup Directory, so you can easily identify them. You can do this in two ways:

  • Use the Add Groups to Desks button on the Newsgroup Directory, select the desk(s) in which you want to place the newsgroup and you'll create a folder which will retrieve and retain the news messages for that newsgroup. (Double-clicking on a group name will also open the Add Groups to Desks dialog.)
  • Drag newsgroups from the Newsgroup Directory directly to the Folders pane, placing them in the desired desk.

Menu and Toolbar Changes

To make the new features of Agent 3.0 easy to use, we have redesigned Agent's menus. Here's a summary of the important changes:

  • The Online and Post menus have been merged, creating the new Action menu
  • The Group menu is now the Folder menu, and you'll notice several changes (e.g. desks) that reflect the new features in Agent 3.0.
  • We've added a new View menu, providing specific commands for viewing information in Agent's 3-pane interface.
  • Agent's windows (e.g. Usenet Filters, Email Filters and Address Book), along with new features such as the Newsgroup Directory and Task Manager, are part of the new Tools menu.
  • Some commands (e.g. Rename, Reply-To) are now object specific. For example, if you have selected a Usenet message, then the Reply command (and keyboard accelerator) will assure that you reply to this posting, and are not creating a new email message. (But you will create a new mail message if you're replying to a mail message.) As a result, in the Action menu and on the toolbar there is now a single Reply command/button, since Agent will create the correct type of reply based on the message selected.
  • We have tailored the context menus (also called speed menus) to provide quick access to commands appropriate to each pane in Agent's 3-pane interface. Context menus are available by right clicking on a desk, folder or message, as appropriate.
  • All 3.0 menu options are available as toolbar buttons.

Sending and Receiving Messages

Agent 3.0 has done away with the Outbox, and creates special folders for posting Usenet messages and sending and receiving email messages. When you install and run Agent 3.0 for the first time, these folders will be created:

  • Inbox for receiving email messages.
  • Drafts for outbound messages that you're not ready to send yet.
  • Outbox (now a folder, not a window), for queuing messages you are ready to send (when you choose Send Later from the composition window).
  • Sent, the default folder for messages that have been sent. You still have, of course, the option to store sent messages in any folder.
  • At installation, these folders are added to the All Folders desk. You can also add them to whatever desk(s) you like. Because these folders are special, they're permanent, meaning you can't delete them. You can, however, rename them and Agent will recognize each folder by whatever name you give it. Each folder has its own icon (as you can see above). You can give other folders these icons also, if you choose to use additional folders for any of the above purposes.

You can use the new Bookmark feature for an easy way to view the contents of these special folders.

If you are upgrading to Agent 3.0 from a previous version of Agent, the special folders listed above will be created for you if they do not already exist in your version of Agent. If the designated folders already exist, Agent 3.0 will assign them the corresponding special functionality. (For example, if you use Agent to receive email, you have a folder that functions as your Inbox. Agent will recognize this and make that folder your Inbox in Agent 3.0.) The Outbox folder will be created and any messages that you might have had in the Outbox in earlier versions of Agent will be moved to the Outbox folder.

In addition to doing away with the need to find drafts, queued and sent messages in a separate window (the old Outbox), you can now print these messages in whatever state you've left them. This fulfills a long-standing request from Agent users to be able to print from the Outbox, as you can print messages from any of these folders that replace the Outbox.


Bookmarks in Agent 3.0 let you define specific targets to which you can jump immediately. A bookmark can be a desk, a folder or a specific message. This is a convenient way for you to keep track of important or frequently used objects in Agent, allowing you to jump to them quickly, then jump back to where you were.

Create, jump to and manage bookmarks using the Bookmarks flyout on the View menu.

Help Tips

When you first attempt certain operations, Agent will display a help tip Designed to assist you as you begin to use a particular feature, these help tips can be disabled as you become comfortable using the feature.

Other Features and Problems Fixed

We've made a number of improvements to Agent's user interface:

  • In Agent 3.0 in the Folders pane you can display unread counts for folders to the left of the folder name (as you did with Agent 2.0) or you can display them in parentheses to the right of the folder name. You can also choose to have the folder name displayed in bold whenever it has unread items. Set your preferences in the Options dialog, Folders Pane panel.
  • Also in the Folders pane, Agent will display the true count of unread messages. In previous versions, the maximum number displayed was 65535.
  • Agent will now remember changes you make to your layout without your having to explicitly save these changes. The command "Save as Default Layout" has been replaced by the command Set Initial Window Layout.
  • Agent 3.0 displays its various user interface elements using Windows XP themes.
  • You can control the color of every object in Agent's user interface using the Options dialog Colors panel.

Agent will retrieve incomplete multipart messages. Normally for a joined multi-part message Agent uses the header fields from the first section. However, if this first section is missing, Agent uses the header fields from the first available section.

Agent will no longer fail a yEnc message download, even if there are errors.

When getting new headers, if you stop the operation in process Agent will not purge the folder.

When retrieving email, if an error occurs while retrieving several messages, then on the next retrieval, Agent would get all messages again, including ones that had been successfully retrieved. Now Agent will get only those messages not yet retrieved.

You can now enter SPA (Secure Password Authentication) login information directly into Agent (on the Outbound Email Server panel and the Inbound Email Server panel). Previously Windows would prompt for this information.

In the composition window, when you opened the Pick Addresses dialog (using the Pick Addresses button) the To button was always the default button. Because of this, if you were editing, say, the Cc field and used the Pick Address dialog, it would be easy to mistakenly add an address to the To field rather than the Cc field. Now, Pick Addresses will set the default button to correspond to the field you are editing when you open the dialog, as follows:

  • If the Cc field has the focus, the Cc button will be the default.
  • If the field list box or the field edit control has the focus, and either the Bcc or Cc (in Usenet messages) field is highlighted in the list box, the corresponding button will be the default.
  • In all other cases, the To button will be the default.

In the message index (highlight a message and enter Ctrl+I), the "To:" and "Author:" labels were swapped. In other words, for a received message, the label said "To:" rather than "Author:", and just the opposite for a sent message. Also, the "Author:" label said "Aut".

When creating a Usenet filter or email filter in the filter window, in addition to creating a global filter that applies to all folders (something you could do in previous versions) you can select the folder to which that filter will apply. In previous versions you could create the filter for the previously highlighted folder only.

In Agent 2.0 if you didn't have Agent set to auto-disconnect or send keep-alive messages, the news server would time out but Agent wouldn't know about this. The next time you attempted an online operation Agent would report an error. Agent 3.0 detects the disconnection and reconnects before attempting the online operation.

Learn More

Go here for All Release Notes.