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Agent 6.0 Release Notes

Faster Header Downloads using New Compressed Format

Many news servers, including Forte's APN, are now offering message headers using a new, compressed format that enables faster and less expensive header downloads.  Agent 6.0 supports this new format, and together with APN provides downloads that are anywhere from 3- to 10-times faster than with previous releases.

By default Agent will attempt to use compressed header downloads on all your news servers.  If a server does not offer this format then Agent will use the older format when retrieving headers.  This should all happen automatically.  If for any reason you don't want this feature available for a particular server, then uncheck the Request compressed headers from server option on the News Server Panel | Advanced Settings dialog.

Server Failover for Get Body Tasks

While getting Usenet bodies from a newsgroup Agent, as always, will honor the access plan specified for that group.  Agent 6.0 adds a new access plan option, When an error occurs, failover to the next server in the plan to the News Access Plan panel of the Default Properties and Properties dialogs.  Here's a simple explanation for how this works:

Say you have servers A and B enabled in your access plan.  You start retrieving a message body from server A (as specified in your access plan), which then, for some reason, fails.  Agent will pause body retrieval from server A and start retrieving body sections from server B.  However, while retrieving bodies from server B Agent will periodically attempt to resume retrieving bodies from server A, and if successful will switch back to using server A.

In more detail, here's what happens when this option is selected:

  • If Agent is unable to connect to a given server in the access plan, or if an error occurs while retrieving the body (or section of a body) from a server, Agent will try the next server in the plan.  If this server also fails, Agent will try the following server, until it has tried all enabled servers.
  • The servers that are tried, and the order in which they are tried, remain those that are specified in the access plan for retrieving bodies.  That is, selecting this new option does not alter your access plan settings.  For example, if the option Check servers known to carry the message first, then all other servers is selected, Agent will first try any servers in the plan that are known to have the body, and then move on to the other servers.
  • When a server fails, it is paused for the period of time specified for retrying tasks on the Task Settings panel of the Options dialog.  Active body tasks will continually check the status of paused servers, and once a paused server becomes available again, these tasks will again attempt to use it.  This can lead to some interesting behavior for multi-section bodies.  If server A fails, a multi-section body task may end up using server B until server A becomes available again.  So, even while some sections are still being downloaded from server B, the task may discover that server A works again, and begin downloading additional sections from it.  This is exactly what you want to happen.  A multi-section task will gradually switch back to the preferred server as it can.
  • When an error occurs on a server, the Task Error dialog displays the highest-priority task that was trying to use the server.  But, if this is a multi-section body task, even while the failed server is paused, the task may be able to continue running with another server.  So, while the dialog is seemingly indicating that the task is paused, it is actually still running.
  • Also, if a server fails repeatedly and Agent reaches the maximum allowed retry period (specified on the Task Settings panel of the Options dialog, with a default of one day), Agent will stop any already-running tasks from attempting to use the server, even if the tasks have been able to connect to a lower priority server. To avoid this behavior you may want to set the error timeout period to a large value (i.e. larger than one day), so that it rarely happens.


We have added a number of features to make browsing through folders easy and efficient.

Remember Folder Position

In previous versions of Agent, each time you moved to a new folder the focus would be on the first message in the folder.  Often the only way to "retrace your steps" when navigating was to use the Backspace key.  With Agent 6.0, Agent remembers the most recent message selected and the current scroll position (i.e. which message is at the top of the Message List pane ) for each folder. If you leave a folder, then return, Agent will focus on the previously selected message in that folder and will attempt to restore the scroll position (see below).  Agent remembers this information for each open browser window, and for each item in the Folders pane , even when the same folder appears in multiple desks.

The following conditions affect whether Agent is able to restore the scroll position:

  • Even though Agent remembers the Message List pane scroll position, it will also always make sure that the selected message is visible when you return to a folder.  So, if the selected message was scrolled out of view when you left the folder, when you return to the folder Agent will adjust the scroll position to make the selected message visible.
  • Agent does not remember the thread expand/collapse state for a folder.  When returning to a folder, Agent will expand the thread containing the selected message, if necessary, but will not expand other threads that had previously been expanded.  If a previously-expanded thread had affected the distance between the selected message and the message that was previously at the top of the screen then it may not be possible to restore the precise scroll position.
  • Changing the sort of a folder or adding or deleting messages can also affect the position of the selected message relative to the scroll position, and can also cause the scroll position not to be restored precisely.

To disable this feature (and return to pre-6.0 navigation) uncheck the Remember message list position when navigating to other folders checkbox on the Message List Pane panel of the Options menu.

Right Click Behavior

Right-clicking an item will not change the focus from the currently highlighted item.  As before, you can use the right mouse button to select a single item or multiple items.  When you release the button, you'll get the usual context menu and the menu operations will apply to the item or items you just selected.  After you choose an item from the menu (or cancel the menu) the selection will be restored to what you had before right-clicking.

When you right-click an item in the Folders pane the focus message will not change in the Message List pane or the Message pane.

In the Message List pane some of the context menu items have side-effects that may change the selection you had prior to right-clicking.  For example, if you mark a header for retrieval, Agent moves the focus to the next unread header.  To retain this behavior Agent changes the "saved" selection and focus accordingly.  The context menu options that have this behavior are: Mark for Body Retrieval; Watch Thread; Ignore Thread.

Also, using the Index context menu option to display the Message Index dialog, can have the side-effect of adjusting the position of the message body being viewed. (This can happen if you press the Goto button in the dialog.)  Accordingly, this command always changes the focus item to point to the item you right-clicked, and the current focus is not retained.

You can enable/disable this feature using the checkbox Retain current focus on mouse right-button clicks on the Navigation panel of the Options dialog.

Composition Windows

When you restart Agent it will now preserve open composition windows even if they have no text.  Here's a use case where this can be very helpful.  Suppose you are reading through the headers in a newsgroup and hit "r" for each message to which you might want to reply, creating a new tabbed window for each response.  You then go back to each window, compose and send your reply.  But you may not finish and want to close, then restart Agent.  Now you can, with all your reply windows reopening where you left them.


When you open a new browser window Agent will preserve the scroll position of the Folders pane.

We've added the new command Open in New Tab to the Folders pane context menu, allowing you to open a desk or folder in a new tabbed window.

When dragging a message to a folder in the Folders pane , or dragging a folder or desk within the Folders pane, hovering over the icon will expand the highlighted desk or folder.

Hiding Quoted Text

When you receive a reply to a Usenet or an email message Agent will quote the original text.  If you don't want to see this text press "Q" or select Hide Quoted Text from the View menu.  Only the number of lines of quoted text specified in the Message Body Pane panel of the Options dialog will be displayed, with the line "[QUOTED TEXT]" replacing all text which is being hidden.  A few things to note:

  • If hiding the quoted text displays more lines than the quoted text itself, Agent displays the quoted text. More specifically, if the total number of lines in a block of quoted text, excluding leading and trailing blank lines, is less than or equal to the number of lines that would be displayed when hidden, then Agent omits the [QUOTED TEXT] marker and displays the entire quote.
  • Text is hidden in the Message pane, but not in the composition window.  I.e. When you're composing a reply you'll see all quoted text, allowing you to respond as appropriate.
  • The feature does not work with HTML text.
  • As with other View options such as Word Wrap, there are independent settings for raw and non-raw display modes.  For example you can hide quoted text when viewing a message in non-raw mode, but display the quoted text when switching to raw mode.
  • You can change the color of "[QUOTED TEXT]".  On the Colors panel of the Options dialog, use the setting Body pane hidden quoted text. The default color is the same as the color for quoted text.
  • If you're ambitious you can change the text displayed (the default is "[QUOTED TEXT]") by editing the [Article]HideQuotedMarker parameter in the file agent.ini .

SSL in Windows Vista

Some users found that when using SSL with Windows Vista, trying to obtain the list of newsgroups available would fail on the last step.  Actually it didn't fail, it just took so long to complete that it looked like it failed.  This problem has been fixed.

In addition we have reworked the SSL implementation on Windows Vista so performance issues experienced by some users have been eliminated.

Task Manager Features

Go Offline Command: Many users have asked that the Task Manager not just stop all tasks, but also close all connections immediately.  Agent 6.0 has the Go Offline command, which stops any active tasks, then closes any open or idle connections.  The command is available on the Action menu (in any browser window and the Task Manager).

Retry Failed Tasks Now Command: Found on the Action menu and on the Task Error dialog, this command will restart all tasks that have failed and are paused waiting to retry.  The command does not apply to tasks that have been paused manually.  It also does not apply to individual tasks, but rather retries all failed tasks that are waiting to retry.

Status Bar: Another requested feature, the status bar now always displays the status for the top-most task in the Task Manager window.

Improvements to Searching

You can now cancel the Find command (Edit menu, Find command or Ctrl+F) while the search is in process.  Previously there was no way to abort a search once it had started, and in large newsgroups or folder the search could continue for minutes.  While the search is in process, click Cancel on the dialog or hit the escape key (ESC).

The Find Global command (Ctrl+G) will no longer attempt to search when no message types are selected.

Email Routing

In some circumstances, RBI was not routing incoming email correctly.  The email might end up in the wrong folder, in a new folder or even seem to disappear. (It didn't disappear.  It was placed in a new folder that might not be displayed in your Folders pane.)  This was related to changes we made on Agent 5.0 to support nested folders.  Agent 6.0 updates your address book (contact.xml) to fix this problem.


The "F" key will forward the message you're viewing.

Problems Fixed

  • In some circumstances, generally when downloading HTML images or displaying images in the Message pane, Agent would crash.  This is fixed in Agent 6.0.
  • Certain dates were filtered out of the Review Recent Email window.
  • The Check for Updates operation was very slow for many users.  Not so in version 6.0.
  • Users experienced problems routing email to folders whose name had a trailing space. Agent 6.0 now does not allow folder names with leading or trailing spaces.  When you upgrade from previous versions any leading or trailing space will be converted to  "_" (underscore).

Learn More

Go here for All Release Notes.