It all started, innocently enough, on Saturday, January 16th. Brent Simmons, the Mac software developer and creator of NetNewsWire, wrote a blog post wherein he lamented the lack of a truly awesome Mac OS IMAP email client for power users. Brent's basic thesis was that the Mac community needs such a client that caters who folks who rely on email for a living. He later said: "Mail[.app] ... is a good app, and I like it, I want to be clear about that, but it's not designed for folks like me who ask for a lot more power."
But alas, Brent doesn't have time to code the darn thing himself. His thought, though, was that an open source community of similarly minded Mac heads could collaborate and potentially make something, well, insanely great. Brent wrote: "I am not volunteering to lead it. I may not even be able to contribute. But I can at least kick off a conversation about feasibility and interest and scope."
Two days and literally hundreds of emails later, Brent posted again. At that point, a name for the project existed, Letters.app, along with a Twitter account. Brent announced an election to fill the role of "president" for the project, writing: "The president's job is to ship the next major release. The first president will ship 1.0. This keeps the job product-focused rather than time-focused."
Fast forward two days later, and famed Apple pundit John Gruber was e-inaugurated in that role. A draft of the Letters.app vision document was created as well. In an e-mail to me, Gruber revealed that Gus Mueller, the man behind Flying Meat Software (Acorn, VoodooPad) will serve as the project's technical lead.
Obviously, it's very early for Letters.app; the entire project has existed for less than a week. But with such promising figures from the Mac developer community involved, it certainly seems more likely to ship than, say, Duke Nukem Forever.