Worthwhile Thunderbird projects/addons?

Kent James kent at caspia.com
Tue Dec 21 17:03:46 UTC 2010

On 12/20/2010 10:02 PM, Jim wrote:
> I'd be especially interested in working on
> something new, since 1) it adds breadth to the experiments/addons, and
> 2) it means I get to work on the fun stuff.
Let me introduce you to some work I have been quietly doing in the last 
few weeks, as it is meant as a demonstration project hoping someone 
might take an interest in it.

There have not been new account types added to TB since RSS was added 
years ago. It is not currently practical to do this in js, as Joshua 
Cranmer discovered in a series of blog posts on the subject that he 
ultimately abandoned.

I'm working on a larger project, the ExQuilla addon, that uses a C++ 
approach to adding Exchange Web Services (EWS) as an account type. 
Although unfinished in details, I have largely succeeded in adding a new 
account type as an extension using Gecko 1.9.2/TB 3.2.x - but most of 
the implementation is in C++  During the month of December I have taken 
a reprieve from that, experimenting on whether I could take what I have 
learned and develop an approach that would allow future new account 
types to be added using javascript only. Personally, I think this is 
critical if TB is going to be able to keep up with rapid changes in 
messaging technology that currently are not approachable from within 
Thunderbird. Addons that try to use new messaging technologies are 
forced to just tack them on the edges of the product, and they really 
are little different from the same approach taken within Firefox.

So what I have done is to try to split out the necessary C++ pieces into 
a separate software layer which I call SkinkGlue, which is common to 
both my C++ EWS implementation, as well as an experimental 
implementation of a Twitter account type which is only done in 
Javascript. The ultimate goal is that SkinkGlue could be a capability 
that is added into the core TB product to solve the support issues that  
a binary extension has, allowing that most future new account types 
would be added solely in javascript.

I am not really interested myself in pursuing the javascript-based 
perfection of Twitter or other social mail account types within 
Thunderbird, but I was hoping to contribute the knowledge that I have 
gained on how to add new accounts so that others could do this without 
enduring the months of tedium that I have had to endure to explore the 
dark corners of the Thunderbird code base. So if you or someone else 
takes an interest in this, I could see contributing SkinkGlue and the 
existing nascent Twitter application (called of course TweeQuilla) for 
others to perfect.

At the moment, I can add Twitter as a new account type, and display 
twitter feeds as subjects for a couple of preconfigured "folders" (my 
tweets, and my friends tweets). I am just starting to work on the 
message pane displays, for which I will have to get the interactions 
with channels, DocShells and libmime working.


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