Followup to bug 241197 -- or -- feedback from an extension developer

Andrew Sutherland asutherland at asutherland.org
Mon Mar 22 23:00:48 UTC 2010


  On 03/22/2010 02:40 PM, Jonathan Protzenko wrote:
> 1) We used to see really amazing extensions like this one:
>
> http://www.visophyte.org/blog/2009/04/01/thunderbird-gloda-exptoolbar-protovis-paninaro-oh-oh-oh/
>
> It doesn't seem to be updated. Are there any plans to move this 
> forward / maintain it? There are some other possibilities (see 
> http://flowingdata.com/2008/03/19/21-ways-to-visualize-and-explore-your-email-inbox/ 
> for instance) and I'm sure many people would be excited to see such 
> visualizations as "recommended" addons on AMO. Of course, once the 
> APIs are improved and manipulating messages is as easy as toggling a 
> <div> with jQuery, it will be even easier to build such things. But 
> what's the general stance on this?

Exptoolbar itself is dead but we're not done mining its corpse.  A lot 
of our efforts on it fed into the faceted search implementation, but we 
weren't able to productize everything.  Hopefully most of the ideas and 
some of the code will find new life in more maintainable/extensible forms.

I myself am a ridiculous fan of visualization, but it's very important 
to me that we avoid the 'research prototype' scenario where someone 
pours a ton of effort into creating something great but it ends up such 
a mess of code that it's hard to maintain and lives in its own little 
universe apart from all other extensions and slowly bit-rots.

The great news is that thanks to the continued progress of the protovis 
visualization library and the jetpack framework, most of the wheels have 
already been invented for us.  Although we are definitely going to 
support jQuery and it is fantastic for prototypes, I have found that it 
does not particularly scale well in and of itself.  You end up needing 
to build a framework of your own but still have to fight the tendency of 
the code to want to be write-only.


I'm going to address the other points in a separate reply for size reasons.

Andrew
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