Directions for Thunderbird
ben.bucksch at beonex.com
Sat Apr 2 07:04:41 UTC 2011
I would like to suggest some directions for the future of Thunderbird.
It's a high-level view, in the lines of "If I had to make the future of
Thunderbird, what would I do?"
Currently, there is no real open-source proposal for email in companies,
at all. Companies need a calendar, and we have code in form of
Lightning, but we didn't integrate it. There are interesting proposals
from the server side, open-source shops creating an integrated server
for email and calendar. While we'll have a hard time to make a dent in
Outlook and Exchange, we should at least offer something that companies
*wanting* to use open-source can use. With the existing code, plus a
community, I think it wouldn't be too hard to tackle.
I personally would build Thunderbird into the chat direction, using
Jabber, with extensions to reach many people at once. Twitter and
Facebook are popular in part because it's easy to make quick small
messages to many people. Facebook and GMail both support Jabber, so
there are servers and there is interoperability with the popular
services. As for code, I recently wrote an XMPP client protocol
implementation using chrome JS and nsISocketTransport for a customer, I
just have to convince them to open-source it. As UI, we could use code
I spend a good deal of my day reading newspapers, on the web. In the
browser. I am still lacking an RSS client that's working well for me.
Thunderbird would be in a very good position for that. Myk's prototype
that he showed at Firefox Summit 2008 was perfect, IMHO.
Myk's prototype also really innovated in the way messages are prevented,
making email reading a lot more efficient, in a way that will be hard
for most webmail. *Please* please pick this up, including his
dramatically different user interface and code design.
When Linus switches to GMail web interface, surely not because he likes
webmail, but because it's more efficient - that shows that we have grace
technical deficiencies. We need to analyze those and swiftly fix them.
Andrew Sutherland has been great for that.
Andrew also likes to visualize things. *Please* let him innovate freely,
free him from any barriers (including review), and give him assistants.
I think of how he wanted to use drag&drop to select messages, show
relations etc.. He can innovate things for TB that will make people
"wow", which will be highly efficient in everyday usage, and which will
be hard for webmail to copy.
For the "swiftly" part, I feel like Thunderbird's development process
makes it impossible to contribute. When MoMo was created, with Mark
Banner, Andrew Sutherland, dmose, and many others, I felt a new,
innovative spirit. But when trying to contribute, it turned out to be
impossible. Innovations (including contributions with 1000 lines of
code) are stopped short to a screeching halt in their tracks by the
review nit-picking procedures and test requirements. I for myself have
concluded that it's impossible to contribute, although would have liked
to. This must change for TB to be alive, which is a pre-condition for it
I also think we should do more advocacy. Facebook sure does make efforts
to advocate its use, the "like it" buttons are partially just there to
let Facebook be in people's face. It's good that F1 is countering that.
Be we should reach out and educate users about the advantages of our
Hope this high-level view from me starts a few constructive thoughts and
that they'll be put into action.
More information about the tb-planning