Thunderbird Home Tab

Jonathan Protzenko jonathan.protzenko at gmail.com
Sun Apr 17 16:26:25 UTC 2011


        TL;DR

I've been thinking about the web tabs and the rss dashboard experiments. 
I think a very nice project could be a Thunderbird home tab, just like 
the Firefox home tab. It could unify web tabs, rss dashboard, and 
possibly other information, into a single page that's your entry point 
into Thunderbird, and that also gives you an overview of everything that 
happens in your Thunderbird. Plus, it could provide a consistent 
experience between Firefox and Thunderbird.


        Rationale

Alex Faaborg has been talking recently about the Firefox home tab 
<http://blog.mozilla.com/faaborg/2011/04/13/the-firefox-home-tab/> that 
he envisions for Firefox 6. He wants it to store various pieces of 
information: people, websites, history, bookmarks, tabs and tabs 
groups... I'm stricken by how useful that could be for Thunderbird as 
well. Think about the various types of actions you do with Thunderbird:
- check new mail,
- check rss feeds,
- tweak account settings,
- email people,
- open web apps into Thunderbird tabs,
- etc. etc.

All these actions match what Alex describes in his blog post, and I 
think we could display each one of these items into a Thunderbird home 
tab that's your entry point for Thunderbird. It would allow you to:
- have a widget that displays most recent emails,
- have a widget that displays most recent RSS feeds,
- have an area that allows you to customize settings for each one of 
your accounts,
- have an area with your favorite contacts,
- have an area that allows you to open web apps such as Facebook and 
Twitter as Thunderbird tabs,
- etc. etc.

(Each one of the bullet points above is supposed to match the 
corresponding bullet point from the first list). It would look like a 
Firefox app tab, glow when something new happens, etc. etc. Alex's home 
tab is constantly open and appears leftmost in the Firefox tab bar. I 
think that's something that could prove relevant for Thunderbird as 
well. Various UI items are not discoverable easily (think account 
settings vs. general settings), and I think it could provide a great 
starting point for all your Thunderbird-related actions.


        Mockup

As a proof of concept, and just for RSS Feeds, I've uploaded my RSS 
Dashboard experiment to AMO 
<https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/thunderbird/addon/rss-tab/>. It's 
braindead simple, and works minimally, but I just wanted to show that we 
could build cool stuff with just a few lines of JS in Thunderbird. If 
that were ever to happen, we could reuse the code from the RSS 
Dashboard, and from Webtabs, to create a great experiment.

If anyone stands interested, I'd love to implement this and devote some 
time to this, as I believe it's highly valuable. However, the catch is 
I'm *pretty bad at design and UX*. Therefore, I don't know who's the 
right person to ping for this. With Mozilla Messaging now being 
reintegrated into Mozilla,
- can we expect Firefox UX people to be interested in contributing to this?
- can we expect Bryan and Andy to be interested in this, or are they 
going to be more focused on F1-related stuff, and not available for 
Thunderbird work?

I'd love to hear your thoughts about this! Do you think it is a good 
direction? Do you think I would be wasting my time?

Have a nice Sunday all,

jonathan
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