Thunderbird Conversations & font issues

Jason McKesson jmckesson at
Fri Jul 1 02:57:13 UTC 2011

I would like to use Thunderbird Conversations, but I can't. The font issues 
mean that I would have one of the following options:

1: Read messages using an exceedingly small font (for my display).

2: Read messages using a reasonably sized font (for my display), but write 
replies and see individual messages (outside of Conversation's workspace) 
with a gigantic font.

3: Compromise: read messages with a smaller font, but write them with a 
bigger font.

None of these are acceptable alternatives. I love the idea of the extension, 
but this simple implementation point makes it unworkable for me.

The problem ultimately stems from wanting replicate exactly how G-Mail works 
in Thunderbird down to the pixel. It would be better if you replicated the 
*feel* of G-Mail's thread system, while using exactly the font sizes that 
Thunderbird itself uses. It makes no sense to ignore the user's choices of 
font sizes, and it makes Conversations really feel like a foreign part of 
Thunderbird rather than a well-integrated add-on that would one day 
hopefully become integrated in a later version.

One of the biggest lessons in UI design is the principle of least surprise. 
It is very surprising when font options aren't actually being followed. As 
is the use of the "Minimum font size" option to mean "this is how big 
message text should be"; it took me a while to figure out why increasing the 
size of the proportional font didn't seem to have an effect.

Maybe the installer should ask if you want your fonts reduced down to 12px, 
and if they say no, then make the fonts what they want them to be. This 
should be one of the switches the user can see at install time and choose to 
avoid if they so desire.
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