Adding instant messaging features to Thunderbird

Kent James kent at
Mon Sep 26 19:03:43 UTC 2011

I did an experiment in December of last year to add a new account type 
to Thunderbird, using Twitter as an example. There is a js addon 
TweeQuilla that demonstrates this, and a binary addon New Account Types 
that in theory could be used by others to do the same thing.

 From my perspective, there is not much point in adding new protocols to 
Thunderbird unless those protocols allow users to leverage all of the 
existing features of Thunderbird into a unified presentation of 
information. These include features such as tagging, filtering, virtual 
search folders combining information from multiple accounts, archiving 
of messages, unified address book, global search, etc. That is possible 
using New Account Types. Right now, the status of that experiment is 
that it works, but it would need to have more testing and interest 
before it was incorporated into the core TB product (and we really need 
to land pluggable storage first).

I would be interested myself in seeing experiments in trying to 
implement instant messaging as a Thunderbird account type, to see where 
synergies might exist. I would suspect that for the most common uses of 
instant messaging, people would not get that much value out of combining 
the two. But I would still like to try it, as the synergies are not 
always immediately apparent. I can see that archiving of IM 
conversations (and I am thinking here of IRC conversations on could have some value. Plus I think that Thunderbird 
really, really needs to understand how they will remain relevant in the 
world of Twitter and Facebook, and that would require some experiments 
in UI design and account unification.

If I had a working moz-compatible XMPP library, I could probably 
implement something with the (limited) sophistication of TweeQuilla in 
about 5 days. But I would much rather that someone else attempted that, 
as I cannot be the only proponent of this approach.


On 9/21/2011 8:38 AM, Florian Quèze wrote:
> Hi,
> I'm currently investigating the possibilities of adding instant
> messaging features to Thunderbird.
> At this point, I'm trying to identify how instant messaging features
> could bring additional value for Thunderbird users.
> The questions I've been asking myself and others during the last few
> days and a summary of the points to answer them that I've already
> collected during discussions are visible on this wiki page:
> (Note: the "Functional specification" section is currently a draft of
> a possible way forward, it doesn't reflect a decision or commitment to
> implement something in any way).
> I would appreciate any feedback/comments/ideas on this topic.
> Especially if you see a way in which adding IM features to Thunderbird
> could make it more useful *for you*, I would like to know about it
> :-). If you disagree with something written on this page, also feel
> free to let me know! :-)

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