Mozilla no longer developing Thunderbird
tanstaafl at emoore.ftml.net
Sat Jul 7 21:34:41 UTC 2012
> Yesterday Mitchell Baker posted on the future of Thunderbird:
1. "Support will continue to be provided by the Thunderbird community
and Mozilla will continue to provide the required infrastructure."
Is the official support forum part of the required infrastructure? The
proposal should include a overview of the required infrastructure, and
what is being explicitly dropped.
The proposal doesn't address several issues such as who will maintain
the ISP database, and what happens to account provisioning (is anybody
left authorized to sign contracts with new email providers?).
2. "At the same time, Thunderbird will be released with the same feature
set as Thunderbird ESR and will be updated every six-weeks for security
Does that include updating Thunderbird to use the latest version of Gecko?
Given the existing problems maintaining and testing Thunderbird I am
confused why the proposal keeps the "new development process" (update
every 6 weeks, including latest Gecko). I'd have expected a slower
release schedule so that the fewer resources have a easier time
maintaining the software and there is a more consistent platform (to
make it easier to get and integrate contributions from the community).
If Mozilla believes "it is quite possible that Thunderbird is already
pretty much what its users want and there is not a high demand for
innovation in this field." why do we need the "new development process"?
I don't see the need for security patches every six weeks for a email
client. People can still safely use 126.96.36.199 if they apply common sense.
The security advisories seem to deliberately inflate the impact of
potential problems. I'd argue that a new release every 6 weeks actually
contributes to stability problems, especially if there is no longer a QA
3. SeaMonkey is a community effort hosted by and under the legal
protection of the Mozilla Foundation, with the SeaMonkey Council
providing the project leadership. SeaMonkey would seem a better model
than maintaining the status quo with a fraction of the existing resources.
Most of the Thunderbird module owners seem to be Mozilla employees. Its
not clear why that would change anytime soon. I'm worried that the
project will continue to pay the political cost of being a Mozilla
project (many decisions dictated by what Firefox does or Mozilla's
roadmaps) while losing most of its resources. That doesn't seem viable.
4. It would help if a few features developed over a long time that are
near completion such as maildir support were finished and there was some
sort of explicit exit criteria to have a smooth handoff rather than
development ending as soon as a new governance model was established.
That doesn't necessarily require more investment by Mozilla, it might be
done by prioritizing what needs to get done before the transition.
It wouldn't hurt to evaluate removing some half-way finished
implementations (such as anti-phishing, which most people disable) that
will probably never be finished due to lack of interest in order to make
Thunderbird a little easier to maintain.
5. The proposal doesn't mention the impact on SeaMonkey. My impression
is they leverage bug fixes and new features developed by Mozilla for
Thunderbird, and this means they are going to have to divert some of
their limited resources. Some volunteers such as rsx11m seem to work on
both projects. Perhaps there needs to be some more explicit coordination
to help deal with the common lack of resources.
6. "We have come to the conclusion that continued innovation on
Thunderbird is not a priority for Mozilla and that the most critical
needs for the product are on-going security and stability. In fact, it
is quite possible that Thunderbird is already pretty much what its users
want and there is not a high demand for innovation in this field. "
Users want a product that is under active development and has a future,
even if they don't really care about the new features or get annoyed by
some of the changes. I suspect many users will interpret the re-focusing
of efforts as Mozilla abandoning Thunderbird, and will look for
alternative email clients since they don't perceive the community as
providing enough development. I think there would have been a much
better reaction if Mozilla had announced they were reducing staffing
levels (there were only two full time employees for a good while) but
would continue new development at a slower pace.
More information about the tb-planning