Papercuts discussion - Composer related enhancements

Kent James kent at
Thu Jul 19 06:32:14 UTC 2012

On 7/18/2012 3:15 PM, Axel wrote:
>>> If you were going for major compatibility you (e.g. outlook 
>>> fidelity) you would have to back pedal so far... I personally for 
>>> HTML email CSS is the future (as it is for HTML5).
>>> *If Thunderbird can lead by example, then this is the one area where 
>>> I would like it to be brave: _
>>> _*
>>>   * *_be CSS3 compliant_; *
>>>   * *_encourage use of CSS_*;
>>> it is not that hard. Just use a proper browser engine, there are 
>>> plenty choices out there. Of course, composing is an entirely 
>>> different kettle of fish (that's the hard bit). :)
>> This is an issue where lack of clarity of our core product 
>> positioning makes it hard to choose.
>> I doubt if many of our users would want us to be "lead by example" 
>> and sacrifice "major compatibility (with) ... outlook" in the process.
> I don't think that this "sacrifice compatibility" is something we need 
> to actively /drive.
> /
Glad to hear that!
> //On 7/17/2012 3:01 PM, Axel wrote:
> ...  so here is the deal and my thought process behind this - if we 
> add simplified editing support for CSS3 features like gradients, 
> border-radius and box-shadow, this won't "break compatibility" with 
> word, but you get *better usability and high fidelity *within 
> *Thunderbird corporate environments and with private Thunderbird 
> users*; for the web based email clients it wouldn't be hard to 
> gradually add support for these features (they would just have to be a 
> bit more cautious "ripping out" "undesired" layout) [- also, have a 
> look at what they make of emails authored with Outlook.]

> At the same time, Word as text editor integrated within  Outlook is 
> doubtless "A Neat Thing" which enables outlook users to very simply 
> generate highly complex layouts that can be truthfully transmitted  
> within the boundaries of the platform (basically, Exchange networks).
> I would really like a similar level of "ease of use"  when creating 
> emails that are sent between Thunderbird users, and whether we think 
> this is a good or bad thing, we should agree that HTML is the 
> platform, and CSS is the way to do the layout - why stick to 
> deprecated standards?

I think that we would all agree,  when we are wearing our Mozillians 
teeshirt, that it is Mozevil to use your platform dominance to force 
non-standard email layout schemes on the world (as MS did), and 
Mozawesome to instead use web standards to improve the editing and 
layout possibilities for emails.

When I put on my business school teeshirt (full disclosure: this belongs 
to my daughter, not me) I have to to ask which of our market segments 
would be hurt by doing this, and which would be helped. I suppose that 
we may have a market segment which is "Enterprise Thunderbird users in a 
pure Thunderbird environment" who would benefit from improved TB-to-TB 
messaging, but I would guess that it is small. I suspect that the 
majority of our users would be classified as people who are not 
particularly sophisticated in HTML and CSS issues, and who send email to 
a heterogeneous audience. For them,  "Thunderbird is broken" if the 
emails that they add cool layout to end up looking bad in Outlook or 
Gmail. Is that going to be a problem, and if so how would you address it?

> My point is, let's harness that power and show people what is possible 
> (while sticking to the HTML standards); the trick is to build a good 
> user interface to make that power easy to use; I think this will take 
> some vision and some braveness, but I do not think for a minute that 
> it will alienate any Outlooks users (I am one myself, in my bread job, 
> so I know what I am talking about); but rather attract them. If you're 
> stuck with outlook in you job, then "Hey look what you can do with 
> that, in your private email!"

It would be awesome to try some of these ideas in an addon, or a Mozilla 
labs-type project, to see what the possibilities are.


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