Role of addons

Blake Winton bwinton at
Fri Sep 14 17:20:49 UTC 2012

On 14-09-12 13:06 , Kent James wrote:
> To push at the simplicity boundary, we must be willing to reduce the 
> complexity of the user interface. One of the main ways that we have to 
> do that is through addons. The user interface for features that are 
> only going to be used by a tiny fraction of our users should be pushed 
> to addons, and not included in the core code.
As TB UX Lead, I'm a strong +1 on this position.  ;)
> In the long run I would like to see us do this more explicitly by 
> adding a category of addon that is maintained along with the core 
> product, and shipped with the core product. So these addons would have 
> the same commitment to support as any core feature, but are included 
> as addons to reduce the overall complexity of the product. Good 
> candidates for that in the long run would be chat, calendaring, RSS 
> feeds, bayesian junk processing, advanced security models, and 
> advanced search and filter functionality.
> In the short run, I would encourage us to be selective about adding 
> new features that complicate an already overwhelming user interface. 
> Just because a developer is motivated should not be a good reason to 
> add new user interface items for rarely needed features.
I also agree with this, although if any developer wants to simplify some 
of the user interface (like aceman is doing for the filter stuff), I 
would heartily welcome that!
> Comments?
Instead of addons, what about having a section of the preferences 
dedicated to less-used-features, which can be turned on and off as the 
user chooses?

The benefits I see to this are that it will be easier to keep the code 
in sync with the core code, since any breakage will show up in our 
tests, and it shouldn't be any less work to provide the same level of 

The disadvantage is that we may forget that some features are not always 
enabled, and so code against them in the core.


Blake Winton   Thunderbird User Experience Lead
bwinton at

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