Role of addons

Tanstaafl tanstaafl at
Sat Sep 15 10:10:25 UTC 2012

On 2012-09-14 2:23 PM, Patrick Cloke <clokep at> wrote:
> I also wonder if some options don't necessary need UI and "about:config"
> is a good enough UI for them.  We've been using this in Instantbird (and
> in some of the chat code as well) and it seems to work fairly well for
> options that the basic user won't need to tweak and an advanced user
> "gets" how to change it pretty instantaneously.

While I understand the argument, the main problem with this can be 
demonstrated by something that happened to me personally.

When you relegate options to about:config, power users will put things 
like this in their user.js (or userChrome.css) file(s).

The problem with this is bitrot.

What happens when the core code changes such a 'hidden' option - what it 
does, or how it affects other parts of the code, etc?

In my case, I had made some changes to how IMAP handled downloaded MIME 
parts in order to 'fix' certain other long standing IMAP problems, and 
when this behavior was changed, it started exhibiting major problems 
with certain messages. It took me a couple of months to narrow the 
problem down to these changes I had made years before to workaround 
other problems.

There really needs to be some kind of mechanism in place to sanity-check 
changes that users apply either just through about:config, or 
permanently through custom user.js/userChrome.css files, so that 
potentially problematic modifications can be brought to the users attention.

*How* to do that is not something I'm skilled enough to address, but I 
just wanted to throw that out there.

Thanks by the way for opening these things up for discussion... I'm 
really starting to feel better about Thunderbirds future... :)

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