Role of addons

Axel axel.grude at
Sun Sep 16 12:16:12 UTC 2012

> On 15/09/2012 4:22 AM, Kent James wrote:
>> On 9/14/2012 11:23 AM, Patrick Cloke wrote:
>>> I also wonder if some options don't necessary need UI and "about:config" is a good 
>>> enough UI for them.
>> That is good for really rare choices, or cases where a minority disagrees with a 
>> decision (New versus Unread counts in the Mac summary is a good example of that). 
>> But some key players hate them on principle.
> About config options are almost always buried in the comments of the bug.  They are 
> not documented, until now support have had a policy of not documenting them in how 
> to articles unless they must.  There are literally thousands of settings in 
> About:config, If we are to start the process of deliberately placing advanced 
> settings in about:config for the user to edit then it is time to ante up and 
> document the ones that are already there.
You are giving me an idea for a new extension that makes access to them easier and 
documents them. I have a standard mechanism of exposing selected debug options by 
opening about:config with a readonly filter (which is a very primitive and lazy way of 
making them accessible without building a new UI).

>>> I don't think it makes sense to talk about this in overall terms.  I think it 
>>> would be more useful to take a look at each feature individually and see whether 
>>> it can be simplified / removed / etc.
>> A specific strategy of being more deliberate about pushing advanced features to 
>> addons is an overall issue, and the main point of this thread. Certainly we should 
>> strive whenever possible to keep user interfaces simple.
> I don't think it is advanced features that is the problem, it is UI design. 
+ 1,000 !

there is a lot of functionality in Tb already which is hard to access or understand 
from a UI stand point.
> When I am editing my account setup, there is no button to click to open passwords or 
> outgoing servers for that account. 
QuickPasswords actually does that for you - click an account in the folder pane and 
then the QuickPasswords button - it always tries to guess the context of what password 
you are looking for. but it would be trivial to add a button to the Server Settings 
page beside the user name field; and also the logical place rather than expecting the 
user to know that his function is compartmentalized into the Password Manager (one of 
the most hidden features of the Mozilla application universe).
> It is this sort of creaky decades old design that is the issue.
> Over in support land users are asking
>   * how to change a password (Microsoft have passwords, most users are x Microsoft 
> software).  We hide this stuff so well that some are not even aware they have a 
> password until it stops working.
QuickPasswords :-P

It is funny I often get support mail that assumes I have written the whole Password 
Manager because people are not aware that it is built in and can be reached via 
Edit/Settings or Tools/Options. Managing Passwords is clearly an important piece of 
functionality, IMO it would deserve to be promoted to a  main  menu item. (Tools or 
Edit Menu)
>   * They want to know how to "export" their mail to move to their new device. This 
> is an area that needs action.  We have a full bodied data intensive application 
> sitting on a machine that is these days often replaced in 12 to 24 months, that is 
> if it does not simply let out the magic smoke in 6 months.  We have no migration 
> path. Or backup strategy.  I know. backup is a machine thing.  Not any more.  
> Everyone copies their important stuff to USB.
+1 - my suggestion would be to *create **an extension for this first* (I don't agree 
an external utility like MozBackup is the best / correct way to approach this; it is 
just too techie to set up). then after doing UAT with the users continue to migrate 
into core.
>   * Where have their menu and toolbars gone (How can I send a mail my send button 
> and it's whole bar is missing?)
Isn't the toolbar still shown as part of the vanilla setup? And the user get's a 
choice of whether to integrate this into the mail header pane instead?

Sorry, I haven't looked at nightly lately.
>   * My account does not work and it has a padlock on it!  It would be funny, except 
> for some providers our penchant for NOT using the account settings recommended by 
> the providers does mean that padlock is indeed the reason their mail is not working.
>   *And they still don't get Tabs (Yesterdays description was a line of email 
> addresses across the top of the page)
> None of those things are advanced features, but they are UI issues.  If the users 
> just don't get it that our design is at fault.

*Axel Grude* [T]
Software Developer
Thunderbird Add-ons Developer (QuickFolders, quickFilters, QuickPasswords, Zombie 
Keys, SmartTemplate4)
AMO Editor
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