Thunderbird Reorganization: Summary Plan

Joshua Cranmer 🐧 Pidgeot18 at
Wed Sep 10 19:41:45 UTC 2014

On 9/9/2014 12:25 PM, Kent James wrote:
> While Thunderbird remains a strong product with a growing user base, 
> it's become apparent that we need to rework some basic ways that we 
> operate if we are to successfully meet our user's expectations in the 
> future. Here I present in brief summary the key features of a plan 
> that I believe are necessary to move us forward. Let's discuss this 
> and see if we can reach a consensus so that we can begin the process 
> of implementing any needed changes in conjunction with our upcoming 
> Thunderbird Summit.
> Thunderbird Reorganization: Summary Plan
> 1) Thunderbird to remain an independent project under the Mozilla 
> umbrella, but with a large degree of autonomy. Thunderbird to be 
> subject to the Mozilla Manifesto and brand, but may depart from the 
> current Mozilla Mission of promoting the web as a platform.

I think it is worth pointing out that messaging and communication are at 
severe risk of being closed off. While WebRTC is an open standard, all 
of the major videoconferencing solutions don't use it (Google Hangouts 
still requires you to install a plugin if you're not on Chrome). Even 
venerable IMAP is being threatened: several major webmail providers 
(including Google) are trying to ban non-OAuth2 logins, which 
effectively requires clients to hardcode a list of webmail providers. 
Even so, Thunderbird is the largest open-source email project, and, from 
experience, I can tell you that saying that actions will cause issues 
for Thunderbird will have more of an impact than saying that actions 
will cause issues for, say, Gaia Email.

IMAP and MIME are very complex specifications defined across dozens of 
documents and containing several rules honored only in the breach. I 
think Thunderbird could be doing more to make robust implementations of 
these specifications available to other prospective applications, and I 
think Gaia Email would love to help (short the caveat that they are 
almost as badly stretched for resources as we are :( ).

Thunderbird is a very powerful weapon to achieve Mozilla's vision, and I 
think both the need to use that weapon and the realization of its power 
are vastly undercounted in Mozilla as an organization. We should 
certainly strive to make these facts more well-known at Mozilla.

Joshua Cranmer
Thunderbird and DXR developer
Source code archæologist

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