Combined From/Recipient column ("Correspondents") in thread pane - What do you think?

Jim Porter squibblyflabbetydoo at
Fri Apr 10 22:40:30 UTC 2015

On 04/10/2015 03:38 AM, Jörg Knobloch wrote:
> As currently implemented, the new column automatically replaces "From"
> and "Recipient" columns for any existing folder when the user visits the
> folder in Thunderbird 39.
> Personally, I find this "hard sell" of the new feature a little too
> aggressive. I would not upgrade existing folders to use the new column
> automatically. I would leave it to the users' choice whether or not they
> want to use the new column.

This is a pretty bad way to make people aware of the new feature*. To be
honest, if we *didn't* upgrade people to use this column, I wouldn't see
much point in adding it in the first place. If we don't think a change
in UX is better than the status quo, then we probably have better things
to work on.

One way to smooth the migration would be for the "Apply columns to..."
menu to allow for applying the settings to *every* folder, rather than
doing so on a per-account basis (I believe we already support swapping
>From and Recipients columns depending on whether a folder is outgoing or
not). This would mean that, even if you have 100 accounts, it takes a
total of 6 clicks to restore the old behavior.

My only actual complaint with the current UI for this feature is that
the arrows need to be more distinct. For mailing lists, it now takes
more time for me to see the messages I sent, since I can't just look for
my name. Now I have to either 1) look at the arrow, or 2) remember which
folder I'm in so I can see the mailing list name. I've long argued that
color should be used in Thunderbird for things that have dynamic
state/position, e.g. don't use color for toolbar buttons, which are
(mostly) static, but *do* use color for folder/thread pane icons. Color
is a great way to make it easier for users to parse information quickly,
and this is a classic example of a place where that'd be helpful.

- Jim

* You might say that we should make users aware of the feature by
putting it in the release notes, but many users don't read those (and
they shouldn't have to!), so that's not sufficient.

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