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

Andrew J. Buehler wanderer at
Sat Apr 11 00:23:21 UTC 2015

Hash: SHA512

On 04/10/2015 at 06:40 PM, Jim Porter wrote:

> 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.

I agree that there needs to be a highly visible notification of the
existence of the new feature, and that there needs to be a way to have
people automatically migrated to using it. I also agree that it's fine
(and even probably _should_ be done) to have this column present by
default in any newly-created folders, though if there's a way to let
people control that (whether by pref or by add-on) that would be good.

However, I think it's possible to achieve that while still providing
people with a simple way to avoid the automatic migration.

What I envision is a something like one-time prompt, after upgrade,
announcing the new feature and asking whether to migrate to it
automatically. Based on the answer to that prompt, set a Boolean pref
like the one in comment 11 of bug 1152706, then respect that pref

Since apparently the actual migration is done per-folder and only when
the folder in question is visited, this would mean checking the pref
once at launch and once when opening each folder.

Would there be any problems with that approach?

Even if a prompt to auto-create such a pref is deemed too difficult or
too obnoxious or suchlike, respecting the pref if it exists and is
"false" - while providing no announcement - would provide a way to avoid
the auto-migration, for those who may already be aware it's going to

> 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.

Unless I'm missing something, that's only true if all of those folders
had the exact same column configuration. If you intentionally had
different columns in some folders, this would actually make things

> * 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.

On this, I entirely agree. That's one reason why I don't think
announcing the automatic migration (and any way to turn it off) in the
release notes is sufficient, either.

I recognize and respect the problems with paying too much attention to
those who dislike seeing any change at all. If I'm not mistaken, I'd say
that the minimum concession which needs to be made to such people could
be expressed simply (if somewhat less than unambiguously) as "Don't make
avoiding the change any harder than it needs to be".

Exactly how hard that is, in any given case, can of course vary
depending on any number of factors - including the available workforce,
if implementing the change in a way which makes it avoidable is too much
harder than implementing it without doing so.

- -- 
  Andrew J. Buehler
Version: GnuPG v1


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