Thunderbird and Addons

Philipp Kewisch mozilla at
Mon Aug 24 19:48:43 UTC 2015

While in the short run I'd agree to all three points you mention, I
think we need to plan on how we will interact with the new addon plans
of Mozilla. If we go with this statement now and only make changes when
core Mozilla code no longer supports it, it will be way too late to
transition Thunderbird addons then and we will have an even bigger problem.

I do think that we should try to make the most out of what they are
doing with Web Extensions and System Extensions. If this is what it is
going to be, then we'll need to provide a set of APIs that Thunderbird
addons can use, based on what our addons are currently doing. I've added
two ideas to the uservoice page [1] [2] (plus my comment on [3]) that
would benefit Thunderbird, if you have a moment please vote :)

It is a bit to early to make concrete suggestions on what a such API
will look like since I am still unsure how they plan to replace the xul
overlaying which we make more extensive use of. Working on this API
early doesn't mean we can't keep xul based addons enabled longer than
Firefox, but if we have to shut this done from one day to another our
addon community will probably be nonexistent.

It is also a premier opportunity to work with the addons folks so that
WebExtensions doesn't turn into a second Addon-SDK that doesn't work
well for Thunderbird.



On 8/24/15 8:35 PM, R Kent James wrote:
> We need to do some sort of announcement in the Thunderbird blog about
> our plans concerning addons. I'd like to have feedback from folks to
> see if there is any debate about what is the correct direction for us.
> We've at least agreed that we are continuing to support binary addons.
> Concerning signing, we took steps months ago to not move forward on
> requiring addons to be signed, so there are no current plans to
> require signing. There is still some debate about that in bug 1168571.
> We should probably come to a firm decision and announce it. Most
> commenters were opposed to signing, though there were some holdouts.
> Then there is "The Future of Developing Firefox Add-ons - The Mozilla
> Blog
> <>"
> that announces the complete disabling of current XUL addons at some
> point in the future. Several Thunderbird community members commented
> on that blog post, strongly opposed to that direction.
> Contrast that with Firefox/Go Faster
> <> where there are plans to
> expand the use of addons in Firefox, adding so-called "system add-ons"
> and moving Hello to one. (This is similar to what we are doing with
> Lightning, which should hopefully make our Lightning integration
> easier in the future).
> At this point, I think that the prevailing viewpoint is probably the
> following, and I would like to announce this if possible in a blog post:
> 1)    Thunderbird continues to support binary addons.
> 2)    Thunderbird will not require addon signing.
> 3)    Thunderbird has no current plans to disable the use of
> traditional XUL/XPCOM addons in Thunderbird.
> This policy must be modified by the caveat "as long as core Mozilla
> code can be used to support it".
> (I might also note that initial patches are being looked at for the
> integration of the technology formerly know as Skinkglue into
> Thunderbird core, to be called JsAccount, which makes it possible to
> define new account types in Thunderbird using a traditional
> XUL/XPCOM/JavaScript addon. This will almost certainly be in our next
> major release).
> Could I have some comments or discussion on these proposed positions?
> I hope the Thunderbird community appreciates that diverging from
> Mozilla in this manner will probably mean that we will need to take
> over addon review from Thunderbird at some point, possibly including
> forking of AMO for our own use.
> :rkent
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> tb-planning mailing list
> tb-planning at

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