Week-long sprint to create minimal usable Thunderbird Server

Paul D. Fernhout pdfernhout at kurtz-fernhout.com
Sun Dec 13 03:59:33 UTC 2015

Below is a link to an ambitious "hard fun" agenda I am pursuing over the 
next week with user stories and tasks to create a proof-of-concept for a 
Thunderbird Server application that runs locally and has a single-page 
webapp frontend in Mithril. The hope is that by the end of the week a 
new web-server-based system will work well enough to actually be useable 
directly (if no doubt painfully) by a development team to discuss 
further improvements of that software in a bootstrapping (Engelbart) way 
towards becoming a "social semantic desktop". Goals include reading and 
annotating RSS feeds, IRC chat messages, and Thunderbird and pipermail 
archives; receiving POP3 email and sending email via SMTP; and 
supporting creating and editing wiki pages and IBIS diagrams via sending 
structured emails composed by plugins. If the sprint goes according to 
plan (and things rarely do) hopefully this next Thursday I will be able 
to send an email to this tb-planning list from the resulting 
application. :-)

As I said, it is an ambitious agenda, but it is not quite as impossible 
as it may seem at first given I've just spent a year making a single 
page FOSS webapp and have also written some other code that I can draw 
from. Of course the UX is going to be simple and ugly, but hopefully it 
will prove the concept anyway.

So, at the end of the "ThunderbirdS are grow!" manifesto is now a 
week-long sprint plan, initial architectural choices, some of my 
motivations for doing the proof-of-concept, a long-term invitation to 
collaborate down the road if this first sprint produces some good 
results, an explanation of why the plan is broad but shallow, and some 
other contextual information -- including at least one very good reason 
I should not be doing this proof of concept. :-)

Here again is a link to that document:

BTW, Just above that sprint plan is the contents of another email I sent 
early today to the Mozilla governance list and which is still pending in 
the moderation queue. In it, I suggest how I feel there is a fundamental 
confusion in the Mozilla mission statement between supporting a whole 
("the internet", which includes email and peer-to-peer) and a part ("the 
web", which tends to be more centralized).

Because this is not an official Mozilla project, I'm calling it 
"Twirlip" and not "Thunderbird" (not wanting to get into legal trouble 
with Mozilla for trademark infringement or to cause any confusion with 
Thunderbird Desktop users). That could obviously change down the road.

Even if this specific project accomplishes this ambitious agenda in a 
week, the project may not go anywhere after that limited success though 
for all sorts of reasons. But even a limited success could still be a 
useful example for this tb-planning group to think about in terms of 
what a real Thunderbird Server project might look like if Mozilla (or 
someone else) got behind some future effort eventually. So, I hope this 
project can add to the discussion here one way or another.

I created a GitHub project to use for that sprint. Not much to see there 
yet beyond the MPL 2 license file and the ambitious one week sprint 
agenda though, but here is the link:

If I don't respond to any emails about this project anytime soon, it 
will hopefully be because I am busy coding. :-) As above, I hope to 
provide an update on this project at the end of this coming week.

Wish me luck! ThunderbirdS are grow! :-)

--Paul Fernhout
The biggest challenge of the 21st century is the irony of technologies 
of abundance in the hands of those still thinking in terms of scarcity.

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