The infamous Mozilla core editor

Axel Grude axel.grude at gmail.com
Fri Mar 6 20:46:14 UTC 2015


Dear Tanstaafl,

yes and no. While it's HTML output is horrid, I would dispute that it is a bad editor, 
it is just port of their MS Office WORD engine and produces very reliable results when 
you use it in a Corporate (Outlook only) environment. The Editor of Outlook 2010 
absolutely runs rings around our Composer it has Style Templates, table layouts with 
alternating shading and a lot of other "Word-Processor" niceness.

Of course the email client of Outlook itself is really bad compared to Thunderbird, 
has issues with stability (at  least in my experience) is bloated, and its only saving 
grace is the integrated Calendar and the connection to MS Communicator / Lync / 
Company directory.

> Why Microsoft decided to switch from IE to Word for the HTML rendering
> in Outlook is just something I (and millions of other folks) will never
> understand. The only rational reason I can think of is some kind of
> misguided attempt to motivate Outlook users to buy Office (or at least
> Word).
I think you are thinking from the wrong direction. In corporate environments, Office 
comes first, and email is bolted on. This means documents have to be easily be created 
and shared with the same Corporate format and Word + Excel + Powerpoint [+ Access 
(shucks) hopefully not] are weapons of choice here.

For a corporate user it is very important that a snippet they copy from / into a word 
document "looks the same" when they paste in / from an Email. The user does not care 
that there is a HTML layer underneath. They don't even care that you can do awesome 
stuff with HTML/CSS (text shadow / box shadow / animation) that they can't achieve 
with their text editor. One thing that is really important are persistent styles, and 
here is one of the problems with HTML as we only have semantic markup (p,h1,h2,pre) 
but no way to persist style sheets in classes that survive being copied into other 
email clients.



To get Thunderbird to a UI which has easy pre-definable paragraph styles (like the 
Ribbon in Word) is actually one of my goals for the next 3 years, but I am too much of 
a luddite to attempt it by patching Composer - I am an Add-ons guy. The problem is 
that I do not know how risky any development in this direction would be as I do not 
know if (and when) Thunderbird decides to scrap the current composer and replace it 
with another editor; which would potentially invalidate any work put into this from an 
Add-on perspective.

It would be /absolutely fantastic /if the Tb-Planning team could decide on a binding 
strategy for the way forward with Composer as all we hear at the grass route level are 
rumors. There are a coupkle of people who had written prototypes for other editors  
(or intergration work) but seemingly this never manifested. In the long term I believe 
Thunderbird should build in (or License) its own Editor component independant of 
whatever Mozilla / Firefox decides.

Whenever the topic (composer / editor) comes up there is a temporary flaming up of 
opinions and then it dies down again. Thunderbird surely needs more than a basic 
editor (which gmail and every other web client has) it needs a full layout design 
engine which harnesses the power of CSS and is stable even when viewed in different 
mail clients. It should support optional "compatibility modes" where CSS rules are 
transfered from classes into inline instructions so that users can choose slightly 
worse markup which doesn't "change" when replied to with another HTML capable mail 
client.

 From my own perspective, striking a balance between efficient markup and 
multi-platform compatible rules is surprisingly difficult, I have lot of difficult 
questions from users of my "SmartTemplate4" Add-on, such as "how do I reply with blue 
text"? Questions that seem incredibly trivial at first glance and become a real 
nightmare when these emails are being replied to again and again as class-based style 
rules can destroy quoted / nested emails or even the future mails that will reply to 
your email. So I believe we need 2 things: a better UI experience in Composer and a 
more robust, planned approach to persisting style rules. I would be open to discuss 
these in a work group; but I am doubtful that using bugzilla is the right approach for 
planning this.

regards
   Axel

  --



*Axel Grude <mailto:axel.grude at gmail.com>*
Software Developer
Thunderbird Add-ons Developer (QuickFolders, quickFilters, QuickPasswords, Zombie 
Keys, SmartTemplate4)
AMO Editor Get Thunderbird!

> *Subject:* Re: The infamous Mozilla core editor
> *To:* tb-planning at mozilla.org
> *From: *Tanstaafl
> *Sent: *Friday, 06/03/2015 14:58:04 14:58 GMT ST +0000 [Week 9]
> On 3/6/2015 8:47 AM, Axel Grude <axel.grude at gmail.com> wrote:
> > I know there is a bug for this but I cannot find it:
> >
> >   * In HTML mode, "Paragraph" style should be preselected, not body.
> >   * Enter should create / split <p> </p>
> >   * Shift-Enter should create <br>
> >
> >
> > So many people get it wrong (only press Enter once) and then their
> > paragraphs are "glued together". This is something so fundamental, and
> > works so well in Outlook.
>
> Well... I would challenge that at least. Outlook is one of the worst
> when it comes to composing and rendering HTML email, due to its reliance
> on a totally crippled HTML rendering engine (Word).
>
> Why Microsoft decided to switch from IE to Word for the HTML rendering
> in Outlook is just something I (and millions of other folks) will never
> understand. The only rational reason I can think of is some kind of
> misguided attempt to motivate Outlook users to buy Office (or at least
> Word).
> _______________________________________________
> tb-planning mailing list
> tb-planning at mozilla.org
> https://mail.mozilla.org/listinfo/tb-planning
>


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