Softmaker Office

R Kent James kent at
Tue Mar 17 17:31:12 UTC 2015

I've been discussing this with Martin of Softmaker for about a year, but 
he did not want any information leaked earlier because it had a large 
impact on his customers and existing business relationships. He 
originally approached me because he was interested in including ExQuilla 
with his office suite, but as we talked it became clear that his plans 
were more important to Thunderbird than to ExQuilla, so I have been 
primarily representing Thunderbird in discussions with him.

Parts of the Thunderbird UI were not to their liking, and partly at my 
encouragement they will use an add-on to customize the user interface to 
be more compatible with their office suite. That allows them to get what 
they want, while ultimately being able to contribute positively to the 
core program rather than a fork.

A developer has been working on the add-on for them for a number of 
months, and has web/javascript skills typical of an addon author. 
Softmaker says that once the developer is finished with their addon, he 
will be available to the Thunderbird community for core projects. Based 
on that background, I've encouraged them to consider taking on the 
project of CardDav integration as an initial effort, as that is one of 
the issues that was mentioned repeatedly as a shortcoming in responses 
to my recent "Thunderbird is alive" blog post.

The developer has not yet been able to engage with the Thunderbird 
community. Until that happens, and it is clear that this is likely to be 
a long-lasting contribution, I don't want to make too much of the 
promise of a full-time developer to Thunderbird. Yet the commitment of 
Softmaker to use Thunderbird with their office suite does appear to be 
real. As part of our current marketing message of growing momentum for 
Thunderbird, that is the news that we should be promoting.

The future of Thunderbird relies on a mix of resources from a variety of 
sources, including not only volunteers, but also donations, and 
contributions from third parties such as SoftMaker. Other organizations 
have also made significant contributions to Thunderbird over the years, 
including Linagora and Mozilla Japan. It is important that we make their 
interaction with the Thunderbird community to be a positive experience. 
I'd like to see us give these organizations some positive exposure to 
thank them for their contributions, but at the same time we don't want 
to give them negative publicity if priorities change and they have to 
change their commitment. So for that reason I would like to welcome 
Softmaker to the Thunderbird community as a major use and promoter of 
our product. I hope the developer works out, but I don't want to 
denigrate Softmaker in any way if it does not.

I've been trying to get Mozilla management to talk to me about some of 
these issues, so far without success. We need to discuss:

1) Access to information about existing Thunderbird business relationships,
2) Where and how we can collect and spend donations, and
3) How can we negotiate future business relationships, such as this 
SoftMaker arrangement.

I'll be in the Bay Area this weekend, and I'm trying (so far without 
success) to get an appointment with Mitchell on Friday. If anyone 
reading this has any access to Mozilla management, I would really 
appreciate you forwarding your concern to Mitchell about how important 
it is that she meet with representatives of the Thunderbird Council to 
discuss our relationship with Mozilla.

R Kent James

On 3/17/2015 3:37 AM, Tanstaafl wrote:
> On 3/17/2015 2:10 AM, Dave Koelmeyer
> <dave.koelmeyer at> wrote:
>> Hi All,
>> I've never heard of these folks before, but spied this:
>>    *
>> /"//SoftMaker wants to be part of the Thunderbird development community.
>> To this end, we are assigning an experienced developer to work full-time
>> on the Thunderbird code and add valuable enhancements."/
>> No idea if there's any merit to this statement or how much will make it
>> back into the open, but FWIW.
> I've known about them for a long time, but first time seeing this...
> It will be great if true... can anyone from Mozilla confirm this?
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