Future Planning: Thunderbird as a Web App

Andrew Sutherland asutherland at asutherland.org
Fri Sep 18 04:21:50 UTC 2015

On Thu, Sep 17, 2015, at 08:56 PM, Joshua Cranmer 🐧 wrote:
> CC'ing asuth, who I think absolutely has some information worth
> conveying.

The gaia mail back-end and any Thunderbird-evolved-to-webapp should
absolutely share protocol level code.  (And as you've noted, gaia email
is already in the process of doing this in order to get streaming MIME
parsing via the JSMime library you authored for Thunderbird.)

It would also be great if we could reuse code at a higher abstraction
level too, but there's no clear evolutionary path for Thunderbird there
since the semantics don't line-up and it's hard to draw a clean line
through the Thunderbird implementation surface where things could be
easily shimmed/converted without throwing away large swathes of existing
Thunderbird functionality.  (The refactored gaia mail backend, being
conversation-centric, is most akin to the gloda representation, but only
the faceted search UI and popular Thunderbird Conversations extension
consume that representation.)

My hope right now is that the gaia mail backend makes enough progress
that at some point in a few months I can make a pitch for people to
consider trying to help me create a desktop mail UI backed by the gaia
mail backend.  I know, it's a very tall order for any app to provide the
feeling of immediacy that Thunderbird has; the thread-pane provides an
almost tactile experience.  It's snappy after folder load, you know all
your messages are in there and with some combination of filtering,
sorting, and scrolling, you can usually find what you're looking for if
you look hard enough.  (Compare with search-based mechanisms like Gmail
search or gloda global search where it can feel like sticking your hand
in a haystack and grabbing a bunch of stuff.  Maybe the needle is in
that handful, maybe it's not.  The sensation of being at a remove from
your messages can be frustrating.)

If anyone's interested in the current state, well, I'll send a different
message now with some pointers to tb-planning to avoid cluttering up
this thread.


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