What happened to hiring an architect?

Benjamin Kerensa bkerensa at gmail.com
Fri Dec 9 20:55:34 UTC 2016


+1

We need someone to pull the trigger here all this waiting it putting the
project at risk.

It would also be nice to have more transparency versus little tidbits of
information dropped every now and then.


On Dec 9, 2016 12:25 PM, "Ben Bucksch" <ben.bucksch at beonex.com> wrote:

> R Kent James wrote on 29.09.2016 19:13:
>
>>
>> I made an argument to Mozilla, that I believe was largely accepted, that
>> said that consulting on a future platform for Thunderbird is not really
>> what we need.
>>
>>
> I'm sorry to object here, but that statement couldn't be more off.
>
> Sorry, for being so harsh, but I think this needs to be put very clearly.
> I say this with 17+ years of Thunderbird development experience, and having
> built several commercial XUL-based applications in the meantime, some of
> them widely used. I care deeply about Thunderbird, and I want it to live on
> in the future. This is why I cannot be silent on this point.
>
> Thunderbird is facing the fact that in just 3 Firefox releases, XUL
> extensions are deprecated, and in 7 releases, in less than 1 year, XUL
> extensions will be killed entirely for Firefox. If Mozilla does that, then
> for a reason: They want to change the underlying platform, away from XUL
> and XPCOM. And they will, that's the declared plan.
> https://blog.mozilla.org/addons/2016/11/23/add-ons-in-2017/
>
> So, in 1 year, Gecko 57 is no longer a viable basis for Thunderbird.
> Thunderbird's foundation will fall underneath it. This is a given.
>
> The problem is: There's no way to decouple Thunderbird from XUL or from
> XPCOM, so that's the end of Thunderbird as we know it. The whole codebase
> intrinsically relies on these 2 technologies. We also know that you have no
> chance to maintain backports of critical security fixes to an older Gecko,
> because it needs very specialized knowledge in Mozilla internals and in
> security, and many with more money and with more expertise have tried and
> failed. Nobody managed to do that, ever. You can't maintain your own Gecko,
> with security backports, forever. So, forking isn't an option, either. With
> luck and help from Mozilla in form of ESR and similar, it might buy you a
> year, but no more. So, we'll be seeing the cliff in 1 year from now, with
> an additional little life support option for another year or so. That gives
> TB only 2 years from now, 3 max.
>
> So, our only long-term option is to rewrite. And this *is* the job for an
> architect. That is the job definition. And it's crucially necessary. This
> codebase is over 20 years old. It was created in the early days of the
> Internet and Web, the oldest parts are from 1995 or so, and then the
> majority from 1998-2000, the XUL rewrite. Back in 1998, during the XUL
> rewrite, it had an architect, done in part by Alec Flett. Today, with XUL
> going away, it needs to be re-architectured again, with current state of
> art and situation of the world. A lot has changed since then: The web
> platform has matured. Mobile appeared and is taking over the world. People
> are using WhatsApp and Instagram instead of email to stay connected. I'm
> not saying we should build an IM client, or a webmail client, but we need a
> fresh start with all that change in mind. We're facing a world who doesn't
> know what an desktop email client *is*. We have a few *billion* users out
> there who are left out there with nothing better than GMail and WhatsApp.
> We need something better.
>
> Have you ever seen a house that had a room attached here 30 years later,
> and a garage attached there, and a winter garden over there? It works, to
> some degree, but it's neither beautiful, nor very functional for its
> inhabitants. You have to go long, windy hallways to do what you need to do.
> Sounds familiar? Thunderbird has the same problem. It makes me do work that
> I shouldn't need to do.
>
> We do need somebody to take the big picture, makes a coherent
> architecture, and at least puts that up for discussion. That person needs
> to know their job, and should have done that before, with success,
> preferably in that magnitude. Architecture is not something you can do
> piece-meal. It needs both the big picture vision, to make a beautiful,
> coherent whole, and the attention to detail to know what's realistic. Only
> then will it work well and stand the test of time and be liked.
>
> You absolutely need an architect to face the future. And you need it now.
> The transition project needs to happen now, because it takes 2-3 years to
> finish. Such a big project needs to start with a plan. That is the job of
> an architect, to help you build that plan. Please don't refuse offers of
> experienced, competent architects that Mozilla offers you.
>
> Ben
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