Sample Thunderbird UI redesign

Martin Iturbide martiniturbide at
Fri Nov 18 02:48:37 UTC 2016


My personal opinion is that Thunderbird GUI is outdated. When I got back to
use it after some years it took me several minutes to find out that the
calendar needed the be opened from the top right icon (near the window
minimize icon). Sure that you can customize where the icon goes, but by
default it shows up at the top-right.

The chat function was very hard to configure and at the end I preferred not
to use it anymore before it was making Thundebird unstable. It may sound
weird but even Lotus Notes has a better chat integration on the application
than Thunderbird. The Thunderbird address book looks like a disconnected
application that was bundle together with the package.

I think that Thunderbird's GUI requires an important update. If there is
fear of what can think 25M users can think about changing the GUI maybe it
can be interesting to try to poll some of them. Or maybe fork the project
and make a more experimental change of GUI to see the user's reaction.

I liked the fearless authors of that blog to try to think outside the box
and try a different concept.


On Thu, Nov 17, 2016 at 7:48 PM, R Kent James <kent at> wrote:

> On 11/17/2016 2:24 PM, Jörg Knobloch wrote:
> > This has already been discussed on the "TB Council" mailing list,
> > perhaps Kent can share his views.
> I'm not actually the guy in charge of UI, that is more Richard and
> Magnus these days. But with that caveat, here's my response, it is not
> intended to be private:
> Hi Szymon,
> You've managed to hit us at a very inconvenient time relative to other
> deadlines for releases, but I'll try to give some comments, without
> spending large amounts of time looking in detail at what you have done.
> ... (response for feedback on specific wording of a prototype to their
> original blog post)
> On the user interface proposal itself:
> I would welcome a change in the look of the product while keeping the
> existing functionality. The kinds of changes and polish that you are
> proposing would be very helpful with new users who are more used to a
> different look. But accept this just as my personal comment, realizing
> that I am not the guy who typically does or approves user interface
> changes.
> But I have some cautions.
> I think that there is an assumption that "It looked like a modernized
> product straight out of the 90’s" is obviously bad, without giving
> specific reasons that the current design impedes the workflow of people.
> Yes look matters, but people use an email client to get real work done.
> The interaction of look with functionality also needs considering.
> One example: Including picture icons in the thread pane is a challenge,
> as they are typically larger than the text, and that results in fewer
> lines of viewable messages. This is particularly a problem in our
> default Classic view, where the space available to the thread pane is
> more limited (you have shown what we would call the "Vertical" view,
> that takes three columns rather than our default of two columns. So the
> available space for viewing of the thread pane is reduced in your design.)
> We at Thunderbird unfortunately do not have a good idea of why and how
> people use our product, nor whether our existing design is causing them
> problems. But as your blog post shows, you are proposing to modify
> Thunderbird so that it effectively looks like very other email client
> out there. Like you said, there are "TONS of email clients" yet somehow
> we cling to 25,000,000 users. I do not think that it would be wise to
> change the existing functional design radically without a better
> understanding of why, if there are "TONS of email clients", our users
> cling to us rather than switch.
> So what I would like to see is a good understanding of the functionality
> of the existing user interface (particularly the thread pane), and what
> additional functionality is lost or gained by proposed changes other
> than "looks more modern" and making it look like every other client. I'm
> not saying that what we have is perfect, or that what you have done is
> not possibly an improvement, but you have not actually answered the
> questions that I think are the most important.
> ...(comments on how valuable it would be if their organization engaged
> more directly with Thunderbird).
> R Kent James
> Treasurer, Thunderbird Council
> _______________________________________________
> tb-planning mailing list
> tb-planning at

Martín Itúrbide
martin at
martiniturbide at
Quito - Ecuador
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