Sample Thunderbird UI redesign

Jim squibblyflabbetydoo at
Sat Nov 19 04:29:09 UTC 2016

On Fri, Nov 18, 2016 at 7:42 PM, R Kent James <kent at> wrote:

> On 11/17/2016 12:12 PM, Dave Koelmeyer wrote:
> > Interesting post:
> >
> >
> clients-why-did-we-redesign-thunderbird/
> >
> I think you can see from the responses that there never seems to be any
> way to come to a common ground in user interface changes.

There are a lot of UX features that I think we agree broadly on. The
problem is that many (perhaps the majority?) of them are actually very hard
to implement. Multi-line thread pane rows is a great example; if we added
that as an option, I don't think anyone would complain. Sadly, the
implementation is very involved and requires a lot of expertise with
XUL/XPCOM. We have the same problem with making message headers scroll with
the body, as well as MIME parsing changes and many others.

As a related problem, Thunderbird just doesn't have enough developers. Many
of the folks who've worked on Thunderbird in the past just don't have time
to help out much anymore (e.g. me), so it can be hard to make significant
forward progress. Compounding this is the fact that *reviewers* often don't
have much time, meaning patches sit idly and bitrot without landing. I
don't know how to fix this (and probably wouldn't have time to do so even
if I did know), but I think it's something Thunderbird will need to address
going forward. With a few paid developers to drive the project, I think a
lot of these issues would be more tractable.

- Jim
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