Proposal to start a new implementation of Thunderbird based on web technologies

Paul D. Fernhout pdfernhout at
Tue Apr 4 03:27:11 UTC 2017

Hi Gerv,

On POP vs. IMAP/JMAP, to me, POP with delete (maybe after a week
retention in case of disk crashes) is about keeping your email private
and local -- especially with previous US laws that considered email on
your ISP more than six months old as abandoned and so subject to request
without a warrant. IMAP is more about letting your ISP (or your own
local server like dovecot) keep your mail for you -- maybe so you can
access it in multiple places. A Thunderbird server could potentially
support an IMAP-like function to serve email to other devices on a
network, so supporting IMAP to a server to collect mail is less
important in a Thunderbird server than POP for that use case. I'm not
saying IMAP or JMAP should not be supported eventually -- just that it's
less important at the start in my view. Granted, others may use
Thunderbird very differently than I do right now.

On analytics, my thinking was that if we think about minimum *valuable*
product to end users, a new version of Thunderbird that does less but
uses web technology is not valuable to end users. Why should they bother
to install it? But, if this new version has some extra feature the
current Thunderbird does not have (like personal mail analytics or
making your mail available to your mobile or tablet devices over your
LAN or something else) then it may be worth it to some Thunderbird users
to use it (alongside Thunderbird for now). I feel analytics in
particular will be a huge publicity win for relatively little effort.

--Paul Fernhout (
"The biggest challenge of the 21st century is the irony of technologies
of abundance in the hands of those still thinking in terms of scarcity."

On 2017-04-03 12:03 PM, Gervase Markham wrote:
> On 28/03/17 03:46, Paul D. Fernhout wrote:
>> To make such a "eat our own dogfood" application useable from the start,
>> consider having Node.js write to the same mailbox files, address book,
>> and filter specifications that regular Thunderbird uses. Then POP users
>> (like myself) can use the new app for what it does (plain text email),
>> while also always being able to fire up the new Thunderbird for what it
>> can't do yet (like some plugins for calendaring or encryption or doing
>> IMAP). We can make a lot of progress on a POP-only Thunderbird's UI
>> (plus RSS feeds etc.), and then at some point IMAP support could be added.
> Why is POP and not IMAP in the MVP? I'd say if you are going to do one,
> IMAP is the modern mail access protocol.
>> ## Analytic Visualizations from the start
>> Another thing to add to the new Thunderbird from the start is
>> visualization features and analytics,
> Do you know what the word "Minimum" means? ;-)
> Gerv

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