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

Matt Harris at
Fri Mar 24 17:27:23 UTC 2017

On 3/25/17 3:34 AM, Ben Bucksch wrote:
> Summary:
>   * Our base goes away. Gecko will change dramatically in the future,
>     and dropping many features that Firefox does not need anymore, but
>     that Thunderbird relies on.
>   * Our codebase is now roughly 20 years old. It heavily and
>     intrinsically relies on those very Gecko technologies that are now
>     being faded out, more or less aggressively.
>   * JavaScript and HTML5 have evolved dramatically. Entire
>     applications in JS are now realistic, and have been done. There
>     are several existing JS libraries we might leverage. JavaScript is
>     an efficient language, which allows fast development. A rewrite in
>     JavaScript makes sense now.
>   * We will learn from shortcomings of existing Thunderbird, and solve
>     them, for example a more flexible address book, and cleanly
>     supporting virtual folders without overhead.
>   * The goal of the rewrite is to be close to the existing
>     Thunderbird, in UI and features, as a drop-in replacement for end
>     users, without baffling them. They should immediately recognize
>     the replacement as the Thunderbird they love. It will install and
>     run as normal desktop application, like Thunderbird does today. It
>     keeps user data local and private.
>   * We can also make a new, fresh desktop UI, as alternative to the
>     traditional one, for new users. The technology also gives us the
>     option to run it as mobile app.
>   * While we implement the new version of Thunderbird, the old
>     codebase based on Gecko will be maintained until the rewrite is
>     ready to replace the old one.
>   * I expect this effort to take roughly 3 years: 1 year until some
>     dogfood (usable by some developers and enthusiasts). 2 years until
>     a basic feature set is there. 3 years until we can replace
>     Thunderbird.
/I think all this relies on a powerful replacement for the XUL 
treeview.  Do we have one now?

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