[Council Update] New Council, New Hires, New Looks!

Philipp Kewisch kewisch at thunderbird.net
Sun Jun 3 20:59:05 UTC 2018

Hello Folks,

an interested reader from the community was very inspired by the report
below, so much that they went ahead and made a donation. They suggested
adding a direct link to donate to these emails, which I am now making up


I know some of you may not want to use the utm parameters, but if you
don't mind please leave them in so we can see if it is worth keeping the
links in these emails.


On 5/17/18 10:29 PM, Philipp Kewisch wrote:
> Hello Thunderbirders,
> It is about time for another update. As you may know, since the last
> update a new council was elected.
> Five council members were re-elected (Jörg, Magnus, Patrick, Philipp,
> Wayne). Of the remaining former council members, Kent is stepping back
> from his Thunderbird activities and focusing on educating prison inmates
> on tech, increasing their chances of gaining a foothold once their
> sentence has ended. Ben has decided not to stand for reasons he has
> outlined earlier on tb-planning. On behalf of the council I would like
> to thank Ben and Kent for their council work and the dedication they
> have brought in. We’ve achieved a great amount since the council was
> created in 2014, and we couldn’t have done it without their contribution.
> While we are sad to see Ben and Kent go, we are excited to have two
> brand new council members on board. First of all, I would like to
> introduce Philippe Lieser. He has been an add-on author since 2013,
> working on the wonderful DKIM Verifier [1]. While he has been a passive
> bystander in the past, he is passionate about Thunderbird and wants to
> ensure that the momentum we have built continues. Second, our Community
> Manager Ryan Sipes has joined the council. Ryan cares deeply about our
> users and developer community which made his decision to stand for
> election almost natural. We are looking forward to working with Philippe
> and Ryan this term.
> Within the council, we’ve voted that I continue the role as Chairman of
> the Council, Ryan has stepped up as our treasurer (replacing Kent), and
> we’ve created a new “secretary” role responsible for ensuring the
> council processes are being followed and votes are properly recorded.
> Wayne has been carrying this role implicitly in the past, and what we
> imagine for the role will also help balance council work a little better.
> Transitioning council members is not something we do often so it took a
> while to get organized again. Going forward, we want to make sure the
> new council members find it easy to get started. To support this, we’ve
> started to create a council process document that describes the various
> activities we undertake. It contains information about the tools we use,
> the processes we have, and how to go about certain topics such as
> hiring. You could think of it as a very early version of bylaws for the
> council.
> Aside from that, we have been busy with hiring, which is taking up a
> great deal of our time. We are currently in the process of bringing on
> up to three new developers, a new build engineer, and a manager. In
> order to give us a chance to evolve Thunderbird in a way that we are
> less dependent on Mozilla Platform changes, we need to invest in more
> staff to support the community in their work.
> Given this is meant to be a status update I don’t want to get into too
> much detail on the topics the new developers will work on, but we will
> have a frontend engineer for XUL replacements, an engineer to support
> our add-ons strategy, and one focused on technical debt in the backend.
> We haven’t quite scoped out the third role yet and need to make sure
> hiring a third developer is within our budget, but we are certain we
> need to move quickly, and that works best with more developers.
> Our previous build engineer has done a great job preparing Thunderbird
> to run on the new infrastructure using TaskCluster. He already came to
> us with a great deal of expert knowledge on TaskCluster, so we are not
> surprised he found a new position with the Firefox Release Engineering
> Team. We are therefore looking to fill the vacancy with someone who can
> continue to maintain our release infrastructure.
> Working with so many talented people takes time to make sure they are
> also getting the best out of their job. Our staff has shown a great
> amount of self-initiative and passion in moving Thunderbird forward.
> However, we feel that as a volunteering council we can support our staff
> and community better if we hire a manager. We’ve had someone with a lot
> of experience in Thunderbird approach us about this role, who we will be
> hiring. This person will have split responsibility, both managing the
> staff members, as well as a technical/architect component. We may
> consider separating this role more in the future, but believe that the
> combination currently fits our needs.
> On various lists, the technical merits of rewrite vs gradual replacement
> have been discussed. We feel both approaches have their advantages and
> downsides, but at current we have the impression that discussion around
> this topic is not bringing us closer to a resolution. Therefore our new
> manager will plan and execute a number of experiments to support or
> disprove each thesis. This could be something like “is it feasible to
> use rust in Thunderbird”, or “how will performance be affected if we
> rewrite component Y in JavaScript”.
> Of course actually implementing these experiments wouldn’t be possible
> without our beloved community, we are looking forward to involving you
> in this process. This is a prime opportunity to work on something new
> and exciting, while at the same time moving Thunderbird forward and
> making it a piece of your own.
> We are also venturing into the land of partnerships, extending the work
> that had started even before the council was formed. With new
> partnerships we hope to provide Thunderbird users with a helpful
> service, while at the same time creating an opportunity to increase our
> resources, which in turn we can invest for the future of Thunderbird. We
> are still in the process of finding an agreement, so stay tuned for the
> next update. In any case, we want to make sure to respect users’ privacy
> with these partnerships.
> As you may have also noticed, the Thunderbird logo is about to get an
> update! Thanks to the amazing work of Elio Qoshi [2] and his team we
> aren’t just getting a new logo, but there is also work underway to
> create a Thunderbird design style guide, which will help with
> consistency. If you want to take a peek, you can see it now by
> installing Thunderbird Beta [3]!
> This concludes my update for today, I hope I could give you some insight
> into our work. If there is anything specific you’d like to hear for the
> next update please do leave a reply.
> Talk to you soon!
> Philipp
> [1] https://addons.mozilla.org/thunderbird/addon/dkim-verifier/
> [2] https://elioqoshi.me/
> [3] https://www.thunderbird.net/channel/
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