Mozilla has announced a new plan for the ongoing development of its Thunderbird email client that it says will provide for a stable product and continued opportunity for innovation That's all well and good, but the contents of a leaked internal Mozilla memo suggest that the full picture may be less rosy than it seems. The …
lovely plumage, the norwegian blue
While I have a gmail account (for all my spam) my ISP provides me with a nice smtp server that I've been using for years. Sure, there's a web client, but as another poster brilliantly put it, I can at least back up my mail to my media, and I can export my contacts to a CSV file, do whatever the hell I want with them and not worry about them getting held hostage like they did with that bastard live mail crap from M$ (Yet another brilliantly executed gaff, Mr. Ballmer). While I've never been a man of extreme violence, for the longest time I wanted to find the tool who sold that little feature to the dev team and punch him in the neck.
Oh, and not worry about them getting sucked into facebook, google+ or whatever the social fad of the day is popping at the time.
I don't have to worry about adverts pandering to the general theme of the email, popping up in the right side of the screen.
Yes the UI is annoying but at least it's not outlook! Some of us prefer a simple, spartan, utilitarian email client and not the ever changing abomination that Microsoft (et. al) evolve into every year or so.
Does this mean they won't be updating Thunderbird's UI every 2 weeks and integrating social media plug-ins like they're doing with Firefox? Excellent!
Re: So wait...
I was thinking just the same. I would far prefer Mozilla stop pissing about with the UI and get on with fixing bugs.
A bit less "moving the buttons around" and a bit more "not leaking so much memory" would do very nicely, thnakyouverymuch.
Less is more
Perhaps they have been going a little too fast for comfort.
So they're pretty much saying that Thunderbird is feature-complete, and are only going to deal with bugfixes/stability issues? Fantastic! Works for me.
Don't forget, it has the ability to support addons, so anything not in the core can be added by third parties if you really want it. Otherwise, just leave it alone, it sends and receives email which is what an email client should do...
My email reader/writer is ...
vi on a simple ASCII text terminal.
eMail is written text. Use gopher, or the web, for fancy stuff if you can't express yourself in the written language you were brought up with. Won't make you any smarter, but it'll give those of us with an education another "here be idiots" to filter on ...
The Rise of the Neo-Luddites
My email client is shitter/older/less feature rich than yours
Re: My email reader/writer is ...
Vi? Pah! N00b!
Ed rules. Why use a full-screen text editor when a perfectly good old-school line editor option is available?
Full-screen editors are for idiots who only think they're good with computers.
Thing is, STB ... (was: Re: My email reader/writer is ...)
... I'm not trolling (this time).
I actually do use vi & a dumb terminal for most of my email :-)
As a side-note for the real n00b5, vi is just a shell on top of ex, which was an improved variation on ed ... Note CAPS. Computers are literal. C4s3 is kinda important, skiddies opinions not withstanding.
Re: Thing is, STB ... (was: My email reader/writer is ...)
Edlin any body ? Runs off and hides in the corner.
Re: Thing is, STB ... (was: My email reader/writer is ...)
I'd purged edlin from my mind. Thanks so much for undoing all those years of therapy
@Martin & Kain ... (was: Re: Thing is, STB ... (was: My email reader/writer is ...))
What's wrong with edlin? Scriptable line editors are useful, regardless of OS.
Re: Thing is, STB ... (was: My email reader/writer is ...)
@kain preacher : "Edlin any body ? Runs off and hides in the corner."
Well, I still use the function keys when working at a Command Prompt.
Gmail and Thunderbird are not alternatives
You say that gmail has vastly more users, but you have no idea how many of those are actualy accessing their gmail accounts using a client like Thunderbird, as I do, so those figures have a large overlap, they are not alternatives. Personally I find webmail clients far too clunky for use (except when away from home using some one else's computer when I have no alternative).
But Thunderbird has lots of annoying bugs that really need to get fixed, e.g. it sometimes doesn't alert you to new incoming mail, or it displays mails as unread long after you have read them all. As others have said its handling of plain vs HTML text and replies is not all that good either. As far as know Thunderbird is the best of the free mail clients, but it's surprising that it still has so many features that need fixing.
Re: Gmail and Thunderbird are not alternatives
A curious coincidence is that this article appears just as I finally stopped using Eudora and moved to Tbird. For soem reason, inline images from Eudora seemed to have started causing my ISP problems recently, despite being fine for many years.
So I now have Tbird, and it's set up, as was Eudora, to pull all the mail from my main ISP account, my own web space and domain provider, Gmail and Hotmail spam accounts. Seems to work OK at the moment, though I'm still teaching its spam filter.
If all goes well, it should last as long as I do.
Re: Gmail and Thunderbird are not alternatives
PS All webmail applications are DIRE.
"Current Thunderbird users have that long, at least, to shop for a webmail service"
What sort of crap is that?
Its not like Thunderbird is going to vanish when they stop actively developing it.
I have to agree with cpage above. I too use TBird as a client to gmail and two other services. The user statistics only show a single TBird user but gmail and others services also get the statistical benefit. I do not, and will not, leave an email long term on any remote services ... all it needs is "sorry, someone somewhere did something naughty and the FBI have shut down the whole system for several months" and I'd be screwed ...
May well be positive if they are first going to put some effort into stabilising it
We have a lot of TB users here, and the main pain points are
* bugs that haven't been fixed for years
* the accursed upgrade treadmill confuses the users
* add-on functionality that really should be core
* the accursed upgrade treadmill breaks add-ons
IMO they should look at integrating the add-ons that provide collaboration functionality (Lightning, the IMAP permissions thing, Folder Account, etc.), fix the bugs, and NOT MESS WITH THE UI. After that, maintenance mode... it's a solved problem, no need to keep turd-polishing.
Ahem, please excuse the little scream of pain there.
Re: May well be positive if they are first going to put some effort into stabilising it
The worst thing Mozilla has done is adopt Firefox's version numbering for Thunderbird. If Firefox's versioning looks a bit silly, Thunderbird's looks ridiculous.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with point releases to steadily fix the bugs and main releases to add big features (all that needs doing is tidying up the calendar and after that adding more collaborative features). We all know it's a fairly complete mail client, there's no need for it to be at version 13 even though few things have changed since version 3.
Instead of being confident and happy in the fact that they have developed a stable and useful product it's as if Mozilla are embarrassed.
Re: *It's done*
"... it seems almost redundant to store mail on a local PC - ..."
"I certainly don't have *any* email stored locally that old - except the important stuff."
You don't have to store it on your 'PC' if you use Thunderbird. You can store it on a USB stick, or a local network drive (with whatever backup regime you decide on). You could backup your local storage onto a GDrive or Skydrive or Dropbox or SugarSync; or all of them just to be safe :)
Re: *It's done*
"but the shift to webmail has been underway for a decade" yes, that the 'fashionable' thing...
*everything* is great, lovely...until one day... INTERNET IS DOWN!!! how are you going to do all you important stuff then??
Y'know that doc you received on webmail only last night at 2am, thinking , I can barely see, I'll do it tomorrow..
- now if you were using a POP email client, like eudora, (yes, its FREE Open source now, for win, linux, and appple..)
- It would load all your mail & attachments when doing the mail check, so that important Doc would be sitting in the 'attachment folder' ready to be printed out... no more internet needed... :)
you DO know how to use google?? :p
The counter-argument being
that when the circuit goes down, nothing gets done anyway, so why bother trying? Makes a handy cop-out for the lazy, who don't appreciate someone like me switching to my local dev host and beavering right along while they all wander around with cups of coffee, whining just like they didn't enjoy getting paid to sit on their dead asses rather than, I don't know, justifying their paychecks somehow.
Maybe if you are on Linux; but Linux is still poor in a lot of areas that Windows is very good at.
A lot of stuff on Windows is just easier to do, I really would like this the change, in a "Killer App" way; however I need a pretty solid set of reasons to jump to Linux, and resolve the confusion of choice of which dist and shell all my stuff will work on. I may even prefer FreeBSD.
On thing which might persuade me to jump is for the proper Directory Opus to be available on Linux, because the Linux file managers, quite frankly, look very primitive in comparison!
"linux is still poor in a lot of areas that windows is very good at"
Probably. Having to work with windows for me means feeling terribly out of sorts, as none of my standard solutions work and I have to find out how to best do it in this strange, padded environment, which comes with an insultingly-useless caricature of a command prompt to boot.
I wouldn't be surprised if for many the reverse is also true. "gnome? kde? don't make me laugh! gimme the windows desktop!" though knowing its inconsistencies and such, I have more respect for aqua users should they claim such a thing. To me, though, anything that needs a GUI is too much a cookie cutter for me to consider it generally useful. Even much CLI software written by authors of GUI apps tends to that. It's the difference in approach that paints the sky a different colour.
Personally, my reasons to turn my back on windows (again and again; especially with first line support) were and are this cookie cutterisation, this inability to reach in deep and get the thing done exactly as quickly as much as you already knew your stuff. Instead I got a new layer of menus hiding the previous series (in toto!) behind yet another "advanced" button. My reasons to move to the land of BSD after several linux distributions were an eerily similar we-know-it-better-than-thou attitude, though expressed differently. I'll use it, sure, but it's not my preference.
I also stopped trying to evangelise, exactly because I don't want what others want. Why should they want what I want, then? All I ask is workable interop. The sin of lock-in remains something I might demand someone else to change their ways, though.
That also means thoughtless assumption of what system I should use is not acceptable, yet still all too common.
Anyhow, it would help, and not just you, if you could articulate each thing where this or that system beats another as you run into it. Write it down, then write down the answers you find looking for solutions. It could well be a workable solution to get the job done already exists, even if the approach is completely different to what you're used to. This is how that german city finally managed to get a good move on migrating their "seats" to "linux", which now is more or less their own distribution packed with solutions for just about every job that their organisation needs to do.
Re: "linux is still poor in a lot of areas that windows is very good at"
Bet you do all your browsing in links, then, eh? I mean, anything that needs a GUI...
Ever heard of Cygwin?
So you think you can do facetious.
Dazzling with the clickibunti is more fancy than it is useful. If your site is about the content, focus on that. Note that failing to do that and the resulting overly fancy representation gives rise to extra work elsewhere, making screen-scrapers and keeping them up-to-date, to enable using the information the "old fashioned" way sticking it into impromptu pipelines and scripts and such. This is then "alleviated" by a large stack of yet more layers of software and bunches of the latest buzzwords such as SOAP and REST* and such. This blatant reinventing of the wheel is called "progress", and if you point out the obvious you're apparently a stick-in-the-mud. Oh well.
* The idea behind REST isn't bad, per se. The fact that it got snowed under and we need a buzzword to rescue the idea, however, is just sad.
Evolution looks ugly! But it works well! I most often use a x2go session to my home server, so not complaining about being open in multiple desktops is a plus.
Re: So you think you can do facetious.
It's so cute you think I'm agitating for Web 2-point-everything, rather than simply making the point that your hyperbole is showing.
No web based clients are not viable for duration use; you need an internet connection and a working connection to the email server, both can fail. A local client is also critical just-in-case an IMAP service loses you account or you stop using an IMAP service, so that you can continue to retrieve old emails.
There is lots which could be done with Thunderbird and it will need to provide new infrastructure to allow better extensions to be created. As stated, Lightening still needs a lot of work e.g. where is the diary view which will show both appointments and tasks!?
Outlook cost a lot of money, it has annoyances like no RSS support, has security coexistence issues, and it is a Microsoft product, need I say more.
I was also hoping that an Android version of Thunderbird could be produced, given even K-9 Mail seems somewhat less than I'd like.
Where is the proper HTML 5 support going to come from for Thunderbird eh!?
Re: Hmm, shortsighted
Outlook has had RSS support since at least as far back as the 2007 edition. I don't like the implementation and don't use it, but it's there. In terms of UI design and usability it's not much different from several of the FOSS RSS clients.
Gmail vs Thunderbird
[ Insert 93.76% of all statistics are made-up joke here ]
The author has kind of let me down there when he wrote that "Thunderbird may claim more than 20 million users, but Gmail alone boasts 425 million active users worldwide".
Where do those numbers come from? Are the Thunderbird numbers direct downloads or do they include distro-managed installs? How is an "active Gmail user" defined? Is a Gmail account that only ever receives but does not send messages considered active? (automatic Cc's / copying as a poor-man's but convenient backup) What is the overlap between the two groups? E.g., I have a Gmail account which I only ever access via Thunderbird.
Raw numbers are meaningless here.
I see Mozilla read El Reg
...or at least Dominic Connor's articles, and I see they're putting his "visible productivity" advice to work.
Why sit here fixing bugs all day when you could be annoying the shit out of users by changing the UI every six weeks? Let's all move over to Firefox! :)
For those too busy or lazy to have read it, I recommend that you do take the time and have a look at the Pastebin link ( http://pastebin.com/2HcKLzE2 ), especially the uploader's personal comment at the end.
I particularly like his epilogue:
The fact that this message was marked "confidential" is part of a
deeply, deeply troubling trend. The biggest irony? Uninitiated
employees--those being discussed in .governance right now, and who
feel that there's actually quite a lot at Mozilla that shouldn't
happen in the public--will point to this incident to try to make their
point, in a tremendous display of Not Fucking Getting It.
Let's rewind a year or three, MoCo.
Whoever you are, hats off to you, sir.
Multilevel goof there, Neil.
"Thunderbird may claim more than 20 million users, but Gmail alone boasts 425 million active users worldwide, and Gmail isn't the only web-based email service."
There's two things shamefully wrong with that quote. First, gmail is two things: A free email service, and a webmail interface to same. The IMAP and POP services came later, but proved rather popular. And guess what, for IMAP you need an email client.
So that comparison doesn't fly. The other is that numbers in the open source world are always a bit iffy. As they are with free services, by the by, but for different reasons and with different implications. How does one count thunderbird installations accurately and what, exactly, is an "active user" according to google? Google plus counting comes to mind. But the apples to fruit baskets full of oranges comparison takes the cake.
Needs better User Experience/UI
If you're interested in contributing to Thunderbird in order to improve its UX, then the "parity with Postbox" meta-bug would be a good place to start.
Devs like Mike Conley will still be working on Thunderbird.
As a long time Thunderbird user, I got frustrated by the lack of development and long standing annoying bugs. It was also always a bloated package.
I have seen the light though. Since using opera's M2, I haven't looked back. It took a while to appreciate the differences, as they are subtle. But I wouldn't use anything else now. I the IMAP support is way better than TB, supporting stuff like low bandwidth partial sync and other stuff.
Shop for a webmail service?
Am I understanding correctly? Are you saying that Mozilla people will be dispatched around and uninstall Thunderbird from machines? Are they going to send a secret "kill" signal that will prevent existing Thunderbird installs from working? Or will them even make it unavailable for download?
One of my users still uses Pegasus. When was the last time anything at all (including security patches or bug fixes) was added to that? The nineties? And still the guy seems to be able to read his emails just fine. Funny that.
Apples vs oranges
i.e local mail client collecting mail via (e.g.) IMAP versus some webmail client / server designed for corporate data mining.
Please do the same to Firefox!?! I'm sick and tired of GUI changes. :P
Not quite dead yet...
Thunderbird works great for our 200+ staff
I hope the updates keep coming for Thunderbird in a timely manner. It is a great product and has plenty enough features. Thunderbird works great for our 200+ staff, a couple of dozen staff also use the Lightning plugin. We use a Zimbra backend which gives us the webmail/calendar interface too, plus smartphones all integrate reliably. We have done so for many years, no rocket science required.
All for free for us too. We don't need Windows, Windows CALS, Exchange, Exchange CALS, extra anti-virus security, powerful servers, etc.
There are some new generation Starbucks/ apple guys at Mozilla who always thought "mail" is old fashion, like the legendary "only old people use mail".
And, there are fortune 500 companies who can't give up Microsoft for a very simple (!) application, outlook.
Lost all my belief in Mozilla long time ago.
After years of using Pegasus Mail, I switched to progressive new kid on the block - Mozilla Mail. Those were the heady days, when Mozilla was the pioneer, the bleeding edge, the future - nicely wrapped in a single integrated suite.
Now it seems possible that I will have to eat my humble pie and... well, PMail is still here, you know?
Re: Oh my...
Pegasus is coded by a single developer who really feels responsible for his users (customers) and who is very professional.
If Mozilla developers heard the language Pegasus was developed in, they would make funny faces and keep checking their google mail on their macs.
Has anybody tried it? The desktop client can be downloaded and used without the Zimbra server, and it looks to be aimed at replacing Outlook. Now owned and developed by VMWare, it seems.
SeaMonkey is my favourite by a country mile
Nobody said it so I thought I would. That is all.
Thunderbird has been going downhill
Seems like every new version adds some kind of toolbar or search box or tab bar or quick filter bar etc. The whole thing looks like a giant mess to me now. Also the search features don't work well. Using the quick search seems to fail randomly 50% of the time. (Just returns nothing.) Multi-word search is horrific. I switch to Google's web interface to do any serious searching. Also the UI is a huge pain if you have ANY network connectivity problems. It's just a never-ending stream of dialog boxes. ("Can't send this email OK/Cancel, can't save it to drafts OK/Cancel, etc. etc.")
I'm in the process of switching to OS X's bundled mail client ("Mail"). Seems lighter weight, snapper, cleaner UI...