Following Wikipedia, Thunderbird Could Raise $1,600,000 in annual donations

What will it take to keep Thunderbird stable and vibrant? Although there is a dedicated, hard-working team of volunteers trying hard to keep Thunderbird alive, there has been very little progress on improvements since Mozilla drastically reduced their funding. I’ve been an advocate for some time that Thunderbird needs income to fulfill its potential, and that the best way to generate that income would be to appeal directly to its users for donations.

One internet organization that has done this successfully has been Wikipedia. How much income could Thunderbird generate if they received the same income per user as Wikipedia? Surely our users, who rely on Thunderbird for critical daily communications, are at least as willing to donate as Wikipedia users.

Estimates of income from Wikipedia’s annual fund raising drive to users are around $20,000,000 per year. Recently Wikipedia is reporting 11824 M pageviews per month and 5 pageviews per user. That results in a daily user count of 78 million users. Thunderbird by contrast has about 6 million daily users (using hits per day to update checks), or about 8% of the daily users of Wikipedia.

If Thunderbird were willing to directly engage users asking for donations, at the same rate per user as Wikipedia, there is a potential to raise $1,600,000 per year. That would certainly be enough income to maintain a serious team to move forward.

Wikipedia’s donation requests were fairly intrusive, with large banners at the top of all Wikipedia pages. When Firefox did a direct appeal to users early this year, the appeal was very subtle (did you even notice it?). I tried to scale the Firefox results to Thunderbird, and estimated that a similar subtle appeal might raise $50,000 – $100,000 per year in Thunderbird. That is not sufficient to make a significant impact. We would have to be willing to be a little intrusive, like Wikipedia, it we are going to be successful. This will generate pushback, as has Wikipedia’s campaign, so we would have to be willing to live with the pushback.

But is it really in the best interest of our users to spare them an annual, slightly intrusive appeal for donations, while letting the product that they depend on each day slowly wither away? I believe that if we truly care about our users, we will take the necessary steps to insure that we give them the best product possible, including undertaking fundraising to keep the product stable and vibrant.

The Thunderbird Tree is Green!

For the first time in a while, the Thunderbird build tree is all green. That means that all platforms are building, and passing all tests:

The Thunderbird build tree is green!

Many thanks to Joshua Cranmer for all of his hard work to make it so!

Real Men do Build Engineering (A Real Threat to Thunderbird)

When I was first getting involved in Thunderbird, I recall reading a post from early leader Scott MacGregor that puzzled me. When the project was essentially a two-person project, he said that the next person they needed was a build engineer. I had always thought of that as a backwater for people who couldn’t do real coding.

How my thinking has changed! As we look to the future of the Thunderbird project, it is clear that the main threat at the moment is losing control of the build process. These days, it takes a PhD candidate in computer science (Joshua [...]

The proxy debate over paid addons

I recently received a review of my ExQuilla addon for Thunderbird with the glowing report “It works well, I’ll give you that. No more, no less”. Should be 5 stars, right? No, the addon got 2.

This is the proxy battle over whether there should be paid addons in the Mozilla ecosystem, fought by trashing the ratings of paid addons. The reviewer gave me 2 stars because he believes “Please find purchasers from paid email software, not in an open source software.” He also complained about my response to an earlier reviewer who gave ExQuilla one star because, even though [...]

Mesquilla is releasing a Calendar EWS Provider addon compatible with ExQuilla

Recently we learned that the “Exchange 2007/2010/2013 Provider” addon is no longer being developed, and the final version did not fully support Thunderbird 24 and Exchange Server 2013 & Office365. While eventually we intend to fully integrate Calendar and Task support into ExQuilla, at the moment that support is incomplete and experimental, so many of our customers had relied on the now-abandoned addon. So as a convenience to our customers, we have forked and updated that addon to provide a version that works with current Thunderbird and Microsoft Exchange, as well as includes better compatibility with ExQuilla. We call this [...]

ExQuilla as a Model for “Thunderbird Professional” aka SwanFox

About a year ago, when we on the Thunderbird team were having very active discussions about the future of Thunderbird after Mozilla’s drastic cutback in funding, Axel Grude and myself were minority voices promoting the importance of developing funding sources for Thunderbird if it were to prosper in the future. In contrast, the majority viewpoint, as I understand it, was some combination of 1) We don’t need funding, Thunderbird is fine the way it is, and eager volunteers will move things forward, and 2) Mozilla Messaging tried for years to develop funding and failed, so it is probably impossible to [...]

Comparing Javascript components and modules

The code that I develop for my ExQuilla addon uses a combination of C++ and javascript-based code, so I am constantly having to deal with interactions between those languages in a Mozilla Thunderbird binary extension. So I thought it would be a good idea to test the relative speed of two ways of writing javascript code that can also be accessed from C++:

Using a javascript-based XPCOM component for both, or Using a javascript module for javascript callers, and a javascript component calling into a module for C++ users.

The second option is somewhat unusual, and represents an attempt to [...]

EarlyLight (unofficial multiversion Lightning addon) for Thunderbird 14 -16

My EarlyLight addon, which is an unofficial build of the Lightning calendar extension, supporting multiple Thunderbird versions, is now available for Thunderbird 14 – 16. This is based on the current Lightning 1.8a2 source (which is now in the aurora directories). Download here:

OSX

Linux

Windows

I’ll probably stop supporting this once Thunderbird switches to its slower release cycle.

EarlyLight, an unofficial Lightning (aurora) build supporting multiple Thunderbird versions

I got tired of waiting for Lightning to fix their aurora build problems so I decided to practice my newly-acquired Mozilla build foo to build my own. In the process, I extended the usual Lightning build so that I have Lightning that can work with current TB release, beta, and aurora versions, that is Thunderbird 13, 14, and 15.

The “source” for this is just a makefile which you can see here. (I added my fix in Mozilla bug 766685 so that I could build this with my VS 2008 on Windows). This will only work in my local build [...]

ExQuilla (Microsoft Exchange Server for Thunderbird) beta version released

I am pleased to announce that ExQuilla, a Thunderbird addon that provides access to messages and contacts in Microsoft Exchange Server, is now available. This is a beta-quality release. ExQuilla is currently only available for Windows, in English, and supports Thunderbird version 9, 10, and 11. Linux and Mac versions are planned for the future.

The most current version of ExQuilla is available from the MesQuilla site here. A slightly older version (due to review delays) is available from Mozilla’s addon site here.

This version supports access to messages and personal contacts from a Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 or 2010 [...]