Thunderbird’s Future: the TL;DR Version

In the next few months I hope to do a series of blog posts that talk about Mozilla’s Thunderbird email client and its future. Here’s the TL;DR version (though still pretty long). These are my personal views, I have no authority to speak for Mozilla or for the Thunderbird project.

Current Status Thunderbird usage is growing, we have a strong core team, and expect to remain relevant to the internet for the foreseeable future. Thunderbird is mission critical to tens of millions of users. The last two “community-developed” Thunderbird releases, 24 and 31, while successful as stability releases, had few [...]

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? [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

Twitter for Thunderbird

New account types in Javascript for Thunderbird (Part 3)

I’ve now released an initial version of my extension TweeQuilla, Twitter for Thunderbird. While the extension provides useful functionality, the main purpose of this exercise was to demonstrate how a Thunderbird account can be created using just javascript. Well almost … there are some binary files needed (called Skinkglue) which are account-independent, and presumably could be made available in the Thunderbird core code to eliminate the need for extension writers to maintain their own C++ compile environment. Unfortunately that binary extension limits this current release to only working under Windows in [...]

Thunderbird’s Strategic Dilemma

In a recent tb-planning post, neandr wrote:

With all respect for the people working at Mozilla/Thunderbird and fully understand the limitation they are faced with, I would like to see a more detailed mission statement for the products (TB/LG) and the future of it. Only expressing TB is for individual users, SOHO and not for the Enterprise is a very vague statement

I was going to respond to that in the thread, but I got wordy so I posted this blog entry instead.

At the recently completed Mozilla Summit, variations of this request were made by many people that are [...]

Lessons from Google: Thunderbird as a Firefox extension!

During my current trek to the Bay Area, I seem to be bombarded with news about Google. I was particularly interested in the different way that Google views its business model, and that got me thinking about how Thunderbird fits into Mozilla’s business model.

In an extensive article in Atlantic magazine (I always read the Atlantic while travelling), James Fallow describes efforts that Google is undertaking to try to revive the viability of news reporting as a professional activity. A lot of this revolves around different methods of bundling content with monetization schemes. In the traditional newspaper model, news [...]