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    Decoupling Thunderbird development from Firefox development might not be bad for Thunderbird either, if it’s possible to do in any sort of way that doesn’t just result in de-facto killing Thunderbird. The main reason it seems to be so tied in with it is the legacy of Thunderbird having developed out of the old integrated Mozilla suite, which produced all sorts of possibly unnecessary coupling.

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      I would assert the coupling resulted in the rise of MIME-encoded email, causing email clients to need to display messages formatted in HTML. Certainly I agree the coupling makes more sense in a pre-gmail world, but the Netscape was trying to create an “office suite”-like set of applications for all internet protocols, not just HTTP.

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        I would assert the coupling resulted in the rise of MIME-encoded email, causing email clients to need to display messages formatted in HTML.

        I’m fairly certain that was Outlook.

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          That was more RTF-based email, which they tried to hang onto using attachments.

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        They should move to being an Electron/NW/etc based application. Or even a web app that happens to be running locally. Over integration killed MS and it could kill Mozilla as well.

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        This has been coming for so long it’s not even funny. I was surprised they claimed to still be maintaining it.

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          Its fate has been clear since the day Mozilla decided to stop supporting Xulrunner. They had a vision of a rich portable application platform that was actually pretty compelling (you can build really cool alternate browsers like Conkeror using only JS on top of the Mozilla runtime) but since they’ve also decided to kill the extension mechanism it feels like any general-purpose functionality that isn’t needed to build their specific vision for Firefox is a casualty.

          It’s a shame, because there are loads of people in the community with great ideas that wouldn’t be appropriate for mainline FF but can greatly enhance the browsing for some subset of people. For instance, when I have to use Firefox without the keysnail extension, I feel like I’ve lost twenty-seven IQ points and half my appendages.

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            I was working on a xulrunner based open source product (Songbird) at the time. The cancellation was preceeded by the kind of neglect we’ve seen of thunderbird. It sucked to be abandoned but even at the time I thought Mozilla was right to be focussing on the web platform rather than native cross-platform apps.

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              I used to use Songbird way back when. It was awesome, thanks for reminding me of that time and developing it back then :)

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          Wonder if this will spur any group to come forward as a potential new maintainer of Thunderbird. Any guesses on who that might be?

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            My wish is for that to happen. I don’t doubt there will be many forks. I just hope the community consolidates all the effort into one project.

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              Maybe it will end up with Apache, like so many other projects.

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                I really like Thunderbird, would be said if it ended up on the software graveyard.

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                  Apache seems to be a good foster parent for projects that end up there. LibreOffice, for instance! Surely an office suite can use an email client.

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                    Not sure if you are being sarcastic, but LibreOffice did not end up at Apache, but OpenOffice did, and it is near dead… LibreOffice on the other hand seems to be doing quite well!

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                      Also in the dead zone is Wave.

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                        My bad for not fact-checking myself before posting! I’ll remember to check before posting next time.

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                Didn’t they already try that a while ago?

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                  No, you’re thinking of when we stopped paying developers to work on it. Since that time, all the builds and tests have still been using Mozilla infrastructure. This made it difficult for Thunderbird contributors, because they constantly had to stay up to date with all the latest (and mostly irrelevant) changes in Gecko.

                  Now thunderbird will be breaking off and either freezing Gecko, or finding a replacement. There are still a lot of unanswered questions.

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                    I’m pretty happy with it as-is. I think if nobody tries to pull a Gnome 3 on Thunderbird, everything will be fine.

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                  I don’t really need anything new from Thunderbird. Just that it keeps working.

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                    My installation stopped working a few months ago. Too many emails in it, I guess. I googled and tried to fix it for a couple days. I still click on the icon sometimes, but it doesn’t work. Very sad.

                    So, I’m back to web mail, which is just painful in comparison.

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                      Same here, it actually seems really stable.

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                      I’d be surprised if there were more than 10 million Thunderbird users left in the entire world. Most people today either barely use email, use a Web UI or an Android/iOS app for it. Native desktop email for personal use is so last decade.

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                        I don’t think native desktop email clients as a category are dead, just “alternative”, open-source & cross-platform ones like Thunderbird. The “standard” platform-specific desktop email clients, Outlook on Windows and Mail on OSX, have a ton of users and are actively developed.

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                          I think when all those kids grow up, they will want to have an eMail client that doesn’t stop working when the internet goes away, can be easily transfered to another machine, can create backups fast and easily, doesn’t root all their emails through Google and allows you to get things done (instead of looking “nice”).

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                            I’m not so sure. I know enough people in their 30s - definitely no longer kids - who don’t care for the things you seem to hold dear.

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                              I may represent a very small edge case, but I am 19 and have never used a webmail client full time. I do use gmail, but I have it going through Thunderbird.

                              Many people I know do the same, both at work and personal friends.

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                                  I agree with adsouza that personal anecdotes are irrelevant, so I’ll resist offering my own.

                                  It’s definitely important for native clients to be possible, as they decouple the choice of accessibility tradeoffs and workflow affordances from the choice of provider.

                                  I do think that not all webmail clients are equal; there are some really creative ones lately, and there are even some that can run offline via plugins. But, also, I look forward eagerly to the death of email altogether, perhaps in our lifetimes. :)

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                                    I don’t think it’ll so much die as be sidelined. Like the fax machine.

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                                      That’s fine, too. :)

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                            Why not ask them to pay? Ten bucks a year from just 1/10 of that would come a long way towards stabilising it.

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                              Former Thunderbird engineers have done this: https://www.postbox-inc.com/

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                            Does anybody else here actually like the current Thunderbird UI? It’s nice to have at least one tool left that doesn’t feel like all the sharp edges have been rounded off.