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Thunderbird Starts Working on Improving Its Interface (monterail.com)
226 points by krln_g 5 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 142 comments



A redesign is a great symbolic move to fight "Thunderbird’s key problem is being perceived as either dead or stagnant".

Still, Thunderbird needs a bigger vision. What does Thunderbird want to be? The cross-platform Outlook? Then merge Lightning into core. The native Gmail? Then get a conversations view. The backwards-compatible, easy, and secure mailer? Then merge Enigmail into core or make SMIME easy to use or get some Rust code in. The ultra-portable mailer? Then port it to Android and iOS. The super-flexible mailer? Then somehow help plugin devs.


Thunderbird's problem, i think, is that their userbase contains a large portion of people who value thunderbird for it's stagnancy, but at the same time get angry if you suggest that thunderbird might be stagnant.

Thunderbird is the email client for people who want email to work exactly like it did ten years ago. that's their value-add, and it really should be their vision.


>a large portion of people who value thunderbird for it's stagnancy, but at the same time get angry if you suggest that thunderbird might be stagnant.

Stagnant is a negative characteristic. Keeping things that work the way they are isn't.

MSPaint hasn't been "stagnant" for decades, it was the way people liked it.


There was Eudora for that.

I think one thing that maybe kept ThB from innovating was that people took webmail to heart. It's few people who want a thick client or even want to go thru the config. What port, what server, etc.

On a mobile device, the UI walks them through the scenarios (Google, Microsoft, etc) so they usually don't have to guess or have "IT" set it up for them.

Plus, what ships with MAC and Windows is good enough for most people who do want some kind of thick client.

Regardless, ThB was the ugly child at Mozilla since ever. They should have taken the Opp when Eudora was finally killed, but I don't think Moz had the energy.


> Plus, what ships with MAC and Windows is good enough for most people who do want some kind of thick client.

Airmail and Spark, among others, would like to have a word with you. Airmail in particular started out as a Mac client before being ported to iOS. There exists quite a market for good email clients, I would think.


It needs maintenance and minor improvements. Keep your “redesigns” to a new client.


And/or prioritize PGP support


While this describes me pretty well, I have to admit an (optional) conversations view would be pretty useful.


Try the Thunderbird Conversations add-on:

https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/thunderbird/addon/gmail-con...

It resembles the old Gmail interface, and it's open source.


Or don't, as we have seen recently relying on addons to add missing functionalities may not be viable through time.

Thunderbird will soon add support for webextensions, who knows what will happen of the legacy extensions further than short term ?


And you can't move whole conversations, for example. That's a huge pain point for me.

It seems to be a totally different thing than the regular message list, and only some actions work in Conversation mode.


Internal fork, maintain both. The old version should be east to maintain.


This is just a focus group of one, but I really want to see two problems solved in email:

1) Trusted identity assertion: I want to know with confidence (at a glance) that the sender is who I think they are.

2) Secure communication: I want the visual metaphor of email (private correspondence) to match the reality of email.

How great would it be if Mozilla lead the way to for email clients to adopt open standards to do easily do these things.


(a) exists, just use an addon that validates DKIM, SPF and DMARC records.


Any recommendations?


You'll probably be interested by caliopen[1] then.

[1]: https://www.caliopen.org/en/


"Thunderbird’s key problem is being perceived as either dead or stagnant"

Some of us spell that "stable and reliable" and consider it the single most important property of our essential day-to-day software. If it ain't broke...


I'd say the difference between dead and stable is if you encounter bugs all the time. I find Thunderbird stable (only triggers a bug roughly once per month and nothing critical) while the Lightning plugin for calender functionality is dead (fails to sync with Google for months).


FWIW, I do use Lightning all the time and only know of a couple of minor UI bugs, and at least one other person in my house uses it to sync with external calendars routinely without serious problems as well, so if there are serious bugs there then they don't seem to be universal. In any case, I'd much rather fixing this sort of thing was the priority for the project than yet another UI theme overhaul because reasons.


The order in which you install add-ons, such as the provider for Google calendar and Exchange calendar support, matters. I've spent too long jiggering with add-ons to get them to play nicely together.

Once I have a functioning setup,I copy the profile wholesale from machine to machine. I use Thunderbird every day and have done for years.


I had to stop using Thunderbird because it became ungodly slow and just unusable. I consider that a bug.


I consider that a local problem that only you have. None of the several person using TB daily for more than a decade have encountered this kind of performance issue.

What have you tried to find the cause of your performance issue ? Have you tried making a new user profile to test if your local profile got somehow corrupted ?


Yes, I've tried many things, including a new profile. Compacting would help for a few days. Thunderbird just doesn't seem to do well with large mail archives going back more than a decade. That is my experience and the experience of others.

Also, I've met many people who experience similar performance issues, so I find it bothersome that because you've never encountered it you're asserting it does not exist.

This is also an issue that's span multiple machines and multiple clean installs.


Add me to your new list then. TB starts up in ~1min. Sometimes it will just hang for a few minutes while updating emails/calendar. (Can't switch to its window) Sometimes it will take 10s+ to dismiss a meeting reminder. Sometimes the meeting reminder can't be dismissed. Sometimes it will get confused by filters working slowly and both beep for a new message and then immediately move it away.

There are bugs upstream for all of those. They're up there for years.


Stable and reliable is why I use it, please dont f* it up guys.


I second that.

I've had to find a non google replacement for firefox, I don't want to go through this again to replace thunderbird.


In that case, we would all still be using Pine.


I used to love pine but managing it well with Gmail was terrible as I would have to clean up the inbox and this couldn't be done automatically.


Using gmail is a terrible choice. At the collective level it's taking part in destroying the internet and privacy.


> The native Gmail? Then get a conversations view.

Thunderbird has had a ML/usenet-like conversations view forever.


That feature is... problematic.

I am using TB as my mail client and there are so many things that work. Almost. So many things to configure, but not in the way that I feel would be natural.

TB is mostly worse than Outlook, but still much better than most other clients.


Threaded, hierarchical "ML/Usenet-like" views are great, but they're not what people are asking for when they request a "conversation view."


Which one ? The one I'm using is not that great


Looks like rust is a requirement for the build process:

https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Mozilla/Developer_g...


Why is that significant?


>> ... get some Rust code in.

Maybe I misread it, but to me it sounded like Mozilla did not have Rust support in Thunderbird, but it seems that there is some already ...


Hm. Surveys are really dangerous tools, especially for UI questions:

https://medium.com/research-things/on-surveys-5a73dda5e9a0

I'm not sure how they'll get much use out of this one. They show (not very representative) screen shots and then ask broad questions, like "Would you say this design is rather confusing or clear?" and "Would you say this design is rather boring or inspiring?"

Setting aside that I don't understand why "rather" is in all of the questions, they're still not great. Is the design of a screwdriver inspiring? I guess not. Is that bad? Definitely not. I don't need my tools to be fonts of warm fuzzy feelings. I need them to be useful.

Even if the questions were material, asking it about a whole screenshot composed of many different design changes inevitably muddles things. And asking it only of 1 old and 1 new screenshot invites people to judge on novelty, not utility.

So my suspicion is that the survey isn't really testing any useful hypotheses. We know that some people like new shiny and some people like old familiar. I don't think much is gained here.


I've been through the survey and it is quite bad, the questions are purely marketing centered, trying to figure out the perceived image people have of the software based of a single screenshot.

Where are the question about usability and practicality ?

Said screenshots are from much different screen resolution so one is cluttered[1] and the other is illegible[2].

The whole survey gives the idea that the current design is bad and the new is better. I mean when you get asked to rate an old thing vs a new one on a scale between outdated and modern.

[1]: https://images.typeform.com/images/7E2EfHaFjYdy/image/defaul... [2]: https://images.typeform.com/images/7QpVmjRyBAU4/image/defaul...


They're cheating on the screenshots in the survey. The "current thunderbird" screenshot is taken at half the resolution (or twice the font size) of the "thunderbird redesign" screenshot, giving their redesign twice as much space with which to display the same information. Obviously it's going to look better with that advantage. I'm not sure exactly what it'd mean to "trust" a user interface, but I'm definitely sure I wouldn't trust any of that survey's data.


That's not the only trick they use. Note the choice of plaintext vs. HTML mail (even though current TB supports HTML just fine), interesting looking mail vs. mock-ups of bad spam, different screen aspect ratio, and of course the leading survey questions.

I've created a "fairer" mockup (same resolution/size): https://i.imgur.com/wTLYTV6.png

Note how the "tasks" list is cut off because it simply no longer fits the screen (where the current version has enough space to show it), missing UI elements in the new design (the entire quick filter bar, which would reduce the available space to 3 (!) e-mail headers), the harshly truncated and thus useless subject lines in the new design, the lack of the "this is a draft" toolbar in the new design, that was added to make the old one look more crowded.

Thunderbird is forgetting their target audience. I suspect that people who like shiny over features have long switched to web interfaces. The new design would take away what used to appeal to their remaining users.


I noticed that too, but I don't think they're actually cheating, they're just incompetent and have no clue what they are doing.

Hanlon's razor.


Former Thunderbird user here.

Much more important than shiny new UI, what I'd like to see is seamless out-of-the-box syncing with online calendars and contacts. (At one point, I tried all the available add-ons for syncing with Google's apps; none of those add-ons worked well for me.)


Importantly, since this is a Mozilla project, that service should be self-hostable [1] to disintermediate the multi-device synchronization platform. It should not be necessary to have a third-party observe all my contacts and calendars.

[1] https://github.com/mozilla-services/


If Mozilla ever were to offer a paid calendar-and-contacts online service, powered by open-source code, and backed with strong customer/data/privacy protections, I would sign up.


No need for Mozilla to make server software for this; Thunderbird/Lightning do CalDav and CardDav just fine, right? Seems that cs702's problem isn't with Thunderbird, it's with Google supporting CalDav and CardDav for sync.

If you want to self host, just host any CalDav or CardDav server software.


Thunderbird does not support carddav. Contacts + Thunderbird is generally a terrible experience. I switched to Zoho’s webmail because of this (at least I can get bidirectional sync to my iPhone).


A Mozilla stack for contacts/calendar like Firefox sync would be amazing.


Since this is a mozilla project it should buy a proprietary service for an undisclosed amount of money and force it down the throat of everybody with no option to self host (pocket).

And this should happen to avoid using an already available open source project that works well and you can self host (wallabag).


This a thousand times. Thunderbird would have been great if it calendared well with exchange. As it stands, the available support is garbage and barely works when it works at all.


It works pretty well with Exchange if you use Thunderbird with davmail. But I would really like built in support that works well.


Are you sure that's not a google's apps problem but a thunderbird one ?

See Cardav and Caldav.


How about fixing 6 year old bugs, which mean you can't search for the word "wedding"? This kind of thing is why I left thunderbird.

https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=752844

At the least do a pass over old bugs and let us know if they will ever be fixed, or close them.


Exactly. How about not losing scroll position when switching tabs? Better spam filtering? How come threaded view doesn't work for mails sent by Outlook? (I know we have Microsoft to blame for that, but a workaround should not be impossible to conceive since Outlook somehow manages that already.)

I suspect the people getting excited about a face-lift don't really use Thunderbird very often.


Can't one fork Thunderbird and make it what they want? Or at the very least fix bugs for them? I'm not current on its development workflow.


One has to be a coder, able to deal with the current state of code and the many changes to come, while having a load of free time to maintain the fork.

I mean my 90 years old grandma is a decade long thunderbird user and she absolutely unable to make thunderbird the way she wants. She is 100% dependent on mozilla's good will.


yup. I can code but I don't know how conducive TB is for people to get started helping out.


Same could be said for many desktop programs. MS Office also has its share of decade-old bugs. I guess shuffling the buttons around is more important.


Still doesn’t save window position on a second monitor, have to use wmctrl. :-/


I agree, before redesigning the UI they should fix the functionality.


This redesign is just playing around with colors, background images and minor visual adjustments to the message view. Nobody needs this.

I was hoping for a redesign of the UI, the ways you interact with your mails.

This is one of those „look, I played around in Illustrator“ things, not „I thought about the problem“.


> This redesign is just playing around with colors, background images and minor visual adjustments to the message view. Nobody needs this.

Some UI components do need rework. Redundant search fields, password dialogs that fail to track the login state, etc.

It also strikes me as very odd that someone states that nobody needs UI work on a GUI app, particularly when GUI components make between 50% and 75% of thjs sort of app's code base


I have yet to recover from last time they reworked the UI, so it's not that obvious that a rework is needed or good.

I don't remember how long ago this UI rework happened that added opening email in a tab, but to this day I still get called because "something's wrong with the computer, I can't read my emails " and I just close the gajillions opened tabs in thunderbird to fix the issue.

It improved through time as a significant portion of my users' email moved from desktop to tablets.


Does anyone else feel that most UI redesigns are just change for the sake of change that don't actually make anything better?


Generally not, but in this case I do. The proposed redesign[1] is essentially the same layout, but with a fancy theming. It's good practice not to break the familiar interface, but there's a lot to improve in terms of UI/UX in Thunderbird. For example:

a) presented vertical layout is the same as it is today—you need to have a really high resolution (1080p+) widescreen to fit the entire window. Messages section could have rows with multi-line inlined metadata, thus be significantly narrowed[2];

b) threaded messages feed (or so called conversations) on the same screenshot is presented too vaguely for such an important feature, I bet I'll still have to jump between Sent/Inbox folders in 2018+...;

c) replying to/composing a message is impossible to do in tabs[3] (10 years old), you have to manage separate windows. And there's nothing on this matter in current redesign proposal;

d) not a single word/screenshot on calendar/todo-lists management; etc.

Simply put, this is not the way to redesign such an important large application. Has there been any work done on analyzing user/task scenarios [4]? Any research was conducted on modern best practices? Instead of presenting a list with UI/UX features breakdown and several well-thought solutions, we're supposed to vote on "does it look exciting/professional?" beneath a single 800×500px screenshot. Answering the question: no, it doesn't. It's the very same application, hence stagnant. Do not take offense at the words about "stagnating product", this is what it is.

[1] https://twitter.com/omgubuntu/status/855035593289609216

[2] https://errorfixer.co/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/slow-mail-a...

[3] https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=449299

[4] https://www.usability.gov/how-to-and-tools/methods/scenarios...


Well, there's this system in Hawaii....


In this case, I don't. I previously chose KMail over Thunderbird, solely because Thunderbird's UI felt too massive and cluttered to me.


I get it that Thunderbird looks unhip but I feel like the heavily padded lines waste too much space. The gmail "compact" setting is a much better compromise between space and legibility.

But unless they move Thunderbird to WebExtensions (which would be a total productivity disaster) it can always be modded.

Although an UI update is always welcome there are more important issues to address in Thunderbird, like better calendar synchronisation and an overhaul to its search capabilities.


I disagree that UI updates are always welcome. I subscribe to the "interfaces are not intuitive they are familiar" school of design. It may look dated and maybe it does need an update but I hope the motivation is to improve productivity and not just to be hip.


Agreed. In my response to their survey, I pointed out that with a communication platform, information density is important. A design should not squander space (ala Slack) just to be hip.


It looks like web extensions are coming https://wiki.mozilla.org/Thunderbird/Add-ons_Guide_57


This survey is clearly manipulative and designed to get the results they want ("please give us the new shiny design").

The designs are shown at different resolutions: Note how the text on the old one is clearly readable, while the new one is completely unreadable. Additionally, the new design is given a much higher screen. This makes the old design look much more crowded, and obfuscates the fact that you can't fit more than 10 e-mail headers (with truncated subject lines!) onto a 27" screen with the new design. Additionally, they chose a plaintext e-mail with a boring text for the old design screenshot, while using a designed HTML mail for the new design.

Here's a slightly fairer mockup: https://i.imgur.com/wTLYTV6.png for direct comparison with https://images.typeform.com/images/7E2EfHaFjYdy/image/defaul... - I've redone the text on the subject of the selected entry to show how it would look like without the blur resulting from scaling the available mockup.

The survey itself has one question that is half about usability ("confusing or clear"), with the 4 remaining questions being about bullshitty feel-good/marketing attributes ("boring or inspiring", "unprofessional or professional", "outdated or modern", "untrustworthy or trustworthy") carefully picked to only care about visual appearance.

A much more attractive redesign idea would be showing full threads with sent and received messages in context like Gmail does, while maintaining the standard three-pane view (just allow to scroll up in the bottom pane to see older messages, including sent ones).

Edit to add some things I noticed while writing another response: Note how the "tasks" list is cut off because it simply no longer fits the screen (where the current version has enough space to show it), missing UI elements in the new design (the entire quick filter bar, which would reduce the available space to 3 (!) e-mail headers), the harshly truncated and thus useless subject lines in the new design, the lack of the "this is a draft" toolbar in the new design, that was added to make the old one look more crowded.

Thunderbird is forgetting their target audience. I suspect that people who like shiny over features have long switched to web interfaces. The new design would take away what used to appeal to their remaining users.


It's quite obvious that it's marketing and that the survey is biased towards the new UI design.

Though I'm not sure it has been intently designed like this. Hanlon's razor tells us this probably happened because of incompetence and being clueless. IMHO it reflects the survey authors bias more than a malicious intent.


The two interfaces are the same. The new one has more colors and smaller buttons. I'll trade larger buttons for the colors.

I'll trade everything for being able to see as many messages as I'll always did. Not another Skype like redesign with lots of useless white space around messages, thanks.


On my laptop the default whitespace is too much, as well. The white space is adjustable in userChrome.css, which, to my understanding from the instructions, you need to edit anyway.

Compact spacing:

  --folder-tree-row-height: 20px;

  --message-list-row-height: 20px;


If any Thunderbird devs see this, I don't mind a visual refresh, but here's my real wishlist:

* Sync accounts and settings between multiple computers. (Using syncthing only works so well...) Over my local LAN. I am not going to send my information out into the cloud if I can help it.

* Thunderbird on my Android devices, also synced with my desktop and laptop.

* Groupwise integration so I don't have to log into webmail every time I have an appointment to accept or reject.

* Integrated calendar. Why is it an addon? Seriously. I have never understood that.

Anyway... I'd also love to see an easier to understand community platform. I have no idea where I really should post this comment in the official Thunderbird ecosystem.


As to your first point, I managed this with the user settings on a home server via sshfs (Linux desktop and server). This could also work with shares for Windows (although I didn't try). sshfs is mounted via a script on logon.

Has some warts, but works generally well.


I'm able to sync some of it using SyncThing. But I ran into enough sync conflicts, than I've ignored a lot of files in my profile. So not much actually syncs anymore.

sshfs would work if you are on the same network all the time. I have yet to get dynamic dns working for my home connection, so when I'm at work I doubt I'd be able to access my home sshfs share.


It's pretty meh. It looks like a simple reskin of Thunderbird which doesn't solve any of its problems if you ask me. Thunderbird could certainly use some design love (a conversation view like Gmail could be neat), but I like TB beta's theme better than this.


Sounds awesome! I'm pretty happy with Thunderbird as is, but a modern interface potentially means more users... and hopefully as a result, a longer life.

Here's a quick link to the survey: https://thunderbird-design.typeform.com/to/f7wiiq?utm_referr...


Those survey questions are completely irrelevant to interface design. I use TB every day as my main private mail client and the picture they show me doesn't even look like what I use. Then they ask a bunch of marketing BS questions that have absolutely nothing to do with usability.

I hope these people stay the hell away from my favorite mail client.


I installed Thunderbird on a new machine last week and that screenshot is pretty close to the default setup.


I have to agree that the questions could have been better. For instance, they asked "Does this interface look trustworthy". What does that even mean?

I believe it's trustworthy because it's open source and backed by Mozilla. The only aspect of the interface that would lead me not to trust it is advertisements.

That being said, with good luck they'll get more useful feedback to the open-ended questions.


My main problem with Thunderbird is that it's a poor citizen in email, particularly with regard to its handling of plaintext. It's far from alone in that respect, but I would really appeciate Thunderbird being a leader in taking the problem seriously.


It's great to see continued maintenance of this important project, and it'll be interesting to see the results of a visual refresh.

thunderbird has over 20 years lineage, and I've screenshots of the major stages at:

http://www.pixelbeat.org/docs/netscape_email/


I have the feeling that the Open Source community left the email world a while ago. There is almost nothing happening there.

You may argue that it's because email is a solved problem by now, but I don't think so:

Setting your own personal email server? Still a hassle to do correctly. Full text search a la Gmail? You can forget it. Threaded conversations across folders? Not for you. Hosting a webmail? Good luck finding a maintained one. Want a desktop client? The flagship Thunderbird is not the healthiest project right now.

I would really like to see the Redis or the Golang of emails.


There are work in progress right now, e.g. trojita[1], caliopen[2], kube[3], ...

Setting up your personal email server correctly hassle free: mail-in-a-box[4]

Most gmail features requires losing all expectations of privacy and as such are not desirable or feasible. That said IINM full text search already exists in kde's kmail.

I have no use for threaded conversations across folder, so I have no suggestions for this, sorry.

Maintained opensource webmails do exist, e.g. roundcube[5], mailpile[6], rainloop[7], zimbra[8], ...

Non thunderbird desktop clients do exist too: claws[9], sylpheed[10], kmail[11], mail[12], geary[13], ...

[1]: https://trojita.flaska.net/

[2]: https://www.caliopen.org/en/

[3]: https://kube.kde.org/

[4]: https://mailinabox.email/ and https://github.com/mail-in-a-box/mailinabox

[5]: https://roundcube.net/

[6]: https://www.mailpile.is/

[7]: https://www.rainloop.net/

[8]: https://www.zimbra.com/

[9]: http://www.claws-mail.org/

[10]: http://sylpheed.sraoss.jp/en/

[11]: https://userbase.kde.org/KMail

[12]: https://github.com/elementary/mail

[13]: https://wiki.gnome.org/Apps/Geary


I should also mention modoboa[1] which is an opensource mail hosting solution with a web interface.

[1]: https://modoboa.org/en/

[1]: https://github.com/modoboa/modoboa


Why does the survey ask "does it look trustworthy"? I voted the middle "4", because I don't understand the question.


I think it means "does it look like an app that you would trust with your email workflow".

If the design looks broken or amateurish, maybe that would lead you to not trust the application because you feel it is poorly made and will lose your data one day.

Or maybe the new design is so focused on stickers & gifs* that you don't trust the application to reliably handle your professional business communications with clients anymore.

* (I'm looking at you, Skype, with this comment...)


Because it's a marketing survey concerned about the perceived image of the product and because the survey is fully biased towards the redesigned UI.

The survey begs the following answer: the new redesign UI will give thunderbird a bigger market share.


As a heavy Thunderbird user, my biggest complaint is offline support. An IMAP sync will download new emails' subject lines, but not the actual message bodies. Clicking on an email subject line then requires freezes Thunderbird for multiple seconds while it downloads the message body for that single email.


Right click the account and go to Synchronization and Storage. Double check on individual folders. I know this works because my ImapMail folder (in the profile folder) is much bigger than it would be if it only had subjects, and a quick sampling shows full messages.

If you have this on and it's still taking seconds, the problem is probably coming from something else.


Thanks. I double-checked and all my folders are checked in my Synchronization & Storage settings. Something else must be wrong with my settings.


I don't really care either way about the colors and the fonts. I care more about functionality, and the current version still has a very annoying bug, where there's a type of spam email that Thunderbird will choke on when trying to download it using POP. I have to use webmail to go manually delete the offending email so that Thunderbird can download the rest of the emails. Last time I investigated this, it seems that others have reported this problem, but nothing's been done about it. I'm very close to moving to Outlook now (which would also help with calendaring, but that's a whole other can of worms), and a simple re-design isn't what's going to keep me as a Thunderbird user.


Do we really need new design for Thunderbird? How about reusing Photon design system (https://design.firefox.com/photon/) from Firefox?


I see fair number of comments on here suggesting how to fix Thunderbird, or what additional features and services it needs. Well, Thunderbird is open source. Time to contribute more than just a some good ideas.

Or is the Mozilla development and contribution process broken?

It looks like it is realitively straight forward to compile from source: https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Mozilla/Developer_g...


Contributing to one of the largest open source projects is not a simple task at all, but you are right. However, they are asking for opinions and putting up a survey, so this may not be the place and time to start this argument.


Great. Can we have multiple lines per mail in the mail column or is that still not possible ? /rant


What does that even mean? What mail column?


Presumably the column with the list of emails in the currently selected inbox. (2nd column from left.)

Some email clients have multiple rows of information in that column - the first row might have name & subject, the next row might show the first two sentences of the email. Or it might have the subject on a separate line, so the column can be kept narrow but still show the full subject line.

Think of the iOS Mail or Android GMail interfaces, for example.


I hope they don't go in that direction, I like my emails compact on 1 line.


There's a sane responsive interface solution to that: you get single-line layout on wide screen, and a compact multi-line layout on narrow screen. Answering a nearby comment, it's doable in CSS-only[1].

This entire discussion is not about complex interface design and the lack of technical solutions, but the stagnating product. And about questionable actions to give it a peppy appearance.

[1] https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Web/CSS/Media_Queri...


I am pretty sure we could come up with something like a switch in the option.

It's not doable with CSS only anyway, so it won't happen if they just design a new theme on the current XUL toolkit (correct me if anything changed about that lately).


I agree. Call me old fashioned, but I believe subject lines should be a line with the subject.


> Think of the iOS Mail or Android GMail interfaces, for example.

Or outlook 2003 https://www.microsoft.com/middleeast/office/images/editions/... which was released like 15 years ago. I remember because I made an office 2003 theme for thunderbird. I am never touching that 1500 CSS files clusterfuck again.


I can't find the bugreport. Can you please link it, if you have it?


Sure. https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=213945

Reported: 15 years ago Modified: 28 days ago

How the years go by.

edit: https://wiki.mozilla.org/Talk:Thunderbird:2.0_Product_Planni... Users were talking about it for the 2.0 release.


No you currently cannot. That's what I put in the suggestions box in the survey.


This is the exact reason I stopped using Thunderbird.


Have you tried https://www.postbox-inc.com/ ? It's a commercial version of thunderbird from an older thunderbird core dev and it comes with multiple lines. And other niceties. $40 with volume discounts.


why dropping Linux support ?

From what I gather it uses some of thunderbird and firefox code but is heavily modified and is proprietary software.

Too bad they decided to drop linux support, it renders it useless to me.


A sign of me being officially old: I like Thunderbird the way it is. Really. For what I want to do with it, it's just fine, so I'm rather scared of that potentially getting screwed up with a UI redesign.

(obligatory xkcd link: https://xkcd.com/1172/)


I couldn't agree more.

There are some enhancements to functionality and some bug fixes that would be helpful in Thunderbird, and security fixes are always welcome. However, this is essential software that I rely on for serious work. It doesn't need to be flashy. It doesn't need a UI overhaul that shifts things around for no particular reason and almost certainly breaks things that matter. It just needs to work, reliably and unobtrusively, and not mess anything up.


No need to change UI. Proper maildir support please.


As I entered into the survey, on the 'ooo nice' and 'getting shit done' spectrum, the proposed redesign sits too close to the 'ooo nice' end.

So far I'm really happy with Postbox, basically a fork of Thunderbird with loads of modern features. I absolutely hate Outlook.


Postbox is commercial, proprietary and has no linux support. Not exactly a fork of Thunderbird.


Behind all the blog blithering, here's the interface mockup:

http://www.omgubuntu.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/thunde...

It has all the stuff people expect today - dim grey text on a light grey background, large decorative graphics to fill space, little round icons for people, images in your face for every email, and integration with calendar and contacts. The people who send out "newsletters" (i.e. email spam) will love it.


I think everyone needs to take a look at Evolution[^1] - it's native looking, with a clean interface, with working contacts and calendar sync.

If that was combined with the surprisingly comfortable keyboard shortcuts of Rainloop[^2], that would be brilliant, but the world doesn't need yet another electron-looking app.

[^1]: https://wiki.gnome.org/Apps/Evolution/ [^2]: https://www.rainloop.net/


I've just started using Thunderbird again this last year, comforted by it. It's definitely better than it used to be. The survey is a joke, I don't trust product management/design if they're asking people to donate their time to this survey. Is this grainy screenshot of downloading a ton of email rather confusing or "clear"... I can't help but laugh at the confirmation that is being begged for and stop taking the survey.

I guess a fork will come out if it goes the way of Ubuntu.

I love Mozilla's products and mission.


Well that's the exact opposite of what I'd personally like in terms of Thunderbird dev time spent. The UI is already perfect. It doesn't need to be re-made to fit smartphone aesthetics.


I don't need radical UI redesigns of Thunderbird, but I do see how a redesign does make it look nicer and "modern", even when the underlying functionality is the same. On that basis, my vote is for a UI redesign as long as it doesn't offer too many opportunities for criticism (especially those that cannot be addressed easily by customization efforts of the community). Thunderbird, like Firefox, has had support for Themes to change the entire UI/chrome. Some themes may have introduced issues, but I have tried a few in the past and found them to provide the flexibility that some users like.

As for Thunderbird itself, I have only two wishes:

1. Support Exchange calendaring natively and reliably. I've used different extensions (like Lightning along with DavMail or Exchange Provider), and have always had to revert back to OWA (Outlook Web Access) just to have a usable calendar. Without this, I cannot even recommend Thunderbird within my organization (where almost everybody else is stuck with Outlook; this is not the only factor that makes Outlook attractive to users in the recent years — Outlook also has good integration with Skype and Skype Meetings in the calendar, where people start chats on Skype based on calendar events).

2. Make it perform better. Most people who are Thunderbird users surely have been using it for several years and use multiple mailboxes, with each being at least a few GBs in size. Very few users adopt regular archival, folders, inbox zero and other approaches. I have multiple mailboxes, with a couple of them where the Inbox is about 1GB or 2GB. Thunderbird takes several minutes to startup and show its screen. I know it uses MSF files for the indexes, but it doesn't seem like it does an optimized load of the mail data (mbox) file or takes a lazy approach to loading information that may not be recent. Downloading mail content from IMAP also seems to be slow, though that could be a combination of the servers (across providers) being slower, the protocol and Thunderbird's design/implementation.

P.S.: I donate regularly to the Thunderbird project to show my support. Here's the link for the English version of the donation page (the donation goes only to the Thunderbird project and not to Mozilla/other projects) — https://donate.mozilla.org/en-US/thunderbird/


I have recently been using Seamonkey as my day to day browser (Seamonkey is good on OpenBSD). I am really enjoying the fresh take on the user interface … but of course it actually has a very old take on a user interface … I've just forgotten.

I think that much of what passes for user interface design is mere fashion. While a bad user interface is eternal, it doesn't seem possible to have a good one over any length of time.


I get that it's the modern style, but would it be so terrible to add some colour? The left hand pane has colours, so why can't the buttons?

The menu buttons is really what make Thunderbird weird to me. The "write" button has a drop-down that say Message, Event, and Task... So write an event? They also never seems to line up, nor do they actually look like button. Sadly non of this is addressed in the presented design.


I would be very happy with Thunderbird if it continued functioning as it already does, but without opening up a desktop notification listing emails I received 2 weeks ago... emails it notified me were new every time I clicked on the application and then off of it for the past 2 weeks. I have yet to figure out the logic behind what messages it chooses to show there.


I dumped Thunderbird some years ago because I had accumulated 10 gb of email and it had slowed to a crawl. That, and the search wasn't very good.

My gmail interface has neither of those problems.

I would consider going back to Thunderbird because it pulls together multiple email account better than gmail does. But they've got to get a better underlying storage engine.


Vacuuming might help. And deleting old mail with attachments.


I don't want to delete old emails or old attachments, I just want them indexed for faster search.


The point is to have the archives rewritten, they may be fragmented.


I tried installing it on Windows 10 yesterday,the buttons on the ad to setup a new account with one of their partners were unresponsive, including the Skip button. I eventually figured out how to setup an existing account without hitting that window but after I added the account, it wouldnt pull in any mail. I went with Claws Mail.


They should make it multi threaded, I am seeing so many places in which UI is blocked and unresponsive while waiting for I/O or other logic.


Why do they want it to look Slack-ish?


Because "modern"


2-3 row header in the list of all inbox messages is all Thunderbird needs UI-wise to be accepted.


Do yourself (and to other e-mail users in the hacker community) some good and use something like Mutt or Gnus. Sth. like Thunderbird is not worth the hassle if you can edit a configuration file and read a man page (most folk here, I'd guess), and who can't is using Gmail and/or the app on their phones anyways.


can you read HTML emails with Mutt? with pictures?


IIRC you can use the browser to view them, i.e. a keystroke opens it in the browser. In Gnus I hit "K H" for that. Emacs also has SHR, a renderer for HTML, but it doesn't do all that good with complex documents.


Feature, not bug.


Why do so many geeks insist that markup is good for web documents but not for e-mail?

E-mails can benefit from headings, bulleted lists and tables just as much as a web page. It's all about communicating information in human-digestable format.

OR PERHAPS ALL EMAIL SHOULD BE SENT TELEGRAM STYLE WITHOUT PUNCTUATION SINCE THAT IS JUST A DISTRACTION STOP ALSO ONLY IN ASCII CAPS STOP


Am also a ham, so not completely opposed to increased take-up of CW. Particularly in a global HF mesh network.

I'm not actually opposed to markup at all, but you know exactly the kind of over-designed barf I'm talking about being happy not receiving. I can always open an email from a tmp file in the browser (by hitting <v> then <enter> in mutt) but in more than 9/10 cases that just isn't necessary. W3m renders an approximation of the html layout just fine.


Well structured text is both readable and has a very long life as it is. There are prime examples at textfiles.com, eg. http://textfiles.com/magazines/LOD/lod-1


I noticed it's an extension rather than just a theme.

Has someone audited this for malware?


Everything submitted to addons.mozilla.org gets audited.




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