Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Mozilla Software

Thunderbird Will Phase Out Legacy Add-Ons, Will Support WebExtensions (bleepingcomputer.com) 171

Catalin Cimpanu, writing for BleepingComputer: Mozilla announced last week plans to modernize Thunderbird's codebase, plans that include fixing some "technical debt" by incorporating the recent changes in the Mozilla engine into Thunderbird, adding a new user interface (UI), and phasing out old legacy add-ons that are built on the XUL and XPCOM APIs. The changes are part of Mozilla's new plan for Thunderbird development, a project that it left for dead in 2012, but later decided to reinvigorate in 2016.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Thunderbird Will Phase Out Legacy Add-Ons, Will Support WebExtensions

Comments Filter:
  • by Nutria ( 679911 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2017 @12:07PM (#55809389)

    Hah. Every point release in the past two years has reduced functionality. If there were a reasonable (Claws isn't) Linux substitute, then I'd switch in a minute.

    • Concur (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Excelcia ( 906188 ) <kfitzner@excelcia.ca> on Tuesday December 26, 2017 @12:42PM (#55809711) Homepage Journal

      It was better when it was left for dead. At least then it was left alone. Everything that Mozilla has touched since 2012 has turned to ashes. Actually, it was 2011 when they adopted Google's rapid release and versioning methodology on a project that it was neither technically nor culturally suited for. They broke extensions by the truck load with that little gem, and instead of slowing down and letting the extension system catch up, their solution was to write a script that automatically scanned their extensions and just disabled the ones which hadn't caught up yet. Now they are set to do it again with Thunderbird. They are just hell bent on shedding any technical merit or usability they have in favour of cramming UI changes and

      The've been doing this since 2011. Mozilla has been quite content to shed any technical merit they had for almost any reason at all. It all started when they saw Chrome beginning to become successful, and immediately decided to emulate Google's development environment. They adopted Google's rapid release and versioning method on a project that was neither technically nor culturally suited for it. They broke extensions by the truck load with that little gem, and instead of slowing down and letting the extension system catch up, their solution was to write a script that automatically scanned their extensions and just disabled the ones which hadn't caught up yet. Then they went all hell bent on adopting major UI changes that were demonstrably unpopular by the majority of its user base. And if alienating the extensions authors wasn't enough, many of the UI changes destroyed themes on back-to-back-to-back releases. It reminds me of one of my country's more famous (and intensely divisive) prime ministers who, when he realized he'd alienated half my country, proceeded to give them the finger from his seat on a train as he was passing through their area. That's Mozilla. They go out of their way to alienate users, and then the ones who have stayed loyal they give the finger to with decisions like this.

      All of this was in an attempt at emulating Chrome's burgeoning success. The problem is, they never figured out... you simply cannot surpass someone else by playing copycat on their methods. This is important so I'm going to say it again. Mozilla cannot copy Google and be better than Google. All they did with Firefox was alienate their existing user base in favour of a product that could never be quite as good at being Chrome as Chrome was. And now they are running headlong into inevitability again. See here [wikispaces.com] for details.

      The PaleMoon project has done for the browser what Mozilla should have done. It was originally a patch on an earlier FF ESR, they have since essentially departed from Firefox, though they still borrow some bits when it makes sense to do so. It's what Firefox should have been if they hadn't taken the detour into crazy six years ago. Maybe they can be convinced to do the same for Thunderbird.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Z00L00K ( 682162 )

        When it comes to Thunderbird the need/use for plugins isn't really there, it works pretty well standalone.

        • by erice ( 13380 )

          When it comes to Thunderbird the need/use for plugins isn't really there, it works pretty well standalone.

          If use more than a handful of addresses, Virtual Identity is absolutely essential.

          • by coliva ( 311680 )

            Agreed. I have many e-mail addresses and Virtual Identity is an excellent tool for handling them all from a single account.

        • When it comes to Thunderbird the need/use for plugins isn't really there, it works pretty well standalone.

          True for me; I only use two add-ons in Thunderbird: CompactHeader and Disable "You".

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          Plugins are needed for GPG. That's the only reason I have thunderbird installed.

        • Unless you use adhoc aliases (Google it). Then you NEED an extension.

          Example: suppose your email address is "foo@bar.net".

          You use a unique address for each correspondent, like "foo-potentialspammer@bar.net" (or if you want to be REALLY clever, "foo-potentialspammer$xxxxxxxxxxxx@bar.net", where "xxxxxxxxxxxx" is a 63-bit base36-encoded signature that confirms YOU created the address).

          Your mail server sees the "-", matches everything up to it to determine the mailbox, applies any user-defined rules to everyth

      • by roca ( 43122 )

        It's unclear what you think of as "copying Google" in terms of paths Mozilla should not follow.

        If you mean "make a fast browser" then you're wrong. For long-term survival, Mozilla absolutely needs Firefox to be as fast or faster than Chrome, and that is achievable, and has been partially achieved; many people have switched to Firefox 57 from Chrome because they feel Firefox is faster.

        If you mean "secure the browser using content process sandboxing" then that's wrong too. Without that Firefox has been runnin

        • For long-term survival, Mozilla absolutely needs Firefox to be as fast or faster than Chrome

          This is wrong. And it's not just a wrong state to be in but it's indicative (indicting really) of the completely skewed thought chain leading up to that conclusion.

          First of all, when is the last time your browser's rendering efficiency was the rate limiting step to how fast a page displayed for you? Browser speed for 99.9% of the user base is a metric that is only even relevant insomuch as it is published as a benc

          • by roca ( 43122 )

            I'm not talking about page-load speed specifically. It's all about how people perceive the performance of the browser. A lot of people switch browsers in response to that, from Firefox to Chrome, and lately from Chrome to Firefox.

            Your speculation about Mozilla's goal-setting is wrong. Success is simple: get more people using Firefox, which means making Firefox superior to the competition in the ways most people care about. Those things don't change much over time: performance, Web sites working properly, ma

            • If Firefox was producing something that was actually better than Chrome, I might agree. But they're not. They're producing Chrome.

        • I think every point you've made here is either weak or incorrect, especially about the development model.

          Rolling release is a pox on the industry.

      • Actually, it was 2011 when they adopted Google's rapid release and versioning methodology

        I don't have enough information to know if this was the cause, or if the two shared a mutual cause, but the timing certainly is suspicious.

      • +1,000,000...

    • I guess more to the point.
      1. What are the better alternative to Thunderbird
      2. What features do people really want and what they don't

      I am willing to bet when you ask these features, you might realize it is impossible to make a perfect client, unless you make one for yourself.

      • by Nutria ( 679911 )

        Despite all the moans and bitches by text-mode purist (who need to accept the fact that the "we must use text to save bandwidth!" argument died a decade ago), I like Outlook because it handles tables (pasting spreadsheet segments) and text formatting (using RTF) really well. Much better than T-bird. I never use it's calendar for my own needs, but it's great for scheduling meetings.

        I don't know how it handles IMAP or multiple accounts (which T-bird does well), since I only use it on my work laptop, integr

        • Bottom-posting is a lost battle, maybe useful for the Usenet era when attachments were appended inline. The Gmail-style of seeing a relevant summary on one line is very useful, for me at least.

    • Every point release in the past two years has reduced functionality.

      What functionality has been reduced?

      • by Nutria ( 679911 )

        Small things like table handling. (Paste a section of spreadsheet into T-bird, and all the fonts go tiny. Before around 51.0, you could type Ctrl-End, and they'd be restored.)

  • by Anonymous Coward

    "To crater market share of Thunderbird in similar fashion as Firefox."

  • by iggymanz ( 596061 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2017 @12:23PM (#55809545)

    I've been using it for 10+ years and appreciate the lack of needless feature churning and meaningless version bumping, it's a mature product. Hope the morons jerking their browser around don't fuck it up.

    • I've been using it for 10+ years and appreciate the lack of needless feature churning and meaningless version bumping, it's a mature product. Hope the morons jerking their browser around don't fuck it up.

      I suspect that they will though. The nannies at Mozilla need to get their fingers on everything.

    • I'm not sure what features there really are to add to a simple IMAP/POP client.

      And that's the thing, I really think that a project like Thunderbird should pick a lane and stick in it. Do you want to be a IMAP/POP client? Cool. Be that. Keep it simple, and make it robust, secure, and fast.

      Or else, be ambitious and try to be Outlook. That's fine. You can be a groupware client. But that also needs a server side to be really practical. You can't just perpetually dump half-assed features into the clien

      • I'm not sure what features there really are to add to a simple IMAP/POP client.

        Another calendar. A Task / event manager (which is the same thing). A social media integrator. Another chat client that requires you to log in and complains when you don't. An activity manager. A developer toolbox. An pseudo-AI emoji insertion tool that forces the damn things into your messages and which takes half an hour figure out how to turn off. A whole bunch of things that should be optional but which are now built in, take up screen or menu real estate and which you never use.

        What they won't include

        • Hear, hear. My list of Thunderbird desirables WITHOUT extensions:

          + Export/import Thunderbird settings (accounts, layouts, etc.)
          + To/From/CC/BCC columns (currently in ColumnsWizard extension)
          + Auto-archive (currently in deprecated Awesome Auto Archive extension)
          + Read-only stand-alone (not in profile) MBOX files
          + Read PST files (currently by third party apps)
          + One-click HTML-plain text email reading
          + One-click HTML-plain text email authoring
          + Multiple signatures
          + Better lock file stability for real-time sync

  • Hmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thegreatbob ( 693104 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2017 @12:23PM (#55809549) Journal
    Well, are they going to roll EWS support into their main codebase (currently functional through a plugin)? It's almost like they strongly desire these products to die. They seem to have forgetten that the market they need to be directly pandering to isn't necessarily their bulk consumer base... it's the people that recommend/support (tense is probably wrong at this point) the use of their products.
  • by DaveM753 ( 844913 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2017 @12:24PM (#55809561)

    ...adding a new user interface...

    This scares me.

    • ...adding a new user interface...

      This scares me.

      They'll probably decide what mail you are or aren't allowed to see, just like Firefox does now. Which I've uninstalled from my machine. I don't need a nanny.

    • by bradley13 ( 1118935 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2017 @01:36PM (#55810095) Homepage

      No shit. When was the last time that a new UI actually improved a product? Pro tip to UIX folk: "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."

      • It is part of a master plan to phase out usefulness from the Internet. And, in the long term, not just from the Internet but from all software.

        It is entirely feasible, that within a matter of a few short years, the entire Internet will become completely unusable.

        Based on the current rate of progress, sometimes described as Less's Law, I would say it gets about 1/2 as useful every 18 months.

      • No shit. When was the last time that a new UI actually improved a product? Pro tip to UIX folk: "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."

        As much as I worry the update will be worse, the current UI is pretty hateful. Take "Message Filters" for example... it is *really* not a well designed interface.

    • As well it should. It's like there's this ongoing competition to see who can crank out the flattest UI, with the least visible boundaries between text (excluding whitespace) and the fewest meaningful features exposed through it.
    • by Artem Tashkinov ( 764309 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2017 @04:48PM (#55811379) Homepage

      Your fears are totally warranted as the new UI looks like modern [netdna-ssl.com] shit [ghacks.net] we are already forced to consume in other OS'es like Windows 10.

      Hopefully the new Thunderbird will be themeable but I wouldn't hold my breath considering that theming was essentially killed in Firefox (we can only apply a background image to its bars - that's it).

    • It should. The odds are excellent that the new UI will be like the new Firefox UI.

  • The user interface changes for Firefox are a study in bad user interface design.
    • They're just trying to keep up with everyone else!
    • To be more specific, the Mozilla team based their UI ideas on Chrome, GNOME 3, Windows 8, and other studies in bad user interface design, it's more of a conclusions of a set of studies in bad user interface design than a study in bad user interface design.
    • I do have to say, it could have been worse for the Firefox UI (I definitely prefer the old UI) - but you're right, they took Firefox right out to the Windows Phone / Windows 8 / Windows 10 woodshed and did a job on it.

      Doing this with Thunderbird makes little sense - except from the ivory tower view of trying to maintain a single code base (except I doubt this will save them much money) cause most of those plugin authors (a good chunk of which is for encyption) are barely alive and not wanting to recreat
  • My Add-ons (Score:4, Informative)

    by msc.buff ( 928148 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2017 @12:59PM (#55809833)
    I use several add-ons in my daily Thunderbird usage:
    1. CompactHeader
    2. ConfigDate
    3. DKIM Verifier
    4. Enigmail
    5. Header Tools Lite
    6. LookOut
    7. Manually sort folders
    8. Nostalgy
    9. PrintingTools
    10. Remove Duplicate Messages (Alternate)
    11. Spamness

    I wouldn't mind if some add-ons were integrated (Enigmail, Nostalgy) but don't mess too much with the cored T-Bird.

    • That's the real problem that the Mozilla execs won't care about - all these plugins will need to be rewritten...how many of those authors will do that (i.e. how many of these are already dead but function just fine on the existing Thunderbird codebase)

      The program (at least WRT plugins) would have been much better off if it had been kicked out from underneath Mozilla senior executive "good decisions".
  • by loufoque ( 1400831 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2017 @01:11PM (#55809925)

    I stopped using Thunderbird ages ago when they started incorporating sqlite and smart search. It made it completely unable to cope with the amount of emails I have.

    It's like they don't understand some people have dozens of gigs of plain text email and are subscribed to a hundred high-volume NNTP groups.

  • ...adding a new user interface

    Mozilla has shown their ignorance regarding the UI that the users want. Combine that with Mozilla being too arrogant to learn from their mistakes. A UI change cannot be a change for the better.

    • Troll? Have the Mozilla fanbois taken over the site? I expressed an opinion about Mozilla, and it's a troll? 'Tis a shame Mozilla has become so thin-skinned that they need to be held in adulation, and cannot handle even mild criticism.
  • Now needs to fork Thunderbird. We could call it Palehorse since it still uses Native American labeling and horses were used for mail delivery.
  • by EndlessNameless ( 673105 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2017 @02:48PM (#55810619)

    "Mozilla engineers have already started work on adding support for WebExtensions in Thunderbird, albeit there's no concrete deadline when this feature will land in a stable release, nor when Thunderbird will stop supporting legacy add-ons."

    Adding to this, they will shift away from C++/Javascript/XUL to "web technologies". Now I can't find a language spec for "web technologies", so it sounds like neither one of us knows exactly where they're headed.

    Taking all of this into consideration, their press release boils down to: We don't know what we're doing or when, but it's going to be great.

  • That's why I keep coming to /., even when the quality of the articles keep going down. It's not very verbose and you get the important alerts.

    This alert has allowed me to disable automatic updates in Thunderbird, because apparently some people cannot left good enough alone.

  • by thegreatbob ( 693104 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2017 @04:01PM (#55811129) Journal
    ... to a possibly surprising recipient: Despite being a crusty/unreliable piece of crap, Outlook has no shortage of features, and exposes them in not-particularly-difficult-to-find ways. The UI is probably the least 'afflicted' by the ribbon of the various Office products I've used in recent history, as the ribbon winds up getting used more like a conventional menu. While we are not expecting Thunderbird to be a full-featured Outlook knock-off, the current set of features (while missing a few) is still quite good; any reduction thereof means they're taking a step back, and no longer see themselves as a viable competitor to the old behemoth (regardless of if it is true or not.

    Closing statements, directed towards The Mozilla Foundation:

    I will continue to use Thunderbird, even older versions, until it becomes a security liability and/or no longer does what I need it to do.
    I will have little choice but to return to Outlook for work purposes, if WebExtensions is to be ramrodded down our collective gullets.
    Thunderbird may very well be your last opportunity to prove to the world that you have not completely lost your way; don't blow it.
  • This sounds like they are about to start the mindless updating for the sake of updating that has ruined Firefox. Can some other group be persuaded to fork the current Thunderbird? Wouldn't an integrated email client be a good addition to the Libre Office suite, for example?

  • Thunderbird works great in our small office. The only extension we use that is critical is InsertLinkToLocalFile. The chances of that getting re-written are zero, unless I do it and I won't. We have separate accounts for inter-office emails where we can share links to client folders and keep track of the emails as threads.
  • by MrL0G1C ( 867445 ) on Wednesday December 27, 2017 @05:47AM (#55814121) Journal

    So they're basically going to mutilate the UI, hide the menus and replace that with meaningless icons and hard to find settings that take more clicks to get to. What the hell is it with these fucking morons, they're everywhere fucking up UIs, changing them from meaningful words that name the actions they fulfill to stupidly laid out icons in fucking weird places and layouts where you can't discern where one section begins and another ends. Because progress, because some fucking idiots think everything has to look new all the time, can we create a fucking virus to wipe out these fucking brainless sheeple, the planet is overpopulated anyhow. /rant over... for now.

  • Although I have depended heavily on Thunderbird for many years, I only use it as an email reader, and I only read emails in plain text.

    So, as sad (and unexpected) as it is to see this shift to WebExtensions, at least I am escaping unscathed from this particular change. If you don't use extensions, the change is irrelevant to you.

    This is a world of difference from when they did it to Firefox, which has ended up meaning that I have to use a fork.

    • Except that I'm not lucky in that they're changing the UI. If the changes resemble the changes made for Firefox, that will be a bitter pill to swallow.

UNIX is many things to many people, but it's never been everything to anybody.

Working...