Mozilla Messaging

As some may remember, Mozilla’s plan for Thunderbird was to form a new (then unnamed) company owned by the Foundation. Mozilla Messaging has now launched. I’m a fan of this approach as I think it allows for the most synergy between the projects, which are really more fraternal or conjoined twins than sister projects. It also allows for more dedicated resources and focus that Thunderbird wasn’t receiving before.

David Ascher has a great post on what’s to come. There are a few things I’d like to touch on though.

…Specifically, Thunderbird 3 will build on the great base that is Thunderbird 2 (and the work already performed in trunk by the current and past contributors), and add some key features, such as:

Presumably meaning it’s based on Mozilla 1.9, though I’m not 100% clear on this.

  • Integrated calendaring (building on the great work done by the Mozilla Calendar team and their Lightning add-on to Thunderbird),

Awesome. This is something that was missing from long ago. Though I wonder how far it will go without the server side being as available, robust and tested. Exchange compatibility would bring about the most corporate adoption, though that could be difficult to engineer. Google Calendar is supported via an addon. It’s still lacking in a few places, though rapidly improving. I believe it also works with Zimbra (can anyone confirm?), which is a good start.

  • better search facilities,

I’m curious what this entails. Search is always tricky. Google Desktop has proven a good solution for many who need better search with their email client.

  • easier configuration,

Cool. Enough said. I’ve had thoughts on that for a while.

  • and a set of other user interface improvements.

Hopefully this will result in some native skinning similar to what Firefox 3.0 is doing.

Address Book is also about 4 years overdue for an overhaul. Personally I think it should be replaced entirely and use a mozStorage backend. Perhaps even look at the possibility of some data sharing with services like Facebook, Plaxo and LinkedIn. Obviously being careful to avoid causing a Scoble by scraping data. For something like this data portability will be critical.

Personally I’d like to see some standard emerge where closed messaging services can essentially be interfaced like an IMAP account. So one could plug in their account info and interact with their account via any tool they choose. Obviously sending would be limited to within the provider’s walls. Contacts, data, etc. can be sync’d between both providing a seamless experience.

…Another strength is that we already have a complete web technology stack built into our mail client, and as a result, we can consider deep integration with both websites and web services which other solutions can only dream of.

Extensions are powerful. But this is really where the strength is. It’s a rather complete platform, and constantly expanding to keep up with the latest. It’s far from a hacked together parser that does a subset of html.

I suspect 3.0 will be somewhat of a quieter release. Change won’t come overnight. Those expecting a radical new approach to email by 3.0 will likely be disappointed. 4.0 is where things will become a more disruptive. I’d assume this will correspond with Mozilla2, which might work out to be an advantage.

As a final note, for any who don’t realize Scott MacGregor and David Bienvenu (no idea where his new blog will be) aren’t working for Mozilla Messaging but will still be involved with Thunderbird. They haven’t said too much on their plans yet.

That’s about all of my thoughts on the topic for now.

Thunderbird is dead, long live Thunderbird.
Email is dead, long live Email.

3 thoughts on “Mozilla Messaging

  1. Google Desktop has proven a good solution for many who need better search with their email client.

    Google Desktop has proven a good solution for almost nobody who needs better search in their mail. If Google Desktop were an adequate way of indexing mail for Thunderbird’s target client base, it’d be an adequate way of indexing web browser history and bookmarks too. Sometimes you simply have to reinvent the wheel, and it doesn’t hurt when you’re removing a dependency on proprietary software in the process.

    Personally I’d like to see some standard emerge where closed messaging services can essentially be interfaced like an IMAP account.

    Not gonna happen. Facebook is dotcom 2.0 through and through, and no social networking site has an interest in standardising export; walled gardens are the business plan.

    What Thunderbird could really do with is some seriously concentrated workflow examination from some UI experts. The basic interface hasn’t changed much in ten years, and there must be some optimisation that can be made to the most common tasks of the client.

    – Chris

  2. Not gonna happen. Facebook is dotcom 2.0 through and through, and no social networking site has an interest in standardising export; walled gardens are the business plan.

    There is a small change. Facebook among many others are part of DataPortability now. How much comes out of that is of course subject to speculation.

  3. >I believe it also works with Zimbra (can anyone confirm?),
    >which is a good start.
    It does, more or less. But it is still rather shaky and rather slow.

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