Two Things I Really Would Like From Mozilla Thunderbird

by Bob Plankers on July 5, 2011 · 8 comments

in General Rambling,System Administration

While I was on vacation I noticed that the Mozilla Foundation released Thunderbird 5.0. From the release notes it’s clear that a lot of cleanup work happened with this release, improving “speed, performance, stability and security,” but not very many new or revolutionary features. I like Thunderbird a lot, and I like that they’ve focused on stability more, but I still have two feature requests for future releases.

Multi-client synchronization

The promise of IMAP is that you are able to check your email anywhere, and it can stay on the server. There are also some nice things about thick email clients, like better searching, easy junk mail processing, offline modes, etc. The problem lies in having two copies of Thunderbird accessing the same mailboxes. First, you’ll end up with completely different settings for your junk mail processing, which is often quite disastrous. Second, you have to remember all the mailboxes you were subscribed to. Third, all your settings have to be recreated. Not seamless at all.

Firefox solved a similar problem with Weave/Sync. Seems like it might be even easier with Thunderbird, because you already have a storage mechanism: the IMAP server itself. Why couldn’t the Thunderbird settings & junk mail heuristics be stored in a special folder or message that all the clients can read? That way when I fire up my laptop’s copy of Thunderbird I get exactly the same experience as on my work desktop or home desktop.

Bugzilla 271863 looks like it’s close, but it’s had no attention at all since 2008. If this is something you’d like you might want to go vote it up a bit.

A Good Default Theme

What is up with the transparency in Thunderbird 5? Seriously, you’re making me install a new persona in order to be able to see my menu bar clearly? There also appear to be no options for disabling the transparent areas. I don’t mind some transparency, following the global Aero settings, for instance, but Thunderbird 5 appears to do its own thing. Spending some time on a good default look and adhering to the platform’s global UI settings would be a welcome change. I like the things I have to stare at all day to be good-looking. :)

It looks like there are a couple of bugs open already, 661745 and 667241, on these interface problems.

As with all software there are hundreds of enhancement requests, from very specific ones to big ones, and developers need to decide which ones they can tackle at any time. Here’s to hoping they get to some of my pet peeves first. :)

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