Archive for July 27th, 2007

Thunderbird — Features Discussion

July 27th, 2007

Many of the comments to the Thunderbird / mail post include suggestions about features for Thunderbird. These range from topics like adding visualization to adding calendaring functionality.

I encourage people to take these topic to the Thunderbird development and discussion areas. I would say the same thing if the topic was Firefox. Feature and product planning happens within the project group. For example, there are many comments about calendar functionality, and there is an active calendar project underway. The Thunderbird discussion areas are the right place to ask about the roadmap for integrating Lightning into Thunderbird, to note the degree of need and to look for a timeframe. Better yet, that’s the place to get involved in making things happen. Mozilla is successful when we are rooted in active, distributed involvement and contribution.

If it turns out that there is some barrier to getting involved, or if there is some other problem for contributors, then we’re in a different place and I definitely want to know about that.

I suspect most of us agree there is a lot of exciting potential improvements for Thunderbird and for mail in general. The point is how best to get sustained, focused attention and real movement to addressing these.

Thunderbird and the Mozilla Mission

July 27th, 2007

There has been some interpretation of my Thunderbird /mail post as saying that Thunderbird doesn’t fit into the mission of the Mozilla Foundation. This is not my view at all. If Thunderbird didn’t fit into the mission, then we would be having a very different discussion. For example, Option 2 of my original post — a separate organization inside the Mozilla Foundation — would not be possible if Thunderbird didn’t fit within the mission.

The Mozilla mission is very broad; broad enough to encompass many aspects of human interaction with the Internet. This includes the work we’ve always done and the long-time Mozilla projects and products. It also includes a range of new activities that could be undertaken.

The question is: How does the Mozilla Foundation best serve its mission? Where does it focus? How do we develop maximum participation in our software development and in improving the quality of Internet life?

Until now the guidance of both browsing and desktop email related work has been in a single organization which today is the Mozilla Corporation. Most of those closely involved in the daily development believe this is not the best solution. (The question of why we believe this is another broad theme, which I’ll address in a separate post.)

The “Call to Action” is a public call to help figure out a good solution. It might well be that we end up with Option 2, in which Thunderbird efforts remain completely within the Mozilla world. Currently the two lead developers are currently leaning toward Option 3 which I believe is due to the desire for simplicity in getting started. The other options are on the table precisely because Thunderbird is indeed within the Mozilla mission and none of us wants to see it decline.

The Call to Action is also a request that those people interested in committing time and energy to developing Thunderbird step forward. The Thunderbird community is currently small. We’re trying to find out who is ready and able to contribute. Community vitality is a fundamental part of Mozilla’s mission. So please do speak up if you are interested and able to be a part of Thunderbird development going forward.

Similarly, the Call to Action for a broader mail initiative is to see if there are people interested, competent and ready to get involved in a serious way. This is not walking away from mail, it is an invitation for those interested in such a project to step forward so we can evaluate what is possible.

Mozilla has resources to apply to these efforts, including funds. We are trying to figure out the best way to use resources effectively. This includes Thunderbird, this includes a potential new approach to mail, and it includes new ideas that may emerge over time.

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