Thunderbird Reorganizes at 2014 Toronto Summit

kent

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In October 2014, 22 active contributors to Thunderbird gathered at the Mozilla office in Toronto to discuss the status of Thunderbird, and plan for the future.

Toronto Contributors at 2014 Toronto Summit

Thunderbird contributors gather in Toronto to plan the future.

As background, Mitchell Baker, Chair of the Mozilla Foundation, posted in July 2012 that Mozilla would significantly reduce paid staff dedicated to Thunderbird, and asked community volunteers to move Thunderbird forward. Mozilla at that time committed several paid staff to maintain Thunderbird, each working part-time on Thunderbird but with a main commitment to other Mozilla projects. The staff commitment in total was approximately one full-time equivalent.

Over the last two years, those individuals had slowly reduced their commitment to Thunderbird, yet the formal leadership of Thunderbird remained with these staff. By 2014 Thunderbird had reached the point where nobody was effectively in charge, and it was difficult to make important decisions. By gathering the key active contributors in one place, we were able to make real decisions, plan our future governance, and move to complete the transition from being staff-led to community-led.

At the Summit, we made a number of key decisions:

  • A group of seven individuals were elected to comprise a Thunderbird Council with the authority to make decisions affecting Thunderbird. I (Kent James) am currently the Chair of this council.
  • For our next major release, Thunderbird 38 due in May 2015, we set this roadmap:
    • Folders: allow >4GByte mbox folders, plus finish support for maildir
    • Instant Messaging: Support WebRTC
    • Calendaring: Merge Lightning into Thunderbird as a shipped addon
    • Accounts: Merge the New Account Types binary addon into core, allowing new account types to be defined using addons in the future.
    • IMAP: support OAUTH authorization in GMail.
  • We agreed that Thunderbird needs to have one or more full-time, paid staff to support shipping a stable, reliable product, and allow progress to be made on frequently-requested features. To this end, we plan to appeal directly to our users for donations.
  • The Thunderbird active contributors are proud to be part of Mozilla, expect to remain part of Mozilla for the foreseeable future, and believe we have an important role to play in fulfilling the goals of the Mozilla Manifesto.

There is a lot of new energy in Thunderbird since the Summit, a number of people are stepping forward to take on some critical roles, and we are looking forward to a great next release. More help is always welcome though!

Updated Thunderbird released today

standard8

Mozilla, a global, nonprofit organization dedicated to making the Web better, today released new versions of Mozilla Thunderbird, its free and open source email application, available for Windows, Mac, and Linux.

We are happy to announce that the new Thunderbird release includes several new features and improvements, such as improved message thread management options, as well as the support of email addresses using the newly adopted standard for international domain names.

Thunderbird is now more accessible with the ability to magnify the compose window. This release is also comprised of many bugs and security fixes. More details can be found in the release notes.

To get the latest versions of Thunderbird for Windows, Mac or Linux download Thunderbird from getthunderbird.com or go into the About dialog to upgrade to the latest version.

Thunderbird menu bar facelift, ESR new release, new governance implementation…

Anne-Marie Bourcier

This release of Mozilla Thunderbird comes with a new button on the right hand side, at the top of the window; called the Menu Button it provides more options to customize the user interface.

The Menu Button allows users to remove the Menu Bar from the top of the window in order to grant more real estate to read and manage emails. A right click on this same Menu Button gives access to the “customize” command and entitles the user to add, remove and re-arrange many icons on the bar. It really empowers the user to build its own personal interface.

Beyond this mainstream Thunderbird release and as planned, we are releasing the second Thunderbird Extended Support Release (ESR) targeted at large organizations. This ESR version is not only a security and bugs fix, but it contains all the great features that have been added to Thunderbird since January 2012. Please download here.

This release is also a milestone release and marks the beginning of the new governance model for Thunderbird. As mentioned in Mitchell’s blog post back in July, “Mozilla is focusing its efforts towards important web and mobile projects, such as Firefox OS, while Thunderbird remains a pure desktop-only email client.” Therefore, we proposed “to adapt the Thunderbird release and governance model in a way that allow both on-going security and stability maintenance, as well as community-driven innovation and development for the product.”.

This has been actively discussed with the community during the last few months, and now is the time to implement the plan. If you are interested in more details, please have a look at the wiki pages describing our collective work.

If you are a developer, a translator or just want to join the Thunderbird project, please click on this link.

Click here to download the up-to-date version of Thunderbird for Windows, Mac or Linux, or go to the About dialog and click ‘Check for Updates’.

Updated Thunderbird release today

Anne-Marie Bourcier

Thunderbird keeps on expanding the list of partners for Thunderbird Filelink: we are pleased to announce that Box.com now joins YouSendIt and UbuntuOne in the list of tightly integrated online storage service partners. With Thunderbird Filelink, sending large files is no longer a pain. Simply select the file you want to attach and tell Thunderbird you want to link it: as soon as the file is uploaded to Box.com, you are ready to send this big file that would never have made it through. Even better, we believe that Box.com online document collaboration services will nicely enhance the way you share files over email, and as a Thunderbird user you’ll get 25GB storage space for free.

Also, Thunderbird is permanently updated with new features and security improvements. To make the update experience even smoother, Thunderbird now supports silent background update. As soon as an update becomes available, Thunderbird downloads it and apply updates in the background. You’ll be up and running very quickly with the latest and greatest Thunderbird the next time you start. If you are curious,  the silent background update  eliminates the need for the update progress dialog on all platforms  and eliminate the nagging  User Access Control dialog on Windows.

We hope you will enjoy it and do let us know your comments!

Click here to download the up-to-date version of Thunderbird for Windows, Mac or Linux, or go to the About dialog and click ‘Check for Updates’.

Reminder: The Thunderbird 3.1.x series and earlier versions are no longer supported and therefore are becoming more exposed to Internet security threats. We recommend that all Thunderbird users of previous versions upgrade to the latest release as soon as possible.

 

New Thunderbird: Chat, Do Not Track and much more…

Anne-Marie Bourcier

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In addition to many other features, this new version of Thunderbird supports Chat: you now can enjoy real time conversation with your contacts, right from your favorite messaging application. On top of this, Thunderbird makes it easy to search through both past conversations and received emails.

Let’s say that a week ago, I sent you an email asking you for lunch, and that you answered my email saying that you’d love to take me to your favorite restaurant next to the Eiffel tower. Yesterday, while we were connected on Facebook chat, you confirmed that you booked a table for 12:30. This morning, I simply typed Eiffel in Thunderbird search box, and both the email and Facebook chat threads appear instantly, showing the address exchanged over email on one side and the time we will meet on Facebook chat on the other side. This level of integration allows you to bring all your messaging together in one place.
The supported Chat networks are Facebook, Gtalk, IRC, Twitter, and any XMPP network.

A few months ago we added Search the web to Thunderbird. We are pleased to announce the implementation of the Do Not Track option associated to Search the Web, as at Mozilla we are convinced that Web users can signal that online advertizing targeting companies should leave them alone when searching the Web. It’s an option that you decide to turn On or Off, but we want to make sure this is your choice.

While announcing Thunderbird Filelink early June, the feature that allows you to upload large files to an online storage service and to send links to your friends instead of large attachments,  we have got many requests to integrate a broader offering of online service providers. This Thunderbird release introduces Ubuntu One in complement of YouSendIt.

Last but not least is the implementation of a brand new menu and toolbar design. Thunderbird is replicating the new look and feel of Mozilla Firefox in an effort to provide a similar user experience across all Mozilla software desktop or mobile and all platforms.

As you can see integration is the word that best describes this new Thunderbird: integrated Chat, Mozilla newest user interface design integration, integrated email and chat search, integrated Do not track option for Search the web, new integrated Filelink partners with Ubuntu One.

We hope you will enjoy it and do let us know your comments!

To get the latest versions of Thunderbird for Windows, Mac or Linux download Thunderbird from http://www.mozilla.org/thunderbird or go into the About dialog to check your latest version

Reminder: The Thunderbird 3.1.x series and earlier versions are no longer supported and therefore are becoming more exposed to Internet security threats. We recommend that all Thunderbird users of previous versions upgrade to the latest release as soon as possible.

The community is standing behind Thunderbird

Anne-Marie Bourcier

Thunderbird is an absolutely core tool used by 20 million people to manage one of the most important areas of their internet life: their email.

When Mozilla recently announced some big changes to our Thunderbird strategy (link: https://blog.lizardwrangler.com/2012/07/06/thunderbird-stability-and-community-innovation/) we knew that there would be an uproar. We knew that it would be interpreted by many as Thunderbird’s death knell.

It gives us extreme pleasure to provide proof that the doom-sayers are wrong.

As the storm swirled around us last week, as we were alternately pilloried and praised in the media, as our long-standing loyal contributors questioned our decision and their future, we worried. And then a little thread started on the “tb-planning” mailing list (the forum where we discuss Thunderbird development plans). Some of our most loyal and long-standing contributors started talking about how the community might take on a development project (nicknamed “papercuts”) that we’ve long wanted to do. How they might organize around that project. How they might engage new contributors around that project.

At last count, the original thread had 48 posts and had spawned other threads where people – Thunderbird community contributors – were figuring out the action plan. There were commitments, ideas and a bubbly sense of enthusiasm and creativity.

Something all the doom-sayers seem to have forgotten is that Thunderbird is an open source project. And that means that Thunderbird is only as good as it’s community. Mozilla is not abandoning Thunderbird. We’re going to continue releasing security updates and providing the infrastructure for Thunderbird development, QA, support and documentation. But it’s the Thunderbird community who are going to drive improvements and innovation. Thunderbird has a very bright future.

Do you believe in Thunderbird? Do you love Thunderbird? Then contribute to Thunderbird. Check out the Up For Grabs page to see the available projects. Click on this link to join Support or on this link to join Documentation. Join our community.

 

Thunderbird update released today

Anne-Marie Bourcier

1

We’ve released a new update bringing various security, stability and other improvements to Thunderbird.

Reminder: The Thunderbird 3.1.x series is no longer supported and are becoming more exposed to Internet security threats. We recommend that all Thunderbird users upgrade to the latest release as soon as possible.

To get the latest versions of Thunderbird for Windows, Mac or Linux download Thunderbird from http://mozilla.org/thunderbird or go into the About dialog to check your latest version.

Adjusting the way Thunderbird is managed

Jb Piacentino

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On Friday, Mitchell Baker posted on the future of Thunderbird. In summary, we are focusing efforts towards important web and mobile projects, such as FirefoxOS, while Thunderbird remains a pure desktop-only email client. We have come to the conclusion that continued innovation on Thunderbird is not the best use of our resources given our ambitious organizational goals.  It seems that the most critical needs for the product are on-going security and stability for our 20+millions users, either individuals, SMEs or large corporate/institutions.

However, Thunderbird is one of the very few truly free and open source multi-platform email applications available today and we want to defend these values.  It also has an active community of contributors, developing new features and addons, helping people and translating the product around the world.

Therefore, we are proposing to adapt the Thunderbird release and governance model in a way that allows both ongoing security and stability maintenance, as well as community-driven innovation and development for the product. More details can be found here. Based on the early feedback received from the community, we are confident Thunderbird will continue to provide an outstanding alternative to proprietary email solutions for the desktop.

We want to publicly discuss this plan with individuals and organizations interested in maintaining and advancing Thunderbird in the future. We are looking for your feedback, comments and suggestions to refine and adapt the plan in the best possible way throughout the summer so we can share a final plan of action in early September 2012. We look forward to hearing from you.

New Thunderbird release: Simplify your email experience!

Anne-Marie Bourcier

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Mozilla, a global, nonprofit organization dedicated to making the Web better, today released new versions of Mozilla Thunderbird, its free and open source email application, available for Windows, Mac, and Linux.

If you’ve ever dreamt of having a personalized email address (such as “kirk@chezkirk.net” or “dad@thesmithfamily.com”) for you, your family or your business, Thunderbird has made it simple! In partnership with Gandi and Hover, we’ve made it possible to sign up for a new email address directly from within Thunderbird. Along with your personalized email address, Thunderbird will be automatically set up and ready to send and receive messages.

Our two partners are based Europe and North America respectively. Anyone can sign up with either company, but if you want a specific country domain (such as “.us” or “.com”), select the provider in your geographic area. We are working with additional suppliers to cover more areas of the world and to provide more options in future.

But we are really pleased to announce more: we have added completely new options for large files sharing! You can now speed up the transfer of large documents by uploading them to an online storage provider and sharing the link instead of sending the file directly as a message attachment. Improve the speed of sending email and avoid message rejection if the recipient’s server disallows large files. As an added bonus, you’ll also save space in your sent folder and the recipient’s inbox.

Rather than embedding attachments in your message, Thunderbird Filelink uploads the file to your private online storage account and inserts a link to the file in your message. The recipient can then click on the link and download the file. YouSendIt is our launch partner but additional partners will be added in the near future.

Reminder: The Thunderbird 3.1.x series and earlier versions are no longer supported and therefore are becoming more exposed to Internet security threats. We recommend that all Thunderbird users of previous versions upgrade to the latest release as soon as possible.

To get the latest versions of Thunderbird for Windows, Mac or Linux download Thunderbird from http://www.mozilla.org/thunderbird/all.html or go into the About dialog to check your latest version.

Thunderbird Contributors: Documentation and Support

Anne-Marie Bourcier

You want to contribute to the Thunderbird project but you’re not into testing or coding? We have many other areas where we and the community-at-large would appreciate help!

What about documentation or localization?

We talked about software and beta testing in our last post, but software also needs solid documentation. We write Knowledge Base articles to support our releases and also to solve common support problems. Articles are written in English first, then reviewed and validated by our documentation admin (see her portrait here). She would love to have help as she has many ideas to improve our documentation.

We are able to offer versions of Thunderbird in 52 languages! Unfortunately, our documentation is not as widely translated as Thunderbird itself. Some communities are able to localize most or all of the articles on the Knowledge Base, but smaller communities can’t cope with the volume. We would love to have more contributors to localise content.

If you have some technical writing skills (or if you would like to acquire some) we need help with writing new articles, expanding existing articles and general copy-editing and proof-reading. If you want to give it a try, click on this link and join the community.

Maybe Support?

Last on the list but considered absolutely vital within Thunderbird is Support (the capital “S” is on purpose). We have about 20 million users in 52 languages. If you divide the number of users by the number of Thunderbird employees, we have about 2 million users each. We simply cannot support all our users on our own.

Fortunately we don’t have to. We have structured Thunderbird Support to be a mostly self-maintaining community and encourage people to help each other. Roland, our dedicated support guy, monitors the support site, trying to pick out major issues that can be solved by documentation or that should be brought to the attention of the Thunderbird developers.

As a Canadian (see his portrait here), he has a funny accent in French but definitely can’t read 52 languages. In a way, he needs support himself.

This is a good way to get started with the Thunderbird community. Click on this link to find out how to help.

We have tried to give you an overview of the kind of contribution opportunities there are with the Thunderbird project. We are a small team of dedicated people with a lot of expertise and with your help, we can keep Thunderbird flying!