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.
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!