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

27

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!

 

Thunderbird Contributors: QA and Development

Anne-Marie Bourcier

When the Thunderbird team recently started talking about how to increase the size of the Thunderbird contributor community, we thought that one interesting thing we could do was to describe the daily life of members of the Thunderbird team. In this post, we introduce readers to Thunderbird’s quality assurance and development activities, and link to profiles of Ludo, our QA Lead and David, Thunderbird Architect. In these profiles we describe the activities and experiences of each area and how contributors could help.

Can you help with beta testing?
Thunderbird QA is run by one Mozilla employee. (Click on this link to learn more about Ludovic.) Two days before the release, he tests the proposed final build of Thunderbird. He must validate three different versions of the software, testing on three kinds of mail servers and three operating systems (Windows, MacOS and Linux).

However, with a very small team and a very tight release schedule, it is a difficult challenge to make sure that we get enough testing activity in the late stage of each release. In the last while we have had a couple of releases that contained problems in a couple of specific and unusual configurations. We probably could have discovered and fixed those problems before release if we had more beta testers looking at the software before the final builds.

If you would like to help us with beta testing, just download the latest beta at and get started right away. When you launch the beta version of Thunderbird it explains how to log a bug. Don’t worry about the safety and stability of your email when testing a beta. Thunderbird is tested throughout the development cycle as features and bug fixes are integrated into the code base. All the Thunderbird team members run beta versions of Thunderbird.

Would you prefer to help with code?
During release week, Thunderbird engineers are already working on the next release, because at this point QA has already tested new features and bug fixes as they were completed. However sometimes there are surprises. (If there weren’t, we wouldn’t have to test.) When new bugs are encountered during release week, the programmers (see portrait of one of them here) kick into high gear as adrenalin levels increase, IRC channels warm up, and patches are quickly written, reviewed and integrated into the build.

While making bug fixes near the end of the release cycle is part of the game, this is not what the developers prefer to do. Most of them like to create new things – developing features, enhancing the product, fixing annoying bugs. Unfortunately, just like with QA, there are too few developers on the Thunderbird project to create all the features and enhancements we would all like to see in Thunderbird.

To address this problem, we have created a list of projects and features that we think are important but that we can’t implement because of our limited circumstances. This project is called “Up For Grabs” …

If you are interested in contributing to an open source project and know how to code, talk to the Thunderbird engineering team. Check out the Up For Grabs page to see the available projects.

Go grab one !

Jb Piacentino

36

If you ever wanted to contribute to Thunderbird, THIS is your chance!

Today, we’re launching the Thunderbird Up For Grabs program. The idea is really simple: there are plenty of features we would love to add to the Thunderbird roadmap but we badly lack the resources to complete them. So we decided to put them in an open repository, up for anyone to grab one and get it developed. In doing so, you will be working closely with the core Thunderbird team members who will support and guide you all along the way.

And mind you, this is not only a developer thing. Anybody can contribute with his or her own skills: visual design, localization, quality assurance, testing, documentation… This is your opportunity to make an impact and advance Thunderdbird.

If you ever wanted to contribute and did not know where to start, this is your chance. So go and grab one !

New release for Thunderbird

Anne-Marie Bourcier

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 will become 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.

Test Pilot survey launched on March 27th, 2012

Anne-Marie Bourcier

9

As we announced back in January, we will kick start Test Pilot, the Mozilla platform tool for collecting structured user feedback, on March 27th, 2012.

Over the past several months, Test Pilot has provided valuable information to the Firefox developers with over a dozen Test Pilot studies launched covering tabbed browsing behavior, search interfaces, and menu usage. Now is the time to apply the same great tool to Thunderbird.

As a reminder, not all studies and surveys will go to all users and the first study will only apply to English language Thunderbird. By default, you can decide whether or not to send the collected anonymous data to Mozilla. You are completely in control of what gets shared.

If users wish to opt-out completely, they may uninstall the “Test Pilot for Thunderbird” Add-on, by going to Tools -> Add-ons.

Although we have not delivered the functionality as an Add-on before, we decided to ship Test Pilot as an Add-on to keep it in the same structure as Firefox, and it also gives us flexibility to update all users of Test Pilot regardless of which version of Thunderbird they are on.

For more information about this Test Pilot study, please check the following page https://testpilot.mozillalabs.com/testcases/tbweeklife.

New Thunderbird now available for download

Anne-Marie Bourcier

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.

The new Thunderbird, available in 52 different languages, is based on the  Mozilla Gecko 11 engine. This version of Thunderbird features a revised user interface with Tabs above the main menu bar to facilitate  navigation and make it more contextual.

It brings a whole new experience.

Thunderbird 3.1.20 security update is also now available from http://mozilla.org/thunderbird/all-older.html.

The Thunderbird 3.1.x series will no longer be supported from April 24, 2012. Beyond this date, security and stability will not be guaranteed and the Thunderbird 3.1.x series will become more exposed to Internet security threats.

We recommend that all Thunderbird users upgrade to these latest releases 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.