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


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 or go into the About dialog to check your latest version.

Test Pilot survey launched on March 27th, 2012

Anne-Marie Bourcier


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

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

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 or go into the About dialog to check your latest version.

How about a new email address ?

Jb Piacentino


Back in 2011, we conducted some Thunderbird product research and found that a large proportion of respondents was expecting to obtain an new email address with Thunderbird. As unexpected as this finding was, we looked at it more closely and got convinced that this was a very nice feature.  Since Mozilla is not in the business of email service, we decided to partner with email service providers to provide a great range of options. Some of them offer free email, some others paid service. For example, some would offer an address with my last name as a domain name for a small fee: John Smith will then then be able to buy Some others will propose super secured crypto email, backup features… you name it. All of this from Thunderbird. Awesome !

So here we are now in 2012, putting the last touch to it. And this is how it looks like:

Of course, we take great care of privacy. For example, only the explicitly chosen providers will be asked for an email suggestion. In the same way, we work hard with them to ensure their privacy policy is line with Mozilla principles.

We’re now close to launching this feature. As a matter of fact, you can already play with it if you use the current Thunderbird beta version. We only have allowed one email provider, but that should give you an idea of how it works. Please, go and give it try!

Of course, the more providers we can propose, the better and this is where you can help:

  • if you are an email provider and want your service to be offered to millions of Thunderbird users, just get in touch with us.
  • if you know an email provider you would like to recommend, please go ahead and let us know. And if you know someone there, that’s even better. We can’t wait for your introduction!

(private messages can be sent to thunderbird [at]

We are truly excited by this feature. This is one of the many to come in the next months. We hope you will enjoy it – let us know what you think.

Using Thunderbird 3.1? It’s Time for a Change!

Anne-Marie Bourcier

Starting on April 24, 2012, we will stop supporting Thunderbird version 3.1.x. What this means is, while you can continue to use Thunderbird 3.1, we will not be making improvements to Thunderbird 3.1 which would include security and performance fixes.

Upgrade to the Latest Version of Thunderbird Now!

By upgrading to the latest version of Thunderbird now, you will:

  • work in a safer environment, you’ll benefit from all the latest security fixes and improvements,
  • experience better performance because we continually work to improve responsiveness on a regular basis,
  • and enjoy many new features that are already appreciated by millions of users.

You will find more details about the latest new features here:

Do you want to start now? Go to the Help menu in Thunderbird and select ‘Check for Updates’. If it doesn’t work you can visit

If you have questions, please check out our Thunderbird 3.1 End of Life FAQ article.

New Thunderbird now available for download

Rafael Ebron

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 10 engine and includes improvements to searching your emails and a new ability to search the Web directly within Thunderbird. Users can simply type whatever comes to mind in Thunderbird’s search box and choose from several different search engines such as Google, Bing, Twitter, and Wikipedia. Search results will conveniently be displayed in a new tab in Thunderbird. Users can also select terms in their email and then right click to initiate a web search on those terms.

Thunderbird 3.1.18 security update is also now available from Thunderbird 3.1.18 will no longer be supported from April 24, 2012.

We recommend that all Thunderbird users upgrade to these latest releases.  To get the latest versions of Thunderbird for Windows, Mac or Linux  download Thunderbird from or click on “check for update” under the “About Thunderbird” menu.

For more information:
 Thunderbird Release Notes and Thunderbird 3.1.18 Release Notes

The Plan for the Mozilla Thunderbird Extended Support Release

Rafael Ebron

We are pleased to announce that Thunderbird is following the Firefox Extended Support Release plan as documented in proposal for an Extended Support Release (ESR) of Firefox.

As mentioned a few months ago in Thunderbird Enterprise specific wiki pages, the ESR version of Thunderbird is for use by enterprises, public institutions, Universities and other organizations that centrally manage their Thunderbird deployments.

Releases of the ESR will occur once a year, providing organizations with a version of Thunderbird that receives security updates but does not make changes to the email client features or Thunderbird Add-ons platform. We have worked with many organizations to ensure that the ESR balances their need for the latest security updates with the desire to have a lighter application certification burden.

Mozilla is committed to providing the best email experience for people everywhere, and our goal for the Thunderbird ESR is to make it simpler for companies, public institutions, organizations, and institutions that manage their desktops to deploy Thunderbird in those environments. Over the last few months we received great feedback on the initial proposal from the Mozilla community and strongly believe that the ESR meets that goal.

Implementation specifics will be posted within a week to the Thunderbird planning and the Thunderbird Enterprise mailing lists. If you’re interested in the ESR or discussions around deploying Thunderbird in a managed environment, we’d encourage you to join the Thunderbird Enterprise mailing list and participate in its discussions. To join this group, please see the Enterprise wiki page for additional information.