Thunderbird is going strong at version 52 (ESR) and 57, 58 beta
In April 2017 Thunderbird released its successful Extended Service Release (ESR) version 52. This release has just seen it’s fifth “dot update” 52.5.0, where fixes, stability and minor functionality improvements were shipped.
Thunderbird 57 beta was also very successful. While Thunderbird 58 is equally stable and offers further cutting-edge improvements to Thunderbird users, the user community is starting to feel the impact of Mozilla platform changes which are phasing out so-called legacy add-ons. The Thunderbird technical leadership is working closely with add-on authors who face the challenge of updating their add-ons to work with the Mozilla interface changes. With a few usually simple changes most add-ons can be made to work in Thunderbird 58 beta. https://wiki.mozilla.org/Thunderbird/Add-ons_Guide_57 explains what needs to be done, and Thunderbird developers are happy to lend a hand to add-on authors.
There has been some discussion about the modernisation of Thunderbird’s user interface. Thunderbird 57 is now following Mozilla’s Photon design, and there is also a new theme available based on the design by the Monterail team.
You can download the current Thunderbird beta here.
New Staff at Thunderbird
Since November 2016 the Thunderbird project has contracted the services of long-time Thunderbird volunteer contributor Jörg Knobloch. Since Jörg moved from being a volunteer to being a contractor, his focus has changed from chasing his favourite pet-hate bugs to taking on responsibility for the product. As the continuous integration engineer, he guarantees that Thunderbird Daily is always in sync with Mozilla core changes to keep Daily in a working order. Jörg manages all code for releases (beta and ESR) and monitors regressions as reported at BMO. As a Thunderbird and Mailnews peer he reviews the work of others and is part of the Engineering Steering Committee which is in charge of the code base.
In March 2017 Andrei Hajdukewycz joined the project. Andrei is the project’s infrastructure engineer. He’s been working on transitioning the project from using Mozilla infrastructure to procuring its own. He administers all the websites used by the project. There are many: Thunderbird.net*), the ISPDB, websites for telemetry, updates and release notes. And last not least: Add-ons. Soon Thunderbird add-ons will transition to Thunderbird’s own add-ons site. Watch this space!
In June 2017 Tom Prince joined the project as a build and release engineer. He makes sure that we can always build Daily, beta and ESR in en-US English and all localisations. He also helps out when diagnosing test and other miscellaneous failures. Most recently Tom has been migrating the Thunderbird build system from Buildbot to TaskCluster to future-proof this aspect of the project.
The project’s last hire in December 2017 has been Ryan Sipes (the guy posting this) as Community Manager. His task is to organise the community of voluntary contributors including add-on authors, spread the good news about Thunderbird, engage with donors to guarantee a solid income stream and be in touch with Thunderbird users.
The Thunderbird project has taken control of the Thunderbird.net domain, of which the project will make increasing use. The www.thunderbird.net domain is being updated to be more helpful to users and eventually become Thunderbird’s home on the web. The in-product Thunderbird start page has already been served via this domain for several months. And, the members of the Thunderbird Council have received email accounts @ thunderbird.net, powered by FastMail, a gift that we are very grateful for.