Meet The Team: Wolf-Martell Montwe, Android Developer
Welcome to a brand new feature called “Meet The Team!” In this ongoing series of conversations, I introduce you to the people behind the software you use every day. We kicked things off by talking to Thunderbird’s Product Design Manager Alex Castellani. Now let’s meet someone much newer to the team: Wolf-Martell Montwe.
Having recently joined us from Berlin as a full-time Android developer, Wolf brings his passion for building mobile applications to the Thunderbird team. He’ll be helping to develop new features and an updated interface for K-9 Mail as we transform it into Thunderbird for Android. I spoke with him about his first computer and early gaming memories, what he hopes to accomplish for the Thunderbird mobile app, and how our community of contributors can help.
Wolf’s Technology Origin Story
I love a great origin story, and many people working in technology seem to have one that’s directly tied to their first computer. Wolf is no exception.
“I think I started my computer journey with playing games — the first I remember is Sid Meier’s Pirates!” Wolf remembers. “Back then I had an IBM 386. Super slow, super loud! And I hacked around a lot to get games running too, to free up memory, to free up disk space because this was super limited. I think one partition was maximum 3MB! It was a big achievement if something just was running.”
Wolf’s fascination with games eventually led to some basic programming knowledge and web page development.
“I used to develop web pages, especially for my school to build up like a little forum,” he says. “I fell in love with PHP because it had one of the first editors with code completion, and that was awesome.”
What Attracted Wolf To The Thunderbird Project?
“I’m a longtime Thunderbird user, and I have used K-9 Mail from 2010 on,” Wolf says. “In my last position, my task was to build up open source software. (So we developed the software and then prepared it to be open source, because the code was readable, but people couldn’t contribute.) And over that time I fall in love with developing open source, so I was looking for opportunities to to follow up on that direction. “
The Thunderbird Android Team Just Doubled In Size. Now What?
Believe it or not, for many years K-9 Mail had one full-time developer (in addition to a community of contributors). So, Wolf effectively doubles the size of the core team. The first questions that came to mind: what doors does this open to the future of Thunderbird for Android, and what can Wolf and cketti accomplish during the next few months?
“First, I want to strengthen the technology base and also open it up for using more modern tooling, especially because the whole Android ecosystem is right now under a really drastic change,” Wolf explains. “It could be pretty beneficial for the project since it’s being rebranded, and think it’s good timing to then also adapt new technology and base everything on that.”
(The desktop version of Thunderbird is undergoing a similar transformation, as we slowly rebuild it with more modern tooling while eliminating years of technical debt.)
Wolf continues: “I think that would also open the Android app to be a little bit easier maintain from a UI side, because right now it is hard to achieve.”
It’s certainly easier for our developers — and our global team of community contributors — to improve an application and more easily add new features when the code isn’t fighting against them.
How Can The Community Help?
There’s so much we can do to contribute to open source software besides writing code. So I asked Wolf: what’s the most important thing the K-9 Mail and Thunderbird community can do to help development?
“Constructive feedback on what we’re doing,” Wolf says. “Whether it’s positive or negative, I think that’s important. But please be nice!”
We certainly encourage everyone on Android to try K-9 Mail as we continue its transformation to Thunderbird. When you’re ready to give feedback or suggest ideas, we invite you to join our Thunderbird Android Planning mailing list, which is open to the public.
Talk to Wolf on Mastodon, and follow him on GitHub.
Download K-9 Mail: F-Droid | Play Store | GitHub.