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Thunderbird Monthly Development Digest: January 2024

Hello Thunderbird Community! I’m very happy to kick off a new monthly Thunderbird development recap in order to bring a deeper look and understanding of what we’re working on, and the status of these efforts. (We also publish monthly progress reports on Thunderbird for Android.)

These monthly digests will be in a very short format, focusing primarily on the work that is currently being planned or initiated that is not yet fully captured in BugZilla. Nonetheless, we’re putting it out there to cherish and fully embrace the open nature of Thunderbird.

Without further ado, let’s get into it!

2024 Thunderbird Development Roadmaps Published

Over at DTN, we’ve published initial 2024 roadmaps for the work we have planned on Thunderbird for desktop, and Thunderbird for Android. These will be updated periodically as we continue to scope out each project.

Global Message Database

Our database is currently based on Mork, which is a very old paradigm that creates a lot of limitations, blocking us from doing anything remotely modern or expected (a real threaded conversation view is a classic example). Removing and reworking this implementation, which is at the very core of every message and folder interaction, is not an easy lift and requires a lot of careful planning and exploration, but the work is underway.

You can follow the general effort in Bug 1572000.

The first clean up effort is targeted at removing the old and bad paradigm of the “non-unique unique ID” (kudos to our very own Ben Campbell for coining this term), which causes all sorts of problems. You can follow the work in Bug 1806770.

Cards view final sprint

If you’re using Daily or Beta you might have already seen a lot of drastic differences from 115 for Cards View.

Currently, we’re shaping up the final sprint to polish what we’ve implemented and add extra needed features. We’re in the process of opening all the needed bugs and assigning resources for this final sprint. You can follow the progress by tracking this meta bug and all its child bugs.

As usual, we will continue sharing plans and mock-ups in the UX mailing list, so make sure to follow that if you’re interested in seeing early visual prototypes before any code is touched.

Rust Implementation and Exchange Support

This is a very large topic and exploration that requires dedicated posts (which are coming) and extensive recaps. The short story is that we were able to enable the usage of Rust in Thunderbird, therefore opening the doors for us to start implementing native support for the Exchange protocol by building and vendoring a Rust crate.

Once we have a stable and safe implementation, we will share that crate publicly on a GitHub repo so everyone will be able to vendor it and improve it.

Make sure to follow tb-planning and tb-developers mailing lists to soon get more detailed and very in depth info on Rust and Exchange in Thunderbird.

As usual, if you want to see things as they land you can always check the pushlog and try running daily, which would be immensely helpful for catching bugs early.

Alessandro Castellani (he, him)
Director of Product Engineering

If you’re interested in joining the discussion around Thunderbird development, consider joining one or several of our mailing list groups here.

9 responses

Joe Cool wrote on

Excited to see Thunderbird evolving. Not sure if this is the right place for this, but since you mentioned Exchange, I have a weird one going on. I don’t use it too much for this, but we use hosted Exchange at work, and Thunderbird is the one client that handles the now required OAuth stuff pretty easily “out of the box”, so I have it installed on a Linux laptop (more a personal toy) to access work email.

One thing that glaringly stood out is seeing folders I had long past deleted. And some current folders are not visible. No other client does this. I of course wonder why I am seeing this behavior in Thunderbird, but also makes me wonder what historical “cruft” is hanging out on the Exchange server. I think if something was deleted (and hard deleted) this would not even be possible. But it is happening.

Okay, this is truly off-topic, but since I am here. When composing emails, I wish I could choose a numeric font size, not the six “relative” (Tiny, Small, Medium, Large, Extra Large, Huge) options. And I have noticed that when using Thunderbird the text size as displayed when sending vs. what I see when that email gets responded to are way different sizes. Feels inconsistent. Maybe I am missing something here.

This all said, great recent work to everyone on Thunderbird. Glad to see it around and improving!

Stefan Weigert wrote on

I was excited to hear about the idea to implement Thunderbird syncing settings and things like tags across different computers, as announced some time last year. However, the 2024 roadmap does not seem to mention syncing at all (if I am not mistaken). Any news related to this topic?

Thank you very much for maintaining and improving a wonderful piece of software!

Jason Evangelho wrote on

Hi Stefan! The omission of Sync in our roadmap was an oversight. I can assure you it’s very, very much in development and is key to offering a smooth experience between Thunderbird desktop and thunderbird mobile, among other things.

Stefan Weigert wrote on

A day or two ago, I left a reply inquiring about the Thunderbird roadmap not mentioning Thunderbird sync. I had high hopes for it when it was mentioned the next big step.

My message did show up for a little while as “awaiting moderation” which is ok. How long might it take to show? Will there be an answer? Thank you for letting me know!

Jason Evangelho wrote on

Sorry about the delay! Answered your other comment. Thanks, Stefan.

Roger Persson wrote on

Vi använder Thunderbird

Så magiskt att utvecklingen är så bra

Suveränt och det bästa man kan använda

ShustOne wrote on

Thank you all for your hard work. I love being back in Thunderbird and I’m very excited about updates to card view. I’m very hopeful for contact photo support soon as the current list needs something to break it up. Keep up the great work!

Stefan W wrote on

Thanks, Jason. Wonderful to hear that sync is on your capable minds! Looking forward to it.
Currently using a workaround to have consistent tags on messages across multiple computers: using TB portable living in a cloud folder but syncing only at the end of each session… Works but neither elegant nor desirable.

Jon wrote on

Hello, thanks for the hard work. I saw that the completion of the maildir is out of scope, unfortunately.

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