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Thunderbird Monthly Development Digest: February 2024

Hello Thunderbird Community! I can’t believe it’s already the end of February. Time goes by very fast and it seems that there’s never enough time to do all the things that you set your mind to. Nonetheless, it’s that time of the month again for a juicy and hopefully interesting Thunderbird Development Digest.

If this is your first time reading our monthly Dev Digest, these are short posts to give our community visibility into features and updates being planned for Thunderbird, as well as progress reports on work that’s in the early stages of development.

Let’s jump right into it, because there’s a lot to get excited about!

Rust and Exchange

Things are moving steadily on this front. Maybe not as fast as we would like, but we’re handling a complicated implementation and we’re adding a new protocol for the first time in more than a decade, so some friction is to be expected.

Nonetheless, you can start following the progress in our Thundercell repository. We’re using this repo to temporarily “park” crates and other libraries we’re aiming to vendor inside Thunderbird.

We’re aiming at reaching an alpha state where we can land in Thunderbird later next month and start asking for user feedback on Daily.

Mozilla Account + Thunderbird Sync

Illustration of a continuous cycle with a web browser window, a sync or update icon, and a server rack, indicating a process of technological interaction or data exchange.
Illustration by Alessandro Castellani

Things are moving forward on this front as well. We’re currently in the process of setting up our own SyncServer and TokenStorage in order to allow users to log in with their Mozilla Account but sync the Thunderbird data in an independent location from the Firefox data. This gives us an extra layer of security as it will prevent an app from accessing the other app’s data and vice versa.

In case you didn’t know, you can already use a Mozilla account and Sync on Daily, but this only works with a staging server and you’ll need an alternate Mozilla account for testing. There are a couple of known bugs but overall things seem to be working properly. Once we switch to our storage server, we will expose this feature more and enable it on Beta for everyone to test.

Oh, Snap!

Our continuous efforts to own our packages and distribution methods is moving forward with the internal creation of a Snap package. (For background, last year we took ownership of the Thunderbird Flatpak.)

We’re currently internally testing the Beta and things seem to work accordingly. We will announce it publicly when it’s available from the Snap Store, with the objective of offering both Stable and Beta channels.

We’re exploring the possibility of also offering a Daily channel, but that’s a bit more complicated and we will need more time to make sure it’s doable and automated, so stay tuned.

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.

See ya next month,

Alessandro Castellani (he, him)
Director of Product Engineering

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

12 responses

Pasta wrote on

The Thundercell repo link you posted leads to a 404

Jason Evangelho wrote on

Sorry about that, Pasta. I published this blog a few hours too early. We’re doing a final review of the license, and should be setting it live ASAP.

Jason Evangelho wrote on

Thanks for your patience. The repo is now live: https://github.com/thunderbird/thundercell

JackieM wrote on

The link you provide to Thundercell gives a 404. It’s not in the Internet Archive, and searching with both Github and Google are showing no relevant results.

Jason Evangelho wrote on

Sorry about that, Jackie. I published this blog a few hours too early. We’re doing a final review of the license, and should be setting it live ASAP.

Jason Evangelho wrote on

Thanks for your patience. The repo is now live: https://github.com/thunderbird/thundercell

Tyler wrote on

These are my 2 most wanted features. As soon as exchange support is available on the stable release, I’m going to migrate to Thunderbird.

timeisup wrote on

I am very happy to see Exchange Support being developed.
I hope you will go for the owa protocol as well as the Web app is the only way to access my company mail from abroad as everything else was shut down.
There are Plugins for Google and Microsoft shenanigans like Lookout and CalendarSync, which I hope you will cover as well.
Good Job and money well earned when we finally can boot Outlook and replace it with TB completely as a first step towards breaking free from the monopoly.
Is Jmap also planned?

Elijah wrote on

Great to see the progress coming along, rooting for some news on the Android app next month

Vincent wrote on

Can’t wait for the sync feature to be released!

Ivan wrote on

I’m very interested in seeing exchange support. Having to use O365 for work slows me down by a lot, and using Thunderbird makes me much more productive.

However, I doubt I’ll have time to help with coding.

Is there anything else we can do to help complete specifically this feature?

Jason Evangelho wrote on

Hello Ivan and thank you for this comment. We hope to have the first skeletal bits available for testing soon. By far, the biggest contributions people can make will be doing anything and everything they can to help us break it. Testing is crucial to success, so please keep an eye on future development digests to know when we’re ready for some public testing. (This will likely happen in Thunderbird Daily)

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