“Why does Thunderbird look so previous?”
That is some of the ceaselessly requested questions on Thunderbird, in response to Thunderbird Challenge Design Supervisor Alessandro Castellani (together with “Is Thunderbird lifeless?”). And it is one he seeks to reply definitively in a new blog post about Thunderbird’s deliberate 2023 launch, codenamed Supernova.
Amongst different options, the Supernova launch will embrace an overhaul of Thunderbird’s consumer interface. Castellani did not share screenshots, however he indicated that the brand new UI could be “easy and clear” and focused largely at new customers. For “veteran customers,” the interface will even be “versatile and adaptable” in order that individuals who want the best way Thunderbird seems now can “keep that familiarity they love.”
Supernova will even embrace a number of different massive modifications, together with a redesigned calendar and assist for Firefox Sync.
Past information concerning the redesign, the weblog put up is value a learn in case you’re inquisitive about what the workforce is doing to battle the software program’s technical debt or if you wish to know why it looks like the app’s growth strikes so slowly (the builders spend numerous their time merely maintaining with upstream modifications from Firefox because the browser nonetheless serves as the muse for Thunderbird’s e-mail rendering). The put up can be useful in case you want a refresher on the lengthy and sophisticated relationship between Thunderbird and Mozilla.
Thunderbird was once maintained by Mozilla alongside the Firefox browser, however within the trendy period, it hasn’t all the time been clear who’s accountable for it. Mozilla executives had needed to spin Thunderbird off as early as 2007, and it moved to a extra community-driven growth mannequin in 2012.
That call, in response to Castellani, was “a blessing and a curse” that put Thunderbird within the place it is in right this moment. Neighborhood contributions to Thunderbird saved the challenge alive, however a scarcity of centralized oversight “resulted in an inconsistent consumer interface with out a coherent consumer expertise” and led to lengthy stretches the place the app wasn’t being up to date in any respect.
Right now, Thunderbird growth continues to be partially pushed by neighborhood builders, and the challenge is closely reliant on consumer donations. Nevertheless it’s additionally considerably again in-house at Mozilla by way of “a rising group of paid staff” at a completely owned Mozilla subsidiary known as MZLA Technologies. It is these staff who’re presently defining Thunderbird’s roadmap, working to assist it shed its technical debt, and hoping to broaden its consumer base with a brand new Android shopper primarily based on the Ok-9 Mail app.
The redesigned Thunderbird consumer interface is presently slated for Thunderbird 115, which is because of be launched in July.