Our little 'bird is all grown up

When I started using Thunderbird, I must admit that I had to force myself. Stephen Horlander and I were creating the Pinstripe theme and I was happily using Apple’s Mail program. A year ago Thunderbird felt unfinished (I can hear you say “duh”), but I needed that dogfood taste to inform the design of Pinstripe.

At first I found it hard to get around the “Netscape Messenger 4” feel of Thunderbird. I wish that the UI had been burnt down and redesigned from the ground up as Firefox was. There seem to be many opportunities for simplification in the menus, preferences and settings windows. Perhaps this is coming.

Recently a raft of really useful features have been added like saved search folders (aka virtual folders), RSS feed reading, and message grouping. As we approach Thunderbird 1.0, despite the “legacy” feel of the UI, I find myself really liking Thunderbird instead of merely tolerating it.

Apologies to Scott MacGregor, but this is meant as a sincere compliment 🙂

20 thoughts on “Our little 'bird is all grown up”

  1. The number one feature that would get way more people on board (myself included) is Apple Address book support. With so many applications taking advantage of the address book, it’s difficult to make the switch to Thunderbird without some kind of support.

    Even a straightforward method of importing and exporting data between the TB address book and Apple’s would be welcome. Right now, the import mechanism in Thunderbird, to be frank, sucks.

    Carping aside, though, I agree! Thunderbird has come a very long way from its roots, thanks to the effort of people like you and Stephen.

  2. I totally agree with you about the UI. Thunderbird isn’t to MailNews what Firefox is to the Suite’s browser. I think the problem is that an email client needs so much more UI than a web browser does, and has a much more complex featureset that needs to be presented to the user.

    A lot of time and effort would be needed to streamline/simplify Thunderbird’s UI, probably more than was needed for Firefox. Maybe it should be an aim for version 2.0?

    That said, I use Thunderbird, I love it and it rocks!

  3. Support for the Address Book is coming apparently.

    The thing I love about Thunderbird, is the ‘vertical view’ layout. I wish mail.app could do that. Its the one feature that has tempted me over – that and the superb UI refinement that you’ve done of course ;o).

  4. I’d consider it myself if Address Book support was avaliable. Because the current address book is pretty weak.

    Cheers to you Kevin for making it look not look so out of place with Pinstipe.

  5. I’ve always thought that the division of settings between “Options” and “Account Settings” felt really arbitrary. Why is “Composition” of “Composition and Addressing” in Account Settings–and not in Options, where “Composition” is?

  6. If support for the Apple address book is coming, I hope it is a generic mechanism that would allow support of evolution-data-server or KResources too.. .. for both contacts and calendar stuff (Sunbird).

    This will eventually be needed to fit into Gnome or KDE.

  7. Qute is the default theme for Thunderbird 1.0. I don’t think I’ll consider a Winstripe theme until after 1.0 ships.

  8. My failure to plan for Winstripe Thunderbird has to do with a clear lack of cookies. Digestives with chocolate would work. As would Pepperidge Farm Sausalitos. Email for mailing address.

  9. That’s sad news…!
    I thought it is planned to have Firefox, Thunderbird and maybe Sunbird have a similar look!
    At least some common symbols (in the settings e.g.) could be transfered to Thunderbird, because it’s stupid getting used to new symbols, standing for the same options and sitting in the “similar” prefs window.

  10. Thomas: do you not get a hint even when it’s smashed right into your face!? Start preparing a package for the man now! Then Winstripe will be here soon!


  11. I am severely let down. I thought Winstripe was going to be the default Thunderbird 1.0 theme. It was promised. 🙁

    This mutated Qute theme looks bad. It doesn’t match Firefox. Save us!

  12. I think the recent changes to Qute are very good. It is a quality theme that’s been polished over the past year. I’m sure most Thunderbird 1.0 users will not feel let down by it.

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