Saturday, July 13, 2013

The state of the Thunderbird Team and Mozilla

The state of the Thunderbird Team and Mozilla

Recently I was emailed by a user slightly frustrated by two things: 1. The lack of Thunderbird advancements and 2. Mozilla becoming a "dictator" essentially to their users.

Sadly, there are really no ways for any of our users to know we are doing differently, so I responded to the email explaining the state of Thunderbird and Mozilla. Here is that conversation for future reference:

Because of privacy I will not give all details in the email. I will however, supply the main points [paraphrased]

Green = User, Blue = Myself

"...Which lead me to the conviction that TB development/enhancement is slowly dying and that other mailclients better suit my and my customer's needs.  Mailclients are for us one of the most important working tools which cannot be beaten by any web-based mailservice."

"I understand the lack of confidence in TB development,
and even we worry about this. But let me tell you
something that may (or may not) help you with your confidence level.

Mozilla itself stopped development of Thunderbird awhile ago. Since then
only volunteers continue it's development. As of lately, our "active"
contributors are less than 20 people. Of those, there are probably about 10 

people that really spend almost every day on Thunderbird. The
people that are left are forced to make the choice between what bugs to
fix, and what not to. Unfortunately sustaining development is very
difficult with only 10 people. And of course, we can't all work on
everything. Each person has specific areas they work in, which means
each person's load is a lot more in that area. As much as I don't like
it, fixing bugs takes precedence over adding features, so that is why we
can't add things as quickly as we would like.

Just be aware that the remaining 10 people spend almost ALL their free
time devoted to Thunderbird. We make no profit whatsoever. Pretty much
everyone has actual jobs, families, etc that are more important. But
just know that those of us that are left work very hard and will
continue to bring the best product we can. It's just not easy, and the
more volunteers we get, the better off we'll be."

"This is not only an issue with TB, but also with FF. Lately I have the impression that the Mozilla Foundation's developments are lead by some kind of "arrogance" to tell their users what's good for them (a thing that is usually attributed to big
commercial companies) instead of hearing from the users what they want."

"Many (power-users/development-minded) people have been under the
impression that Mozilla is now dictating what users get and what they
don't. I myself do some work for Mozilla and the "Australis" project, so
I just want to clarify that this statement is simply not true. Although
it may seem like we don't care, we actually do more than ever. But our 

user base has grown rapidly over a few years and to make "most" of our
users happy, making the browser faster, more stable, and less dangerous
is what we want. That's what we've been targeting recently. Firefox
hasn't changed much in the past few years, mostly because of the amount
of work and time it takes to keep track of all the little features we
support. We just recently decided that some things need to go in order
to advance.

Simply making everything an about:config preference isn't actually that
helpful, since we still must support that preference. This would leave
us with hundreds of things to test, which makes everything much harder. So
you see, just because a small percentage of our users want these little
details, doesn't mean we can make it happen. As much as we would LOVE to
make everyone happy, it unfortunately isn't a reality. "

So there you have it, both Thunderbird and Mozilla work very hard to make their users happy and we will continue to do that until, well, the web becomes a thing of the past. Cheers!

I am only a volunteer for Mozilla, not an employee. My thoughts do not necessarily reflect Mozilla's. I don't agree with everything they do, but no one ever agrees with everything.

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