Thunderbird:Summit 2014

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Toronto Thunderbird Summit October 15-18, 2014

The Thunderbird Community is planning to get together at the Mozilla Office in Toronto, Canada for 4 days, Wednesday October 15, 2014 - Saturday October 18, 2014.

Current Status

2014-10-15 It happened!

2014-10-09 Travel arrangements have been made, and we are looking forward to getting together. We hope to have video available for a half-day on Friday, Oct 17 for any who may want to participate remotely in critical group discussions.

2014-09-18 status update: Mike Conley is working with a travel agent to sort travel arrangements for people whose attendance will be paid by Mozilla.

2014-09-05 status update: The Summit is happening!


Meetings: Mozilla Toronto office

366 Adelaide St W, Suite 500 Toronto, ON M5V 1R9 Canada

map to Mozilla office

Hotel: Hilton Garden Inn Toronto Downtown

92 Peter Street, Toronto, Ontario, M5V 2G5, Canada

maps and direction to hotel

Map of airport transit


Overall Goals and Purpose

In 2012, Mozilla made a major change to the funding and structure of Thunderbird. Funding was dramatically reduced, but Mozilla agreed to provide basic funding and staff to ensure the continuing stability of Thunderbird, leaving innovation up to a community of volunteers. The departing Thunderbird staff and existing volunteers had a meeting in Warsaw in Fall 2012 to discuss the transfer of responsibility.

We've now had a couple of years to see how this is working out. Thunderbird usage continues to grow (in spite of media reports in 2012 that "Thunderbird is dead"), and we've recently released a new version of Thunderbird.

Yet there are many issues confronting the Thunderbird product that need resolving if we are to effectively serve our user base. Thunderbird has a community that would love to move the product forward, and we need to resolve some of these issues to remain useful and relevant. A short, incomplete list of issues:

  • The Thunderbird staff team that was originally promised to provide stability to Thunderbird has been largely preoccupied with other Mozilla initiatives, and is not able to maintain the product.
  • Existing volunteers spend most of their time keeping Thunderbird functional at all in the light of massive changes occurring in the base code, leaving little time for innovation or improvements.
  • Innovation efforts that were in-process in 2012, and were badly needed, have largely remained frozen and incomplete. This includes maildir, replacement address book, async database processing, and others.
  • Many volunteer contributors express frustration at the lack of direction and leadership of Thunderbird.
  • The governance structure of Thunderbird is a remnant of the old staff-driven project, rather than reflecting a community-driven project.

On June 13, 2014, rkent sent out an email to approximately 20 key contributors asking if we should consider some sort of meetup to discuss issues, and see what it would take to move Thunderbird forward. The vast majority responded that this was needed, and we arrived at October 15-19, 2014 as viable dates for most people. We investigated locations, and chose the Mozilla office in Toronto as the best location, as it is fairly centrally located, visas are easy, Mozilla has space there we could use at no direct cost, and several contributors live in the Toronto area.

Invited Attendees

  1. R Kent James, Mailnews Peer (Washington, USA)
  2. Magnus Melin, Thunderbird Peer (Finland)
  3. Richard Marti, Thunderbird Theme Module Owner (Switzerland)
  4. Florian Quèze, Thunderbird Instant Messaging module owner (France)
  5. Mike Conley, Thunderbird Peer (Toronto, Canada)
  6. Irving Reid, Mailnews de-facto Peer (and assigned Mozilla Thunderbird staff), (Toronto, Canada)
  7. Philipp Kewisch, Calendar Module Owner (Germany)
  8. Patrick Cloke, Thunderbird Instant Messaging peer (Massachusetts, USA)
  9. Wayne Mery, Thunderbird drivers and QA volunteer (Pennsylvania, USA)
  10. Aceman, Thunderbird key developer, (Slovakia)
  11. Thomas Düllmann, Thunderbird key bug triager and key UX contributor (Germany)
  12. Hiroyuki Ikezoe, Mozilla Japan Thunderbird developer (Japan)
  13. Suyash Agarwal, Thunderbird key developer and GSOC intern (India) visa declined
  14. Blake Winton, Thunderbird Peer and UI lead (Toronto, Canada)
  15. Joshua Cranmer, Mailnews multi-module owner and peer (New York, USA)
  16. Josiah Bruner, Thunderbird Theme Peer (Michigan, USA)
  17. Mark Banner, Thunderbird and Mailnews Module Owner (England) is not coming
  18. Jim Porter, Thunderbird MIME Peer (Boston, USA) is not coming
  19. Roland Tanglao, Thunderbird support (Vancouver, Canada)
  20. Andreas Wagner, Add-on reviewer and developer, DFKI GmbH, ForgetIT Project (Germany)
  21. Daniel Scruton, Instantbird contributor (Italy) is not coming
  22. Nihanth Subramanya, Instantbird contributor (Goa, India)
  23. Merike Sell, Lightning contributor (Estonia)
  24. MakeMyDay, Lightning contributor (Germany)

Possible non-funded participants

  1. Bron Gondwana, IMAP protocol expert (FastMail, Australia)
  2. Evert Pot, Interested bystander from Fruux (Toronto)
  3. JoeS1


Full Name Email Address Check-In Date Check-Out Date Arrival Time Arrival Airport Departure Time Departure Airport
"Bruner, Josiah" 15-Oct-2014 18-Oct-2014
"Cloke, Patrick" 14-Oct-2014 18-Oct-2014 14-Oct-2014 8:20PM YYZ 18-Oct-2014 8:30PM YYZ
"Conley, Mike"
"Cranmer, Joshua" 15-Oct-2014 18-Oct-2014 15-Oct-2014 7:30PM YTZ 18-Oct-2014 9:35AM YTZ
"Düllmann, Thomas" 14-Oct-2014 19-Oct-2014 14-Oct-2014 2:55PM YYZ 19-Oct-2014 8:30PM YYZ
"MakeMyDay" 14-Oct-2014 19-Oct-2014 14-Oct-2014 3:50PM YYZ 19-Oct-2014 9:20PM YYZ
"Ikezoe, Hiroyuki" 14-Oct-2014 18-Oct-2014 14-Oct-2014 4:40PM YYZ 18-Oct-2014 2:05PM YYZ
"James, Kent" 13-Oct-2014 20-Oct-2014 13-Oct-2014 5:45PM YYZ 20-Oct-2014 6:10AM YYZ
"Kewisch, Philipp" 14-Oct-2014 18-Oct-2014 14-Oct-2014 5:12PM YYZ 18-Oct-2014 7:30PM YYZ
"Marti, Richard" 14-Oct-2014 19-Oct-2014 14-Oct-2014 7:55PM YYZ 19-Oct-2014 5:35PM YYZ
"Melin, Magnus" 15-Oct-2014 18-Oct-2014 15-Oct-2014 3:50PM YYZ 18-Oct-2014 3:10PM YYZ
"Mery, Wayne" 15-Oct-2014 18-Oct-2014 15-Oct-2014 5:16PM YYZ 18-Oct-2014 11:39AM YYZ
"aceman" 14-Oct-2014 19-Oct-2014 14-Oct-2014 7:05PM YYZ 19-Oct-2014 9:20PM YYZ
"Quèze, Florian" 14-Oct-2014 19-Oct-2014 14-Oct-2014 1:00PM YYZ 19-Oct-2014 7:00PM YYZ
"Reid, Irving"
"Sell, Merike" 14-Oct-2014 19-Oct-2014 14-Oct-2014 2:45PM YYZ 19-Oct-2014 6:25PM YYZ
"Subramanya, Nihanth" 14-Oct-2014 18-Oct-2014 14-Oct-2014 11:10AM YYZ 18-Oct-2014 6:30PM YYZ
"Tanglao, Roland" 14-Oct-2014 7:26PM YYZ 19-Oct-2014 8:15PM YYZ
"Wagner, Andreas" 14-Oct-2014 20-Oct-2014 14-Oct-2014 4:15PM YYZ 20-Oct-2014 5:50PM YYZ
"Winton, Blake"


Tuesday October 14

For those in town for dinner, please come to the BarHop at 391 King Street for beer and food. rkent will be there at 6:30 PM.

Wednesday October 15

Doors to the Mozilla office will be accessible from 9 AM on (with breakfast). We will start our first session around 10 AM with a group session for introductions, and discuss workgroups that will form for the day to address various topics. We should quit by 5:30 PM.

Possible topics:

  • Design and plans for a new address book (code-named Ensemble)
  • Fixing crasher bugs
  • Design of the user interface for a filter editor supporting boolean search criteria
  • Issues in landing New Account Types extension to support email-like items in extensions
  • Chat group to work together -- (likely) WebRTC over XMPP and IRC
  • Calendar group to work together

Dinner: Join us at Pizzeria Via Mercanti. We will be leaving the office as a group and planning to arrive there around 6:30PM. Here is the menu: (we'll be at the Kensington Market location). Food and drink will be covered.

Thursday, October 16

Doors open, and breakfast is available, by 9 AM. We should get started by 9:30 with actual work, and be done by 5:30 PM

Workgroups to continue. We may schedule some specific topics to present to the group in the afternoon.

Dinner: We'll be eating at a restaurant called Hush: Food and drink will be covered. For those who have indicated nut allergies, we have alerted the restaurant, and your meals will be nut free.

  • 10:00 - Compose (Joshua)
  • 10:30 - New Account Types/SkinkGlue (R Kent)
  • 11:00 - Developer Tools (Philipp)
  • 11:30 - OAuth/GMail (Joshua)

Break for lunch.

  • 1:00 - Autoconfig (Bron)
  • 1:30 - Profiler (Mike)
  • 2:00 - Performance (Wayne)

Friday October 17

will be devoted to all-hands discussions where we will try to resolve a number of critical issues affecting the project. This session will be available for live participation beginning at 9:30 AM EST (6:30 AM Pacific Daylight Time) using the normal channels for Thunderbird status meetings. See for connection details.

Key agenda items:

  • How should we organize the project governance to make a transition between the old Mozilla-dominated leadership, to a community-based governance model?
    • Develop and maintain a list of Core Contributors for Thunderbird (perhaps annually), who can use that title in personal communications, and may vote for Thunderbird leadership positions. Currently would be around 30 people.
    • Elect a smaller Thunderbird Executive Council that has the responsibility over all aspects of Thunderbird.
  • Should we be raising income through donations? If so, what form would that take, and how would the income be used?
  • How can we fill non-coding gaps in project operations, including marketing, business development, and contributor engagement?
  • In Thunderbird 31, critical bugs that prevented unthrottling updates and were causing great grief (bug 1036338 and bug 902158) did not get any visibility for months after release. How can we prevent that in the future? We need ways to increase attention to users and their actual experiences with Thunderbird.
  • Should we ship Lightning with the core product, and consider it a first-class part of Thunderbird?
  • Set some reasonable goals for Thunderbird 38 of features to add or issues to fix.
  • How can we better empower bug triagers to have an impact to actually get bugs fixed?
  • Proposal to communicate with users for fund raising and engagement using the start page. Discuss any issues around having a more dynamic start page that communicates with users.
    • Funding appeal would be very visible but time limited.
    • Engage core team with users by featuring individuals (maybe by locale) on start page, including video.
  • Understand why core contributors are involved with Thunderbird, and ways that we can better meet their expectations.
  • comm-central is currently either broken or restricted most of the time. Developers wanting to contribute are held hostage to fixing build issues, test breakages, starring obscure breakages, or m-c integration issues. Are there alternatives, like landing new code on comm-aurora, or introducing an m-c integration layer?
  • I (rkent) have stated in my proposals for the future of Thunderbird that we remain a project under the Mozilla umbrella, but with increased autonomy. This should be discussed and, if appropriate, confirmed by the community.

Remote participation or viewing of Friday group sessions is possible, beginning at 9:30 AM EDT (6:30 AM Pacific Daylight Time) using the same channels as the regular weekly Thunderbird status meetings.

Video Instructions: See for details.

Overall Summit Description and Agenda: See

Notes from actual Friday meeting: See

Feel free to join in if you are interested in the future of Thunderbird.

Other potential agenda items

  • Is the income raised by promoting particular partners in email providers, filelink providers, and search worth the intrusion and inconvenience to the user?
  • Recommend changes to module ownership and peers to reflect our actual current situation.
  • How can we work collaboratively to make plans for product direction (a roadmap) with our limited resources? Should we even have a roadmap? Can we agree on how to decide on, and flag in BMO, features that we would really like to see (Example: bug 119977 "Option to exapnd mailing list into addresses window")
  • What are the obstacles and frustrations that people are experiencing in contributing to Thunderbird, and how can we overcome these?
  • Who are our users? How can we better understand and meet the needs?
  • What are some reasonable promises that we could make with our funding campaign? Ideas:
    • Fully Support maildir
    • Fully Support > 4GB folders
    • CardDAV in address book
    • Filter on Send
  • What should we be doing to engage more effectively with Mozilla staff and resources? Reps, academic programs, etc.
  • Can we agree on a set of values, or a mission statement, for the Thunderbird?
  • How should we be making feature decisions for Thunderbird? Role of ui owner, exec council, TB peers. Examples: Folder selection ui, new search terms.
  • Discuss merits of shipping certain features as extensions with the product. Lightning is one example, but there could be others.
  • How can we more effectively engage with stakeholders outside of Mozilla? Examples: email providers (like Fastmail), Linux distros (like Debian and Ubuntu), large enterprise users (???), protocol communities (like IMAP)
  • I (rkent) believe that we should provide some recognition to organizations that are providing staff support for Thunderbird, including Linagora, Mozilla Japan, and Mozilla itself. (Full disclosure: my own MesQuilla might also be a candidate here). Pro or anti comments? How could we do that (like brief links on Start Page?)
  • An alternative to a donation-based funding model for Thunderbird (which could also co-exist) would be a "Thunderbird Pro" version that added extra features or support with a paid subscription. Any interest in this direction from folks?

Saturday will be divided into subgroups to develop plans and address issues, according to interest areas. These subgroups may come out of the Friday discussions.

Lightning Talks

Some of the group sessions will be devoted to informal Lightning talks of 5 - 15 minutes duration. We will have a signup for these at the Summit. Some talks we would like to see:

  • Perspective from email providers, and specifically Fastmail, including account discovery (brong)
  • How to use bugzilla to track bugs, including use of status fields, flags, keywords, and whiteboard (thomasd wayne)
  • Current status and plans for Chat
  • Current status and plans for Lightning
  • Perspective from addons, including important abandoned or non-AMO addons (Andreas)
  • Changes in Support (Roland stepping down)
  • Using developer tools (Fallen)
  • Status of Darkmail (clokep)
  • Issues with OAuth (jcranmer, Fallen, bron)
  • Localization community and issues (Merike)

Funding Appeal Video

During the summit, we intend to film a video that will be used as part of our proposed direct appeal to users for Thunderbird funding. Brainstorming for that video is here: Thunderbird Funding Appeal 2014


  1. What is the schedule? The current expectation is that Oct 15 & 16 will be work days for people to collaborate on Thunderbird-related projects. Friday Oct 17 is the "all hands" day where we will try to have any critical discussions about the project, as the most regular contributors are available on that day. The conference continues through Saturday afternoon, October 18. You may attend all or part of the conference, but if you are not a regular contributor, it might be best to attend just Friday and Saturday.
  2. Who may attend? The conference is open to all. Regular project contributors are strongly encouraged to attend.
  3. What will it cost? The conference itself will be without charge. We are currently trying to gather funds so that we will be able to pay the travel and expenses of 10 - 20 regular contributors, though others are free to come if you can fund your own travel and expenses.
  4. How can I get more information? Email R Kent James <> or contact rkent in Mozilla #maildev IRC
  5. May I make a suggestion? Sure. Use Thunderbird Summit 2014 Suggestions for agenda or other suggestions


Thunderbird Summit 2014 Budget and Funding Issues