Features/Thunderbird/Address Book in a Tab

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The justification for this change is a consistent UX. Thunderbird has been moving towards new tabs over new windows for a while now. The following interfaces open up in new tabs (in no particular order):

  1. The Add-ons Manager
  2. The What's New page (Help > What's New)
  3. Troubleshooting information (Help > Troubleshooting information)
  4. Messages, when double-clicked in the message tree
  5. Lightning

There are likely more.

As for the interfaces that open up new, stand-alone windows, I can only think of the following:

  1. The compose window
  2. The address book
  3. The activity manager

If the Compose-in-a-tab experiment is any indication, Thunderbird will be moving away from new windows entirely (or, rather, new windows by default - note that tabs can be "torn" out to form a new window).

If that's the case, then the address book will be the lone holdout, and this could be very confusing for a user. We have spent a lot of energy training users that new things appear in tabs - but only one or two things open up in new windows. That's unnecessary cognitive load.

Also, from an add-on development perspective, there are certain disadvantages to having the address book open up in a new window. The primary one is that once the address book window is open, we cannot guarantee that the 3 pane (main Thunderbird window) is open, which means that we cannot guarantee access to a lot of the useful functions available exclusively in the 3 pane window. Having the address book open up in a tab within the 3 pane would eliminate this edge case.