Talk:Thunderbird:Easy Account Setup

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What's currently working?

Hi, I'm running a small and independent ISP. I tried to setup the auto-configuration stuff for our costumers. I added a TXT Record pointing to a xml-File containing the necessary infos. Brief: It doesn't work and I don't know why. Is it because the described behavior (look for local config files, look for DNS records and finally look up Mozillas DB) isn't implemented yet? What's the actual state of auto-config implementation? And has the config file to be on a https server? Does TB accept any CA for this https location? Thanks for your reply?

A combined solution for ISP settings

An other apporoach would be a combination. Thunderbird release can be shipped with a an ISP files collection, that is current at the time of release. When the user adds an account, he can have a button that will open a dialog box with a list of ISPs, grouped alphabetically by countries. In this dialog box, there could be a button that will update this list from the online service. This way, immediately after the download and installation of Thunderbird, the user has access to a list of preconfigured ISPs mail settings. This is helpful in cases that during account setup there is no Internet connection. Also, you don't have to bundle a new release to update the ISPs mail settings. The only drawback is that the online service has to be implemented, which adds some complexity to the whole effort.

Creating and Maintaining the ISP Files

While it is certainly a very good idea to provide preconfigured options for specific providers to ease the initial setup, it is also a challenge. Given the variety of local and global providers, the obvious question is how to generate those ISP setup files, and how to maintain them on a regular basis for changes. I'm adding some thoughts from forum discussions and my own ideas here.

Delegating this to the l10n teams is probably a necessary step here, as they know best what's going on in their region. Universities, other institutions, and companies may have to come up with their own setup files. Having to create those RDF files manually may impair acceptance of this mechanism. Easy creation of those files is desirable, so that they can be distributed or contributed to a common data base. Not all setups are as complex as Gmail IMAP (bug 400931), thus a simple mechanism to produce the RDF file from basic information (type, servers, ports, encryption, authentication) should suffice in most cases. Some ideas in no particular order:

  • Set up an example account as usual with Thunderbird, then export this setup as an ISP-RDF file for future use (could be done by an add-on).
  • Define a simple format (not more complex than a vCard) which ISPs can use to define their settings, and from which RDF files can be derived automatically (requires cooperation by ISPs?).
  • Have some tool to enter the relevant parameters, which then produces the RDF file (this could be as simple as a web-based tool, asking for the same parameters as are present in the Server Settings, then providing the RDF file for download).

--Rsx11m 12:18, 9 March 2008 (PDT)

Enhancements in Manual Setups

Even with maximum efforts in providing ISP simple setup scripts, chances are rather large that smaller ISPs and institutional/corporate setups will not be covered. For this reason, similar attention should be given to the generic account setup in the Account Wizard, which hasn't been updated for considerable time now, and lacks the ability to specify alternate ports and encryption protocols. Thus, an account setup currently involves up to three steps (Account Wizard, going back to Server Settings of that account, then the Outgoing Server settings). Enhancement requests are pending for extending that wizard (bug 221030, patch pending review), and for an automated probing strategy to fill in port and encryption parameters in case a user doesn't know them (bug 387421). The combination of preconfigured account setup and extended wizard-guided setup where necessary should make it as easy as possible for the user. --Rsx11m 12:18, 9 March 2008 (PDT)