Dec 052008
 

As I’ve mentioned before on my blog, occasionally I try out Thunderbird to see if it feels like a good fit to become my mail client.  So far, the longest I’ve stuck with it is about two weeks, back during the later stages of development on Thunderbird 2.0.

With Thunderbird 3 teetering on the brink of beta, I thought I’d give it another try today.

By and large, Thunderbird has come a long way!  The editor is improved, the look and feel is better, the tabs are a great addition, and it seems a lot nicer to use overall.

However, I ran into one frustrating hiccup and a few weird throwbacks that give me pause.

By “throwbacks,” I mean features that seem half-implemented compared to, well, every other mail client out there.

  • In this day and age, having to write your signatures using an external editor and choose them using a file picker seems beyond quaint.  I haven’t seen another email program that does this in at least a decade.
  • The fact that there’s not only no built-in “new mail” sound effect, but that Thunderbird doesn’t support the standard sound file formats most commonly used on the Mac, seems very odd.  At least on the Mac, it’s very easy to play back just about any type of sound file.
  • In my opinion, there should be an “Edit this account” button in the account creation wizard.  The default configuration is rarely adequate for my needs, due to quirks of most of the servers I use.

There are a few other things, mostly minor, along with me personally having some hard-to-explain issue with the design of the server settings user interface.  I don’t know what it is that bothers me, but something does.

As usual, this sounds like a lot of whining, so I want to stress that I’m incredibly impressed by the progress made in Thunderbird 3, and I’m quite excited for its release.  Even more so, I have little doubt that Thunderbird is on a course toward meeting my rather nitpicky personal preferences and eventually becoming my email client of choice.

Keep it up, folks!

 Posted by at 6:15 PM

  7 Responses to “Checking out Thunderbird 3”

  1. Do we know when Lightning will be merged into Thunderbird 3?

  2. I don’t know, other than last I heard it was still on the plan for Thunderbird 3.

  3. What annoyed me most about TB3 last time I tried it was that the new UI/buttons above the message looked completely different form the rest of the TB UI. For example, the button captions were all lower case, in contrast to the rest of the TB3 UI and the OS standards. It looked like a completely different designer did that part of the UI. I just tried the Dec 4 RC builds, to see if this is fixed, but they don’t even startup for me (no windows appear) under Vista 64, so I’ll wait for the final beta..

  4. I don’t really mind the lower-case buttons because capital letters draw my attention when in reality it’s not the buttons I’m interested in. I do mind that the header view still shows some useless headers like Content-Transfer-Encoding – it’s a waste of space. I quite like the View dropdown that can be added via customising the toolbar (I don’t know if that was in TB 2), although I’d probably prefer if it was a flat dropdown, really.

  5. Come on, folks… Thunderbird 3 has been in beta lockdown for many weeks now, and the UI that’s being shown around by the team is very different from the current nightly builds. As soon as Beta 1 is out, we can expect the gates to open for many code changes, also around the new message headers, but especially the folder tree, the toolbar and search.

  6. True, Tb 3 is a lot better :)

    What gets me though is the fact the statusbar isn’t Unified, so it doesn’t go light when the window’s unfocused. Seems a real shame, especially when the FF 3 one does work!

  7. # The fact that there’s not only no built-in “new mail” sound effect, but that Thunderbird doesn’t support the standard sound file formats most commonly used on the Mac, seems very odd. At least on the Mac, it’s very easy to play back just about any type of sound file.

    Thunderbird doesn’t actually care, but don’t know whether the core widget issues with choosing alternate file types due to limitations in the Mac filepicker were ever fixed.

    # In my opinion, there should be an “Edit this account” button in the account creation wizard. The default configuration is rarely adequate for my needs, due to quirks of most of the servers I use.

    What I do is to open the account manager and use its add button to create an account, after which you can then finish editing it.