Thunderbird: big plans for 2019
The Thunderbird team provided us with an outlook of things to come for the desktop email client in a new post on the official Thunderbird blog.
The then-independent Thunderbird team grew to eight full-time employees in 2018 working on the browser.
Plans are underway to increase the number of full-time employees to 14 in early 2019; the Thunderbird team is made up of engineers for the most part that work on "making Thunderbird more stable, faster, and easier to use".
Thunderbird in 2019
The near-doubling of the team of engineers that works on Thunderbird full-time gives the team flexibility in regards to development priorities. New features and improvements are planned for 2019: from improvement performance and user interface slowness to improving compatibility with Gmail and integrating native desktop notifications.
The Thunderbird project team plans to introduce support for Gmail labels in Thunderbird in 2019. Other, unmentioned, Gmail-specific features may also be introduced or better supported in upcoming versions of the email client.
Desktop notifications, native support for them, is another item that is on the to-do list for 2019. Support for desktop notifications makes Thunderbird "feel more native" and improve notification management as well.
The team plans to make the use of encryption easier in Thunderbird, and work on user interface improvements. The out-of-the-box experience of the encryption functionality will be improved and it should just work without confusing the user with tech jargon or maintenance tasks.
A detailed roadmap for 2019 was published on the official Thunderbird Mailing list. Key improvements not mentioned already include:
- Improve the handling of.ics (system integration, invite improvements).
- Improve mail filters (make them asynchronous, contextual filtering, e.g. globablly or per-folder, pre-filter MIME processing and more).
- Improve the add-ons experience.
- Exchange support (at least for Calendar).
- Improve support for open formats and structured data such as CardDAV, WebDAV, and vCard.
- Improve Thunderbird setup experience (e.g. complete package for organizations).
- Calendar improvements.
The parting ways with Mozilla appears to have been positive for the development of the Thunderbird email client. 2019 could be the year of a turnaround in development; more engineers working on Thunderbird, fixing long-standing issues, improving support for popular features, and introducing new features to the email client.
The future looks bright; the Thunderbird team relies on donations for the most part to fund development and maintenance. Interested users may also get involved in various areas including development, documentation or translation.
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