Upgrading to Thunderbird 3 - wednesday 2009-12-30 2316 last modified 2009-12-31 0123
Categories: Nerdy
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Maybe one of the drawbacks of open source software you can modify into behaving the way you want is an extra drag of keeping those modifications up to date. At the beginning of the month, Thunderbird, my mail client of choice, released version 3.0, two and three-quarters years after version 2.0 was first released. I believe their plan is to release more often, but hopefully the long interim between 2.0 and 3.0 brought the API to a stable point that doesn't require quite as much change on developers' parts with each release.

I keep most of my extensions available on addons.mozilla.org, which tells me I have around 40,000 downloads for the software, not counting downloads from my site and from other third-party re-publishers. Four are now up to date, though not all have been editorially reviewed and published to that effect:

  • FolderFlags to modify settings on folders
  • ConfirmFolderMove to prompt the user in case a folder is dragged as if to make an expensive change in its location
  • Spamness to view SpamAssassin scoring
  • ManualJunkAction to redirect user marked spam to a separate custom folder

And now there's a new one to join the ranks: SortPref, to allow changing defaults regarding message sorting. I prefer to sort chronologically so the newest message is at the top; this helps me accomplish that and allows me to change my mind easily later.

The most technical part for the end. Here's how to extract any entities from a XUL file and prepare a blank DTD for filling in strings that correspond to the entities from the command line:

% cat FILE | grep '\&' |perl -pe '/^.*(&.*;).*$/; print $1 . "\n";'|egrep -v ' '|sed -e 's/&//' -e 's/;//' |xargs -I% echo \<\!ENTITY % \"\"\> > FILE.dtd


And a quick review

A couple of comments about TB3.0. The new search is great, but I only ever used search previously to filter a folder I was looking in. I can see its utility and the evolution of mail to go well beyond a per-folder paradigm. Still, I changed it immediately to the mode I'm already used to.

Tabs are of little note. It's nice that the tab session is saved, but it would be truly useful to have the drafts I was working on retained in a session as well. Everything else seems gratuitous considering how I use mail. Again, it could change, but so far not really.

Integration with Mac OS X in Spotlight and Address Book is long-awaited and very welcome. Now if only it would do AppleScript or operate from the command line properly.

The biggest complaint: the lack of a compact header pane is a major mistake. The headers otherwise take up a substantial amount of space in a three-pane display. It quite literally looks awful: I am full of awe that anyone considered it a good idea. I installed CompactHeaders not long after I finalized my switch.

Ryan Lee on January 03, 2010 01:09 AM

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