Flying on its own, Thunderbird seeks input on new look

Brings in designers to apply a new coat of UI before world thinks it looks too shabby to run

By Richard Chirgwin


Now that the open source email client Thunderbird is sleeping in a separate bed from Mozilla, the project has called on outside help for a UI redesign.

It's working with Polish designers Monterail to help with the redesign, partly because in 2016 that company created a popular custom UI theme for Thunderbird.

Monterail's Krystian Polański yesterday blogged that he contacted Richard Marti and Ben Bucksh of the Thunderbird core team to “discuss possibilities”.

One of those possibilities, it seems, is a research survey linked from the blog post, to get Thunderbird user input into any redesign. The survey is open until February 6.

One reason a redesign is on the cards, Polański said, is that “Thunderbird’s key problem is being perceived as either dead or stagnant, a label which the team behind it couldn’t afford to let stick to their product.”

“For the past couple of months we’ve been exchanging emails with the core team and working on upgrades to the existing official theme. Drawing on incoming feedback and bugs reported by users, we’ve been working together with the Thunderbird team on refining our designs,” he continued.

The perception that Thunderbird is effectively abandonware is arguably a result of the e-mail client being a low priority for its later time under the care of Mozilla, which finally let go of the program in May 2017.

Under that arrangement, Mozilla continues to provide a “legal, fiscal and cultural home” while the Thunderbird Council has to fund development, support the community, and provide infrastructure (to some degree, since at the time of writing, still hosts Thunderbird downloads). ®

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