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Author Topic: In Defense of Thunderbird
Renderhead
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Mozilla's Thunderbird e-mail client, as Mr. Card pointed out, is not perfect. It's nowhere near as impressive as its brother, Firefox, and needs improvement in may areas. However, I'd like to address a comment from Card's latest column that I feel is both false and misleading (although probably unintentionally).

Card describes Thunderbird as being "almost as bad" as AOL's mail program because it saves emails in a "proprietary compressed format". Yes, Thunderbird stores mail in compressed files (called .mbox files), but they are NOT proprietary. Although this may seem like a nit-picking distinction, it really is not.

Proprietary formats, such as AOL's email file format or Microsoft's .wma format, are the sole property of the individual or company that created them. As a result, nobody will ever be able to write an email program that is fully compatible with AOL mail files unless AOL decides to license the format. In that case, only programmers who choose to pay a licensing fee will be able to do so.

The .mbox files used by Thunderbird are a non-proprietary standard. That means two things. First, any programmer who wants to can write an email program that can use those files (as long as they don't violate the terms of the open source license, a topic that I won't get into here but is easy to research online). As a result, you can switch to Thunderbird and not be stuck with it forever. If you want to use Thunderbird for a year and then switch to, say, Eudora, KMail, Mac OS X Mail, or any other program that uses the standard .mbox format (there are many - the format has been around for many years), you will be able to import your messages with relative ease, assuming that the software has good import options.

Second, although .mbox files can be compressed, they are NOT encrypted. That means that although you may not be able to automatically export your mail messages as plain text files now, there is nothing but time and inclination preventing any programmer from wrting a free utility to do so.

I understand that none of this solves the problem at hand, but I thought I should clear those details up out of respect for Thunderbird and its team of hard-working developers.

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macnewbold
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Well put, Renderhead. Thunderbird should be _praised_ for its use of a standard format, rather than some one-off thing that they made up. In fact, the mbox files that Thunderbird and the Mozilla family use are just plain text files, though they may be compressed (probably with a standard gzip compression).

More info here:

http://kb.mozillazine.org/Importing_and_exporting_your_mail

There are a lot of very useful links on that page, too, if you're curious.

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King of Men
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Anyway, it's open source. Instead of complaining, why doesn't OSC get off his ass and write his own version with whatever features he wants? All the source code is freely available for modification.
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Portabello
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KoM -- that's not a useful suggestion. Even for the people that could do that, it is probably too much work to be worth it.
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DSP_Molo
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Mr. Card, if you're reading:

"America Online (AOL)

Import [e-mail and settings] to Thunderbird: (Windows only) Export from AOL to Outlook Express using ePreserver (http://www.connectedsw.com/Questions/57266) then import into Thunderbird by clicking "Tools -> Options" and selecting Outlook Express."

Also, rather than 'Building a Better Mousetrap' per se with e-mail clients, I imagine it would be easier for a programming to alter a word processor so that it can open and format mbox files for printing. [Smile]

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Peter Howell
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I'd also like to point out that (unlike AOL) Thunderbird DOES let you print your addressbook (there's a nice big PRINT button in the address book menu), or export it to a number of open, universal, formats including the very low-tech .csv format (Comma Seperated Values), which ammounts to a flat text file with one address on each line, and each piece of information delimited by commas.

[ May 27, 2005, 09:42 PM: Message edited by: Peter Howell ]

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Renderhead
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Nice troll, King of Men :-P

I'm assuming that you weren't serious, and were just mocking the mantra of open source zealots (a group to which I do not belong).

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kaioshin00
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I dont see his post as trolling, he's just making a suggestion.
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Haloed Silhouette
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KoMmy is known for this style pf posts, it is not trolling. So yes, I'm seconding kaioshin00. And yet, KoM, programming isn't easy - at all.

I think that everytime somone says "I have a problem with Outlook Express" the immediate answer is Thunderbird. You might prefer Eudora or others, but there's no reason to use Look Out! Express.

Sure, Thundy ain't as good as Foxy, but it's still very good. I dropped out of POP years ago, but the most important thing is to get out of the AOL/MS conspiracy.

[/PREACH]

Jonathan Howard

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King of Men
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Jonathan, I program for my living. You might want to not be quite so condescending in telling me what is easy and what isn't. Apart from that, I was in fact making a joke.
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Lupus
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I have thought of changing over from outlook a couple of times...however, I do like having the calender integrated with my e-mail client...and the mozilla calender program doesn't sync with palm.

Also, their e-mail importer is crappy. When I try to import my outlook e-mail messages, all html mail is broken. Instead of showing images, it shows the code. While new HTML mail works fine, I hate having all of my old mail broken. I see nothing wrong with using MS if they have a product that works better for your needs. For my browser, I use Firefox because I think it works better than IE. However, at this point Outlook works better for me than thunderbird.

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Haloed Silhouette
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quote:
Jonathan, I program for my living.
I thought you dealed with physics for a living.

And I know programming too; maybe not as well as the you, Sire, but I know the trouble it poses. I read two university books about Pascal, that was a year and a half ago.

It wasn't fun, it wasn't easy; and those were the days of my top-notch maths' ability.

quote:
outlook
As much as I hate Outlook, it's still different because it's not JUST e-mail. Outlook Express is shoddy, but Outlook's for a different "market", if you like. Personally - save the mony and go use Ximian's Evolution.

JH

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King of Men
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Particle physics is done on computers, and involves much more coding than mathematics, unless you're an egg-brained theorist, of course. And in all honesty, "I read two books about Pascal" just doesn't impress. Until you have made a simple game, or a generalised Langton's Ant sim, or some other non-trivial program, you know nothing. Some programming is easy, some is hard; not having looked at Thunderbird code, I don't know what category it falls into. And what is hard for me might be easy for someone else, and vice versa. But you have no basis for judgment at all.
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Lupus
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Using evolution wouldn't save me money...since outlook comes with MS office, which I use. I guess I could use open office...but it makes sense to use the same program as the people I work with use, since we trade documents back and forth.

If I just used e-mail, thunderbird would be a good choice. However, I use outlook for all the other features it has.

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King of Men
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If you want features, emacs is your program. Now also with kitchen sink!
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