• Thunderbird 115 Supernova News

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    From Thunderbird Blog – February 9, 2023

    Why We’re Rebuilding The Thunderbird Interface From Scratch
    The Future of Thunderbird

    Thunderbird is quickly approaching its 20th anniversary as a standalone email client. And as we get closer to this year’s release of Thunderbird 115 ‘Supernova’ we’re hearing a certain question more and more often: ‘Why does Thunderbird look so old, and why does it take so long to change?’
    As Thunderbird’s Product Design manager, I have some good insights into what’s happening and where things are going.”

    includes 14:39 minute YouTube video:
    The Future of Thunderbird – Modernizing an Ancient Application

    Just for info, I am currently using the latest version 102.7.2 without any problems. I usually wait to update about 5~10 days when a new version comes out, same with Firefox, and I have been using both for more than a decade. Guess I’m stuck in old fashioned zone, like Windows 10, just get used to the foibles we might have to put up with? It will be interesting to see what Thunderbird 115 ‘Supernova’ is all about. Hope there is not a difficult learning curve. This old dog is getting tired of learning new tricks, but AskWoody keeps me going!

    A smile is an inexpensive way to change your looks.
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    • #2533897

      I watched the linked video, and I am a little dismayed by the derisive attitude that the narrator (supposedly one of the Thunderbird UI devs) takes about those people who (apparently erroneously) think that the UI of Thunderbird is efficient as it is. He mockingly accuses them of thinking that the Windows 95 GUI was “the pinnacle of UX design,” as if that is so obviously wrong that we should all have a laugh at people with such outlandish ideas.

      Windows 95’s UI was a breakthrough for a very good reason. Microsoft put a great deal of effort into researching how people use GUIs, how they interpret the cues given by the UI, and all that good stuff. They found out that a lot of their existing precepts of how novice users will interpret GUI elements were wrong. They exhaustively did this for every bit of the 95 GUI, and they listened to what their test subjects told them.

      The result was a GUI that was more intuitive and usable than any that had come before in the PC space, without any of the imposed ideological limitations of the Mac (where the original keyboard had no arrow keys, because you should just use the mouse, and where that mouse only had one button, because everything should be so simple that it only needs one.

      People are more familiar with GUIs than they were back then, when most non-techie types were just getting on-board with “home computers,” but the way we process information hasn’t, as it is innately tied to the biology of our brains. We’re still the same as we were, biologically speaking, as in 1995. We process information the same way. All of that research Microsoft did is still valid and valuable. (Too bad that not even MS seems to realize this now.)

      To ignore all of that, and to denigrate the 95 interface for no other reason that it ‘looks old,’ strikes me as the attitude of one who will follow the current UI fads and the broader modern trend of putting form over function. He does say that the intent is to create a design that will be customizable enough to please everyone, but we’ve certainly heard that kind of thing before. What he considers “customizable enough” and what PC traditionalists consider “customizable enough” could well be very different things.

      I have doubts that someone who sounds young enough to have most likely grown up with far more hours logged on phone UIs than Win95-style PC GUIs will even comprehend the schema behind the traditional interface well enough to create one, even as an option. His attitude toward the Windows 95 interface demonstrates this. He can’t see the usability or intuitiveness behind it, as he’s never gotten beneath the surface. All he sees is “it looks old.”

      Side note: I wonder to what degree he may be conflating the Windows Classic theme used by 95 with the broader UI design, independent of the styling. The styling of the various UI elements can be changed without changing the whole operating schema of the application, and that is a much simpler task than redesigning the whole UI. That’s not what I am talking about here.

      What I fear that we will get is the designer’s aesthetic impression of a traditional interface, without any actual understanding of why it looked the way it did back in the day, with as much of their “modernization” crammed in as they can get away with.

      This is very much how I interpret the “modern” bits of Windows 10.



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      • #2533929

        What I fear that we will get is the designer’s aesthetic impression of a traditional interface, without any actual understanding of why it looked the way it did back in the day, with as much of their “modernization” crammed in as they can get away with.

        This is very much how I interpret the “modern” bits of Windows 10.

        Any examples of modern bits of Windows 10 that lack understanding of why things used to look different?
        (I know you haven’t used Windows for 10 years.)

      • #2534124

        I am on TB 60.9.1 and am quite content. The trajectory these days does not appeal to me.
        I also use Pale Moon as my browser for much the same reasoning.

        I will take a look but I am not gonna be holding my breath for a new more appealing TB .



        Just because you don't know where you are going doesn't mean any road will get you there.
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    • #2534286

      Alessandro (Alex) Castellani, Thunderbird Product Design manager,
      has another recent, February 14, 2023, Blog Post titled:
      Thunderbird 115 Supernova Preview: The New Folder Pane

      “In our last blog post, we announced that we’re rebuilding the Thunderbird UI from scratch, … That post may have caused you to worry that Thunderbird 115’s interface would be radically different and ship with less customization options. Perhaps fearful you’d have to relearn how to use the application. Nothing could be further from the truth! In this post — and in future Supernova previews — we want to put all those worries to rest by showing you how Thunderbird 115 will be intuitive and welcoming to new users, while remaining familiar and comfortable for veteran users. … One of the benefits of rebuilding the Thunderbird interface from scratch is that we can better tailor the application to satisfy different people with different needs.”

      Hooray! and large sigh of relief, as it seems there will be no steep and dangerous Mount Everest type of difficult learning curve that those poor “old fashioned zone” users (who me?) will have to surmount. I wasn’t seriously worried, because I know that the AskWoody super community are experts in the “Tame Your Tech” world of solving user problems and concerns. = Thank Goodness for AskWoody!

      There is also a new 15:57 minute YouTube video titled:
      The New Thunderbird Folder Pane
      which is very informative of some of the new changes for Thunderbird 115 Supernova. It is reassuring to learn that there will be many optional and changeable features, and we can keep what we are currently comfortable with. Good stuff. Learning curve flattened. I like that Alex is making these Blog posts and YouTube videos to keep us informed, this seems new.

      A smile is an inexpensive way to change your looks.
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