Tagging has taken off in the Web 2.0 world as a way to organize and find
items of interest. And for the most part they’ve existed only in the browser view of the Web.
In the upcoming Mozilla Thunderbird 2.0 release, tags will move to the e-mail
world, too. The new feature could well serve to further Mozilla’s e-mail
efforts as it strives to achieve the same success with e-mail as it has with
“The most requested feature we had come into the release was message tags,”
Scott MacGregor, Mozilla’s lead developer on the Thunderbird project, told
internetnews.com. “We’ve seen tags take off in the Web world with
people tagging images on Flickr and posts in blogs, and users want that same
parallel in e-mail.”
Mozilla’s Thunderbird 2.0 enables users to create any number of tags and to
apply any number of tags to an e-mail message. Developers have also added a
history navigation feature, including the back and forward buttons, which MacGregor said he borrowed from the browser side of Mozilla.
Though Thunderbird is a desktop e-mail client, Mozilla understands that there
are plenty of users who will want to use it with a webmail-based account. So it has enabled easy account integration for both Google’s Gmail and Apple’s .mac webmail services.
When a user creates a new e-mail account in Thunderbird with the account wizard, it lists Gmail and .mac as options. Users only have to enter their e-mail information, and Thunderbird will actually
figure out the other mail settings, such as incoming and outgoing server
Though Google is a strong supporter of Mozilla, that fact doesn’t have any
bearing on why Gmail support is being worked into Thunderbird 2.0.
For one, MacGregor uses Gmail.
“As far as the integration goes it was not developed by anyone at Google,”
MacGregor said. “That was done in the community, and the data to do that is
all publicly available.”
Though Thunderbird 2.0 extends Mozilla’s e-mail efforts, it is still lacking
at least one item users may want: a calendar. MacGregor said Mozilla has a separate calendar effort and an extension called
“Lightning,” which can add calendar functionality to Thunderbird; however, the
effort is still in the early stages.
“We’re thinking about ways to bundle Thunderbird plus Lightning as an
option at download time for people that want integrated calendar,” MacGregor
While it is easy to think of Mozilla Thunderbird as a replacement for
Microsoft’s Outlook Express, which also lacks a calendar, that’s not
always the case.
“We’re a really powerful e-mail client. I don’t know that Outlook Express is
the main competition for us,” MacGregor said. “There are a variety of
offerings, including webmail, that users like to use and Thunderbird is in the
Another e-mail client that’s in the mix is Eudora, which at one time was
the most popular e-mail client in use.
Eudora, now owned by Qualcomm, is now in the process of moving to a Mozilla Thunderbird base of its application. MacGregor said his team has been working with the Qualcomm people. The first goal for Qualcomm is to take Thunderbird and give it a unique
Qualcomm Eudora look and feel.
“Once they do that they will start working with the community on core
feature enhancements that could benefit all Thunderbird users,” MacGregor
The Thunderbird 2.0 release is many months behind the release of its Mozilla
cousin, the Firefox 2.0 Web browser. MacGregor’s not fazed.
“We’ve always been out a little later than Firefox and the release schedules
aren’t coupled together.”
A release candidate of Thunderbird 2.0 is out this week with the final version expected before the end of April. The final version will be available in a few weeks.