First look to Thunderbird 3 (a.k.a Shredder) Alpha 1

It turned out that a few weeks were really more like a few minutes. Mozilla Messaging has released the first alpha of Shredder (icon wanted), the code name of Thunderbird 3.

As planned, this new release has the main goal of letting Thunderbird users that its email client is alive and healthy and this alpha packs a year of work since the last major Thunderbird release.

Thunderbird 3 Alpha 1

Like Firefox 3, Shredder Alpha 1 is based on Gecko 1.9 featuring the same memory improvements we have seen suring its development. It also brings one of its limitations: Thunderbird 3 will be available for Windows 2000 and later Windows releases. Windows 95/98/Me users are out.

While at this stage, any feature can hardly be considered final (think Places in Firefox 2), there’s some interesting stuff to look at:

Most notable, messages can be opened in individual tabs effectively reducing the clutter. It’s not the default behavior for double clicking on a message though, you will have to right click and select Open message in new tab.

Like Firefox 3, the Add-ons Manager is now integrated with Mozilla Add-ons so you can easily search and install themes and extensions without leaving Thunderbird. instead of downloading the .xpi or .jar files, you just have to click on Add to Thunderbird… to install an add-on.

Thunderbird 3 Add-ons manager

For Mac OS X users, Thunderbird is now a native Cocoa application and integrates with Mac’s address book.

Venkman (a JavaScript debugger) and DOM Inspector are both now available for Thunderbird through Mozilla Add-ons.

There’s still no sign of the most significant feature planned for Thunderbird 3: integrating Lightning, a Thunderbird extension that adds full calendaring functionality, as this release is more about consolidating all the work of the year into a release.

A second alpha, targeted for July, should be another interesting update as there is an intensive ongoing brainstorming for easier ways for users to search and organize their messages, contacts and agendas.

15 thoughts on “First look to Thunderbird 3 (a.k.a Shredder) Alpha 1”

    1. You can get it here: http://www.mozillamessaging.com/en-US/thunderbird/early_releases/

      Warning: you may lose all your data due to an unknown bug. Back up.

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  2. I’m very happy to see this making progress! The tab feature is close to what I had requested (obviously, many others also requested tabs), but not quite there. What I’m hoping for is the ability to have different accounts in tabs. In other words, my Gmail account would be one tab and my Yahoo account another (well, that’s assuming they guys who make Webmail make it work with TB3). THAT is what I see as a great way to de-clutter the interface. Under this design, I would hope to have Lightening as a tab as well.

    As others have mentioned elsewhere, Exchange support would be very helpful. (Before somebody slams me for mentioning Exchange, keep in mind that, though it sucks, it is dominant in business and needs to be supported.)

    While I’m not holding my breath, IM support (in a tab, like I mention above) would also be nice. That would make this pretty much a complete communications package for me.

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  4. Much more useful would be to FINALLY create a decent storage and access API for emails and especially email metadata. Integrating lightning is nice, but would be much more useful after such an API change because the current anachronistic and very limited metadata back-end prevents many useful features.
    Kill mork finally and use a decent database. And getting rid of MBOX would be a good idea too.

      1. Heh, great!
        So it will become possible to access and change email metadata and add own (for extensions) metadata fields easily? I am enthusiastic.
        I finally see extensions for better desktop semantic indexing, for adding notes to emails, for adding follow-up actions and deadlines to emails, for tons of really useful things i have been missing for years!

  5. Thank you for covering this pending Thunderbird release. Seeing as it will likely be dead shortly after the release it will still be nice to see coverage.

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  7. As usual, no proper themes are available… the look-n-feel could have been improved… I’ve got a feeling that mozilla does a lot of work on FF integration with Mac OS, whereas thunderbird is left far behind… even though it’s native cocoa, but still looks like an ugly duckling…

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