Compose in a tab is a Mozilla Messaging experiment that bundles an HTML
editor called CKEditor, and builds a totally new composition UI, that
incidentally also happens to live in a tab.
Previously, on Mozilla Messaging
A while ago, I blogged about a "Compose in a tab" experiment . Since
then, I've focused on the development of Thunderbird Conversations .
However, I've recently resumed development on "Compose in a tab". It has
now reached a state which I would qualify as "barely usable". I've
submitted a new version to AMO , and I will be uploading dev builds
at  until a stable version is released again. Right now,  and 
only have one version. I've submitted this new version to AMO so that
the page listing the addon doesn't disappear. Dev builds will be
released on  only.
Current state of affairs
"Barely usable" means that some people might be willing to use this
addon in its current state (full disclosure: I am not, but I hope to soon).
- Composing a new message, editing a draft, replying to all, to list,
forwarding inline and as attachments, all work.
- Adding attachments works.
- Sending mixed emails (plaintext+html) works, and html will be used if
and only if there's extra formatting that will be lost when sending in
plaintext only (this is standard Thunderbird behavior).
- Contacts for Thunderbird is not required anymore.
- You won't be prompted for confirmation if you close a tab with unsaved
contents. Because of a design choice I made, if you were editing a
draft, this will leave two copies of the draft in the Drafts folder.
*This is a bug* that is fixed by applying the patch from , or waiting
for it to land.
- Blockquotes are not broken when hitting <Enter> inside a blockquote.
Yes, this is infuriating. This is a bug in CKEditor, see . You might
manage to break them by holding shift.
- Other bugs are known: see  (for instance, session restore is
basically useless right now).
- It's compatible with 3.1 right now, although I'm afraid bug 645552
probably won't make it to a point-release for 3.1. So I'll probably be
enforcing compatibility with 3.3 soon. I'm sorry about this, but
"Compose in a tab" is so rough that I can't imagine someone interested
in using this won't be ok with using 3.3 as well (which, as a side note,
is wonderfully stable).
Plans for the future
I have a limited amount of manpower, and most of it is currently devoted
to Thunderbird Conversations, as well as backend work on Thunderbird. It
is very likely that I won't be able to invest a significant amount of
energy into this experiment, as I'm already using most of my time for
Conversations. What this means is I will move this forward to the point
where the most painful (and difficult) bugs are fixed. This includes
everything that is listed on . After that, I'll probably wait for
someone to pick up this experiment and move it forward.
and HTML. There's no XUL in it. There's some jQuery, as well as some
XPCOM stuff that should be abstracted away by the thunderbird-stdlib
project that "compose in a tab" now builds upon. I firmly believe that
if we use standard technologies, any talented developer can join and
give a hand without having the burden of learning XUL and Thunderbird
specifics. If anyone feels like contributing, and helping Thunderbird
move forward, this would be a very efficient way to achieve this:
there's a lot of easy stuff waiting to be picked up there. I'm always
willing to help and provide guidance, so anyone interested should
probably come over to the #maildev channel and start discussing things.
As usual, anyone can track this project on GitHub .
Thanks for your attention :-)
PS: feedback redirected to the mozilla-labs google group