Try other web apps in Thunderbird tabs

Colin Dean converted the code from my post on Google Calendar in Thunderbird tabs and created a GMail tab for Thunderbird.

If you’re interested in trying what a web application would look like running inside a Thunderbird tab without modifying an extension use the following code snippet.

Open the Error Console from the Tools Menu

tools-error-console

Copy & Paste this code into the input entry at the top:

Components.classes['@mozilla.org/appshell/window-mediator;1']
          .getService(Components.interfaces.nsIWindowMediator)
          .getMostRecentWindow("mail:3pane")
          .document.getElementById("tabmail")
          .openTab("contentTab",{contentPage:"http://tinyvid.tv/show/2h9led44g152z"})

update: here’s a text input which you can easily copy and paste the above code from.

Change the provided link ( http://tinyvid.tv/show/2h9led44g152z ) at the end to the web application you’d like to try, like http://twitter.com for example.  Click the ( Evaluate ) button.

error-console

It’s Party Time! ( if you didn’t change the link,  http://tinyvid.tv/show/2h9led44g152z )

its-party-time-in-a-thunderbird-tab

You can continue to iterate the tab application by creating a new click handler, however at that point it might be worthwhile to start with the extension code instead of working in the error console.

Jetpack for Thunderbird

In the hopefully not too distant future Thunderbird will gain Jetpack as it’s new extension model and it will be no longer necessary for add-ons like this these be created but instead a simple Jetpack which can do the same things without restarts or complicated installs.

If you’re interested in this take a look at Andrew’s recent Jetpack in Thunderbird post.

Above code snippet courtesy of Magnus in

What are Attachments?

Should links inside emails be considered attachments?  In the technical sense of an email (like rfc 2183) links wouldn’t be considered a different content type.  The question isn’t whether they are technically attachments as much as if they should be attachment-like in the user interface.

Facebook

Facebook handles links in a message almost like an attachment-object and will do some additional meta work on the link to provide a default photo and short description for it.

In the message list view Facebook offers an icon to note that a link attachment was included in a messages.

In the composition view Facebook also grabs links from inside the message and shows them separately as an attachment like thing.  In the screenshot below the composition window grabbed the link inside my message and pulled down a description and number of photos from the site.


link detected in the composition area

This kind of meta data around a link can be really beneficial.  The presentation of the link is better than a person naturally would and since it’s the information is retrieved automatically it only takes extra seconds  to make sure a good image and description appear.

Beyond just the benefits of better presentation is another hot topic in the Thunderbird world of offline support.  When reading mails offline it’s far better to have a more context about the link than none at all.  Even if I can’t bring up the link in an offline state the image, description and comment can help me to recall what the link is about.

Gmail

When you’re using the rich editor for composing a message in Gmail and create a link it has some nice features for recognizing a link and helping you edit it.  Here are some screen shots of what Gmail is doing right now.

Popup indicates the link has been recognized in compose window

Editing a Link

Alternatively Editing an Email link

Pretty straightforward and simple stuff when compared to the extra things Facebook is doing.  Gmail doesn’t add meta-data about the links or make their inclusion visible in the message list.

Links as Attachments

If in Thunderbird we wanted to start treating links more like we treat attachments…

  • How do we present that to the user?
    • Both in terms of composing messages and when receiving links in messages.
  • Do we grab meta data for links sent to us?
    • assuming some kind of policy about what links we can do that with
  • And should we be making links available somehow in Firefox?

aboot

This is the blog personality of Bryan Clark. I'm a designer in a world of open source. This blog reflects mostly writing about Design, Open Source, Economics, Beer, Wine, and Dogs. There's more information about me on this site or you can contact me directly at clarkbw@gmail.com.

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