Request for Comments for Thunderbird’s FUEL equivalent, STEEL

One of the big topics that I’m planning to devote a fair bit of MailCo energy towards is to help the Thunderbird extension “scene”. Part of that is making it easier to make extensions for Thunderbird, with better docs, cleaner APIs where necessary, etc. One of the dreams that people have mentioned repeatedly was “wouldn’t it be great to have a FUEL for Thunderbird”, referring to John Resig & Mark Finkle’s library that makes writing extensions for Firefox much easier.

Well, imagine my joy when Joey Minta posted on the newsgroup that he’s started just that. He’s looking for comments on the API, so check it out and pitch in!


  1. You might also want to make it easier to install extensions in Thunderbird. In Firefox you just click a link and answer yes/okay a couple of times. But I not even sure how you do it in Thunderbird. If you just click the link, Firefox will probably try to load it and wont hand it off to Tunderbird. I think you have to save the xpi to the a folder and drag it to the extensions dialog in Tunderbird. Way to cumbersome.


  2. The problem with Thunderbird add-ons for me is that they’re too hard find and install. Thus, there are also too few.

    Maybe Mozilla Add-ons could serve Thunder- / Sunbird extensions with a different MIME type than those for Firefox, so that some XPIs were automatically handled by Sun- / Thunderbird (making installation easier).
    Another idea would be to bundle a a few lines of JS variables (essentially this would be a shorter form of the install.rdf) into every AMO page that tells the add-on installer whether this add-on is compatible to your version of your product.
    This would also prevent unnecessary downloads from AMO as people would not even be able to try to install incompatible add-ons. (I find myself often downloading add-ons without reading what Firefox version it is compatible to.)


  3. Why can’t Thunderbird have it’s own extension names just like word and excel does for their own documents? This sure makes it easier for Thunderbird to distinguish if it’s FF’s or Thunderbirds i.e. .fxpi for FF or .txpi for Thunderbird?


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