I was looking for a GUI prototyping tool that I could use to draft a new skin for a website and also for an Android application. I knew of Balsamiq but I prefer not to use non-free software when possible. I found Pencil Project, an awesome open source prototyping tool built on top of Mozilla’s XUL runner.

The Pencil Project’s unique mission is to build a free and opensource tool for making diagrams and GUI prototyping that everyone can use.

It seems to be working just fine for my needs. Awesome!

Since Mozilla Messaging launched Thunderbird 3 I started using it to see if this new version is better than GNOME Evolution, the email/calendar application I used in the past 4 years. Evolution is a decent email and calendar client and I love the integration in GNOME, but it stopped evolving and its GUI has many annoyances. I’ve used Thunderbird 3.0.1 for a couple of weeks and here are three reasons to choose it and why I decided to postpone the adoption.

Search and indexing: Thunderbird 3 indexing is fast and very good. The interface for searching and drilling your mailbox is fantastic, very well done and fast. Check the screenshot.

Tabs: I like to be able to read messages in different tabs. Lightning calendar and tasks conveniently open in a tab and it’s also possible to run Google Wave in one. This shows the power under the hood of this client: it has the potential to become a messaging hub for all services.ย  It’s annoying that Addressbook and compose new mail open in a new window instead of tab though.

Add-ons: just like Firefox, there are many ways to add functionalities to Thunderbird. The first add-on I installed is Funambol in order to test it and help its development. Then ThunderBrowse, in order to avoid opening Firefox only to check a link in an email and EnigMail to add GPG/PGP support. Nothing mind-blowing yet, but I hope somebody will develop a replacement of the Addressbook with more ‘social’ features. A topic for another post ๐Ÿ™‚

Bonus reason: finally! There is an “Archive” button: once you’re done with a message or a thread, and you don’t want to delete it, you hit a button and the message goes into the archives (archiving criteria can be specified). A neat solution for Capo’s problem ๐Ÿ™‚

The Addressbook, on the other hand, is pretty lame. It doesn’t contain enough fields, it still has space of a ‘pager number’ (anybodyย  still using them?), it opens in a window and not in a tab. I hope it’ll improve in next version.

I’m still using Evolution as my main source of data, especially address book and calendar. Even if Funambol add-on for Thunderbird 3 works decently, it’s still unstable and it has other small issues (if you want to help, Funambol offers Code Sniper grants).

During the past weeks in the mobile world at Funambol I’ve started deepening my thoughts about how computers are still inefficient and largely too hard to use. One thing that I hate is how the whole online things are separated from the file system.โ€™ย  I keep my hard disks organized in folders separating my work projects from my home/fun activities.โ€™ย  Down the tree the classification is done by clients and individual projects.โ€™ย  I’ve always found this strict classification too limiting, because after many years I have now duplicate files and finding things gets harder.โ€™ย  Software like beagle or spotlight are only a partial solution.

What is really annoying me though is the separation of all web activities from the files on the disk. Is an email related to a project and a client?โ€™ย  Why are bookmarks and web pages so difficult to retrace? I would like to find such information grouped in the project folder, available on my disk, tagged properly. I don’t like Google’s idea to move everything online and keep my files there, out of my hands and off my disks.

I look forward to see the new Mozilla Thunderbird. They seem to start on the right foot: it’s not just an email, it’s messaging.

The name Mozilla Messaging is supposed to indicate that itโ€™s focusing on the Internet messaging and communications space as a whole, not just e-mail.

My hope is that within a short time frame Thunderbird will innovate messaging as much as Firefox did in the browser world.

Mozilla Thunderbird Gets Its Own Company @ ENTERPRISE OPEN SOURCE MAGAZINE