Archives folder should be handled specially by Thunderbird

UNCONFIRMED
Unassigned

Status

Thunderbird
Folder and Message Lists
--
enhancement
UNCONFIRMED
8 years ago
4 years ago

People

(Reporter: Susurrus, Unassigned)

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(Not tracked)

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(1 attachment)

(Reporter)

Description

8 years ago
User-Agent:       Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; U; Intel Mac OS X 10.5; en-US; rv:1.9.1.2) Gecko/20090729 Firefox/3.5.2
Build Identifier: Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; U; Intel Mac OS X 10.5; en-US; rv:1.9.1.3pre) Gecko/20090805 Shredder/3.0b4pre

The archives folder used by Thunderbird isn't fully managed, but a nice combination of automation (such as inserting and sorting the messages into proper folders) and manual manipulation (deleting folder currently empty of files).

It would be nice if the archives folder was fully managed by Thunderbird. This would mean that Thunderbird would display a pure list of messages, but display buttons for quick filtering by date (to replace the now-missing functionality of going to a specific dated folder). This functionality could use a nice timeline with coloring of where messages are located and a timeband that could be moved and changed in duration.

The reason I think this is a good idea is because archives are generally used for a long period of time. As messages fade from memory it becomes harder to find them. As of right now (beta status), I don't trust Thunderbird's search. I also don't trust that I could find the message always just by searching text. Displaying all files in a list that is easily sorted, easily date-filtered, and all in one "place" in Thunderbird should make archiving easier.

While searching is getting better and should cover most uses, there is a use case for browsing. This is currently much more involved then it should be as all archived messages are spread across various folders.

A pleasant side effect of managed archives is that empty folders are automatically cleaned up server-side (though the user would never see these anymore) and also not end up in the trash. Currently not only do empty folders need to be manually deleted, but they need to be manually emptied from the trash also, which are two unnecessary steps.


Reproducible: Always
If you click on the < > arrows at the top of the folder list, you can get to a Smart Folders view. If you then go down to archives you'll get special folders which include everything in the archives folder.

You can also expand the special archive folders to individual date-filter folders.

I think most of that covers your requirements, except for maybe the timeline - this is being done at the folder level in bug 492158. So the only thing I see left here would be to extend something like that to the smart/special folder level.
(Reporter)

Comment 2

8 years ago
"If you click on the < > arrows at the top of the folder list, you can get to a
Smart Folders view. If you then go down to archives you'll get special folders
which include everything in the archives folder."

Forgot about this new feature. I think think should be done in the main folder view though, as the Archives gets a special folder icon like it is treated differently and because I think it makes much more sense.

"You can also expand the special archive folders to individual date-filter
folders."

Yes, that's why adding a timeline would replace that functionality that would be lost if you didn't display the individual month archive folders to the user instead only offering them a single folder to view. Filtering by dates, something that would no longer be possible without searching as you can't view the subfolders, would be done via a timeline.

"I think most of that covers your requirements, except for maybe the timeline -
this is being done at the folder level in bug 492158. So the only thing I see
left here would be to extend something like that to the smart/special folder
level."

Not really. bug 492158 is merely to display information as far as I can tell, not for filtering or diving into it.

I think all of my points were hard to separate so I'm going to enumerate them here:

1) Hide subfolders of the archives and only allow the main Archives folder to be viewed.
2) Display a timeline that allows filtering along it. It would look like the ZFS snapshot timeline and be displayed similarly, but have two endpoints you could move. The timeline would also be colored differently for when messages existed.
3) Manage the subfolders of the archives. I'm not certain why sorting by month was originally done for the archives, but I guess it makes sense if you have tons of messages. If this would still be desired, these folders should be managed so that if there's no messages in them, they would be deleted from the server. I would think this could be done along with folder cleanup: I think that's for local folders, but it could do the archives folder cleanup remotely along a similar schedule.
4) Clearly signify to the user how the archives are managed. The special icon and automatic sorting and movement of a email suggests to the user that the archives are managed by T-bird. Then he deletes a message and expects the (now empty) subfolders that had that message to be deleted also, but it's not. So now the user has learned that the archives folder is automated enough to be annoying as it lies somewhere in a realm between fully automated and manually managed.

I hope that clears things up. The whole goal of this would to fully manage the archives so the user never sees the implementation of it (why would he need to?) and providing new features that replace features that would be lost by doing this.
(Reporter)

Comment 3

8 years ago
Created attachment 392991 [details]
Solaris NFS Backup Timeline Slider

This is the timeline used in the Solaris file manager to enable a user to easily choose a point in time. Something similar, but with two points being the endpoints of a date-range could allow a user to filter the messages by date very quickly.

Comment 4

4 years ago
dupe of bug 476239?
(Reporter)

Comment 5

4 years ago
This isn't a dupe of that bug. This bug refers merely to how Thunderbird represents email archives to the user through the interface within Thunderbird. 476239 deals with how Thunderbird stores email archives on-disk or exposes them to the OS.
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