Older blog entries for clarkbw (starting at number 191)

question: dualbutton css

How do you make the dualbutton always appear like the last two sets of screenshots (as it does on hover)?

I’m looking to make dualbuttons always show their dropdown button with a real button like look.  This dualbutton reply button is  going to land in Thunderbird 3 soon and I’d like the style to look correct for both Linux and Windows (Mac is using it’s own button style).

dualbutton-dropdown-hover

However this doesn’t appear to be some kind of toolkit CSS hover issue. The windows CSS is decidedly worse than the Linux right now so that may be a separate issue all together; and if so we can attempt that in the same way we handled the Mac.

Hints, answers, and the like are greatly appreciated in the comments.

Syndicated 2009-05-11 22:07:55 from Bryan Clark

Testing RTL in Thunderbird

For bug 484166 we’re moving away from the old search icon  to the newer Firefox search icon .  Included in this change we need to ensure this icon works for RTL as well as LTR.   With bug 481860 offering a way to use css to transform the image I just needed to test that the transform works.

Here are some notes I have from my limited experience working to test application UI in both LTR and RTL.  Please drop a comment if you have better experiences, I’d love to be able to save a bit of time.

GNOME RTL

In the GNOME world to do a simple test of an RTL language you could start up the application with the LANG environment variable set to an appropriate language.  For instance:

LANG=he_IL eog

LANG=he_IL eog

Thunderbird RTL

With Thunderbird I’ve found a number of options to make this happen.

The UILocale flag can be added your command arguments.

thunderbird -UILocale he

However Thunderbird, as compiled from hg, or download nightly likely doesn’t contain the translations needed to run that test successfully.

For the nightly build you’ll want to grab a translation XPI from the comm-central-l10n nightly builds.  You can drag any of those XPI links into the Thunderbird add-on manager window to install them.  (saves a bit of time compared to downloading and installing)

For your compiled builds the process seems a bit longer and more difficult getting the translations from l10n-central built in.  I gave up half way through as there is an easy method out there already, at least for simple testing.

Force RTL Extension

An easy alternative approach is to use the Force RTL extension, which I only just found out about today.  The extension provides an option in the tools menu to trigger RTL mode, which is really a lot better than trying a language you don’t understand.  If all you need is to test layout in an RTL this works really well.

Syndicated 2009-04-02 22:49:52 from Bryan Clark

Earth Hour Wordpress Plugin

I just installed the Earth Hour plugin for wordpress.  So if you’re trying to read my blog this Saturday during Earth Hour you’ll be getting less pixels than normal.

Earth Hour 2009

After which transmission will continue normally, the same spotty and random posts as ever.

Syndicated 2009-03-25 20:28:45 from Bryan Clark

Thunderbird 3 beta 2

It’s been a little while since the release of Thunderbird beta 2 and today we’re automatically offering the upgrade to all our existing alpha and beta users.

thunderbird-logo

Upgrading from Previous Development Releases

At 12:00pm today (12:00 PDT) updates will start to be picked up by Thunderbird Alpha and Beta users.  In the following 24 - 48 hours you should be offered the update if you’re running a previous development release.

Alternatively, you can pick it quicker by going to the menu, selecting Help and then “Check for updates…”

Take a look a the Thunderbird 3.0 Beta 2 Release Notes for more information, we have one additional note for POP3 users.

Syndicated 2009-03-19 19:00:08 from Bryan Clark

Budget Customer Experience FTW!

Budget Truck rental of Canada has some special promotions available when you reserve via their web site.

However you actually can’t reserve trucks via the web site.  You have to call the locations.

When you call the location it goes something like this.

  • You: I would like to reserve a truck for next week.  I have a coupon from your site.
  • Them: Next week is no problem.  However the coupon is only for online reservations.
  • You: Oh, I couldn’t reserve online; it said there were no places available.
  • Them: No you can’t reserve online, only via phone.
  • You: So…
  • Them: So next week is all set!

Syndicated 2009-03-02 20:13:18 from Bryan Clark

Design by Committee

I like to look at this painting every so often to remind myself how things can go so wrong even when they seem like they are going right.

If you haven’t seen this image before, the description of the project is amazing.  An effort to find the “People’s Choice” art award a market survey queried respondents from around the globe on what aspects of art they enjoyed.

Results were tallied for various countries and “The Web”, the paintings were created to spec with total disregard for an overall vision / goal / theme and the results are completely unappealing.  I originally found this site via the excellent email on Design from Dan Winship of years back.

U.S.A. - Most wanted Painting

Design & Choice

I was talking with someone about Design about a year ago and we go into the topic of choice vs. decisions, we debated this.

Committees make decisions

Making decisions is the process of evaluating and understanding the options from various possibilities and then merging and pruning the list of possible options until only 1 option remains; which could be a hybrid of the original possible options.

Design makes choices

Making choices is the process of evaluating and understanding the options from various possibilities, then selecting one of the options.  The design process suggests that this selection be iterated on and further choices made.  Part of design choices means knowing that other options are valid but possibly lack a clear expression or vision.

Decisions vs. Choices

The difference between choices and decisions is subtle , some of it has to do with the quality of your ingredients and some of it has to do with compromise at the wrong stage of development.  Is the process all that matters?  A process that is used to constantly create new possible options and choose from those instead of making Frankenstein out of the options given?  The design process will constantly emphasize the goal in the iteration of options leading to a choice.  I don’t think that definition clear, but it’s the best we came up with.

Allowing More Choice

If design requires choices that defines a vision and other designers incorporate that design with their own vision…  How do we create this space where design can make choices according to a single vision and still allow other designers [1] to continue making further choices toward their own vision?  And further, how do you have a meaningful community other designers can make their own?

[1] As in, “Everyone is a designer”, by choice or by accident.

Syndicated 2009-02-18 00:21:08 from Bryan Clark

Looking at User Experience for Thunderbird 3

Over the past year the Thunderbird platform has received a large number of updates, however it is also seeing a number of improvements to it’s over all user experience.   In a recent email I tried to write out some of the major improvements that are in the works for the next bird release, here’s a summary of that mail.

Search

With some needed changes to the Thunderbird platform it has become possible to provide efficient full text search over messages and their headers.  This will enable Thunderbird to offer a much improved search experience over the previous search methods.  Search can start over the full text of a message and then be filtered against specific attributes like sender or subject to narrow down the set of results.  We can also offer auto-complete on subjects and people in the search entry to help prevent spelling mistakes and partial matches from slowing down the search process.

Tabs

We’ve been doing a lot of thinking about how people use tabs which lead us to a tab mail implementation that should improve searching, reading, and processing; hopefully also saving that state.  Currently a search over mail will destroy the state of your message list by filtering down the messages in the exposed view.  With searches opening in new tabs your current view can remain intact while you explore your mailboxes in new tabs.   Messages can be opened with a middle click, just like in Firefox, to help you process mail quickly by queuing the messages you’d like to read later in tabs; later you can close your opened tabs as you read each message.

Account Auto Configuration

When trying to setup Thunderbird the details of your email accounts host, port, and security settings are so 2008, lets evolve.  Long in the works has been a better, easier way to setup an email account.  Our design goal was to get an email account setup with absolute the minimal number of questions.

  • Name
  • Email Address
  • Password

With those 3 items Thunderbird can infer all other details automatically, with exception cases handled gracefully.  It has been difficult work to make this happen, but we are well on our way and we know that when we finish it will have been worth it.

Message Archive

Thanks to the recent improvements to enabling cross-folder search we are able to implement an archive system for IMAP and  POP clients.  With a single button Thunderbird users can automatically file messages from their Inbox and other folders into the archive folder system.  We’ve pushed the Archives folder into the list of special folders such that it will sort with your Inbox, Sent Mail, and Drafts.  If you’re interested, take a look at the archive bug for more of the technical details, otherwise just take a deep breath… its coming.

Activity Manager

Notifications and download progress concerning your mail accounts are important events, however they aren’t events that require your full attention.  Earlier last year we looked at how we could reduce the amount of dialog noise Thunderbird generates in order to handle your account details in a more civilized manner.  We took a good look at the Firefox Download Manager and created, what we called, an Activity Manager.   Recent activity on the activity manager has lead to new patches in the review cycle headed toward a coming release.

Theme Improvements

With recent steps forward Thunderbird has finally made room for the Linux Desktop theme space.  I don’t even need to say much else about this change, this list says it all.

And of course lots more

There are many more changes, from the auto-sync offline work to preference cleanups that have happened and/or are still in the works; this list is just a grouping of major areas.  We’ve come a long way, but have an even longer road ahead.

Syndicated 2009-01-20 04:25:16 from Bryan Clark

Is George W Bush the worst president?

I’m eagerly downloading the latest Intelligence Squared debate, Bush 43 is the worst president of the last 50 years.  What makes this especially interesting to me is the fact that Karl Rove is participating in the debate the panel, arguing against the motion.

Syndicated 2009-01-12 18:02:51 from Bryan Clark

Activity Manager… Activity!

It’s been a while since my first post on the Activity Manager for Thunderbird.  There was a lot of positive feedback from an Activity Manager talk we gave in Barcelona for the EU Mozcamp.  And since that time there has been quite a bit of progress on the Activity Manager code.

Emre recently landed a new “work in progress” patch ( check out the patch in bug 257942 ).  Also there has been a lot of work put into documenting the Activity Manger Interfaces to help other developers properly hook into it and use it.  Please take a look over the interface docs and if you’re so inclined you could grab the patch and apply to a current release, beta or later, to see the current activity manager in action.

Beta 1 Released

David Ascher has a great post about our recent Thunderbird 3 Beta 1 release with info on where you can get it and what it involves.

Syndicated 2008-12-12 19:47:30 from Bryan Clark

This bird can dance!

Thunderbird can finally do the Tango

For a long time Thunderbird has been using the same theme for Linux and Windows, resulting in an ugly and out of place Linux theme.  However now Magnus has a patch is up to create a gnomestripe theme space.  Magnus already moved Thunderbird menus over to using the gtk stock icons.

Here’s a screenshot (courtesy of Michael Monreal) of Thunderbird using the desktop icon spec.

Now we can start the move over to using the Tango icon set!

Syndicated 2008-12-04 16:48:19 from Bryan Clark

182 older entries...

New Advogato Features

New HTML Parser: The long-awaited libxml2 based HTML parser code is live. It needs further work but already handles most markup better than the original parser.

Keep up with the latest Advogato features by reading the Advogato status blog.

If you're a C programmer with some spare time, take a look at the mod_virgule project page and help us with one of the tasks on the ToDo list!