November 19, 2006

Thunderbird QA Not Slipping!

Well, for my sins I have become a Thunderbird 3.0a1 user, and I can't say I'm happy. Several times the program has threatened to update itself, and eventually the promised (threatened?) upgrade arrived. [NOTE: apparently the 3-series builds are intended only for developers].

The error that originally caused me to update to the latest version is even worse in 3.0a1. Message contents are now being mangled on a regular basis. I have no idea whether they can be recovered correctly or not, and I am beginniing to lose confidence in what has until now been a reasonably reliable piece of software. It's ironic that I am suffering this problem even worse than I was because I wanted to help the project by making an accurate bug report.

If many other users are suffering the same problems I am then this issue needs to be addressed before it starts to give open source a bad name.

8 comments:

jgraham said...

You updated to the not-even-alpha-yet-really 3.0 branch rather then the soon-to-be-released-as-thunderbird-2 2.0 branch? Or were you using that before? Using 3.0 builds as your main mail reader suggests you either have immense (misplaced) faith that there will be no major breakages over the next 2 years or that you have a real desire to help with the QA (and a decent backup plan).

Is your problem reported in bugzilla? If it's a dataloss bug it may be fixed for a 1.5.0.x release and should be fixed for 2.0 - but only if it's known about, obviously. (as a side note, when the QA guidelines say "check with the latest nightly", that doesn't necessarily mean the latest 3.0a nightly - at this juncture checking with the 2.0 nightly is substantially more useful and, in the case of dataloss, even checking with the latest 1.5 nightly may be enough).

Having said all of that, what exactly, is happening? It's not just a character encoding issue, I assume?

Steve said...

It appears that I was indeed fooled by the request to "check with the latest nightly" into installing the "not-even-alpha-yet-really" 3.0a1. This does indeed represent a real desire to help with the QA, and backup is available in the event of (further) data loss. Yes, the bug I was trying to overcome is reported again the 1.5 series.

3.0a1 is a little too near the bleeding edge for me, so I've fallen back to 2 alpha 1. Thanks for the pointer. I'm still not sure how come I didn't see large warnings that 3.0a1 wasn't intended for real use.

As a side note, even finding the 2 Thunderbird 2 alpha download wasn't as straightforward as it might have been.

Anonymous said...

It is not supposed to be straight forward. Using alpha quality builds are very likely to cause you trouble, and as such, the builds are "hidden" from casual users.

It is mainly to avoid rants like the one you posted. It gives Thunderbird a bad rep when people post stuff like "Thunderbird QA slipping?", because many people just read the headlines, and reading such a headline about the mail software you are using makes you feel a wee bit uneasy.

Thankfully, the official releases are rock solid. Yeah, it's nice with the new features, but I will not risk my emails on alpha quality software. Neither should you. If you want to test, fine. But don't complain if you get burned.

Mikkel H√łgh said...

It is not supposed to be straight forward. Using alpha quality builds are very likely to cause you trouble, and as such, the builds are "hidden" from casual users.

It is mainly to avoid rants like the one you posted. It gives Thunderbird a bad rep when people post stuff like "Thunderbird QA slipping?", because many people just read the headlines, and reading such a headline about the mail software you are using makes you feel a wee bit uneasy.

Thankfully, the official releases are rock solid. Yeah, it's nice with the new features, but I will not risk my emails on alpha quality software. Neither should you. If you want to test, fine. But don't complain if you get burned.

Steve said...

In retrospect the only issue here is how disturbingly easy it was to arrive at a situation where 3.0a1 was installed. To ensure that this isn't seen as an anti-Thunderbird rant I have retitled the post and added a note so readers understand the 3-series builds aren't for public consumption.

Anonymous said...

The latest trunk builds (of what will some day become TB 3.0) are generally pre-alpha quality, as others have pointed out.

For now I would stay with TB 1.5, and in a few weeks TB 2.0 beta should be out, which I hope will be stable enough to use it (but also on my own risk :) ).

If indeed you didn't know the risk of the 3.0 builds, maybe the TB guys should put a bigger warning sign... The average user should only see the stable builds from the front page, though.

Paul Boddie said...

At work I'm using Thunderbird 1.5.0.8 (20061105) apparently, but it still manages to do some crazy things (at least in its earlier incarnations, as it has obviously upgraded itself a few times): sometimes all the menu items disappear (and it won't quit), it won't launch a browser any more (or sensibly use the desktop's default browser), it loads inline images in e-mails (great for spammers and scammers but not the user, although I'm sure some usability "experts" approved this wholeheartedly), it has the stupid Netscape-era attitude of mixing together HTML e-mails with normal ones without being too clear on what you're reading or editing.

Apparently, KMail is undergoing glacial maintenance yet remains way better than Thunderbird in almost every respect. But then KMail doesn't yet run on Windows (although I imagine this won't always be the case) and doesn't have a hype industry around it, so I suppose the "what's KDE?" crowd won't touch it. Anyway, I hope you get a reliable mail reading solution in place, Steve - don't forget to backup those mailboxes regularly!

Steve said...

I must be too good at well-known-search-engine-ing