As some of you know, I spend a good deal of my day reading bug comments , replying to some, trying to understand why the user is seeing a bug and I’m not.
Since the release of Thunderbird 3.0 (actually since one of the betas), Thunderbird has the ability to easily setup an email account. Users just enter their email address and their password and we’ll figure out the proper parameters. This work as been picked up by other email clients : evolution , kmail and Android’s k9 (it’s a gsoc project this year). The documentation on how it works is available at the following url : https://developer.mozilla.org/en/Thunderbird/Autoconfiguration. To make version 3.0 usable we populated the database and then we added the hosted mechanism.
Now and then we see some ISPs, coming to us and asking us to be integrated in the Database, to which most of the time we answer to implement the hosted mechanism. And here’s why we tell them to host the file :
- The ISP is in control – so when something needs to be changed it can do it immediately without having to go through our process (which is slow).
- We can’t verify all the isp’s config over time – so if something breaks because the ISP implements a news feature (SSL, Imap) etc. It will take some for us to figure it out (if we do) and make the change.
- Having a hosted file doesn’t change the way we treat the ISP. It only changes the speed at which the user gets her account configured; it’s faster since we try the hosted file before our database.
Conclusion is fairly easy, if you’re an ISP and want to implement our Autoconfiguration mechanism in a timely and controlled manner – just host the xml file.