Thunderbird's messaging menu highlight helps some people but not many

Reported by nick rundy on 2012-03-17
134
This bug affects 25 people
Affects Status Importance Assigned to Milestone
Ayatana Design
Undecided
Matthew Paul Thomas
Messaging Menu
Low
Unassigned
indicator-messages (Ubuntu)
Low
Unassigned
thunderbird (Ubuntu)
Low
Chris Coulson

Bug Description

By default, when new emails arrive in Thunderbird, they *sometimes* highlight the messaging menu. As described by Chris Coulson, a message highlights the menu if:
"- The message is sent with high-priority OR
- The message is flagged (by a filter) OR
- The message is addressed directly to the recipient (eg, not CC) AND the message is not low prioirty AND the message wasn't automated AND the message is not from a mailing list."

This is good behavior for some people, but not for others, e.g. ViViD: "In my personal case, no message received through Thunderbird lacks importance. Since I hide the launcher by default, many mails go unnoticed for a time and I find myself randomly mousing over the launcher to check mails."

To suit more people, Thunderbird should contain a setting for which messages highlight the messaging menu. One option should be to highlight messages if they are from one of your contacts.

This setting needs design, and then proposing (and maybe implementing) upstream.

Charles Kerr (charlesk) on 2012-03-17
Changed in indicator-messages:
importance: Undecided → Wishlist
Bilal Akhtar (bilalakhtar) wrote :

Slightly escalating importance since this is something which Mark has already (partially) approved.

MPT, can you get the design spec updated on this so that we can proceed?

Changed in indicator-messages:
importance: Wishlist → Low
Changed in indicator-messages (Ubuntu):
importance: Undecided → Low
status: New → Incomplete
Changed in indicator-messages:
status: New → Incomplete
tags: added: needs-design
Chris Coulson (chrisccoulson) wrote :

Thunderbird actually does turn the icon blue already, but not for all messages. The reason for this is people complained to me in Oneiric that the icon was being turned blue far too much. In fact, for some people (including me), the icon was blue pretty much permanently as long as Thunderbird was open, and this reduces the usefulness of the messaging indicator for notification of real-time messages to pretty much zero. In fact, people just got so fed up of it that they were asking me how to disable this feature in Thunderbird entirely.

I did consider making Thunderbird never turn the icon blue, but made a compromise which turns the icon blue in the following circumstances:

- The message is sent with high-priority OR
- The message is flagged (by a filter) OR
- The message is addressed directly to the recipient (eg, not CC) AND the message is not low prioirty AND the message wasn't automated AND the message is not from a mailing list

Some real life examples of how this works:
- If your boss sends you a message, it will turn blue
- It will not turn blue for normal mailing list traffic
- If someone replies to a message you sent to a mailing list, it will turn blue
- If Amazon sends you a marketing message which isn't marked as spam, it will not turn blue
- It will not turn blue for bug mail traffic (unless you have set up filters to flag messages you are particularly interested in, eg, bugs with high importance or bugs you are assigned to)
- If Facebook emails you with a friend request, it will not turn blue.

It has been like this for pretty much the whole 12.04 cycle, and so far people have been much quieter about it (ok, it could be that they got so sick of the icon turning blue in Oneiric that they just disabled the feature entirely and are no longer using it). I think the current implementation works quite well though, and I'd prefer suggestions to improve it rather than just turning the icon blue for all messages.

Remember, we also show a count on the launcher, which is displayed all the time by default in Precise.

And, if you want the icon to turn blue for all messages, we have an about:config pref for that. But you'll soon realise how annoying that is if you get more than a dozen or so mails per hour.

The current implementation is more like Gwibber, which keeps counts of messages in the messaging menu without turning it blue. IMO we should only really turn the icon blue if we think that the message is important enough to interrupt your current workflow. Most e-mail does not fall in to this category.

Chris, good move to apply a natural "to me" filter. In addition,
however, I think we need a toggle which lets me flag the people who I
consider "important", and have emails from those people ONLY turn the
message icon blue.

Ideally, there would be a central addressbook, and I could favourite
specific contacts, and those contacts only would turn the message icon
blue. In T-Bird, perhaps this could be done with an option to activate
the message icon only for messages tagged [Important, ] where the user
could edit those tags?

Later on, I assume we'll have a central addressbook, and can do it more
elegantly.

But for now, the blue hint is not useful for anyone who receives a lot
of mail they don't expect to read.

Mark

Mark, isn't what you describe the responsibility of the user? If person is receiving lots of mail they don't expect to read he/she should configure the mail client to filter these mails as Mark As Read when they arrive. This way no Blue Hint occurs because the message is not New/Unread.

I have lots of situations like this. I have my mail client configured so that only mail I want to know about (if it arrives) is marked as Unread when it arrives. The other stuff I can read or not read at my leisure but it always lands as Read due to my config.

Seems like having to do a "'"to me' filter" etc is making the Blue Hint unnecessarily complicated.

phillamg (me-phillg) wrote :

@Chris: "And, if you want the icon to turn blue for all messages, we have an about:config pref for that. "

My email (work) has multiple aliases so I very rarely get emails directly to my login address. Maybe including the send-aliases too as "directly sent" messages would help...

Anyway I've searched around for the about:config pref you mentioned (to set the icon to blue for all messages) but I can't find it / work out what it is. Could you please tell me what it's called?

John Lea (johnlea) wrote :

Hi MPT, could you add a link to the relevant section of the spec here, and when that is done set the ayatana-design status to triaged. Thanks!

Changed in ayatana-design:
assignee: nobody → Matthew Paul Thomas (mpt)
Tom Jaeger (thjaeger) wrote :

Chris,

"The message is addressed directly to the recipient (eg, not CC) AND the message is not low prioirty AND the message wasn't automated AND the message is not from a mailing list"

It appears that this check is case-sensitive, so the envelope won't turn blue if the email address (as entered by the user) contains upper case letters.

I agree with the sentiment that there should be an option to have the envelope turn blue for any email in the inbox folder.

eros2 (eros2) wrote :

I wish message indicator turn blue for ALL new emails, how can I switch this on?

eros2 (eros2) wrote :

"Thunderbird actually does turn the icon blue already, but not for all messages."

I kill many hours in investigation to determine why indicator turn blue just randomly. I sent tons of messages to myself, and indicator not lights up, why, why, WHY, I was nearly crazy about buggy thunderbird or indicator. :(((
I very disappointed. :(((

Jan Rathmann (kaiserclaudius) wrote :

For me it was also confusing to me that the Indicator-messages-icon doesn't turn blue anymore in Precise when I receive new mails.
If there is any way to turn the blue icon on for all new mails (e.g. the mentioned about:config setting, couldn't find it by myself so far), I would be very grateful to know.

Kind regards,
Jan

ViViD (vivnet) wrote :

This seems like an anti-feature.

In my personal case, no message received through Thunderbird lacks importance. Since I hide the launcher by default, many mails go unnoticed for a time and I find myself randomly mousing over the launcher to check mails.

If anyone would be so kind as to _hint_ at the location of this feature in the source code, I would like to return its proper functionality and make it available to my machines via PPA.

Thanks in advance.

Kannan Sasi (kannan-sasi) wrote :

> if you want the icon to turn blue for all messages, we have an about:config pref for that.

Chris, could you please post the name of the config option that you refer to?

I tried the following ones and none helped:

mail.biff.animate_dock_icon; true
mail.imap.use_status_for_biff;false

Thanks
--kannan

Kannan Sasi (kannan-sasi) wrote :

A previous bug on the same topic has instructions for the work around.

From Bug 841116 comment 7:

echo 'user_pref("extensions.messagingmenu.attentionForAll", true);' >> ~/.thunderbird/*default*/prefs.js

You could also create a new boolean entry in about:config (Preferences->Advanced->General->ConfigEditor)

description: updated
summary: - Indicator-Messages should turn blue when new emails land in Thunderbird
+ Thunderbird's messaging menu highlight helps some people but not many
Changed in ayatana-design:
status: New → In Progress
Matthew Paul Thomas (mpt) wrote :

The more complex the settings, the more people they'll be ideal for, but the fewer people will understand them to use them in the first place. I think we should aim for no more than about three or four possibilities.

Here's a first draft:

[/] Show in the messaging menu:

    (*) Any message

    ( ) Any personal message
        (Messages not marked as automated, where I’m in the To: field)

    ( ) Any personal message from someone in my Address Book

    Messages flagged by a filter will always be shown.

Probably we should default to the first setting -- not because it will be appropriate for most people, necessarily, but because the sort of people for whom every message is exciting are likely to be the same people who never find their way into the Preferences.

The second option would differ from the current default in that it doesn't pay attention to Priority, and it would include messages that were CCed to a mailing list but To: you.

Any alternative suggestions?

Please provide some more flexibility. The people who find their way into the preferences are likely to want more freedom in the way their messages are filtered.

For instance, an extra Priority-based criterion (e.g. "Do not show low priority messages" as an additional entry) could be a simple way to allow further customization without adding too much clutter. In fact I can define a filter in Thunderbird that lowers the priority of messages I consider unimportant, so they don't activate the messaging icon. This already works fine for me with the current default.

P G Lagasse (pglagasse) wrote :

I have a global inbox, three email addresses, and some 30 filters that sort my email into some 20 folders under my inbox. In Oneiric, the messaging messaging shows all new mail in the inbox and its subfolders, and reports which subfolder the messages are in. That's extremely handy for me.

By comparison, in Precise, the messaging menu is not helpful. I have made the recommended fix (extensions.messagingmenu.attentionForAll, true) but even with that, the messaging menu is only reporting only those messages that end up in the Inbox; messages that get sorted into the Indox's subfolders don't get reported in the messaging menu and don't show up in the count on the launcher.

Personally, it'd be very helpful to me if the messaging menu would report emails the way it did/does in Oneiric.

Tom Jaeger (thjaeger) wrote :

@mpt: Please at least fix the bug mentioned in comment #7. (Trivial) patch is attached.

The attachment "messaging-menu-case.debdiff" of this bug report has been identified as being a patch in the form of a debdiff. The ubuntu-sponsors team has been subscribed to the bug report so that they can review and hopefully sponsor the debdiff. In the event that this is in fact not a patch you can resolve this situation by removing the tag 'patch' from the bug report and editing the attachment so that it is not flagged as a patch. Additionally, if you are member of the ubuntu-sponsors team please also unsubscribe the team from this bug report.

[This is an automated message performed by a Launchpad user owned by Brian Murray. Please contact him regarding any issues with the action taken in this bug report.]

tags: added: patch
Sebastien Bacher (seb128) wrote :

Hey Chris, what do you think about the tb patch to do case-unsensitive matching?

Changed in thunderbird (Ubuntu):
assignee: nobody → Chris Coulson (chrisccoulson)
importance: Undecided → Low
Martin Pitt (pitti) wrote :

Unsubscribing sponsors. Realistically this won't be applied by anyone else than Chris Coulson at this point.

Launchpad Janitor (janitor) wrote :

Status changed to 'Confirmed' because the bug affects multiple users.

Changed in thunderbird (Ubuntu):
status: New → Confirmed

@Tom: could you create a branch implementing your patch and propose for merging to fix bug #994491, which reports the uppercase problem?

@P G Lagasse: could you open a separate bug for the subfolder issue? I don't know if it's a regression or the intended (new) behavior, but I was puzzled by that too.

Chris Coulson (chrisccoulson) wrote :

@Tom, thanks for the patch. Note, that this addon has gone through quite a bit of refactoring over the last couple of days. Would you mind rebasing your patch on lp:messagingmenu-extension, and creating a merge proposal?

Lars Uebernickel (larsu) on 2012-09-02
Changed in indicator-messages:
status: Incomplete → Invalid
Changed in indicator-messages (Ubuntu):
status: Incomplete → Invalid
Vadim Peretokin (vperetokin) wrote :

Hm... the progress seems to have stalled. Meanwhile, the default Thunderbird 17 on Ubuntu does not light up the blue envelope for meeting invites (!) nor any kind of mail that is relevant to me and I've been CC'd on. This is using the ExQuilla addon to provide Exchange backend support.

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