Cannot drag emails between Thunderbird windows[regression]

Bug #873167 reported by Mark Shuttleworth on 2011-10-13
This bug affects 35 people
Affects Status Importance Assigned to Milestone
unity (Ubuntu)

Bug Description

When I drag an email from the inbox in Thunderbird to the Unity launcher, it no longer highlights Thunderbird. I used to be able to drag an email from the inbox to a composition window, to attach that email to the message being composed.

Changed in unity (Ubuntu):
importance: Undecided → High
Paul Sladen (sladen) on 2011-10-13
summary: - Cannot drag emails between Thunderbird windows
+ Cannot drag emails between Thunderbird windows [regression]
Omer Akram (om26er) on 2011-10-24
Changed in unity:
importance: Undecided → High
Changed in unity (Ubuntu):
status: New → Confirmed
Changed in unity:
status: New → Confirmed

Any idea when this will be fixed? This would be a top usability improvement.

dimovnike (dimovnike) wrote :

Yes this is really annoying and as far as I remember this worked in 11.04. And it seems to be not only the thunderbird affected. It also affects nautilus, i.e. it doesn't raise all nautilus windows so I can choose where to drop the file but instead, when i release the mouse button it opens a new nautilus window but doesn't drop the file there.

Jan Krčál (jan-krcal-gmail) wrote :

In fact, it affects all applications where the functionality depends on _where_ you drop the content. E.g.
  - attaching files in gmail,
  - setting downloaded images as cover photos in banshee,
  - dragging files to "Open File" dialogs.

With two maximized apps, when dragging content from one to another, there is no way to raise the other app.
Instead, I have to first resize both apps so that they fit side be side on the screen. Then I can drag&drop.

To me, this is the most annoying "feature" of unity.

it's already set to "High" which seems a reasonable status, it's rather "let's find somebody in dx to take on this one" ;-)

Sebastien Bacher (seb128) wrote :

Ok, andyrock says that's basically bug #607796, the feature was turned off because buggy, it's part of the ux backlog bugs than dx will work on fixing this cycle

Andrea Azzarone (azzar1) wrote :

This bug can be divided into:

[*] Thunderbird launcher icon doesn't highlights during email dnd
[*] Bug #607796

Sebastien Bacher (seb128) wrote :

thanks Andrea, do you know what is needed to fix the first issue? is that a tb bug?

Andrea Azzarone (azzar1) wrote :

@Seb, I can investigate...

Changed in unity:
assignee: nobody → Andrea Azzarone (andyrock)
Changed in unity (Ubuntu):
assignee: nobody → Andrea Azzarone (andyrock)
Andrea Azzarone (azzar1) wrote :

Well, as imagined Thunderbird doesn't use text/uri-list to share dnd data. I get this data:

 - text/x-moz-message
   * i
 - text/x-moz-url
   * i
    * imap://azzaronea%40gmail%<email address hidden>:993/fetch%3EUID%3E/%5BGmail%5D/Importanti%3E31794
 - application/x-moz-file-promise-url
    * i
 - application/x-moz-file-promise
    * i

The only useful data is _NETSCAPE_URL. Because we cannot get the mimetype of imap://... we can add an hack in the unity drag and drop system to highlights thuderbird icon if we have an imap://... in _NETSCAPE_URL

P.S. This only solve the first part of the problem.

@thumper: mentioned in the description, it is not specific to Thunderbird. which means that a test could be automated with something simpler than Thunderbird if needed.

@andyrock: please note that this is a /regression/ so I think you should look into the history of the code that handles dnd to see what went wrong. Or easier: ask Jason who wrote it.

Andrea Azzarone (azzar1) wrote :

@dbarth: I think that the fist part of this bug "Thunderbird launcher icon doesn't highlights during email dnd" is not a regression.

[*] In Oneiric the drag and drop data is detected as soon as the drag and drop starts and not when the mouse enters the launcher input window.
[*] We can only handle text/uri-list atm.
[*] In Oneiric if we're dragging something that doesn't use text/uri-list to share dnd data, we don't show the launcher.
[*] We have bug #607796 too.
[*] In Natty, it was possible to start the dnd spread process with all icons.

Teo (teo1978) wrote :

Indeed when dragging something into the icon of an application which is open, it should ALWAYS bring up the window, no matter what you are dragging and no matter whether the app is supposed to be able to handle it or not.

I don't think it's a regression; though I only used 11.04 for a very short while I'm almost certain this worked the same. It is the way unity is designed (which is fundamentally wrong):

- when you drag something into launcher, ALL icons of applications that are open should highlight, without trying to discern whether they can handle that kind of object you're dragging. I know this is intended to be a feature, but unless it can be 100% realiable (which will never be) it is only an annoyance. You can't accept that there is even the most remote possibility that an app that could handle the object doesn't get highlighted, while the opposite is perfectly acceptable (the object will simply be discarded when dropped, as it was in gnome).

- when you finally drag the object into the icon of the application (one which is open) it should ALWAYS bring up the windows and let you drag on top of a particular window (if there is more than one) and finally bring completely up the window you choose so that you can drop the object on a particular place.

This indeed comes down to a more fundamental design flaw, which is the very fact of treating icons of existing open windows the same as icons of applications to be launched. I know this is the same as MacOS, but Apple can afford to do things plainly wrong and have its user not only accept them but even love them just because they are the Apple way. A minimized window and an application to be lanched are two completely different things. Having them mixed and, worse, being treated in a similar way, is a major mistake.

"high" importance is not enough. It's either this gets fixed quick or Unity should be discarded alltogether.

Since Unity, actions that you would accomplish in a fraction of a second have become a pain in the ass. Give me ONE example of the opposite.
I find myself carefully arranging window side by side on the screen and I feel like I have gone back to the 1990s. This is ridiculous.

By the way I think the title of the report should be changed to something more general.

Teo (teo1978) wrote :

Another example of why confusing icons of applications to be launched with icons of existing windows is wrong:

you should be able to do these as two different actions, both useful in different situations:

A. drag an object over the icon of an open window, so the window is brought to front, and then you can drag the object into a particular point of the window to handle it

B. drag an object over the icon of the same application, in order to open a new instance of that application to handle that object, as you would do if there was no existing open instance of that app.

In other words, the icon of the app as a launchable app should be separated from the icon of an existing open window of that app. As it had always been in gnome.

poikiloid (efelthauser) wrote :

I completely agree with matteo.

This is really terrible design (this new mime-type restriction of unity launchers).

It may seem "cool" for about 2 seconds, until you realize what a huge hindrance it actually is.

I like to drag files to the terminal window so that the path to a file (or directory) gets written to the command line. I like to drag files to thunderbird to add as attachments. And there are many more examples. Now, I cannot do these things anymore. Anyone know a way to turn this off? Very, very, very unhelpful behavior for me. I am not stupid: I know what programs can handle what file type....Jeez. This makes me really want to stop using Unity. A really garbage idea. I will be moving to gnome shell if this is not changed in 12.04.

It should not be a restriction - it should be guidance to make it easier
to spot the likely targets, but it should not preclude you dragging
anything to anything else.

Tim, can we have an update on the importance / situation of this?


@Mark, right now we show the launcher as soon as a dnd start and we have the text/uri-list info. Should we remove second (text/uri-list) constraint?

I just realize there are actually two problems:

1. The launcher does not even show when trying to drag a mail from thunderbird
2. The launcher shows when trying to drag a file, however then thunderbird icon is disabled then

Andrea, we should allow you to drag to ANY window of ANY running app via
the launcher. Using the mime types as a way to guide the user to
*likely* apps is fine, but don't stop me from hovering over another app
and opening that apps windows so I can JFDI.


Mark, we can easily do but we have another problem (bug #607796).

By the way we need a list of bugs that should be fixed to enable again the "spread on dragging and holding."

Andrea Azzarone (azzar1) wrote :

*we can easily do it

Robert Hrovat (robi-hipnos) wrote :

Whoa, I have just realized this bug is a showstopper for my company. We have a QT news writing app which relies heavily on drag and drop (photos, audio clips...) to news items. So with Unity, it is impossible to do that :-(

David Barth (dbarth) on 2012-03-21
tags: added: hitlist
madurax86 (madura-x86) wrote :

the disabling of the unity launcher when it "detects" an unsupported data type is just not usable in practise, theoretically it may be useful but bossing users around is not what a good interface should actually do! In my usecase, "drag and drop a selecteed text content to another program" fails so badly because none of the launchers light up or actually bring out the windows, i used meta+tab to select apps from the launcher but thats just useless when you have more windows per application(how am I really going to raise the window that I want to use up?), this would be so much easier if you didn't have this disabling effect on the unity launcher any way and displayed a window list on hovering(i know this can't be done in a tab and that unity is targeted for tabs, but we are not using Ubuntu on tablets! they are normal computers with mice/touchpads!) Let hovering be optional and make a default settings pacakge for tablets and desktops, back to kubuntu for me I guess hmm

Mossroy (mossroy) wrote :

Will the 12.04 LTS really lack this basic Drag and drop feature?
See also some related issues : (can not move firefox tabs betwwen firefox windows) (window applications do not spread when dragging a selection on it).

I second the point of view of many that mime-type should be a guidance.
It is a good idea to highlight the applications that recognize the mime-type of what you're dragging, but it should not block you from dropping it on any application that did no declare this mime-type.

The "dnd to the launcher" situation seems a bit confusing, I'm updating the title of this bug, Andrea let me know if that's correct:

- this bug is about having the ability to drop on a launcher icon which is not detected as supporting the mimetype being dnd-ed, which should be a safe fix (not like the spread which can lead to wm locking issue)?

- bug #607796 is about having dnd to launcher doing a spread effect, which is blocked on fixing the previously mentioned lock issues?

Is there any other dimension to the bug? Do you know if the "blockers" for bug #607796 are listed somewhere ? Do you think we can fix the "let drop on a non suggested targeted icon" in a SRU?

summary: - Cannot drag emails between Thunderbird windows [regression]
+ Cannot drag emails between Thunderbird windows (should allow to drop on
+ non "recommended" targets) [regression]
Changed in unity (Ubuntu Precise):
status: Confirmed → Triaged
Sebastien Bacher (seb128) wrote :

Ok, I discussed with Andrea on IRC, the thunderbird issue is different since they don't use "text/uri-list", fixing the "should be able to drop on any icon" is not enough for that one, I undupped bug #880798 and I'm using this one for the "should allow to drop on any launcher icon"

summary: - Cannot drag emails between Thunderbird windows (should allow to drop on
- non "recommended" targets) [regression]
+ Cannot drag emails between Thunderbird windows[regression]
jeroenl (jeroenl) wrote :

There is a simple workaround.

- Copy /usr/share/applications/thunderbird.desktop to ~/.local/share/applications
- Edit thunderbird.desktop
- Change the MimeType option to: "MimeType=text/*;application/*;image/*;audio/*;video/*;x-scheme-handler/mailto;" (without quotes)

This will make Thunderbird accept every dragged and dropped file, but unfortunaly only one file at once.

Joël Schaerer (joel-schaerer) wrote :

Do we know *why* Thunderbird is doing things differently from other applications? Is it a bug in Thunderbird? Has anyone tried talking to the Thunderbird devs?

Omer Akram (om26er) on 2012-08-14
Changed in unity:
status: Confirmed → Triaged
tags: added: precise regression
Mathew Hodson (mhodson) on 2014-10-29
tags: added: regression-release
removed: regression
Andrea Azzarone (azzar1) wrote :

Ubuntu 17.10 will ship with Gnome Shell by default. Given this, we do not plan to work on this bug anymore. Closing.

Changed in unity (Ubuntu Precise):
assignee: Andrea Azzarone (azzar1) → nobody
Changed in unity (Ubuntu):
status: Triaged → Won't Fix
no longer affects: unity
Changed in unity (Ubuntu):
assignee: Andrea Azzarone (azzar1) → nobody
To post a comment you must log in.
This report contains Public information  Edit
Everyone can see this information.

Other bug subscribers