[Maildev] Future of the Add-ons Manager Discovery Pane

Andrei Hajdukewycz sancus at thunderbird.net
Tue Aug 13 19:18:31 EDT 2019

We have some decisions to make regarding this page. In case you're not 
sure what I'm talking about, this is the page:

This is a remote page loaded from ATN. Unfortunately, it's my 
understanding that the ability to load remote content in the Add-ons 
Manager is slated for removal. Firefox has already removed it, and the 
supporting code will be removed in Bug 1337627 

It was replaced with an in-client discovery pane 
<https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1540173> that is very 
basic. You can see it in any modern version of Firefox, but it's 
essentially a somewhat random list of 7 themes or extensions. I believe 
it pulls these from the API. I think we may be able to use this code 
with minimal changes, since we have the same API, but I haven't been 
able to figure out how to test that, a couple of attempts to change 
prefs according to Geoff's instructions didn't seem to work.

However, if we do that, it significantly raises the priority of adding 
back/forward buttons for tabs 
<https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=826196>. Extension search, 
and the "Find More Add-ons" button link directly to the website, and the 
website is more important with a minimalist discovery pane. But while 
Firefox works great here since it has the regular browser UI, the 
navigation experience is poor in Thunderbird.

We also need to decide whether to use the built-in Discovery Pane, or 
somehow preserve the ability to load remote content. There are many 
factors that affect this, I think the most important are:

 1. How much work is it to use the built-in Firefox discovery pane?
 2. How much work is it to preserve remote content loading capability?
 3. Can we modify the built-in discovery pane, change text, or change
    the layout relatively easily, or is it difficult?
 4. Which provides the better experience for users?
 5. Are the security implications of loading remote content in this part
    of Thunderbird as relevant to us as they were for Firefox?

It would be better to figure out which direction we want to go earlier 
than later. It doesn't make sense to spend time designing and fully 
rewriting this page if we aren't going to use it, and similarly we need 
to make sure that we have the Thunderbird capability to load it if we 
decide to keep it remote.

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