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mozilla mail/news introduction
  • In Netscape-branded versions of Navigator 2.x, 3.x, and Communicator 4.x, the application had built-in support for email and newsgroups. In March 1997, the browser group brought all of their code to At that time, the mail group was focused on enterprise customers and the features which shipped in Communicator 4.5.
  • In the middle of Communicator 4.5, we attempted to bring all the Messenger code into mozilla, and do 4.5 at the same time. This "Normandy" effort failed, and was abandoned.
  • After Communicator 4.5 shipped, the mozilla/5.0 effort had a major change in direction to use the Gecko layout engine and the XPFE user interface toolkit.
  • Netscape's mail/news group brought over the core parts of Messenger into the original mozilla/5.0 effort.
  • Netscape's mail/news group and many other mozilla contributors pounded away and mail/news was part of Mozilla 1.0
Where are we now?

In mozilla 1.0, mail/news had support SMTP, POP3, IMAP, NNTP, LDAP, S/MIME, the three pane UI, multiple accounts, searching and filtering, message composition, address book, preferences, etc.

What's missing?

We are hoping that future versions of the product will contain all of these features.  If you're interested in the above features, you can always get involved.

Known Problem Areas

  • performance and footprint always needs work.
  • In Communicator 4.5, we built database infrastructure to support very large address books. The reason to do this work was to support replicas of LDAP directories for offline use. Our open source in memory db, called mork, currently isn't suited for large addressbooks.  We don't meet the scalability target we had in 4.5.
  • Addressbook needs work
  • Compose window is slow to come up.  (We've done some work on this, but there's more we could do.)
What about SmartMail and Grendel?
  • Initially, mozilla mail/news capitalized on a number of the ideas shown in SmartMail. We use RDF and XPFE, although those technologies have evolved somewhat since SmartMail was shown. We didn't use much actual code from SmartMail.  To increate performance, some of the uses of RDF were removed.  But some (folder datasource, account datasource, directory datasource) are still in use.
  • Grendel is a separate effort to write a new mail/news client in Java. Netscape never shipped Grendel, but did release the code. Most Netscape people currently working on mail/news are not familiar with Grendel, but we'd like to consider any good ideas developed for Grendel. Netscape's mail/news engineers won't be enhancing Grendel.