Listarchive informational page

What is listarchive?

Listarchive is a (future) extension for Thunderbird. It is being developed using the current trunk versions of Thunderbird, and it may or may not be ported to Thunderbird 2 at some time in the future. So don't bother asking!

The aim of listarchive is to provide a native interface, via Thunderbird, to a mailing list archive (e.g. the W3C mailing lists). Although many mailing lists provide basic functionalities on their site, they are lacking in some features. The most notable of these features is decent threading. Yes, the "By Thread" feature may exist, but deep threads are not clearly shown in the overview page. More importantly, threads that exist in separate files (typically organized by month) are cut up. So if I there was an intense discussion I wanted to refer back to that started in late April, I would have to manually figure out which replies went to which messages for those messages sent on May 1 or potentially a bit later.

This feature is the most notable example of what I hope to achieve with listarchive. Other features would include providing basic search capabilities for those lists which do not provide such capabilities, or being able to link a message ID in the references header to an old list message (helpful for messages like those on the WHATWG mailing list).

Why should I care?

Most people probably shouldn't care one way or the other; this is mostly for those who subscribe to mailing lists that refer to old messages frequently.

That said, I plan to use this extension (and a few others I have planned) to create a documentation guide for writing Thunderbird extensions, focusing on the difficult parts of working with the account manager, including (most notably) creating new account types. So if you are such a developer, you may still be interested in my progress on this matter simply so you may have another reference to rely one.

How far are you?

I have completed the basic work on creating an account type. In addition, I have set up subscribe to work, although it works only buggily. Subscribing folders, however, merely persists, it does not actually handle folders properly. The folder pane has bugs, but can straggle through updating the folder withoug dieing, although numerous hacks are required to get the pages to download correctly. The list of headers can be generated, but nothing is added to the database yet.

I am still collecting sources for comparison to create a baseline feature set that I can rely on when writing the extension. By the end of June, I should be able to release a version with basic functionality; by the end of August, I should have version 1.0 out the door and maybe further.

Where can I get this extension?

Do you have Thunderbird 2 or earlier? If so, then nowhere. If you build trunk builds of mailnews yourself, and you have the requisite patches (currently available only by request), then you can get the extension from this link. If you use SeaMonkey, it should run, but I have not tested it.

Anything I can do to help?

Yes there is. I am presently soliciting information from the public at large for a wide variety of mailing list archives I can use for data analysis. Send email to this address ( My preference would be to have a link to a list of mailing lists, although as my list shows, I am fine with specific lists. Please, don't send me any more links to English mailman archives, five is enough. I would also extremely appreciate the receipt of some international mailing lists, so I can judge the impact that localization would have on mailing list archives.

Tentative Feature Set

The following is a list of the tentative features I plan to include, and the expected version (if available) of these features:
Archive account type0.1
Mailman list support0.1
Generic list supportpost-0.1
Threaded listspost-0.1
Message searchingpost-0.1
Authenticated list supportpost-0.1
Subscribe searchingpost-0.1
User-suggested features
Reply to List
List Subscription/unsubscription
List/archive connection

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