Ok so now everyone's probably settled in with Firefox 1.5 it's probably time to start looking forward to the 1.5 release of Thunderbird. Now I really like Thunderbird; I use it as my main email client on Windows, Linux and Mac OSX. It's great to have applications that are 99.99% identical across all platforms.
Thunderbird does email very well, which is not that surprising given that email is Thunderbird's core feature. The RSS support is what I find the most frustrating. I currently use Thunderbird's RSS reader as my feed aggregator of choice on Windows. I like the fact it's integrated within the mail application, which makes a lot of sense but it's not without it's shortcomings.
With the release of Thunderbird 1.5RC1 came OPML support and I expected this to allow you to export the OPML feed on one machine and import it on another machine so you would end up with an identical set of feeds. Wrong! All you end up with is a linear list of feeds that needs to be re-organised back into it's previous hierarchical structure (assuming if like me you had one).
For example I have a blogs 'folder', within that I have 3 subfolders splitting the various blogs I am subscribed to into 'British blogs', 'American/Canadian blogs' and 'European blogs'. Now when you export as OPML file Thunderbird doesn't recreate this structure when you import back in.
The next issue I have with 'folders' (used to group feeds together) is that I can't see the feeds grouped under the folder I am focused on. On the Mac I use NetNewsWire, why because it just does everything an RSS reader should do. If I hover on the folder that groups together a whole bunch of feeds I will see the list on the right displays all of these feeds available for me to look at.
Mark as read recursively
Thunderbird doesn't allow you to recursively mark feeds as read. You can only mark feeds read one feed at a time which makes Thunderbird very time consuming to use. NetNewsWire(only on the Mac) allows you to do this without any hassles whatsoever.
Firefox integration with Thunderbird
Another surprising omission is that it isn't currently possible to get Firefox to send feed urls to Thunderbird. Feed Your Reader is an extension that allows you to send feed urls from Firefox to NetNewsWire and many other News aggregators but unfortunately Thunderbird isn't one of them.
The Lightning reaction
Mozilla Thunderbird has for a long time been criticised for the lack of an tightly integrated Calendar. However the Lightning project is due out this month and is set to give Thunderbird the calendar it's been lacking for so long. I for one can't wait to see this release.
To sum up, We're all going to have be patient, but I don't really expect much to change in Thunderbird's upcoming 1.5 release. Still if in the future the RSS issues can be addressed and if a calendar gets implemented well, Thunderbird will undoubtedly become the firm favorite for email, news aggregation and calendaring.