Evolution or Thunderbird? | Who do you vote for?

Posted in:Rationale

As expected, this time too, we saw a heated exchange over the default apps in Ubuntu during the Ubuntu developer summit in Budapest. Sometimes I feel that there should not be any default apps, users should be just allowed to use one as per his convenience. Most of the time the debate ends in a stalemate; then why do we need to point to any one application as the default? This time the victims were the two popular clients email clients - Thunderbird and Evolution to be included in the next release of Ubuntu.

thunderbird.jpg

Like many GNOME developers and users, I too feel that Thunderbird is a simpler and cleaner application if you are expecting only an email desktop client. However Evolution has its own strengths if we view it as an office tool.

Now, jf you are a business pro you may find that Evolution has all the necessary features to manage your contacts, calendars and email communication in one package.

But functionality plus richness makes it a heavy app, putting off a lot many normal users. It gets too slow and that is quite irritating especially when you are doing email communication.

Evolution is well integrated to Gnome as well as Google. However it is targeted more towards business users. Thunderbird is much quicker and its connectivity time to the the exchange server is almost real-time.

Each one has tried to overcome some of their short comings. Evolution has tried to make its user interface look simpler. But still what is under the hood is basically the same.

Also you can’t pick and choose applications like calendar to work standalone. You have to install an email client too for it to work. I wonder whether Evolution devs could think about some kind of SOA model, letting users pick any application and install it rather than using it as a bulky tool.

On the other side Thunderbird is much more suited to common email users. It has provided a simple notification extension and also has calendar integration. Similarly Thunderbird recently announced their Unity interface extension for Ubuntu 11.04.

My take is for Thunderbird as a default for common users who don’t want too much features beyond simple email communication. I welcome this move from Ubuntu as we are talking about millions of common users here.

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