One of the big challenges ISPs face in deploying e-mail software to their customers involves creating mail accounts for users. ISPs have to document and spend a lot of time helping users with ISP specific information such as the mail server name, authentication options, SSL, SMTP server name, etc.
Thunderbird has hooks which makes account creation easy for ISP customers. In most instances, a new user only needs to know the username associated with the ISP account, Thunderbird can automatically fill in the rest of the account details.
How does it work
The idea is fairly straightforward. An ISP can list all of its account setting information in a .rdf or .xml file. This file can be distributed with Thunderbird or it can be installed as an extension by the user. Thunderbird looks for these ISP files at start up, adding a new account type for each one in the New Account Wizard Dialog.
Building the ISP File
The files are simple text files, in utf-8 encoding, so use your favorite modern text editor. A working install of thunderbird is also handy for testing.
There are several example ISP data files you can use as a template:
A mail account has several objects associated with it:
- The mail server (imap, pop, news, etc) settings: nsIMsgIncomingServer
- The SMTP Server: nsISMTPServer
- Identity Information (user name, settings like html compose, etc): nsIMsgIdentity