Is there a guide for new developers?

Is there a guide somewhere that explains the basic steps needed to build a working copy from source?

Basically what I usually find in a GitHub/GitLab file.

I see the code lives in a mercurial repo,, but I don’t see any readme or install file. Well, at least in the quick couple minutes I took to scan the top directory and build directory.

What would the mercurial based equivalent be to a fork, branch, pull request workflow when submitting changes?

I’ve seen some projects on GitHub label issues as being easy for newer developers to tackle. Is there anything for that on Bugzilla for Thunderbird?

Anyway, those are just a few questions that popped into my head.

There is a guide for building Thunderbird here:

And some more documentation here:

But we have a documentation issue with it being scattered and it’s quite hard to track down where to find things (especially when you’re new to the community).

I’ve proposed moving documenation to a wiki that lives on the site - we’re just chasing through what that entails at the moment. Of course, feedback is always welcome!

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Thanks @ryanleesipes, now I can put experimenting with building Thunderbird on my todo list.

A documentation wiki on would be helpful. Would it be the same system as MDN web docs, or would you use a different piece of software?

Where is that discussion happening?

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Right now, the discussion is happening amongst some of the website developers and some council members. We’ve discussed potentially using ReadTheDocs for a wiki on the TB website.

But, this is all still up in the air at the time being. Would you prefer that?

MDN web docs looks just fine to me, from a reading standpoint. Navigation isn’t bad, once I actually found them.

ReadTheDocs isn’t bad either.

I’m mostly interested in being able to find the documentation I might need. I’m not a huge fan of how Mozilla organizes their sites. Just now I tried to find my way to documentation on how to get started building Thunderbird or Firefox by starting at I gave after a few clicks and ending up at

Googling how to develop firefox found this: Which is pretty much want I wanted to find after one or two clicks on

As for encouraging more people to contribute to the docs, um, I’m not sure what the best method would be. I’m not the best at documenting stuff…

If the people who currently keep the Thunderbird docs up to date want to move to a new system, then I’d say do it. Otherwise, just focus on making the current docs are easier to find. Creating a specific instance of whatever MDN runs on might help with that. 'Course, that’s just my opinion. :slight_smile:

So, having spent much of today poking around Bugzilla while waiting for comm-central to download, I have a couple suggestions.

Figure out how to bring “Whiteboard: good first bug” bugs to new developers attention. I was specifically looking for that kind of label, and it took me a good hour to troll through docs and issues before I found it.

Second, an up to date Thunderbird Dev VM could be very helpful. This documentation explains how to use one for Firefox. (Even if I think it’s broken. bug report )

(FYI, I built my own Ubuntu 17.10 vm, got it bootstrapped per the docs linux requirements script, downloaded comm-central, and I am now building.)

“Good first bug” is on the page that you cited a day ago so I do not understand why it would have been hard to find. But that aside, the query is huge. A decent one for Thunderbird is

Another route is which is listed on

A more interesting question, is what search words were you using in your attempt to find the information about how to contribute?

Hmmm… I was searching the quick search and advanced search for things like “newbie”. I also tried browsing random bugs under Thunderbird looking for something equivalent to GitHub’s Labels.

I suppose that was not the best direction to come from…

When looking in the docs, I’ve also been focused on Thunderbird specifically. So, anything Firefox specific, or not clearly labeled as applying to both, would get skipped over.

The Thunderbird/Contributing patches wiki page is very close to what I was looking for in the first place. It does bring the “good first bug” search to your attention right away.

Though, I thought MDN web docs was the wiki? There’s a MediaWiki instance as well?

Thinking about it all I think I’m still a bit stuck on Thunderbird NOT being part of Mozilla. When it really is still part of Mozilla’s dev infrastructure and communications.

@wsmwk Thanks for the links. They helped a lot.

@jerrac we’ve come a long way with documentation with the birth of our new documentation site for developers:

Looking to put an up-to-date README in the comm (Thunderbird) repo as well in the near future.

Thanks for the update, @ryanleesipes. Hmm… I wonder if my javascript skills are up to building something interesting… The hello world demo is simple enough, but I haven’t been able to practice my javascript in a while.

I do have to say that looks very good. A nice clean design that makes it easy to find things. :slight_smile: