Customized Thunderbird new account wizard – overview

This began, perhaps, as a solution chasing a problem.
How can we (the royal we) have users sit down at a lab/classroom computer or their new staff computer and with a minimum of hassle connect to the UNI mail system using IMAP, while maintaining full Thunderbird “fat client” features such as LDAP lookups, personal address book, and local storage of messages.
Thunderbird, and before it Netscape Communicator – has hooks inside the application to look for XML-formatted files (.XML or .RDF are valid extensions that the application looks for) in the ISP directory, which form the basis for the customized create account wizard. There are many that have documented doing this, but their examples are not directly comparable to UNI since we use e-mail alias for faculty staff of firstname.lastname@uni.edu, and a login/user account name of eight characters or less.
Creating this XML file allows the user to not fill in information such as inbound mail server type (POP or IMAP), inbound server name, outgoing server name, SSL/TLS requirements, how to delete messages from an IMAP folder (mark for deletion, move to deleted items folder), whether to keep a copy of all composed/sent messages (File Carbon Copy) and if so whether to save to the server or local storage. You can also specify if you want to empty trash when exiting the program, and remember the user’s password by default.
Web pages I reviewed on creating the Internet Service Provider XML/RDF files:
http://home.comcast.net/~larkas/comcast.rdf
http://www.mozilla.org/profilemanager/isp-rdf-info.txt
http://lxr.mozilla.org/seamonkey/source/mailnews/base/ispdata/
http://infosec.ufl.edu/tbird/
Mozilla’s Developer page on ISP hooks:
http://http://developer.mozilla.org/en/docs/Thunderbird_ISP_hooks
Beyond the customized Wizard screens, I then wanted to have some defaults changed for the user, such as LDAP lookup, both specifying the server and using it to complete addresses. You can also specify how messages are forwarded (as an attachment or quoted inline), whether to run the spell checker before sending, or even as you type, and the Thunderbird junk mail feature. In short – anything you can configure by the graphical user interface (GUI) in Thunderbird once you have created an account, can be pre-configured before your account is created.
Berkeley University has the most extensive notes I found on customizing a Thunderbird setup file (MS Word document):
http://www.lbl.gov/IT/CIS/CITG/mozilla/Custom-ThunderBird-1.5.x.doc
Reed University also has valuable notes:
http://web.reed.edu/cis/files/thunderbird/current/ChangeLog.txt
Finally, there were some juicy tidbits of information on this discussion page:
http://forums.mozillazine.org/viewtopic.php?t=61284&postdays=0&postorder=asc&postsperpage=15&start=0
Tomorrow – UNI Customized settings.

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