Customizing Thunderbird new account wizard – The ISP file

There is one file that Thunderbird needs to provide a customized new account wizard.  This file is XML-formatted, has either a .RDF or .XML suffix, and must be located in the bin:defaults\isp folder (in the case of Windows, this is usually c:\Program Files\Mozilla Thunderbird\defaults\isp

Since you can name the file anything, in my case I have a file named UNIVMS.xml with the following contents:

<?xml version=”1.0″?>
<!DOCTYPE RDF>
<RDF:RDF
    xmlns:NC=”http://home.netscape.com/NC-rdf#”
    xmlns:RDF=”http://www.w3.org/1999/02/22-rdf-syntax-ns#”>
  <RDF:Description about=”NC:ispinfo”>
    <NC:providers>
      <NC:nsIMsgAccount about=”domain:uni.edu”>
        <NC:incomingServer>
          <NC:nsIMsgIncomingServer>
      <NC:prettyName>UNI Email </NC:prettyName>
   <NC:hostName>mail.uni.edu</NC:hostName>
            <NC:type>imap
            <NC:ServerType-imap>                                               
              <NC:nsIImapIncomingServer>                                       
                <NC:deleteModel>0</NC:deleteModel>                             
              </NC:nsIImapIncomingServer>                                      
            </NC:ServerType-imap>                                              
            </NC:type>
            <NC:rememberPassword>false</NC:rememberPassword>
            <NC:offlineSupportLevel>0</NC:offlineSupportLevel>
            <NC:defaultCopiesAndFoldersPrefsToServer>false</NC:defaultCopiesAndFoldersPrefsToServer>
            <NC:canCreateFoldersOnServer>true</NC:canCreateFoldersOnServer>
            <NC:canCompactFoldersOnServer>true</NC:canCompactFoldersOnServer>
            <NC:canUndoDeleteOnServer>false</NC:canUndoDeleteOnServer>
            <NC:canSearchMessages>true</NC:canSearchMessages>
            <NC:canFileMessagesOnServer>true</NC:canFileMessagesOnServer>
            <NC:canEmptyTrashOnExit>true</NC:canEmptyTrashOnExit>
  <NC:isSecure>true</NC:isSecure>
            <NC:isSecureServer>true</NC:isSecureServer>
            <NC:canSearchMessages>true</NC:canSearchMessages>
          </NC:nsIMsgIncomingServer>
        </NC:incomingServer>
        <NC:identity>
          <NC:nsIMsgIdentity>
            <NC:composeHtml>true</NC:composeHtml>
   <NC:replyOnTop>1</NC:replyOnTop>
   <NC:doFcc>true</NC:doFcc>
          </NC:nsIMsgIdentity>
        </NC:identity>
        <NC:smtp>
          <NC:nsISmtpServer>
            <NC:hostname>mail.uni.edu</NC:hostname>
            <NC:auth_method>1</NC:auth_method>
  <NC:port>465</NC:port>
  <NC:trySSL>3</NC:trySSL>
          </NC:nsISmtpServer>
        </NC:smtp>
        <NC:smtpRequiresUsername>true</NC:smtpRequiresUsername>
        <NC:smtpCreateNewServer>true</NC:smtpCreateNewServer>
        <NC:smtpUsePreferredServer>true</NC:smtpUsePreferredServer>
  <NC:wizardSkipPanels>serverpage,accnamepage</NC:wizardSkipPanels>
        <NC:wizardShortName>UNI VMS Username</NC:wizardShortName>
        <NC:wizardLongName>UNI E-mail Account</NC:wizardLongName>
  <NC:wizardShow>true</NC:wizardShow>
        <NC:wizardPromote>true</NC:wizardPromote>
        <NC:emailProviderName>UNI</NC:emailProviderName>
        <NC:sampleEmail>john.smith@uni.edu</NC:sampleEmail>
        <NC:sampleUserName>john.smith</NC:sampleUserName>
        <NC:emailIDDescription>e-mail alias</NC:emailIDDescription>
        <NC:emailIDFieldTitle>E-mail alias:</NC:emailIDFieldTitle>
  <NC:showServerDetailsOnWizardSummary>false</NC:showServerDetailsOnWizardSummary>
      </NC:nsIMsgAccount>
    </NC:providers>
  </RDF:Description>
</RDF:RDF>

====================================================================

Points of interest:

  • wizardLongName = This is what is listed on the Account Wizard->New Account Setup screen along with ‘RSS News & Blogs’ the plain ‘Email account’ and ‘Newsgroup account’
  • deleteModel – 0 = mark IMAP messages for deletion, but they stay until a compact folders operation is completed.  1 = Move item to deleted folder
  • defaultCopiesAndFoldersPrefsToServer – false= do not create or use Sent and Drafts on IMAP server, instead use in Local Folders
  • replyOnTop – 1 = when replying to an email, the original text is quoted below your cursor, so your reply is above the quoted text
  • doFCC – true = make a file carbon copy of messages you compose and send into the sent folder
  • wizardSkipPanels – serverpage = skips asking you for inbound and outbound mail servers; accnamepage = choose your display name inside of Thunderbird; loginpage = supresses the page after the required display name and username/alias page, in which you could define a separate login name from your email name (at UNI we need to show loginpage since faculty/staff have different email alias from their user/login name: john.smith@uni.edu – may have login name smithj); true = supresses ALL pages except for the required Display name and username/alias page — this is what most of the world uses, but only works if you login to email with your email alias– for example your email is john.smith@company.com – and you login with john.smith

If you have multiple mail servers, you can simply add multiple RDF/XML files – as long as their wizard*Names are each unique.

The rest of the fields seem somewhat self-explanitory.  This file allows you to customize a lot of what confuses users when manually configuring Thunderbird: your SMTP server name, if it needs SSL, if you require authentication when sending mail… do I use POP3 or IMAP?  What is my incoming mail server, what encryption does it require … etc.  IMHO, setting this file alone into your Thunderbird distribution will get 99.9% of your users online with basic abilities to send and receive mail.

If you want to customize further – then you need to customize other files.  See the next blog entries.

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