12
Dec 13

Finally, A New Website!

This is the moment I have been waiting for so long! I can’t say this big enough because I am so excited:

Check out this awesome:

new-website

The new site is clear and concise. Not too many links, all important links on one page. The download button gives you the latest version directly from addons.mozilla.org.

There are some features still lacking that we will be adding in later, it was more important to just get this thing out in the open first. The holiday calendars page is still missing. Ideally the new holiday calendars area will auto-generate itself from the existing holiday files. We also wanted to show the most recent blog headlines.

The new site is part of bedrock, Mozilla’s shiny new website framework. This means we get a lot of stuff for free, one of them is localization. I haven’t found out how this works yet, but it will be possible to translate the page into any language.

Is there any information you are missing? Let us know what you think!


12
Dec 13

Lightning 2.6.x Version Recap

As you may have read in the previous post, there have been quite a few issues with Lightning 2.6.x. I wanted to explain what happened and what we can do to avoid these issues in the future.

The Lightning build process is closely coupled with Thunderbird. Every time Thunderbird does a release, we get builds for Lightning for free. This means we mostly depend on them doing a release, otherwise I have to patch the final builds manually. This is a little more work. Luckily, each of the releases between 2.6 and 2.6.4 have been done together with a Thunderbird build.

Google Calendar Issues via CalDAV

Just before Lightning 2.6 was released, we made some last minute changes to accomodate for the fact that Google Calendar had changed their CalDAV URL. Not only that, they also implemented a specification for faster synchronization of CalDAV. We already supported this specification, but only an older version. A quick fix was done to take care. In total, were some authentication issues and an error loading calendars. We knew we had to release a 2.6.1, but we didn’t know it had to happen so fast…

Version compatibilitiy issues

When Thunderbird 24.0.1 was released, Lightning 2.6 did not work on Linux. The reason for this was a regression in the Mozilla Platform around Thunderbird 23. The binary component we have was built with a specifc compiler flag with a parameter that was too strict. It bascially said “this binary component is only for version 24.0.1″. The fix was easy, change it to “this binary component is for version 24.*”, but it took a while for that fix to be completed and admitted to all branches. Lightning 2.6.1 was quickly released as a workaround specificly compatible to Thunderbird 24.0.1, Lightning 2.6.2 was needed for Thunderbird 24.1.0.

Another problem why this was so hard to figure out for users is that some Linux distributions decided to skip the minor releases and only do 24.0, 24.1.0, 24.2.0 and so on. There were complaints because the latest Lightning version wasn’t working, when 24.1.1 was missing from the distribution repositories. We still needed to release consequent Lightning versions though, otherwise users using the stock builds would complain.

Lightning 2.6.3: Issues with CalDAV

Unfortunately, one of the patches for 2.6.1 had an error in it. We decided there needs to be a quick fix, and it was just in time for Lightning 2.6.3. The binary compatibility bug had been fixed by now, so this should also be the first version that is compatible to any version of Thunderbird 24.1.1 and up.

Lightning 2.6.4: Yet another one

Now this is the release that really annoyed me. First of all, I did a bad job on one of the patches. The other one was a minor issue with servers that don’t have a certain XML element in their response. These are the kinds of issues we could have easily figured out before the release with more and better unit tests. We might have even saved another release.

Conclusion

We probably could have known about all of these issues beforehand if we had tests to catch them. Just running the any of the tests using the build machinery would have caught the binary compatibility issue. If we had at least some manual tests to test CalDAV servers, we could have started them for a few public demo servers and caught all of the CalDAV regressions. Both of this has been on my list for quite some time, but given all the other things coming up I never got around to it.

Integrating the tests with the build system is unfortunately something only someone with Mozillians trust can do, but if you want to help us write some unit test, that would be marvelous. The cool new thing to use is promises and tasks, which allow writing really easy to read asynchronous code. I have some demo code thats not quite working but is ready for someone to pick up.

If you want to help in some other way, please contact me! Even if you are not a developer, there is a lot that can be done for someone with a little initiative.

 


13
Oct 13

Using Lightning 2.6.* on Linux? Be sure you are using the exact compatible Thunderbird Version

As you may have noticed, Lightning is no longer working with Thunderbird 24.0.1. This is totally unexpected for us, it seems Thunderbird 24.0 and 24.0.1 are not binary compatible. We will be releasing Lightning 2.6.1 this week to fix the issue and afterwards find out how this could have happened.

If you are using Lightning 2.6, please downgrade to Thunderbird 24.0 for now and you will regain access to Lightning and your calendars.

I’m sorry for the inconvenience. Here is the compatibility table:

Thunderbird Version Lightning Version
Thunderbird 24.0 Lightning 2.6
Thunderbird 24.0.1 Lightning 2.6.1
Thunderbird 24.1.0 Lightning 2.6.2
Thunderbird 24.1.1 Lightning 2.6.3
Thunderbird 24.2.0 (unreleased) Lightning 2.6.3 and up

Update 1: This seems to be a Linux-only issue. Windows and Mac users can safely upgrade to Thunderbird 24.0.1!

Update 2: You can get the English version of Thunderbird 24.0 for Linux here. For other languages, please see the release directory on the ftp server.

Update 3: Lightning 2.6.1 is the version compatible to Thunderbird 24.0.1. To date it has not been reviewed by the Mozilla Addons Team, but you can still get it manually using the Other Versions page.

Update 4: Lightning 2.6.1 is now public. On Linux, it is compatible ONLY with Thunderbird 24.0.1, so go ahead and upgrade now.

Update 5: To be more clear: If you are using Thunderbird 24.0 on Linux you MUST continue to use Lightning 2.6. If you are using Thunderbird 24.0.1 on Linux, you MUST use Lightning 2.6.1. Thunderbird 24.1.0 (no typo) will be released soon, you MUST use the upcoming Lightning 2.6.2 here.

Update 6: If you cannot use the newer Lightnig versions yet and want to disable addon updates: Go to the Addons Manager → right click on Lightning → Show More Information → Disable Automatic Updates.

Update 7: Thunderbird 24.1.0 (not .0.1) has just been pushed to the mirrors. On Linux you will need Lightning 2.6.2 together with it. I have heard from some packagers for the Linux distributions that, in contrary to 24.0.1, this version will be made available. If you need Lightning 2.6.2 now, you can get it from the Other Versions page until it has been reviewed.

Update 8: I was now able to set up the version compatibility correctly. If all goes well, Thunderbird 24.0 users should NOT be getting upgrades to Lightning 2.6.1 anymore, all other versions should work correctly too.

Update 9: Updated for 24.1.1 release. The problems are now going away :) I will recap as soon as I get to it.


22
Sep 13

Lightning 2.6 has been released

I am happy to announce the release of Lightning 2.6, compatible to Thunderbird 24 and Seamonkey 2.21. The release went live on Tuesday, September 17th and is the next major release after Thunderbird 17 and Lightning 1.9. If you are using the Provider for Google Calendar, you will also have to upgrade to version 0.25.

You may have not received the updates automatically because of server side throttling, you can either wait until the update occurs, force checking for updates via the About Thunderbird dialog, or grab them manually:

Before upgrading, be sure to backup your profile so you can restore in case something goes wrong unexpectedly.

The release notes can be found on addons.mozilla.org. An important note for users of Google Calendar via CalDAV (not via Provider for Google Calendar): Due to a server side change at Google, you must update the URL of the calendar, as described in this post.

Should you be experiencing any issues, here are some steps that might resolve them:

  • Make sure that you are running Thunderbird 24 or SeaMonkey 2.21.
  • Redownload and install Lightning using the download links above.
  • If you are using the Provider for Google Calendar make sure you upgrade to version 0.25
If you are experiencing issues (Lightning not installing or the calendar not working at all), try removing the Lightning addon and doing a fresh install. Your calendar data will be kept intact, as it is contained in your profile. To be sure, create a profile backup as described above.

If you enjoy this update or want to thank us for the hard work we have done, feel free to leave a review at addons.mozilla.org. If you have issues upgrading, please don’t misuse the reviews. Leave a comment here and I’ll try to get back to you soon! If you are sure you have found a bug, you can also search for it on bugzilla or file a new one if it doesn’t yet exist.


16
Sep 13

Google is changing the Location URL of their CalDAV Calendars

Google has decided to change the authentication mechanism for their CalDAV calendars to OAuth, which required some changes in Lightning to accommodate.

Due to these changes, the URL to access the calendar has also changed. The old endpoint will stop working after September 16th (today!). This affects only Google calendars using CalDAV protocol.

Calendars using the Provider for Google Calendar or iCal read-only access won’t be affected.

How do I know if I’m affected?

Open your calendar’s properties by right-clicking on calendar name and check if the location starts with https://www.google.com/calendar/dav/. If it does, you are using CalDAV and need to set up your calendar again with the new URL.

How do I set up the new calendar?

To use the new CalDAV Endpoint, you will need Lightning 2.6 and Thunderbird 24, which will be released tomorrow, September 17th. There will be a blog post on the release tomorrow, so please use the navigation to view the new post when its there to get the download links. Anyway, here are the steps:

  • Download Thunderbird 24 and install Lightning 2.6
  • Open the new calendar dialog (File → New → Calendar)
  • Add a new remote calendar (On the Network → CalDAV)
  • As a location enter the following, be sure to replace your email address:
    https://apidata.googleusercontent.com/caldav/v2/your-email-address/events

More details on how to set up from Google can be found here. After setting up new calendar you can safely remove the old one from Lightning. This will only remove it from calendars list, your events will not be deleted from Google’s servers.

But I want it to work now!

In that case, you will have to use a beta version of Thunderbird and Lightning. You can get Thunderbird 24.0b3 here and the corresponding Lightning 2.6b2 here. Please use these versions only if you really can’t wait, once the release version is out there will be no support for beta versions.

One more thing…

Its a little unfortunate that Google is shutting down the API in coincidence with the release. I’m pretty sure a few people will blame Lightning’s new version for this (understandably, since that is the only thing they knowingly changed). This will mean we will get a few support requests covered as bad reviews, I already saw one today! If you found this blog post useful, please stop by addons.mozilla.org and give us a few stars.

Update on @googlemail.com addresses

If you created your Google account with an @googlemail.com email address, you will need to use this email address in the URL, even if you’ve switched to @gmail.com now! Otherwise it will look like everything works, until you try to add/modify events. I will notify the Google folks so they can get this bug fixed on their end.

Update: Still not working? Here is why!

Unfortunately there are two more problems. First of all, you may be experiencing an instant failure, if you inspect the logs you might see an error 400. Aside from the location change, Google has also introduced support for webdav-sync. In theory this makes the synchronization process faster, but Google does not implement the fallback mechanism we rely on. We can probably fix this on our side though by updating to a newer version of the webdav-sync draft.

Next up is a bug on our side. When the OAuth token expires, there is an error refreshing the token. I will take care of fixing this for Lightning 2.6.1

But I really need it to work now!

Ok then, I have one option left for you. For the time being you could switch to the Provider for Google Calendar, an extension that uses the Google Calendar API to connect. You will have to set up the calendar a bit differently, using the new “Google Calendar” option in the new calendar wizard and the XML address as the location URL.

Thanks to Merike Sell for drafting this blog post


29
Aug 13

Lightning 2.6b2 has been uploaded, some locales broken

Lightning 2.6 is due on September 17th and will be a major release. The last stable relase was Lightning 1.9 and the only testing that has been done since is a little testing on the beta channel. I say this is not enough!

One problem we have is that a handful of locales are broken (only one bug report, by the way!). This is mostly due to some changes we had to undertake regarding the l10n dashboard, making it hard for localizers to figure out where to sign off.

If you can read a language other than English, please take a few minutes for the following steps:

  1. Download Lightning 2.6b2 from addons.mozilla.org together with Thunderbird 24
  2. After starting the app, check the error console for anything that looks bad. Warnings are probably ok. Clear the error console.
  3. Open every dialog you know of (print, event, task, summary, preferences, calendar properties, …). Make sure it looks normal.
  4. Set up a remote calendar of your choice, make sure you can connect.
  5. Check the error console again if something alarming was added.

You can of course still help if English is your only language. Please do a few tests to make sure everything works. You might as well upgrade your original Lightning installation, because this is what you will receive in about 3 weeks anyway. The earlier we find issues, the higher the chance we can fix it before it reaches everyone.

Thank you for your support!


16
Aug 13

Lightning 2.6b1 is out, testing urgently needed

Lightning 2.6 is going to be the release you are stuck with for about 42 weeks, so its vitally important that this one is tested thoroughly. All features are important to test, as not only Lightning code has changed, but also the Mozilla Platform behind it.

Get the Thunderbird 24 beta on the Thunderbird betas page.
Get Lightning 2.6b1 on addons.mozilla.org:

If you find an issue, please file a bug at bugzilla.mozilla.org, product Calendar. Search for an existing bug first. If you come across any major bugs (not missing features), a comment is fine too.

Thank you for your support!


08
Aug 13

On making your todo list more effective…

Hello Folks,

I have put together a survey with a few questions on how you manage your tasks. Not only will it help me with my final thesis, it will also help me better understand how users manage their tasks.

Why it this important? The current tasks UI in Lightning is mostly a direct implementation of the technical spec. This might work for simple needs, but its far from effective for completing your tasks.

I have come up with a system that caters my needs, but as the goal is for lots of users with different needs to be able to use the system without frustration, I need to ask you a few questions.

The survey is not limited to Lightning users, everyone who has at least one task on his or her list should take a look. It should only take a few minutes to complete and most questions are multiple choice.

You can find the survey here: http://bit.ly/1cJHjaa. I will analyze the results on August 20th, so don’t forget to do this soon!

Please share, RT this tweet and tell your friends. Bonus points for finding someone who you know handles tasks quite different than you do.

Thanks in Advance,
Philipp


26
Jul 13

Lightning 2.5+ Localization Issues

Hello Folks,

As you may have noticed if you are using the beta versions, there have been a few localization problems in the past. This is not the localizers fault, but rather a problem with our build infrastructure.

I have been working on moving the Lightning builds from their own build machines to building together with Thunderbird. This doesn’t mean that Lightning will be pre-installed with Thunderbird, it just saves time while building since I don’t have to maintain a separate set of build machines.

Unfortunately, since Lightning is just piggybacking the Thunderbird build targets, this causes a dilemma for the localized builds. Before the localization process begins, the language files are downloaded from the mercurial server and updated to the specific version which was signed-off by a Thunderbird localizer. As Lightning can only hook into the build process itself, there is no previous step to update the language files to the version which was signed-off by the Lightning localizers. Adding this step is non-trivial.

In some cases it will magically work, if the Thunderbird localizer signed off a later version than the Lightning localizer, because the Lightning changes will then be contained too. Right now I don’t have a good solution other than to ask localizers to sign off on the Thunderbird dashboard. I’m trying to figure out some alternatives, in the worst case I will have to do the language repackaging manually for Thunderbird 24 / Lightning 2.6.

If you have some experience with Mozilla’s release engineering and have an idea how to solve this, I’m happy to hear it!


08
Jul 13

Lightning 2.5b1 Linux builds fautly, please use 2.5b2

Just a quick note: Due to a slight packaging glitch, the Linux Lightning builds for 2.5b1 were broken. I have just uploaded 2.5b2 to addons.mozilla.org, you can get it in the “Development Channel” box or from the Other Versions page.