18
Jul 12

Prospect on Lightnings Future in Light of Thunderbird’s Governance Changes

Many of you will have heard the misinterpreted news that says Thunderbird will no longer be supported. First of all I must concur this is not true. If you are still under this impression please read this great interview between Tristan Nitot from Mozilla and Jb Piacentino, the Managing Director of Thunderbird. Mozilla will continue to support Thunderbird, but new innovations will have to come from the community.

Even if it has not been obvious in the past, it has almost been this way for Lightning since 2009 when many of the external full-time contributors were assigned other projects and could only continue in their free time. Aside from my role as a project manager, we have a few contributions from the community, bringing Lightning forward. Since our contributors also have day jobs this is of course not comparable with full-time work, but we couldn’t have done it without them.

In this early stage of planning Thunderbird’s transition to the community its hard to say what the final effect on Lightning will be. But on the bright side, if the current plan holds that future Thunderbird releases will be based on the same Mozilla Platform version as the ESR Release, this will make our life much easier with regard to Lightning releases. It is much more likely that a Lightning version will be binary compatible to multiple Thunderbird versions, which means the big pain of upgrading that Lightning users might be having when a new Thunderbird version is released will go away.

On the downside, since the core Thunderbird team is now assigned to other projects also, this means they will (understandably) have even less time for Lightning. Key areas include Graphics Design, build configuration and release engineering.

There might also be problems when Thunderbird switches to a later version of the Mozilla Platform (i.e around Thunderbird ESR 24), since Lightning will have to catch up with anything that has changed on the Mozilla Platform between version 17 and 24. This could be a serious undertaking since even if we do patch everything we know of for Lightning to work with Thunderbird 24, its quite likely that there will be regressions which will require out-of-plan releases to fix. Not only does this mean that Lightning developers have to work non-stop during this time, it also causes pain for the users since its possible that they cannot access their calendar data until there is a new release to fix possible regressions.

We are still looking for solutions that could mitigate this, one suggestion that has been made would be to base Thunderbird EarlyBird and Beta on the then-current Mozilla Platform version (i.e 18, 19, …) to allow more testing in advance and therefore distributing the bugfix work more evenly. If you have another idea on this topic, please discuss in the newsgroups, see below.

So what can you do to keep Lightning from taking damage due to these governance changes?

  • Are we pretty yet? What would a dialog be without icons? If you are good in graphics design and are able to create icons, we desperately need you. If you have experience with user interface design and user experience, even better. With your commitment to Lightning and the open source world, you would need to create new icons as they are required. With some UI design experience you can also help out accepting patches that change the UI of Lightning.
  • How is your python fu? Can you make make make our project build (not a typo, think about it! ;-). Build configuration is also an area we could use some help in. Don’t worry, its a lightweight entry: you can start out just reviewing patches that change how Lightning is built, but in the long term you would be helping out by improving our build system.

Of course we always welcome developers in any other area, but these are the most needed due to Thunderbird’s change in plans. Please drop me an email if you would like to help out.

I will soon put up a roadmap where I think Lightning should be going to make it more transparent what is going on, but right now I can tell you this much about my top three priorities:

  • Set up a new calendar website which is easier to navigate and helps the user or new contributor to get the right information quickly.
  • Improve test automation, especially Mozmill test coverage and using jscoverage to measure progress.
  • Replace libical with the javascript implementation I have been working on. This will make it even easier for us to support multiple Thunderbird versions.

I have closed the comments here to avoid discussions in multiple locations, so if you have any questions, please head over to the tb-planning newsgroup (also readonly via Google Groups) and post your question there. I’m looking forward to shaping the future of Lightning with you!


14
Jun 12

New Lightning versions (almost) available for all Thunderbird versions

As you may have noticed, there have been some pressing issues in the last month regarding the various versions of Lightning. I’d like to give you a short summary of what happened and what the prospect is.

Lightning 1.5 (Thunderbird 13)

If you have been using a localized version of Lightning, you may have noticed that Lightning 1.5 was reset to English after upgrading. Since I was on vacation and we had some issues with the localization infrastructure, the result was that only a few locales were accepted for the release. To account for this, I have just uploaded Lightning 1.5.1 to addons.mozilla.org which is back with 38 locales. It is pending review and will be available as soon as the addons.mozilla.org reviewers get to it.

Lightning 1.6b1 (Thunderbird 14)

This had been delayed since I wanted to take care of the Lightning 1.5.1 release first and also due to some IT issues I will talk about later on. I have also uploaded this release to addons.mozilla.org, it is available at this moment. You should get automatic upgrades if your previous version of Lightning is also a beta version. If not, head on over to the versions page addons.mozilla.org to get your Lightning beta.

Lightning 1.7a2 & 1.8a1 (Thunderbird 15 & 16)

On Mac and Windows you are probably having trouble finding a compatible Lightning. There were some events that caused our nightly builds to stall.

For Mac OSX, this was a problem with the datacenter move that Mozilla Messaging did. They folded their IT infrastructure back to the core mozilla.org datacenter, which brought some changes also for us. The Mac builder couldn’t be migrated to the new datacenter due to power issues, so we had to order a new one. This took a bit longer than expected since I had to ask around until I found the right path to do this. The builder has arrived and is going to be set up by IT soon. In the meanwhile, the Seamonkey Project was generous enough to loan us a build machine for a short time, which I used for the previously mentioned release builds and will use for at least one set of nightly builds so we have a compatible version again. These should be available tomorrow at latest.

For Windows, there is a build system requirement that I was told requires us to upgrade to a newer version of Visual Studio. When doing so, I found out our build machine didn’t have enough space to install. Since some other things were weird with this machine too, we decided to request a new VM for Windows. This VM is now finally installed and connected. There is still one network issue to resolve and then we can use this box for our windows builds, which will return nightlies for Lightning on the Windows platform.

As always, you can find nightly versions of Lightning on the Mozilla ftp servers, for Daily and Earlybird. Check the dates of the packages before you download, if they are not recent then you need to wait another day for new builds to show up. As a small treat, the latest nightly builds support automatic updates using the addons manager. I will tell you more about this in a separate post when the builder issues have been resolved.

 


05
Jun 12

Lightning 1.5 Released

We are happy to announce that Lightning 1.5 has been released, compatible with Thunderbird 13 and SeaMonkey 2.10.

This version fixes an issue that caused some events not to appear in the views due to invalid data in local calendars.

The full list of changes in this version may be found here.

For those testing development builds, we are currently working on some issues preventing new nightly builds of Lighting 1.7 and 1.8 on Windows and Mac. Testers are encouraged to use development builds of Lightning 1.6 in the mean time.


09
Apr 12

Lightning 1.4b3 released, fixes critical issues with 1.4b2

For those of you using Thunderbird 12 betas with Lightning and having trouble with 1.4b2 (calendar views empty, lots of errors in the error console), please do upgrade to Lightning 1.4b3. This error shows up with certain locales, that were wrongfully included in 1.4b2 but not ready for production yet. The situation is described in more detail in bug 736717.

For those of you using the Provider for Google Calendar, this beta release (yes, in Lightning, not in the provider) also fixes an issue that causes events in secondary calendars to be moved to the primary calendar on edit.

The final Lightning 1.4 as well as a new Provider for Google Calendar release is due on May 1st, 2012 and will include mentioned fixes, in addition to numerous other bugs.


14
Mar 12

Lightning 1.3 Released

I am happy to announce, that Lightning 1.3 has been released. This build is compatible only to Thunderbird 11 and Seamonkey 2.8. The most prominent features in this release are:

  •  Support for Apple iCloud and Chandler servers improved
  • Support for high contrast themes (needs to be enabled in the preferences)
  • New toolbar to adapt to Thunderbird’s Tabs-on-Top

A full listing of bugs fixed is available here. Contributed builds, for example for Solaris are available here.


06
Jan 12

Lightning 1.1.1 fixes a critical error on Windows XP

Due to a critical issue that some Windows XP users are experiencing, we have decided to release Lightning 1.1.1, an intermediate release compatible with Thunderbird 9/Seamonkey 2.6. We recommend all users to upgrade, especially those who cannot see their calendar data and are getting an error console message “Failed to load native module at path …calbasecomps.dll”.

You can get the builds on addons.mozilla.org, as always.


22
Nov 11

Update on Lightning usage numbers

It’s been over a year since we last posted about the current state of Lightning usage. Since that day Thunderbird 5, 6, 7 and 8 have been released with their Lightning counterparts 1.0 beta4, 1.0 beta 5, 1.0 beta7 and finally Lightning 1.0.

Now it’s time to look at things again and I’m happy to report, that Lightning is more popular as ever before with nearly 30% more daily users than one year before. Right now we average nearly 1,400,000 users each day during the workweek and about 775,000 users on the weekends, which brings to more than 1,200,000 users on average over the course of a week.

Most of our users (64.2%) are now on Thunderbird 8. Most of the rest still uses Thunderbird 3.1 (15.0%) and Thunderbird 7 (13.4%). The remainder (7.4%) is mostly distributed to Thunderbird 2 (still at 2.3%), Thunderbird 6 (2.6%), Thunderbird 5 (1.0%) and other installations (other Thunderbird releases, SeaMonkey and Firefox) at 1.5%.


07
Nov 11

Lightning 1.0 is here!

So, this is it! My early birthday present, Lightning 1.0, has finally been released. For quite some time now we have had so-called “beta” releases, that were in no way different to our other releases. With Lightning 1.0 we can finally say good bye to the betas and hello to exciting new releases!

When planning for this release, we mainly focused on rounding off any sharp edges you may find in Lightning. Just as an example, you can now press Escape to cancel creating an event via dragging. Sounds like a simple, intuitive feature that should have been there all along? You bet! There is one exception though, Lightning now supports full offline editing using the cache feature you can find in the calendar properties. This great big feature has been in the works during the past Google Summer of Code and has now finally made it into the release.

As always, you can get the latest release from addons.mozilla.org. If you are using the Provider for Google Calendar, make sure to upgrade too. Please note that Lightning 1.0 is compatible to Thunderbird 8, which is also being released today.

So, whats happening next? I will be gathering some ideas during the upcoming EU MozCamp 2011 and will present you my plans shortly after. If you have any suggestions, please do use the newsgroups to get in touch.


24
Oct 11

Lightning 1.0rc2 is available, with full offline support

I’d like to present you with Lightning 1.0rc2. You can find it at its new location on the addons.mozilla.org beta channel (If you still get 1.0rc1, then please try again in a few hours when the page cache has been updated).

There is a big new feature in this release which needs your testing. Thanks to the hard work of Mohit, who has joined us through the recent Google Summer of Code, we have extended the cache with full offline support, which means you can write your events while in offline mode. If you are using a CalDAV calendar, it will even retry events that failed.

If you encounter any issues, please file a bug at bugzilla.mozilla.org.

Note, if you are using the cache with the Provider for Google Calendar, please stay tuned. I will soon post a development version of the provider containing a patch that corrects offline support.


27
Sep 11

Lightning 1.0b7 released

I am happy to present you Lightning 1.0b7, our stable release compatible with Thunderbird 7. This is the first release in a long time that has been created using release automation. While it took a bit longer to set up this time, we hope that its very easy to produce subsequent builds with it, leaving more time for actual coding instead of release engineering work.

Lightning 1.0b7 contains 39 fixes to the last release, which was two months back. You can find a full list of changes here.

You can get the release from addons.mozilla.org for all platforms.

Note this is the last release before Lightning 1.0, which is due in 6 weeks, so please be sure to report all bugs you find on our bugtracker at bugzilla.mozilla.org (please search before you file a bug).

If you are using a localized version, please also report localization errors in the respective locale here.

A short note on the release process for 1.0, we will be releasing a number of release candidates that will become the final builds. I’ll do an extra blog post on this soon.