The future of Lightning… after the Thunderbird announcement

About two weeks ago, Mitchell Baker sent out her call for action for Mozilla Thunderbird, announcing that the Mozilla Corporation wants to move its focus exclusively to Mozilla Firefox. In later posts Mitchell posted further details about the initial announcement (Link 1, Link 2, Link 3, Link 4, Link 5, Link 6, Link 7, Link 8)

Since Thunderbird is the base application for our main application/extension (Lightning), a lot of people have asked us, whether we would continue to work on Lightning as a Thunderbird extension.

The answer is YES! We’d like to state publicly that we will continue to work on our two products Lightning and Sunbird in the foreseeable future and that we still envision great things for Lightning and Thunderbird. We are currently hard at work for our next release 0.7 (coming this fall) and are starting the planning work for the following releases 0.9 and 1.0.

If you have any questions regarding this, feel free to post them as a comment and we’ll try to directly answer them there or answer them all in a follow-up post in this blog.


  1. i don’t know if this is the proper place to put this question. but i woud like to know if the future releases of lightning are going to have an agenda-like option – such as the one on google calendar. It seems a very good improvement for future releases…

  2. On last OOOcon there was talk of integrating Th+Li as a Outlook killerapp into OOo. Is something happening on that front or was this more or less just a rumor or a wishful thought?
    Thanks, m.

  3. BTW, seeing that nowdays most people use web-based email “clients”, I can understand the thoughts behind this move. Not that I agree with it, but for majority of users that would be a reasonable move, if Mozilla was a corporation. Why develop a product, that less and less people are about to use? Instead of that focus on the application that all these users read their mail with – the browser …

  4. Do you have download stats for lighting and for sunbird? I would be interesting to know which one is more popular.

  5. Hello my developer friends
    Thank you very much for your reassurances about the future of TB/SB. As you’ll understand this announcement is causing a fair bit of disquiet among the users.
    No doubt it’s the same for you guys too, but I suppose you are closer to the tone of discussions inside Mozilla, so either you knew this might happen sooner or later, or you understand why it’s not a disaster.
    For many users though this was a real bolt from the blue. I wish you all the best making whatever arrangements are necessary for TB/SB to stay as best of breed. Thanks again for all the work

  6. I use Lightning with the Provider addon to keep lightning and my Google Calendar in sync. I get the great Thunderbird interface for reading both my IMAP account on my ISP and the headers of my Gmail account. I have one calendar I can access pretty much anywhwer.
    I hope that Thunderbird an Lightning have much future success

  7. I’ve been getting folk onto Thunderbird+Lightning; then better than Outlook Express, but not as good as Outlook.
    Not using Sunbird any more as the email integration more useful.
    The only thing stopping my corporate customers taking up Thunderbird is synchronising with PDA/Phone such as Blackberry/IPAQ.
    Surely will all the money Mozilla has, they could get Thunderbird whipped into shape more quickly?!

  8. Thunderbird is still part of Mozilla Foundation. The announcement is from Mozilla corporation concerning the solely focus to Firefox.

  9. In reading the post and the links, I think a couple elements are missing from the discussion.
    One is while people do read their email via the browser a lot, the browser does not duplicate all email capability. For example, mailto links use the mail client on the workstations, unless future version of Firefox will change this aspect (i.e., ability to use web based service for mailto links). A second example is mail archival and off-line reading. Most services, even Google have a limit on mail kept on-line. Therefore, there is room for a mail client on the desktop that has off-line storage.
    How this relates to Sunbird, is that there is also room for an off-line calendar solution. I think the “mission” therefore is to build a product that meets the community’s need for synergy between off-line access and storage that sync’s with on-line resources, whether that be Google, Yahoo, or one’s own hosted server running a web based mail client and utilizing something like iCalendar to display calendar events on-line.

  10. I also think it would be treat if thunderbird, lightning, sunbird or others to intergrate like all in one email client like outook or evolution.
    Just a though here, but maybe evolution should take over thunderbird code or maybe thunderbird and evolution should merge.
    Whatever the case, I love using thunderbird and it my main email client as to firefox my main browser.

  11. Hi,
    I would be really disappointed if sunbird was dropped as a separate application. The really great thing that firebird, thunderbird and sunbird bring is that is distinct from evolution or outlook, as far as I’m concerned, is that they are separate apps that each do their job simply and really well. In this sense they are similar in philosophy to apples apps. I think Mozilla is making a big mistake not seeing them as interconnected.

  12. Thx for your job ! Continue !

  13. is there any roadmap for 0.7, 0.9 and 1.0? i always miss these kind of roadmap with some kind of dates.

  14. As many others I think that Offline support and PDA synchronization are the two big improvements that Lightning miss to became a killerapp.
    Do you have plan to support any of them before 1.0?
    Thanks for the VERY good work

  15. Re: Walter – I think that it would be wise for them to hook up with the Funambol team for mobile sync. There’s a TB plugin for it and it works well. The Mozilla team ‘should’ be falling over themselves to help get Lightning where it needs to be and team up with Funambol. Then we’d have our killer app.

  16. This is probably the wrong place for this wish list item, but here it is:
    I’ve just started using Lightning, and I would love the address book to include the physical addresses of my contacts. Thanks

  17. The address book does include the physical address of your contacts, as well their work address, and it can load a map of the location in your web browser as well. What do you mean by physical address if not home address?

  18. Any chance that there will be a one available for Ubuntu on some repository?

  19. @Matt
    The current Ubuntu 7.10 Alpha builds have prebuild sunbird and lightning-extension packages in the repository by default.

  20. What would it take to allow Blackberry users to have their PDAs be able to update their address books and calendars from the Lightning + Thunderbird combo (which is a million times superior to Outlook!)?
    Could LDAP work? – I need a wunderkind to help me achieve it! Please – anybody out there smart enough to help me make it happen?

  21. I agree with mickblu, I am desperate to move my company (about 30 users) to Thunderbird/Lightning. But, we are a Blackberry house. I have major issues getting the Funambol solution to synch up to the web. The day we can easily synch our contacts/schedules to Blackberry is the day we drop Outlook forever.

  22. I also agree with Mickblu and Alec, the day I can easily sync my contacts and calendars to Blackberry will be the last day for Outlook.