Next release (0.9) and beyond

Two weeks ago, we had a great face-2-face meeting, which only now I am able to post about. Among the many interesting talks and discussions particular question we’ve discussed was “How do we proceed with Thunderbird 3 and trunk?”. I’ll try to sum up the outcome of this discussion here.

There are a ton of good reasons to move on to the trunk ASAP and help Thunderbird 3 get into shape: calendar will be a core feature of it, trunk has a couple of platform improvements that make our live easier and it will lessen the load on developers and localizers, that we no longer have to think about both the 1.8 branch and the trunk.

On the other hand, we have existing users on Thunderbird 2 waiting for fixes and features. Looking at our resource situation, it was pretty clear to everyone that we can’t support and develop both branch and trunk longer term in a reasonable fashion. So where and when do we make the cut?

We’ve agreed to do one further release on branch in the coming 4 months, namely 0.9. We will focus on the following topics:

  • Usability (our UI gurus have a lot of ideas here)</li
  • Performance (we will put more focus on improving our story with large remote calendars)</li
  • Interoperability (better iMIP/iTIP support comes to my mind here)

More details can be found on

We hope that this release will be sufficient to be used for a longer period of time until the next Thunderbird releaseis out. There will definitely be usable betas (perhaps even alphas) of Thunderbird with integrated calendar, but we also know that some users reject to use those and stay on Thunderbird 2.

We had some further discussion about whether the naming of this last branch release shouldn’t be 1.0, rounding up our development for Thunderbird 2. This seems obvious from a marketing POV, but doesn’t fit into the mozilla way of promoting major releases. So we agreed that we have a thorough look at what we’ve reached both w.r.t. features and quality when 0.9 is almost done, postponing that decision.

To answer some obvious questions:

  • Does this imply changes on Sunbird’s development?
    No, we will do parallel releases of Sunbird with the Lightning releases. So Sunbird 0.9 will come out at the same time as Lightning 0.9 and we’ll move Sunbird development over to the trunk after that, too. This means we will be doing a Sunbird 1.0 release in parallel to the Thunderbird 3 release.
  • What happens if Thunderbird 3 gets delayed?
    We certainly do not hope that this will be the case, but we can react flexibly to that. This means that we might put out another release between 0.9 and TB3 (probably called something like 0.9.5) if it turns out that TB3 will take significantly longer (more than 3-4 months) than anticipated.
  • When are you planning to release 0.9? What is the release date of TB3?
    We are currently planning to release Lightning and Sunbird 0.9 in August 2008. As with all release dates, this release date is subject to change, if it turns out that we need additional time to put out a great release.
    TB3 is currently slated for December 2008/early 2009. The same caveats as said above apply here.


  1. Any chance of Bug 387014 making it into the 0.9 release?

  2. I reviewed the 0.9 wiki. Is there any development within the area of device sync (eg. Palm PDA), or has this been abandoned in the interim?

  3. Sounds like a move the the right direction. I think that in as much as Thunderbird is able to provide a competitive offering to Outlook (ie: email, calendar, task list) it will see success and usage in the home and business sectors. This is especially true if Thunderbird/Sunbird (or Thunderbird 3.0) is able to connect to exchange servers and ‘just work’ (TM) as much as is possible (barring proprietary formatting issues that MS is notorious for using to their advantage).
    Of course, the real power of a robust and integrated Thunderbird/Sunbird stack would be that it would free home and business users from exchange itself and allow them to look at alternatives (freedom). Combine this with open source office suites and users will truly have the freedom they deserve.
    This is one of the main reasons why I’ve been following Sunbird since early 0.1 days. And it is good to see that Sunbird and Thunderbird are on track to more integration.

  4. Great to hear those news! I am looking forward for a better integration into tb!
    I haven’t seem to notice anybody commenting about a strange situation while using tb2, lightning and provider for Google cal. together on Google apps account calendar. If there is a calendar not created by user acc. but shared as read only by another user on the same domain, the lightning is opening multiple log-on windows every time it reload that calendar. Does anybody have the same problem? Is it reported or should it be reported?
    Regards, Luka

  5. Where can I find the Lightning Nightly Builds in Spanish language? While 0.9 is released, I will be using them, but I am only able to get the English version.

  6. One suggestion:
    Small squares by the events in the Today Pane are the same colour than the associated calendar. Is it (or could be) possible to use the colour of the category of the event instead of his calendar one?

  7. what about release beyonde tb3. you wont be able to do a new release every 5-6 month from then but only once a year or two??

  8. @Luisete
    Lightning nightly test builds are only available in English.

  9. Chris,
    it’s hard to determine which bugs will make it into 0.9 and which will not. The bug is marked as wanted0.9+, meaning that we would like to have it in 0.9, but it will depend on the time of the developers or on a volunteer stepping up.
    Dr. Goose,
    no, device sync will most likely not be in 0.9 or 1.0. We will try to tackle this post 1.0
    as far as I understand it, Mozilla Messaging intends to shorten the TB release cycles after TB3 gets out.

  10. “calendar will be a core feature of it [Thunderbird 3]”
    What exactly does this mean? Will lightning be totally integrated with TB3? Or is going to be shipped as a pre-installed add-on?

  11. I hope that post 1.0 you all will consider a notes/memo system like Outlook and others have. I know there were several related bugs many were marked WONTFIX. It does not have to be a fancy system. Just text… first line of text is the note “title” and a category option.
    I actually used to really like how the Palm OS and Palm Desktop PIM did this.

  12. Would it be, please, possible, to make also subtasks to tasks, at least in 2 or 3 levels? in a tree structure?
    It should be possible also to move subtasks from one branch to another and between tasks.

  13. Calendar 0.9pre does not work at all on my computer.
    No calendars, no months, no years. — Don’t install it!
    Error: uncaught exception: [Exception… “‘[JavaScript Error: “window is not defined” {file: “file:///C:/Program%20Files/Calendar/components/calItemModule.js -> file:///C:/Program%20Files/Calendar/js/calUtils.js” line: 902}]’ when calling method: [calITimezoneService::defaultTimezone]” nsresult: “0x80570021 (NS_ERROR_XPC_JAVASCRIPT_ERROR_WITH_DETAILS)” location: “JS frame :: chrome://calendar/content/calUtils.js :: calendarDefaultTimezone :: line 158” data: yes]

  14. My tennis club uses calDAV and Thunderbird/Lightning to coordinate matches and practices. But there’s no way to keep track of attendees who accepted or declined in the even itself. I was wondering if 0.9 will address this.