Looking back at 2008 from a calendar perspective

We’re just two days away from 2009, so this is probably a good time to look back on 2008 and some of the good and some of the not so good stuff that happened in that year from my own perspective.

First the good stuff:

  • We released two fine releases this year with 0.8 in early April and 0.9 in late September. Both releases were well received by our users and had a considerable amount of new features and UI improvements, which most people loved.
  • Our development transition from the MOZILLA_1_8_BRANCH on CVS to the current Gecko 1.9.1 backend on Mercurial (the trunk) went very smoothly. Given the fact, that we had essentially abandoned the trunk for nearly 18 months and had had close to no testing on the trunk during our time on the branch, everything went very well. I think this speaks well with regards to the skills of our developers as well as the maturity of the mozilla platform that this was so rather painless.
  • We’re well on our way to our 1.0 release and the integration of Lightning into Thunderbird 3. We’ve made some great progress on the road to integrate Lightning better into Thunderbird. The emergence of Mozilla Messaging and the energy that David Ascher and his newly assembled team have brought into the Thunderbird community make it much more exciting today to work on extending Thunderbird’s capabilities than was the case 12 or 18 months ago.
  • We had some great team-building events this year. The 3rd face-to-face meeting in Hamburg, the Mozilla summit in Whistler and the Mozilla Camp Europe in Barcelona were great highlights of 2008 that both excited the community as well as the developers and other contributors that were part of these events. My thanks go to Sun for hosting the frist event and to the Mozilla Corporation/Mozilla Europe for hosting the last two.

Now the not so good stuff:

  • We have not yet come to the point where Lightning is part of the default Thunderbird installation. We’re having some sort of a chicken-egg problem right now. The Thunderbird crew currently does not want to enable Lightning by default in Thunderbird 3 nightly builds because of quality reasons. But we want them to enable Lightning by default ASAP because that would broaden our testing and QA coverage significantly, thereby enabling us to remove those bugs faster and more easily, that the Thunderbird crew currently sees as blocking the activation of Lightning. We’ll probably need to work this out early in 2009.
  • We have not managed to increase our development community in a significant way. I’m actually very concerned about this one, because right now the 3,75 people that Sun Microsystems has assigned to the project (2 full-time developers, 1 full-time QA engineer, 1 part-time (50%) build engineer, 1 part-time (25%) user experience lead) do most of the work in the project. That is not bad in itself, but looking at it from a medium- to long-term perspective, we really need to work much harder on attracting new talent to the project to place it on a much more solid foundation. We’ve started some efforts with regards to that in 2008 with (hopefully) improved communication activities between the core team and the community, but we obviously need to do much more in 2009 to make a significant change happen.

That is my perspective on 2008. I would be interested in hearing your take on the Up’s and Down’s of our project in 2008. Until that I wish everyone of our blog readers a happy new year 2009!


  1. Stupid question, what are the chances of Thunderbird and Thunderbird w/bundled lightning being pushed side by side – like how a Firefox beta release is done?

  2. Not really your fault, but there was never a release version of Lightning that worked well with Bedework.

  3. I am completly okay with you here. 2008 was the first time that I looked in the project and my heart is bleeding that I can’t work on it at the moment and in the near future.
    I talked about the problems with the to small community once with Fallen. I think that there are still to big problems in getting involved. Here are my impressions
    – It is at first hard to find the developer community. Asking in an irc can be somehow scaring.
    – The documentation is pretty messy and there are very few timelines.
    I find that the ubuntuusers.de webpage is a great example how to create a community. Forum, blog, documentation and a bugzilla, accessible from one portal would be really cool.

  4. I am pleased to be a Lightning user through the development phase. The team is conscientious and responsive. You’re a great example to the opensource community.

  5. Would just like to wish a Happy New Year to the Lightning team. I’ve been using Thunderbird and Lightning for quite a few years and I don’t think Lightning is any more buggy than TB… So I agree with the logic of enabling Lightning by default. Integration into TB builds would be one of the most important improvements in TB 3.0 (in addition to tabs, improved IMAP support and a better address book) as far as attracting new (particularly enterprise) users is concerned.

  6. I second giorgio!
    In my opinion, TB3 without lightning enabled by default has little appeal for new users (lots of people doesn’t like to install an add-on for something important like your calendar. Enabled by default will help people to feel Lightning part of TB project).
    By the way I wish to thanks all people involved with the project.
    Happy new year!

  7. I wouldn’t even consider using Thunderbird if it wasn’t for Lightning. The thunderbird team should consider how many potential users they are losing without an integrated calendar.
    Great job in 2008. Hoping 2009 is equally successful.