Feb 09

[February 25, 2009] Lightning/Sunbird Status Update

After all the bad news in the last few days, here are some good news at last: Our recent bugfixes. Everything considered, the last 28 days were pretty good in terms of the number of bugfixes. Hopefully we can keep this up as more people will step up and help us with bringing the Calendar Project forward.

Here’s the list of the 47 bugfixes in the last 28 days:

  • Bug 345607: Copy recurring event and paste to another day appears to work but event is not saved
  • Bug 357332: Holidays in Chile
  • Bug 358217: Catalan holiday calendar
  • Bug 379097: Export should default to ics
  • Bug 405033: Remember last selected task when sorting list in Task mode
  • Bug 421329: Freebusy information is not loaded for multiday events beginning previous to look-up date
  • Bug 429126: Infinite loop at refresh when a calendar is deleted from the server outside of Lightning
  • Bug 449567: ‘Dismiss all’ alarms of recurring events -> error console output
  • Bug 457823: Mini-month vs datepicker on calendar pane
  • Bug 463273: Error: Failed to read ‘repeatDetailsOrdinal0’
  • Bug 463679: Two email notifications sent for cached CalDAV calendar
  • Bug 463960: Cannot refresh cached CalDAV calendars
  • Bug 463961: Unnecessary fetch of all etags for cached calendars
  • Bug 468723: Incorrect doModifyItem for CalDAV servers where the inbox matches the calendar uri
  • Bug 469605: Incorrect handling of mBatchCount
  • Bug 469767: Very slow etags parsing
  • Bug 472314: Add some documentation to calendar code
  • Bug 474361: Remove and rename calendar-decorated panes
  • Bug 474630: Alarms don’t work for recurring events
  • Bug 474632: Update internal timezone database to version 2009a
  • Bug 475170: LDAP Lookup broken in Invite Attendees dialog
  • Bug 475549: ICS file for Norwegian holidays 2009-2013
  • Bug 475599: Create the backup files in calendar-data folder instead of the backupData folder
  • Bug 475745: Updated English Holidays calendar
  • Bug 475803: Cal.fromRFC3339 matches fails to set timezone correctly
  • Bug 475887: ${BrandFullName} needs to be quoted in shared.nsh
  • Bug 476219: Drag and drop of event works but MODIFICATION_FAILED dialog is shown
  • Bug 476262: alarms don’t fire/show up/no reminder (alarmDate is not defined)
  • Bug 476331: Replace InfoText with Info in updater.ini using sed in locales Makefile.in
  • Bug 476518: Sunbird debug symbols for crash reports seem to be missing
  • Bug 476867: Download links for Sunbird 0.7 and older releases do not work
  • Bug 477009: Unable to get directory path for directories immediately under some symlinks
  • Bug 477064: Recurrence description for weekly event uses repeatDetailsOrdinal* where should be weekday
  • Bug 477207: Remove installer code that adds unused registry key values
  • Bug 477445: What is this “orientation” of which you speak?
  • Bug 477474: Remove searchplugins occurrences from locales/Makefile.in
  • Bug 477664: No vertical space between label and underline indicating accesskey
  • Bug 479327: On startup, icon in statusbar shows offline mode
  • Bug 479513: task description box vanishes when dragging scrollbar in task list
  • Bug 479577: Creating event/task with alarm on end/due date throws exception NS_ERROR_OBJECT_IS_IMMUTABLE
  • Bug 479578: Creating task with alarm doesn’t automatically enable the required start or due date anymore
  • Bug 479599: Bugs.html: request review from module owner
  • Bug 479605: FAQ: local file steps are out of date
  • Bug 479606: FAQ: how to tinker: change “cvs” to comm-central
  • Bug 479610: FAQ: netscape server -> sun server
  • Bug 479695: Canceling Custom Reminder dialog trows error “customItem.reminders is undefined”
  • Bug 479707: Error notification dialog: “Error number” should be “Error code”

Many thanks go to all developers, contributors, localizers, testers, and supporters that have made this possible.

Feb 09

Even more on the Sunbird/Lightning decision

There have been a lot of questions asked since our announcement, that we’re discontinuing Sunbird, because several main contributors can no longer work full-time on the project. I want to use this post to try to answer as many questions as I can.

  • Various people have asked for the Mozilla Foundation or Mozilla Messaging to step in and help us out.
    Short answer: They already are helping us out.
    Long answer: Mozilla Messaging is already helping us out on the build engineering side and the Mozilla Foundation is actively working with us to make it possible for people to donate to the Calendar Project via the Mozilla Foundation.
  • Raffael asked: “How close are you working together with Spicebird? Are there other projects like Spicebird that could contribute code to Lightning?
    We are working together with the Spicebird people. Their calendar code is mostly based on our code. We are also working closely together with the folks from SoGo.
  • Sunbirduser said: “The most important question is not whether sunbird or lightning will be stopped, but how to get new interesting people into the project and how to get more developers. This is the work of the project leader!
    Like Philipp said in his original announcement

    Our next release will include Sunbird, but subsequent releases won’t unless new contributors take on the work.


    This is really a tremendous opportunity for anyone who is interested and willing to help make a difference here for the project and its hundreds of thousands of users — get involved!

    Things will happen if someone actually steps up and makes them happen. That is how it works in the open source space. Philipp is very important as the project’s lead developer, but he’s not anyone’s boss and can’t command anyone to do something. Interested people will need to step up and do something, then Sunbird can live on.

I hope this answers most questions. Let me know if you have more.

Feb 09

More on the Sunbird/Lightning decision

Our announcement that we’re very short on actual developers has already raised quite a stir. I want to give some feedback to some of the questions that were already raised and also elaborate a little more on the situation that we’re in.
First the feedback part:

  • Cantalou asked: In your opinion, did you get so far enough support from Mozilla Messaging?
    Yes. Absolutely.
  • Various users suggested that we should dump Lightning in favor of Sunbird
    That would be worse than what we’re doing right now. Looking at the download numbers, Lightning is about twice as popular than Sunbird nowadays, so dumping Lightning would probably turn away many more people than dumping Sunbird. In addition Lightning, due to its integrated nature, has many features that Sunbird currently lacks, which would need to be re-implemented in Sunbird to make it a viable option (e.g. addressbook integration, LDAP integration, ability to send and receive mails).
  • jakyra asked: Could you make the next version of Lightning work on Ubuntu?
    Lightning already works fine on Ubuntu. The problem is that Lightning needs some system libraries that aren’t installed by default on Ubuntu. Our system requirements page lists the necessary requirements. If you make sure everything is in place *before* installing Lightning, everything should work fine.
  • neandr asked: Can Lightning 1.x be installed ontop of Firefox/Thunderbird/XULrunner?
    It would certainly be possible to develop Lightning in such a way, that it would be easily installable into Firefox, Thunderbird or every other XULrunner-based application. However, we do not think that this would be an effective use of our development time. That being said, if you (neandr) or someone else is interested in making this happen, you’re more than welcome to do this!

Various users were forthcoming with ideas about feature additions. To answer this let me use a quote from Philipp’s blog post yesterday:

This is really a tremendous opportunity for anyone who is interested and willing to help make a difference here for the project and its hundreds of thousands of users — get involved!

The bottom line is: With no full-time developers on board and only a handful of part-time contributors, there’s no way that we’re going to implement stuff like Exchange support, improved task management, device synchronization, far-reaching performance improvements, etc. in the foreseeable future.

This can only happen, if you make it happen. New features do not materialize out of thin air, they appear because someone is willing and committed enough to invest time and effort to make something happen. Or to use a famous (and slightly adjusted) quote from JFK: “Ask not what the Calendar project can do for you, ask what you can do for the Calendar project!”

So get in touch, either on IRC (#calendar channel on irc.mozilla.org), our developer newsgroup (mozilla.dev.apps.calendar) or via an e-mail to Philipp or me (our mail addresses can be found on our team page).

I hope to hear from you soon

Feb 09

Calendar Project at a critical juncture

The Calendar project, which for several years has been working on the Lightning add-on to Thunderbird and the standalone Sunbird project, is at a critical juncture. We feel it’s important to communicate this to our users and contributor community, as your input will determine how the project continues.
Recently, several contributors who were working on the project full-time have left the project or have shifted to free-time contributor status due to other obligations. This means their contributions will be limited to their spare time, which is quite sparse given a full-time job and family. This is a significant change from recent years, and if no new contributors come on board, it means that the rate of change will decrease dramatically. Our releases will necessarily have to become less frequent, and the amount of bug fixes and new features per release will decrease.
As a result of this, we have to take stock, and figure out how we’re going to go forward.
First, as much as it pains us, we have decided to step back from Sunbird maintenance. Our next release will include Sunbird, but subsequent releases won’t unless new contributors take on the work. Trying to support both takes too much time, so we had to make a painful prioritization decision.
Second, our next major goal is to have a version of Lightning that will work well with Thunderbird 3. Lightning won’t be built-in to Thunderbird 3 for a variety of reasons (see this post by David Ascher for more on the topic), but we’re still on track to have a release that gives users of Thunderbird 2 & Lightning a migration path. That version will be a significant upgrade from Lightning 0.9, including notable performance and usability improvements.
There’s a lot of work to do to reach our goals, and as a result we’re not yet planning much beyond that. This is where we need your input, both in terms of direction-setting — given limited resources, where should we focus and why? and in terms of more directly useful help — if you’ve been using Lightning for a while, and know a bit about mozilla technologies (any of XUL, JavaScript, CSS), or want to help test, write documentation, or do something else not listed here — get in touch!
This is really a tremendous opportunity for anyone who is interested and willing to help make a difference here for the project and its hundreds of thousands of users — get involved!
I hope to hear more from you soon!
Philipp Kewisch (Calendar Project – lead developer)