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.


  1. Today, I tried to get a working dev environment for Lightning on my windows box at work… I have spent more than half a day to get it !! And I still have trouble with atlbase.h (https://developer.mozilla.org/en/atlbase.h)…
    I had to go through dozens of different web pages (in English, which is not my mother language…), each of them saying something different ! Like : do I have to use Mercurial (https://developer.mozilla.org/en/Comm-central) or CVS (https://wiki.mozilla.org/Calendar:Build) ?
    Documentation on calendar wiki seems really out of date (still talking about calendar 0.6a1…). If you really want some new people to join in, calendar team will really have to make a better documentation.
    I’m kind of sure a lot of people are doing like I did : trying to get code by themselves before asking stupid questions on IRC… And this first step is so painful that lots of them must give up before the end.
    My 2 cents…

  2. Tof,
    to answer your one question: You need to use Mercurial. The info on the wiki is outdated as you say and I tried to update it as far as I was able.

  3. I just thought I’d post that I do like and occasionally use/test sunbird. I havn’t actively used thunderbird/lightening in many years (probably wait until 3.0?), since gmail works fine although I might use thunderbird to backup gmail.
    This may be offtopic, but at one point I was thinking of using sunbird as a dataminer/day planner for a very small service business that sees probably 30 clients a day, 5 days a week. Input when you have clients booked, how long you expect to have them, what type of service they acquire, then the amount paid. I was exporting this info to spreadsheets to then datamine it. Anyone know of better free opensource programs to accomplish this? Using Sunbird to accomplish this seemed more user-friendly than other programs (at least the inputting of when clients are booked, the datamining can be done by a business person whenever). I’ve tried other calendar programs but sunbird seemed the best.
    I’d dislike to have thunderbird installed in order to use this program, especially if thunderbird(email) was not going to be used. Is lightening still possible to integrate with openoffice?

  4. Thanks for the good work on the wiki. It should be easier for newbies like me.

  5. I’ve not been to the blog since before the change of template so have just caught up and have a few thoughts. I’ll prefix this by saying I’ve no idea how much influence you have over the Mozilla Foundation and their websites but hey if they’re ‘supporting you’ then this should be no problem.
    One of the golden rules of web development is to give the users options that lead them where you want them to go. At mozilla.org there are just two minimal links to Lightning and Sunbird. Talk about not selling yourself! This is a waste.
    Rather than waste the top two thirds with a redirector for Firefox and Thunderbird, chop it into two, or even three blocks/blobs.
    [ FF & TB ] [ LT & SB ]
    [ FF ] [ TB ] [ LT & SB ]
    Each could have the cool graphic, and catchy hook.
    e.g. in the FF box…
    “The fastest and safest way to surf the web” + FF logo and whatever other nice graphics.. link to FF.
    Same for TB (Fast, safe, easy e-mail!) and the Lightning / SB boxes.
    Perhaps under each a rotating set of quotes from users on how each of the three rocked their worlds.
    Regarding developers, if you don’t ask you don’t get. Nowhere does it say on the .org homepage or lightning sub-page page anything like “Hey! Want to help the development of Lightning and Sunbird? Click here…”. It should.
    Under the two/three blocks above, push the blog / feed updates into one longer feed on the left, and devote the right column to the developer pitch.
    On the developer page it should say…
    1. How to get it.
    2. How to build it, with up to date instructions.
    3. Guide to submitting patches back.
    4. Meet the team (optional) with what people specialise in so you know where to direct a question.
    5. Where we meet. Make noise about the IRC channel.
    6. Feedback. How / where do you use Lightning/SB. Do you like it? Does it suck? Bring on the feedback good or bad.
    While we’re talking about development focus, as people have stated Lightning is and should be a core part of the development. I don’t know how with such goodwill the Mozilla team can make such a pigs ear of promoting your project when it’s so integral. Any admin wishing to migrate from Outlook will hit the same questions.
    Where’s my calendar?
    How do I see the company / person X’s calendar?
    How do I set up a meeting?
    How do I see if person X is free or busy.
    How do I get this on my mobile device?
    How do I turn this e-mail into a task / event?
    Only together can Thunderbird and Lightning achieve this. Thunderbird at present doesn’t look that much different so is easy to adapt users to, but Lightning is key for the calendaring / meetings and works great with Funambol for mobile devices (key for the sales team and exec types). Please concentrate on getting Lightning where it needs to be. The TB/LT combo fit the Outlook way of working very well and every day users right now want familiarity with what they’re used to or they won’t switch.
    This is where it’s at right now regardless of whatever conceptual pie in the sky future of e-mail ideas some may wish to pursue. As you said now is the crisis. Fix the crisis first. Once Thunderbird and Lightning are kicking ass and taking names in offices and homes everywhere then we can entertain evolutionary ideas.
    Jumping back to sites, the mozilla.com site is guilty of much the same as .org. Yes there’s a great big punch you in the nuts style link to Firefox, but then a wasted space with birds and pipes taking up the right hand side, minimal lip service to Thunderbird half way down, nothing on calendaring and developer center a washed out grey link down the bottom. As .org they can and should give more weight to Thunderbird and Lightning/SB.
    Tell me where I’m wrong? I’ve been using FF/TB/LT (and Sunbird now and again) for a long time now and feel for it to fall at the fence now would be a tragic waste and failure of leadership on the part of the Foundation. The power to change this is there.

  6. ditto above comments…
    I (think I) have some good development ideas for Thunderbird and Sunbird/Lightning, though I lack time and most likely the programming expertise. That could change though, so I am interested in getting more information about the development process. I currently use Thunderbird, and think it is a great program though clearly could use some work. I use Lightning also, and would like to see it evolve into a very comprehensive and scalable GTD time/task management system. I’d like to see Sunbird evolve in the same way as a standalone program, so that I could manage my priorities separate from communications, if need be. Ideally I guess they could sync off the same data files. Speaking of sync, I am looking forward to(hoping for) Thunderbird and Sunbird iPhone applications. I currently use Google sync to get the iPhone synced with Thunderbird/Lightning, and while it is impressive, I am less than thrilled about having more and more of my life on Google servers, for any of a variety of reasons. Much better would be wifi, bluetooth or even docking cable sync between my laptop Lightning/Sunbird and the iPhone Lightning/Sunbird.
    It’s too bad about the lack of developers, these could be great programs, and really change people’s lives for the better. Certainly could make mine a lot more organized! Already have, to a large degree. There is tremendous space for improvement. I’d really like to know more about getting involved in the dev process. Over the next year or two I could see being able to put some time into it.
    Good on the donation links. Money is important. Maybe they should put some links on the main Firefox page too. If every Firefox user donated (avg) 10 dollars it wouldn’t be much trouble to fund full-time project coordinators for these things.