Sep 13

Lightning 2.6 has been released

I am happy to announce the release of Lightning 2.6, compatible to Thunderbird 24 and Seamonkey 2.21. The release went live on Tuesday, September 17th and is the next major release after Thunderbird 17 and Lightning 1.9. If you are using the Provider for Google Calendar, you will also have to upgrade to version 0.25.

You may have not received the updates automatically because of server side throttling, you can either wait until the update occurs, force checking for updates via the About Thunderbird dialog, or grab them manually:

Before upgrading, be sure to backup your profile so you can restore in case something goes wrong unexpectedly.

The release notes can be found on addons.mozilla.org. An important note for users of Google Calendar via CalDAV (not via Provider for Google Calendar): Due to a server side change at Google, you must update the URL of the calendar, as described in this post.

Should you be experiencing any issues, here are some steps that might resolve them:

  • Make sure that you are running Thunderbird 24 or SeaMonkey 2.21.
  • Redownload and install Lightning using the download links above.
  • If you are using the Provider for Google Calendar make sure you upgrade to version 0.25
If you are experiencing issues (Lightning not installing or the calendar not working at all), try removing the Lightning addon and doing a fresh install. Your calendar data will be kept intact, as it is contained in your profile. To be sure, create a profile backup as described above.

If you enjoy this update or want to thank us for the hard work we have done, feel free to leave a review at addons.mozilla.org. If you have issues upgrading, please don’t misuse the reviews. Leave a comment here and I’ll try to get back to you soon! If you are sure you have found a bug, you can also search for it on bugzilla or file a new one if it doesn’t yet exist.

Aug 13

Lightning 2.6b1 is out, testing urgently needed

Lightning 2.6 is going to be the release you are stuck with for about 42 weeks, so its vitally important that this one is tested thoroughly. All features are important to test, as not only Lightning code has changed, but also the Mozilla Platform behind it.

Get the Thunderbird 24 beta on the Thunderbird betas page.
Get Lightning 2.6b1 on addons.mozilla.org:

If you find an issue, please file a bug at bugzilla.mozilla.org, product Calendar. Search for an existing bug first. If you come across any major bugs (not missing features), a comment is fine too.

Thank you for your support!

May 13

Does anyone have a string change for me?

Since the last big release is a while back, I thought I’d let everyone know that the current Lightning 2.6 nightly builds on comm-central will become the release compatible with Thunderbird 24, the next big Thunderbird release.

What this means for localizers
When the current 6 weeks cycle ends, the code will merge down to comm-aurora as usual. At this moment you should be preparing your translations and signing off. There is no process change, you will still have time until the beta, but especially if you have a lot of untranslated strings you might want to start early. While the intermediate beta releases have not been so important, missing the deadline this time means up to 42 weeks of Lightning without your language.

What this means for developers
Have a patch you are working on? A nice new feature? Better get it in review soon, otherwise we might have to postpone it. Especially so if it contains string changes, additions or removals. Again, postponing means at least 42 weeks before its in the final release.

What this means for users
It is vitally important that you test the Lightning builds we offer. Given we haven’t had final releases in a while more regressions might have snuck in and its better we find them early. It would be super helpful if you could test the nightly builds, but if you want a little more safety, there is a test week in progress for Thunderbird and the current Lightning beta. You are of course encouraged to install the beta builds at any time. I personally use them for my production calendars.

Nov 12

Lightning 1.9 released, please update your Provider for Google Calendar

As you likely noticed, Lightning 1.9 was recently released. Aside from the common issues during an update, the most reported problem was that calendars were no longer working. In almost all cases, the solution for this issue is to also update the Provider for Google Calendar to version 0.18. A function in Lightning was changed that was used by the Provider version 0.17, hence the update.

For an unknown reason, the addons manager did not find the update of the Provider for Google Calendar to version 0.18. We have mitigated this by blocking the older version of the extension on addons.mozilla.org, but we have yet to find the reason this has happened in the first place.

The next release is still a while away, but if you experience issues in a future update, please make sure you are using the latest version of all relevant extensions.

If you are having a different error, please check out the Error Console in the Tools menu and comment with any relevant messages by comment. Also, in the advanced config editor (Preferences → Advanced → General → Config Editor) there is a preference called “calendar.debug.log” and “calendar.debug.log.verbose” which you can set to true to get additional messages regarding your problem.

Oct 12

Lightning 1.9 will be the ESR compatible release, please test our beta

Lightning 1.9b2 is now available on addons.mozilla.org. It is compatible to Thunderbird 17 and its betas, which will also be released as Thunderbird 17 ESR. This means testing is more important than ever, since this is a version that will stick around a bit longer.

This is why we need you! Without your testing work, possibly critical bugs might go by unnoticed. Not only does this mean extra pain for the end user, it also means more work for us to do emergency releases.

Please take a moment to download Thunderbird 17 beta and Lightning 1.9b2 and report any issues you find. There have been quite a few fixes in printing support and some drastic changes to the cached calendar / offline support. Your main area of testing should therefore be printing and any kind of cached calendar, for example with a CalDAV server or the Provider for Google Calendar. For those of you using WCAP, support for the cache has been restored in this release too.

Of course I’m eager to hear about problems in any other area, so give it a try and either comment here or file a bug!

Sep 12

The return of the nightly builds

Hello Nightly testers,

I am happy to announce that we now have updated nightly builds for Daily and Earlybird. You may have noticed that for quite some time the builds were missing. The problem behind this was again our build machinery, there were some changes we needed to adopt so that the builds work again.

Fixing the issue wasn’t very hard, but since I was busy with exams and other patches that needed to be pushed before the last release, I haven’t gotten around to it. This again shows that we really need more people on the build side. If you know some python and are interested in fixing build configuration issues, please do email me.


Aug 12

Lightning 1.8b1 for Thunderbird 16 beta is also available

Also, those of you using Thunderbird 16 Beta, I have just uploaded Lightning 1.8b1 to addons.mozilla.org. If you have installed a beta version in the past, you will automatically get an update from 1.7b3 to 1.8b1, otherwise you need to download the beta version manually.

Aug 12

Lightning 1.7 and a new Provider for Google Calendar

As you may have seen, Lightning 1.7 has been released. There are no major UI changes, most of the bugs fixed are us running after the changes in the core Mozilla platform (most notably removing e4x support, fixing sqlite statement wrappers) and backend fixes (cure excessive getItems requests when accessing calendars).

We have some improvements for Mac users in this release though: there is now support for some gestures in the calendar views. If you are on mac (or another machine with a touchpad that supports gestures), try the usual pinch, rotate and swipe gestures in the day, week, multiweek and month views.

Also, as mentioned in the previous blog post, I have rewritten the printing support to accommodate for the e4x backend changes. There might be some kinks, so please continue testing the print support in the release and file bugs or at least comment here as necessary. We have already noticed the “All day – All day”  bug.

You can view the full list of changes here on bugzilla.

Note also that if you are using the Provider for Google Calendar, you must update it to version 0.16. If you do not get the new version via automatic updates, please download it here from addons.mozilla.org.

Jul 12

Prospect on Lightnings Future in Light of Thunderbird’s Governance Changes

Many of you will have heard the misinterpreted news that says Thunderbird will no longer be supported. First of all I must concur this is not true. If you are still under this impression please read this great interview between Tristan Nitot from Mozilla and Jb Piacentino, the Managing Director of Thunderbird. Mozilla will continue to support Thunderbird, but new innovations will have to come from the community.

Even if it has not been obvious in the past, it has almost been this way for Lightning since 2009 when many of the external full-time contributors were assigned other projects and could only continue in their free time. Aside from my role as a project manager, we have a few contributions from the community, bringing Lightning forward. Since our contributors also have day jobs this is of course not comparable with full-time work, but we couldn’t have done it without them.

In this early stage of planning Thunderbird’s transition to the community its hard to say what the final effect on Lightning will be. But on the bright side, if the current plan holds that future Thunderbird releases will be based on the same Mozilla Platform version as the ESR Release, this will make our life much easier with regard to Lightning releases. It is much more likely that a Lightning version will be binary compatible to multiple Thunderbird versions, which means the big pain of upgrading that Lightning users might be having when a new Thunderbird version is released will go away.

On the downside, since the core Thunderbird team is now assigned to other projects also, this means they will (understandably) have even less time for Lightning. Key areas include Graphics Design, build configuration and release engineering.

There might also be problems when Thunderbird switches to a later version of the Mozilla Platform (i.e around Thunderbird ESR 24), since Lightning will have to catch up with anything that has changed on the Mozilla Platform between version 17 and 24. This could be a serious undertaking since even if we do patch everything we know of for Lightning to work with Thunderbird 24, its quite likely that there will be regressions which will require out-of-plan releases to fix. Not only does this mean that Lightning developers have to work non-stop during this time, it also causes pain for the users since its possible that they cannot access their calendar data until there is a new release to fix possible regressions.

We are still looking for solutions that could mitigate this, one suggestion that has been made would be to base Thunderbird EarlyBird and Beta on the then-current Mozilla Platform version (i.e 18, 19, …) to allow more testing in advance and therefore distributing the bugfix work more evenly. If you have another idea on this topic, please discuss in the newsgroups, see below.

So what can you do to keep Lightning from taking damage due to these governance changes?

  • Are we pretty yet? What would a dialog be without icons? If you are good in graphics design and are able to create icons, we desperately need you. If you have experience with user interface design and user experience, even better. With your commitment to Lightning and the open source world, you would need to create new icons as they are required. With some UI design experience you can also help out accepting patches that change the UI of Lightning.
  • How is your python fu? Can you make make make our project build (not a typo, think about it! ;-). Build configuration is also an area we could use some help in. Don’t worry, its a lightweight entry: you can start out just reviewing patches that change how Lightning is built, but in the long term you would be helping out by improving our build system.

Of course we always welcome developers in any other area, but these are the most needed due to Thunderbird’s change in plans. Please drop me an email if you would like to help out.

I will soon put up a roadmap where I think Lightning should be going to make it more transparent what is going on, but right now I can tell you this much about my top three priorities:

  • Set up a new calendar website which is easier to navigate and helps the user or new contributor to get the right information quickly.
  • Improve test automation, especially Mozmill test coverage and using jscoverage to measure progress.
  • Replace libical with the javascript implementation I have been working on. This will make it even easier for us to support multiple Thunderbird versions.

I have closed the comments here to avoid discussions in multiple locations, so if you have any questions, please head over to the tb-planning newsgroup (also readonly via Google Groups) and post your question there. I’m looking forward to shaping the future of Lightning with you!

Jun 12

New Lightning versions (almost) available for all Thunderbird versions

As you may have noticed, there have been some pressing issues in the last month regarding the various versions of Lightning. I’d like to give you a short summary of what happened and what the prospect is.

Lightning 1.5 (Thunderbird 13)

If you have been using a localized version of Lightning, you may have noticed that Lightning 1.5 was reset to English after upgrading. Since I was on vacation and we had some issues with the localization infrastructure, the result was that only a few locales were accepted for the release. To account for this, I have just uploaded Lightning 1.5.1 to addons.mozilla.org which is back with 38 locales. It is pending review and will be available as soon as the addons.mozilla.org reviewers get to it.

Lightning 1.6b1 (Thunderbird 14)

This had been delayed since I wanted to take care of the Lightning 1.5.1 release first and also due to some IT issues I will talk about later on. I have also uploaded this release to addons.mozilla.org, it is available at this moment. You should get automatic upgrades if your previous version of Lightning is also a beta version. If not, head on over to the versions page addons.mozilla.org to get your Lightning beta.

Lightning 1.7a2 & 1.8a1 (Thunderbird 15 & 16)

On Mac and Windows you are probably having trouble finding a compatible Lightning. There were some events that caused our nightly builds to stall.

For Mac OSX, this was a problem with the datacenter move that Mozilla Messaging did. They folded their IT infrastructure back to the core mozilla.org datacenter, which brought some changes also for us. The Mac builder couldn’t be migrated to the new datacenter due to power issues, so we had to order a new one. This took a bit longer than expected since I had to ask around until I found the right path to do this. The builder has arrived and is going to be set up by IT soon. In the meanwhile, the Seamonkey Project was generous enough to loan us a build machine for a short time, which I used for the previously mentioned release builds and will use for at least one set of nightly builds so we have a compatible version again. These should be available tomorrow at latest.

For Windows, there is a build system requirement that I was told requires us to upgrade to a newer version of Visual Studio. When doing so, I found out our build machine didn’t have enough space to install. Since some other things were weird with this machine too, we decided to request a new VM for Windows. This VM is now finally installed and connected. There is still one network issue to resolve and then we can use this box for our windows builds, which will return nightlies for Lightning on the Windows platform.

As always, you can find nightly versions of Lightning on the Mozilla ftp servers, for Daily and Earlybird. Check the dates of the packages before you download, if they are not recent then you need to wait another day for new builds to show up. As a small treat, the latest nightly builds support automatic updates using the addons manager. I will tell you more about this in a separate post when the builder issues have been resolved.