Jul 11

Having trouble with 1.0b4? Try 1.0b5rc3!

Unfortunately, some major errors slipped through in 1.0b4. You might have noticed the alarm window disappearing and a lot of misplaced beeps from the alarm system. You might have also noticed, that some of your calendars are no longer working (specifically, webcal:// calendars).

To fix these issues we are releasing 1.0b5 in the next 1-2 days, which contains 10 bugfixes.

As another highlight, 1.0b5 will now be compatible with both Thunderbird 5 and Thunderbird 6 to ensure you can continue using Lightning without extra hassle. If you are using Thunderbird 6.0b1 it would be great if you could give these test builds a spin.

Update: Another issue slipped in, I’ve modified the packages to fix it. If you have already downloaded, please try the following links!

You can get the builds here. If you get a 404, its likely they have not been propagated to all mirrors yet, check back in a few hours.

If you are using the Provider for Google Calendar, I have marked the current version compatible with Thunderbird 6. You can get it as usual from addons.mozilla.org

Thank you for your support!

May 11

Calendar in Summer of Code

The community bonding phase of the Google Summer of Code 2011 is almost over so its about time to introduce our students to you. This year we have accepted two students for two very exciting projects.

Offline Support

The goal of the first project is to provide full offline support. The Student in charge here is Mohit Singh Kanwal. Mohit is a student developer from Singapore who got involved into open source and the Mozilla Calendar Project as part of the Google Summer of Code 2011. A beginner in Mozilla technologies, and code, Mohit hopes to work on the offline synchronization mode for lightning and hopefully by the end of the summer season, you can synchronize online and offline calendars. He blogs about the project here.

Improving the New Calendar Wizard

Another great project this year is improving the new calendar wizard. Lennart Bublies, 21 years old from Hamburg, Germany is working on making life easier for everyone adding a new calendar. Right now you need to enter the exact URL of your calendar. Lennart wants to improve this so you just need to enter the hostname. Read these words from Lennart:

Since summer 2009 I have been studying technical computer science at the University of Applied Science in Wedel. In addition to the university I am working in a small company, called Bit-Serv, in the area of system technology. When I’m not busy with computer science, i like to play guitar, listen to music, meet friends and I spend a lot of time outside.

I heard about Google Summer of Code via the Internet. For a few years I was waiting for an opportunity to work for a company like Mozilla, finally I have found the occasion.

Mozilla is an extraordinary open-source project. The dedication Mozilla has proven towards the community has always fascinated me – I have been using Firefox and Thunderbird for years and I am stoked. As a user of the Lightning extension I have had a few gripes and instead of asking the developers to fix it, I would like to use this opportunity to get involved myself. The project I am proposing has been a pet peeve of mine for some time now, every time I switch machines I need to find out the correct URL of my calendars. Completing this project would make my life easier and I think it would greatly benefit the Mozilla Calendar Project and its community.

Please give a warm welcome to our new contributors, I’m really looking forward to their work. Lets make this a great summer!

May 11

String Freeze and 1.0b4 Schedule

Hello Folks,

Following the Thunderbird Schedule, the Mozilla Calendar Project is
now officially string frozen. I have already announced preliminary
string freeze, but since then a lot has happened on the branching
landscape which caused some trouble in calendar land.

The following information is mainly for localizers, but also gives some details on the upcoming release.

Note that the tree has changed, to match for Thunderbird. Instead of
l10n-central, for your locale to be part of Lightning 1.0b4 you must
push to the new l10n-miramar repository. Thanks to Mark for his hard
work on getting things set up.


The final deadline for calendar l10n matches the Thunderbird deadline
of June 7th. Since for Lightning there is not much difference
between the nightly and release builds, we will not be providing extra
beta builds. Translated extensions are available on a nightly basis
(sorry, no build-on-push yet!).


The dashboard is at https://l10n-stage-sj.mozilla.org/dashboard/?tree=calendar10x. 25 locales are already green, congrats!

en-US repository

The en-US repositories are at:

Nightly builds:

l10n repositories

The l10n repositories are at: http://hg.mozilla.org/releases/l10n-miramar

You want to clone yours via
hg clone ssh://hg.mozilla.org/releases/l10n-miramar/ab-CD/

Localized Nightly builds: http://ftp.mozilla.org/pub/mozilla.org/calendar/lightning/nightly/latest-comm-miramar-l10n

Update: Signoffs are now open until June 7th. They are available here.

Jan 11

Happy New Year from the Calendar Website Team

Dear Calendar community,

2010 has been a great year for us all; we’ve come up with some nice
releases: Lightning 1.0b1 and 1.0b2. The developers have created lots of
stunning features and improved the application stability, performance and the
memory consumption. The second beta allows the users to print out the tasks and
to set different start and end timezones for events and tasks. The developers have
been working really hard to code all features and integrate Lightning seamlessly into
the Thunderbird user interface.

Our download numbers were stable and lots of users have downloaded our software.
During this year we were posting blog posts that contain some download
statistics. Users have downloaded almost three million copies of Lightning this year and we couldn’t be more happy with it.

2010 was a really successful year and we’ve done lots of things. In this year three new members joined the Calendar Website Team, to make the Calendar Project’s website even better and to update all users by posting updates on this blog. We didn’t just release new versions and updates, but we also had lots of l10n-related changes. In the last quarter we also migrated all Lightning support-articles to the Mozilla Messaging Knowledgebase.

We’d like to thank you and all other users for downloading our software and for reading the blog posts.

This year will be another great year for the Calendar community which in turn contributes to the success of the Mozilla community.
We have achived lots of goals and we’d like to thank all the developers, contributors and members of the community. We’d also like to thank you and all of the other users for downloading our software and for reading the blog posts.

We wish you, your family and your friends all the best for 2011.

–The Calendar Website Team
(Tobias Markus, Tom Ellins, Jan Bambach)

Dec 10

Bringing your Calendar to the Web, Part 2: Consumers

I recently started a series on how to best bring your calendar data to the web. Today I’d like to go into more detail about who would be a consumer of your data, and how this could look like.

There are a few ideas (and even standards) on the web to make calendar data more readable for computers. The first that comes to mind is the hCalendar microformat, which uses the HTML class attribute to mark certain aspects of an event. Unfortunately, the use of this format is not very wide spread, mostly because browsers usually don’t make much sense of this information. The standard works well for sites promoting events to the user, such as local event sites. For example, Yahoo Upcoming uses the hCalendar format. There are also efforts to revive ical-as-xml, also called xCal. This is more centered on transporting calendar data via xml though.

But, as far as I have read, there is no standard for sharing local calendar data with the web. To start off in this direction, we have to differ between active and passive data consumers.

On the one hand there are websites that would ask the user for his or her calendar data so that they could display this data, well integrated into their site. For such sites it would be great to provide a standardized API to access user calendar data. On the other hand, there are sites that won’t use a such API right away. Such sites could nevertheless be integrated with your calendar. Parsing the website and looking for dates could help you in creating an event in your calendar.

Scraping events off a web page can be very complex and its not often clear which parts of the web page really are event data. While hCalendar could relieve this issue, for sites which don’t provide metadata a human is probably still the best to decide. I am working on an extension that allows manually scraping data from an email, this could well be extended to websites too.

Lets go back to web-based calendars for a moment. If you have been using an online calendar like Google Calendar, you have to rely on some sort of integration between those websites. Although some sites like tungle.me offer importing data from Google Calendar, this is not always the case. Also, what if you use a different Calendar? The site owner needs to add and test interfacing with each calendar site, which is not always easy.

The alternative would be a standard, that allows on-line calendars to synchronize its data with your PC, and also define a way for other sites to access this data in a safe manner. This would mean the usual add/modify/delete/retrieve operations, together with a synchronization mechanism. To make adoption as easy as possible, this standard should make use of existing formats and standards as possible. I could imagine xCal being the transport mechanism, together with etags and ctags to improve synchronization.

I will be talking about privacy in more detail in the next part of this series.

Nov 10

Recent Rumors Cleaned Up

In a recent blog post, some rumors have emerged. Partially this is due to bad wording on our side, so I’d like to straighten things out here.

  • “Since we never leave our users with one outdated version of Sunbird, we always give Sunbird new updates with new cool features and bugfixes.” – This is plain wrong, we are not actively working on Sunbird. Nevertheless, due to a shared codebase between Sunbird and Lightning, users who build Sunbird on their own might still profit from some changes. The sentence was corrected in the original blog post.
  • Philipp writes all the blog posts here – Nope, please take a close look at the Author. We now have great support from Jan, Tobbi, and TMZ. I unfortunately don’t get notified about comments on blog posts I don’t write, so I didn’t have a chance to answer via comment. Sorry about that!
  • The latest version of Sunbird is 1.0 beta 2 – Although the folder structure on the ftp server might suggest this, the latest version of Sunbird is still 1.0b1. The naming of that folder is merely an artifact of the release automation used for Lightning 1.0b2. There were no Sunbird builds produced and promoted during that Lightning release.

Nov 10

Bringing your Calendar to the Web, Part 1: Introduction

Lately, I’ve been exploring some new ideas on how to attract new users and maybe also developers. There are many people out there that prefer using a web-based calendar, which is fine, but I believe they can find added value by storing their data locally.

Surfing the web, you probably make a lot of contact with calendar related websites. The most obvious is a web-based calendar like Google or Yahoo Calendar. But there is actually a lot more. Have you ever used a short-term scheduling service like doodle.de or tungle.me ? Or to go one step further, you’ve surely visited a site that contains a massive amount of calendar data, for example local event sites like eventful.com or upcoming.yahoo.com.

So what happens when you visit a scheduling site? You’ve probably been invited to participate by a friend. So you look at the site to see what times are suggested. Then you switch back to your calendar to see if you have time. Then you switch back to the site and after a few clicks you have set up your availability. But then you forgot to check for the next week. You see whats going on here? You are switching back and forwards, wasting a lot of time. If you could allow the site to access your calendar, you could see all the data in one place, no need for switching to your calendar application or website. The same goes for upcoming events. If you’re looking for a nice concert to go to, it would be swell to know if you are free on those days.

This post is the start of a series, I will be posting more about this topic soon. Next up I will be writing in more detail about the possible consumers of your calendar data. Please stay tuned, you are welcome to leave your feedback and ideas.

Jul 08

Simon’s Developer notes: Contributing to the Calendar Project

After my last post many good suggestions were posted to the comment section

  • An improved website, functioning as a portal to the project, with links to a roadmap, discussion forums, FAQs, developer documentation, etc.
  • Development of a real project roadmap
  • More developer documentation
  • Regular user polls
  • Creation of PR documents and improved PR efforts
  • Creation of a list of easy to fix bugs, which would be suitable for project newcomers
  • Development of often requested features, e.g. sync functionality

Fulfilling all of these items would surely keep one person working full-time on it busy for a few weeks or months at least. But what strikes me here is, that all of the requests and suggestions above (except the last one) do not involve writing code at all.

This brings me to one of the greatest secrets of Open Source: You don’t have to be a developer to contribute to the project!

So this is basically a call to help to all of you out here, who are thinking or have been thinking about contributing to the project in the past, but found it hard to get into or didn’t know where to start. You guys can make a real difference here!

So if one of you thinks that he knows something about web design or web development, send me your ideas. If one of you is good at writing technical documentation, then I can point to the relevant people to get you started on developer documentation. If one of you wants to make a project roadmap a reality, I can point you to all the small pieces that just need to be glued together. If you would like to gather the opinion of our users or want to spread the word about Lightning and Sunbird, just go for it or send me your ideas.

This list could probably be continued indefinitely, but I guess what I’m trying to say is: It’s easy to get into the Calendar project, you just need to do “something”. Back in 2002 this was how I got into Firefox Project (called Phoenix at that time), because I responded to a call from Asa Dotzler about doing some bug triage. Two days later I was someone important in the project. Two years later, I approached the past Calendar project lead, Mostafah Hosseini, with some improvement suggestions to the project website and a week later I was the “officially” appointed website maintainer.

So you see, little stuff can make a difference. Go for it!

May 08

[May 30, 2008] Lightning/Sunbird Status Update

Another eight days have gone by and lots of fixes have happened since the last installment of the status update. Thanks to our developers and reviewers 16 bugs have been fixed.

Here’s the list of all the 16 changes within the last three days:

  • Bug 323952:
    no progress indicator when reloading remote calendars
  • Bug 338527:
    Load of remote calendar fails if ‘Automatic proxy configuration URL’ is set (regression)
  • Bug 428496:
    Editing event or dismissing alarm collapses Today/Tomorrow/Soon section in Agenda
  • Bug 429938:
    no cancelation message is send to attendees if event is deleted
  • Bug 431811:
    Context menu of tasks in today pane causes error
  • Bug 431980:
    Tasks marked as completed disappear from tasks list in task mode
  • Bug 433753:
    Add Romanian localization
  • Bug 434092:
    Allow disabling calendars completely (i.e on an outage)
  • Bug 435083:
    Day/week view: Event boxes don’t show color but are transparent
  • Bug 435268:
    Double-clicking an event in the Today pane opens *two* editing windows
  • Bug 435634:
    Missing ids in calendar-calendars-list.xul
  • Bug 435795:
    Can’t open Edit Task dialog via Return key for first entry in task list
  • Bug 435877:
    UTF-8 decoding problem breaks wcap calendar
  • Bug 435904:
    untitled tasks generate an exception when sorting
  • Bug 435934:
    No chrome package registered for chrome://calendar/widgets/calendar-widget-bindings.css
  • Bug 436030:
    Calendar services should specify nsIClassInfo::SINGLETON

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

Apr 07

Great increase in download numbers in the last week

Hi guys,
I’m sitting here in Hamburg on the Calendar developers face-to-face meeting together with Clint, Matthew, Philipp, Daniel, Mickey, Christian, Ulf, Andreas, Stephan, Thomas and Berend and while we discussed our plans for the upcoming releases, we noticed that we had a great increase in download numbers in the last week:

Lightning download numbers:

  • total: 248406 (since the creation of the extension on March 15, 2006)
  • last week: 47102

So we got nearly 20% of all downloads in the last week. These numbers come from addons.mozilla.org only, so they do not include all the downloads from people downloading Lightning directly from the Lightning project page.

Philipp Kewisch also mentioned, that the download numbers for his Google Calendar Provider extension also increased considerably.

Google Calendar Provider download numbers:

  • total: 21567 (since the creation of the extension on March 26, 2007)
  • last week: 12317

So the Google Calendar Provider extension is really taking off. We attribute this increase mainly to an article describing a sync functionality of Lightning via Google Calendar. This article was mentioned on Slashdot and Digg.