Calendar Project at a critical juncture

For discussing the Mozilla Calendar, Sunbird and Lightning projects.
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Post Posted February 18th, 2009, 3:27 pm

[Re-Posting this here for Philipp from the calendar developer blog to keep people informed]

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)
Sunbird/Calendar project webmaster
Visit the Calendar developer blog


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Post Posted February 18th, 2009, 3:34 pm

Stickying this .....
Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former. -Albert Einstein

Please DO NOT PM me for support... Lets keep it on the board, so we can all learn.

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Post Posted February 21st, 2009, 12:37 am

Well there was a little more discussion about this on the newsgroup, but I'll try to get it going here. Some thoughts from the group:

1) Focus on some features that will make tb+ln a nice alternative (along with mail and calendaring servers) to exchange. (

2) At least update the relevant guides to help newcomers to the project add some features. ( and

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Post Posted March 29th, 2009, 10:43 am


I had been using WebCalendar up until a recent site hosting change to an upgraded server after which it would not install. WebCalendar project support was non-existent, so I turned instead to Sunbird using a Google calendar for sharing the calendar in several locations. It's an elegant solution and I am very pleased with it, it is working quite well in Linux/Kubuntu and in Windows XP.

Today I browsed here and found this very disappointing post which basically told me that the Sunbird project seems doomed to a slow death. Since I am using KMail, I do not want to switch to Thunderbird/Lightening if I absolutely don't have to.

What can I do to help the project? I certainly don't have the time to give full time assistance but I would love to see Sunbird stay alive. I have good CSS and user interface skills but no real programming experience. I am also quite literate and enjoy writing and editing. And I am willing to be mentored.

How can I help?


Private email is photo dot painter at gmail dot com

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Post Posted March 31st, 2009, 6:52 am


I'm using thunderbird to provide a network calendar service. IMHO lightning is a neat product and along with thunderbird will suit well with right features. sunbird I think has some redundant features and don't know why you have to support a stand alone client. how about free/busy publish/subscribe feature support for lightning?

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Post Posted April 7th, 2009, 10:20 am

I'd much rather see Lightning continue than Sunbird.

Lots of email providers have guides showing you how to setup your account in Thunderbird but not in other open-source apps. Thunderbird has more momentum behind it so Lightning seems to make more sense than a stand-alone app.

Wish I could help but i too am swamped with life and work right now. I'll try to sign up to test in the future.

Roger Brown
Roger Brown

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Post Posted April 8th, 2009, 8:01 pm

I don't know what Exchange does, so I don't find it important.
I use Lightning for remote calendars, there are hardly any good apps that handle this - if calendar apps don't load with your email program there's not much point to a calendar and I don't want something running constantly. So I like any good Email/Browser extension that can handle viewing and editing remote calendars.
I could host my own .ics file, but I prefer to use Google Calendar because they have a fancy editor that is fast, they have sharing options, I don't have to worry about my hosting or speeds etc.

Something that would help get Developers interested is a "VIew Soure Code" link or something in the top right corner - which would take you straight to a webpage directory of the source code. I think there is a mental block between Extension coding and regular coders - if they can see familiar code syntax with 1 click, there would be a lot more activity in the dev area.

Much easier to spot and rport bugs if the code is easily visible. At the moment I don't know what or where the code is, probably a lot of effort to find and probably have to untar or something to get at it... Zzzzz I just had a look for it, took me two minutes and some careful clicking, personally I think that is a bad idea for a community project. Don't make it hard for people who want to help - without help, the project is dead. Reporting Bugs is a similarly hard issue, if I (as a user) see a bug while using Lightning, how do I work out where to report it? - I have to know that I can right-click an Addon in the list to get the Home Page link, then I have to know what Bugzilla is, how to use it and register there, etc. Can't even find a link to view all current Calendar bugs, Bugzilla is hard to use. A link straight to this forum might be better for regular humans.

This is the source code URL I mean, ... /base/src/ link to it from the GUI as a Button called "Source Code", users can customise their GUI to get rid of it if they want, regular people wont care about the spare space being a bit smaller than it could be (hey maybe they will learn something about customising their Buttons too). Maybe a link straight to this forum too, as another button "Discuss Lightning" - it would be like a direct line to god(devs), which currently isn't easy.

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Post Posted April 8th, 2009, 9:01 pm

I am but a simple user, and only started a few months ago.
I would like to be able to enter events that repeat but not on recurring pattern. This is very real for me!
I would also like to make a template for the New Zealand primary and/or secondary school terms. This would include the ability to change the top line of the calendar window to show TnWnn where n = 1, 2, 3 or 4 and nn is 1 to 10 (Term n Week nn). But I haven't had success and put it aside for later.

As for the bigger issues - I trust you.


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Post Posted April 9th, 2009, 9:53 am

Heading in the direction of a calendar 'add-on' (Lightning) is OK if you are committed to only using Thunderbird. I think this is a grave mistake, for one that tends to change from package to package as development in alternative email packages move me closer to my optimum working practice, especially as Thunderbird development can be rather sluggish.

The development of a stand alone package frees us from this impossible position.

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Post Posted April 13th, 2009, 2:15 pm

If I am going to have to have one program running for calendar and email I might as well go with Outlook 2007.

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Post Posted April 13th, 2009, 4:57 pm

novice wrote:If I am going to have to have one program running for calendar and email I might as well go with Outlook 2007.

Outlook costs money.

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Post Posted April 14th, 2009, 3:07 pm

Outlook not only costs money, but I have to use it during my day job and I am not that impressed.

I think its vitally important to keep alive these developments, because among other things they increase user choice; personally some of these products are far better than any Microsoft equivalent.

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Post Posted May 17th, 2009, 7:03 pm

I used to use the Calendar extension for the Mozilla Suite / SeaMonkey, but then the Calendar Project stopped supporting and updating it and it stopped working. Then I used the Calendar extension for Firefox, but eventually the Calendar Project stopped supporting and updating it and it stopped working. Then I started using the standalone Sunbird, but it looks like they're going to stop supporting it. I don't use Thunderbird.
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Post Posted June 19th, 2009, 9:25 am

I only found this because I was having problems updating Calendar from .3x (!) to .9
On one machine I use Tbird, on other machines not.
This is because I want my email on one machine, not scattered. Yes, there are probably better approaches, but I haven't invested the effort to figure out a path and make the changes.
Hence, I use Sunbird standalone on one or more machines.
That's one or two user cases, I guess.
FWIW, I'm a techwriter with some software knowhow.

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Post Posted June 22nd, 2009, 9:27 pm

As a long term user of both Thunderbird and Lightning (and before that Sunbird) I would like to express my support for the continued development of Lightning.

The Mozilla software development model is uniquely responsive to varied user needs. If forced to, I'm sure I will get by with gmail plus calender, or some other alternative, but I doubt they will be as flexible.

So I'm dearly hoping Lightning will continue to be developed!!
Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-US; rv:1.9.1) Gecko/20090624 Firefox/3.5 (.NET CLR 3.5.30729) Thunderbird version (20090605)

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