My Campaign to get Thunderbird Integrated into Ubuntu Natty Narwhal Continues…

I’ve been silent about my work for a few weeks, which is a shame, because one of the top reasons why I accepted a job with Mozilla Messaging was because I was free to talk about what I was doing.

I’ve been neglecting that right, but only because I’ve been holy shit busy.  I’ve been blitzing my Ubuntu Unity integration work like a MoFo, and have gotten two Thunderbird extensions up on Mozilla Labs:

  1. Messaging Menu integration
  2. Unity Launcher integration

So what’s next?

Ubuntu One

Ubuntu One is a service that allows you to sync things like files, bookmarks and contacts between different computers.  (Incidentally, Mozilla has their own service called Sync to do something similar with bookmarks and passwords.)

That’s a pretty cool idea.  Imagine it – you get a brand new computer, hook it up to Ubuntu One, and blam:  all of your bookmarks and contacts are already there waiting for you.

Currently, however, Thunderbird does not support sharing contacts via Ubuntu One.

And that’s what I’m tackling next.

Ubuntu One Contacts Integration

At this point, my goal is to write an extension that will add a new address book to Thunderbird.  Any contacts that are currently stored and shared via Ubuntu One will appear in that address book.

I’ll deal with adding new contacts later – for now, I’ll just do read-only, to keep the complexity down.

So stay tuned.  Ubuntu One Contacts integration is coming…

27 people like this post.

35 thoughts on “My Campaign to get Thunderbird Integrated into Ubuntu Natty Narwhal Continues…

  1. caméléon

    Contact sync with Ubuntu One is already possible with the Funambol add-on. The only problem is that there is no official release of Funambol for Thunderbird 3.1, just some developer release. However, I have try it and it works great.
    Next problem is that actually, contact sync via Funambol require to pay a UbuntuOne mobile account which cost 3.99$/month and offer music sync which is not really useful for me…

    Funambol is available here: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-us/thunderbird/addon/funambol-mozilla-sync-client-l/

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  4. Mike Post author

    @Matěj

    Ah, yes. Communicating with Evolution. In a way, that’s kind of what I’m doing: contacts in Evolution can already be stored in Ubuntu One. Thunderbird will be able to access those contacts too. This means that if a user wants to migrate their contacts from Evolution to Thunderbird…it’s already done for them. Pretty cool!

    @caméléon

    Hey – yep, I know about Funambol. And there’s also the Hedera project.

    My extension, if all goes well, will not charge you a thing.

    @Julen

    Ubuntu Unity is my current mission / focus, because that’s what I was hired to do. GNOME 3 and KDE might be next – we’ll see!

  5. Julen

    @caméléon

    Thanks for the link, didn’t know about that. I ignore the implementation details of the GNOME Clock Applet, but is there any way of integrating Thunderbird with it without depending on Evolution?

  6. Matěj Cepl

    @Mike Obviously (with my email address) I don’t have Ubuntu One here, because Ubuntu’s overlords never released it for any other distro (not that I would be keen to put my data into their proprietary service anyway; I could use Google apps). Besides, syncing with e-d-s seems to be really great thing, which is now missing from TB.

    I will try Evolution Mirror.

  7. Mike Post author

    @Matěj

    Whoops – I didn’t realize you were on RedHat. My bad.

    It sounds like I made you upset. Sorry about that.

  8. Jon Pritchard

    Interesting work. At the moment I’m having problems with syncing Thunderbird (contacts and calendar, via Lightning) with my mobile phone (N900). A syncevolution plugin for Thunderbird would be great; sync in general is something that is sorely needed in Thunderbird so I’m glad you’re taking this kind of thing up. Albeit, I’m not an Ubuntu user.

  9. Mike Guenther

    Great work Mike. I can’t wait for NN. This looks pretty cool. I wanted to test it but I couldn’t get Natty Narwal with the Unity desktop to work in my VM Ware.

    I am also looking forward to the Ubuntu One expansion for Thunderbird contacts. Have you considered to support calender as well? Right now I am using a Funambol/Syncevolution for Thunderbird and my N900. But it is a bit of a hassle.

    I wish I had your talents. Thanks again
    Mike

  10. Mike Post author

    > Have you considered to support calender as well? Right now I am using a Funambol/Syncevolution for Thunderbird and my N900. But it is a bit of a hassle.

    It’s not my focus just yet, but it’s also not out of the question. :)

  11. Matěj Cepl

    @Mike no offense taken whatsoever. Peace. Just curious … if I am angry with somebody about Ubuntu One, then it is not you. And actually, after the Banshee blunder, I may be happy not to have anything common with it. ;)

  12. Francesco mapelli

    Mike,

    the funambol thunderbird extension is already capable of doing sync of contacts and calendar with any syncml server.
    We still have a few bugs on tb 3 that prevent us to do an official release, and we lack someone willing to take care of the project, but the core functionalities are there. As you know, ubuntu one contacts sync is already powered by funambol, have you considered helping us fixing the bugs instead of writing the extension from scratch?
    If you (or someone else) want to contribute, feel free to join the project at https://mozilla-plugin.forge.funambol.org/ and/or write to me at mapelli at funambol dot com. We do also have some money to reward maintainers and major contributors.

    cheers

    Francesco Mapelli, funambol

  13. Ed

    What I like about what Mike is working on is that it will not require a cell phone like funambol does. Some people just need to synch from the desktop TB to something like UbuntuOne and this looks like a great option.

  14. Aaron

    Your work on the Ubuntu projects sounds progressive – good concept!…I’m looking for some help on an new concept – we want wrap our developments around Thunderbird and looking for a good Thunderbird developer. We expect to pay for the assistance. Are you interested? If not, can you recommend anybody?

  15. James Henstridge

    While a SyncML based solution is possible, it isn’t the most efficient way to handle Ubuntu One contacts on the desktop. The Funambol based SyncML server for Ubuntu One will synchronise your bookmarks with the CouchDB in the cloud, so there would be a replication delay for changes to propagate between Thunderbird and any other local applications accessing the contacts.

    In contrast, accessing the local desktopcouch instance means Thunderbird would have the same view of the contacts that all other local applications see, and can rely on the desktopcouch replication to handle synchronisation with other computers. So there is definitely value in the work Mike is doing.

  16. Mike Post author

    @Aaron:

    Thanks for the kind offer, but I’m happily employed by Mozilla Messaging at this time. All the best in your search!

  17. Mike Post author

    While a SyncML based solution is possible, it isn’t the most efficient way
    to handle Ubuntu One contacts on the desktop.

    I heartily agree.

    The Funambol based SyncML server for Ubuntu One will synchronise your bookmarks with the CouchDB in the cloud, so there would be a replication delay for changes to propagate between Thunderbird and any other local applications accessing the contacts.

    That’s another very good point – we sync via SyncML, and then Ubuntu One sends them back to our local DesktopCouch. Sounds a bit backwards, doesn’t it?

    So there is definitely value in the work Mike is doing.

    Thanks! :D

  18. GW

    I tested both extension in NN and as (Ubuntu) Thunderbird user i really appreciate this kind of integration! This are just some ideas and toughs as an regular (Ubuntu) Thunderbird user:

    GNOME

    In Ubuntu (GNOME2) if you use Thunderbird and click on file(s) –> “Send To…” it just doesn’t work and i don’t know if it ever did or if it will in NN. Right now i can’t test it in NN because “Send-To…” –> does not show mail option. In MM it does open new message and attach files but if file(s) and path to it contains whitespaces or “special” characters you will not be able to send the mail. “Send To…” –> Thunderbird produces % characters in name of attachment and it does not work. It only works with drag & drop and if u manually click in new message toolbar and click the button Attach. Then % characters are not produced.

    I don’t know if the problem is bug in Thunderbird or nautilus-sendto:

    https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/nautilus-sendto/+bug/656932

    Now you have to do something like this to make it work(around):

    http://ubuntuforums.org/showpost.php?p=9251482&postcount=23

    Unity

    If Ubuntu user want all the things you are working on to work (indicators) Thunderbird must be running as “back-end” 24/7.

    -Should Thunderbird “minimize” when close button is pressed by user?
    -If Launcher API allows this, should Thunderbird icon in launcher look like regular “opened application” (triangle on the left and to “Light Up”) or it could/should be just “plain non bloated icon” for 24/7 usage?

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  22. Justin Force

    Did you ever know that you’re my hero? Thank you so much. For many reasons, Evolution is not a good fit for me, and Thunderbird is the mail client of choice in my organization.

    You’re a good person.

  23. Jakob

    I really appreciate your work,
    Evolution is so bulky to use, while thunderbird appears so smooth.
    I can wait for all of these tweaks to be compatible with the stable thunderbird release :)
    hoping at some point, that ubuntu will ship with thunderbird!!

  24. Mike Post author

    @Aaron:

    Hey – sorry, to tell you, but only TB 3.3+ can be supported at this time, and there are no plans to backport.

    All the best,

    -Mike

  25. Jason

    Is there a status update on Thunderbird Contacts syncing with Ubuntu One? I’m eagerly awaiting this feature… but the web seems surprisingly silent on the topic…

  26. Mike Post author

    Hey Jason,

    Ubuntu Oneiric is shipping Thunderbird with my EDS Contacts Integration add-on built in, which means that, yes, users should be able to access and write to their Ubuntu One contacts, so long as that add-on is enabled.

    Hope that helps!

    -Mike

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