EDS Contacts Integration for Thunderbird – So What?

Some of you might be wondering what the advantage is of having Thunderbird share address books with Evolution.  I mean, what’s the point?  A user will most likely use Thunderbird or Evolution – but rarely both.  Why is sharing contacts between the two interesting at all?

So, the answer lies in how Evolution stores contacts.  If you’re running Evolution, you’re actually running two pieces of software – the Evolution client, and the Evolution Data Server (EDS).  The client is what most users think of as Evolution – it’s the program with the GUI that allows users to access and manipulate their mail, contacts, calendar, etc.

But the heavy lifting is really being done by the Evolution Data Server.  The EDS is the program communicating with the e-mail servers to get and store your mail.  It’s the program communicating with your various address books (local or remote, like Google Contacts).  It’s the program that’s communicating with all of your calendars and task lists.

Essentially, if your Evolution experience was a restaurant, then the Evolution Data Server is the kitchen.  The Evolution client is just your waiter.  The waiter takes your orders and passes them off to the kitchen, the kitchen does all of the cooking, and then the waiter brings you the tasty results.

The fact that GNOME has split Evolution like this is really handy.  It means that alternative clients can access Evolution’s mail, contacts and calendars.  Essentially, the user could uninstall the Evolution client, but keep EDS installed, and still have access to all of their mail, contacts and calendars.

To stretch the restaurant analogy a little bit, what I’m saying is that the GNOME developers made it possible for you to order take out from the Evolution restaurant via a third-party.

So what’s the advantage of that?

Well, for one thing, Evolution Data Server talks to some services that Thunderbird doesn’t – for example, Google Contacts (although, this extension suggests that Google Contacts integration for Thunderbird is possible without EDS).

The other big one is Ubuntu One contacts sync.  Ubuntu One contacts are stored in CouchDB address books that are accessed through EDS.  Now that Thunderbird can read your EDS address books, it means that you get your Ubuntu One contacts as well (at least, it will be able to, once Ubuntu One contacts sync starts working in Oneiric).

Not bad, eh?

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6 thoughts on “EDS Contacts Integration for Thunderbird – So What?

  1. Felix

    I have been a Thunderbird user since the beginning and have converted from the old mozilla suite. Sync with google has been a no brainer with the addon gcontanctsync for years in Thunderbird.

    I thought this integration would be good to have my calendar show next to my gnome clock. To have my contacts accessible by empathy and to have my mail addresses in nautilus-sendto.

    Just and idea for use cases that really gain something for the user.

  2. Felix

    Just to make it clear. I am really happy about this work being done! Just wanted to highlight some other use cases.

  3. Matěj Cepl

    plus, EDS supports CardDAV which Thunderbird doesn’t (https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=546932 … SoGo doesn’t work for me for various reasons),
    plus, upcoming versions of Gnome3 will have much much tightier integration with EDS, so without integration of Thunderbird with it, you would feel like second class citizen (that unfortunately includes integration with Calendar as well … does anybody know about integration between EDS and TB-Lightning?)

  4. Pingback: Ubuntu Brainstorm – Contacts Lens « Allison Randal

  5. Anssi Saari

    The reason I use both Evolution and Thunderbird is Syncevolution. Syncevolution is both a SyncML client and server, so I can, for example, keep my contacts and calendar synced between my laptop, desktop and Android phone. All without needing to broadcast this very personal information on the internet. Syncevolution can do many things, it’s not tied to Evolution any more. But it can’t sync to Thunderbird.

    Personally, I don’t really want to use Evolution, the UI is just a bad copy of ancient Outlook. I use Outlook 2007 and 2010 at work and they really underline how dated the Evo UI is… Hence, Thunderbird for email. But TB is a jail, it doesn’t really talk with anything else that well. So,
    if I can get this working, it’s a brilliant solution for my needs. Well, calendar sync would be cool too. Lightning can read Evolution’s calendar, just point it at Evo’s ics file. Adding calendar events from Lightning didn’t work the last time I tried it, but reading is just fine.

    Oh yeah, not using Ubuntu. Debian and Fedora. No idea how to make them work there…

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