Tag Archives: ensemble

Contact Service Connector Interface Proposal Draft

Thunderbird’s new address book will not exist in a vacuum. From the get-go, I’d like to bake-in the notion that contacts can exist outside of Thunderbird, and can be sync’d with.

There are lots of different contact providers I’d like to support. Mainly, CardDAV (which got a big boost since Google’s announcement), LDAP, the System Address Book, and Facebook.

I’ve been working on an interface (the application-programming kind – not the user kind) for contact provider connectors. It’s not been easy trying to generalize across each of the different features and requirements of these contact providers, but I think I got somewhere.

Anyhow, here’s a draft of my interface proposal. Are there any glaring holes?

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Another update to the Ensemble UI Mockup

First of all, thanks for the great feedback on my mock-up from last week.

I’ve updated my mock-up again. Here are the highlights:

  • The contact tag selector has been decoupled from the search input, and is now on its own
  • Added widgets for sorting the contact list (currently only decorative)
  • Search queries can be cleared by clicking “X” on the search input
  • Support for semi-hierarchical tags
  • The contact list has been made wider
  • Moved the add / remove contact buttons

I’ve also updated the feedback form. Please give me feedback on this design. Once again, just to reiterate, at this point I’m primarily interested in how the mock-up lists contacts, and allows you to display that list. The view for individual contact details is of less interest to me right now.

Anyhow, check out the new mock-up here.

Usual disclaimer: The code is ugly as hell, and I haven’t tested outside of Firefox.

Note: Each tag should have some contacts. If you’re seeing empty tags (No search results for “”), try the following:

  1. Go here, and click refresh
  2. Then go here, and click refresh
  3. Then go here, hold down shift, and click refresh.

Don’t ask me why this happens, or why the above works. I think people.mozilla.org is doing some caching, and sometimes doesn’t realize that I update my stuff. Or maybe I’m doing my rsync all wrong. I have no idea.

 

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Answering some questions about Ensemble

I keep getting great feedback from the Mozilla community, and I also get some pretty great questions.

I took the questions from this post, and formed them into an FAQ for the Ensemble project site. Answers included!

As more questions roll in, I’m going to try to keep that FAQ updated.

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A glimpse of a new address book for Thunderbird

I’ve been working on a new address book for Thunderbird.

And I’m making progress.

I’ve reached a point where I feel like the back-end can do something useful, and I want to start worrying about how the front-end works and feels and functions.

Now I’ve got a web-based super-early prototype for you to try.

A screenshot of the mockup in my Firefox browser.

Some caveats:

  1. Bear in mind this thing is super early, and super incomplete.
  2. The primary goal of this version of the prototype is to determine if the general layout makes sense
  3. Adding contacts, and adding new fields to existing contacts does not work
  4. Expect hacky hacky crap code if you look inside the mockup. Here there be monsters.
  5. The menu button in the right-top corner does not work
  6. I’ve only tested / developed in Firefox. Other browsers are not supported, and I don’t plan to sweat about it too much.

Wow, so it sounds like this thing doesn’t do a whole lot. So what does it do?

  1. It loads a list of 500 fake contacts for you to browse through.
  2. It allows you to see the email addresses for each contact that has an email address
  3. Simple searching works
  4. Different contact categories can be viewed
  5. Gives you a sense of how the layout would be. Hide Firefox’s navigation bar for bonus points!

There’s also a big fat FEEDBACK button at the top of the mock. Please give me feedback. Or click here to go to the form directly. Am I heading in the right direction?

Here’s the link to the mock-up. Give it a whirl!

And here’s the Github repository if you want to cry while reading my crappy mockup code.

Expect more of these.

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Rambling about a new Address Book for Thunderbird

Hey all.

I’ve been pretty bad about talking about the address book. Sorry about that. I’ve been pretty busy helping to get Instant Messaging shipped for TB 15.

But with IM polished off, I’ve (once again) started refocusing my attention to the address book.

So where am I?

The Ensemble Project

In short, I’m writing an add-on to experiment with approaches to a new address book. I’m calling it “Thunderbird Ensemble”, because every project needs a cool code name.

The add-on is in its very very early stages. Nothing is usable. Nothing is stable or guaranteed. There’s no UI yet, but there are some tests.

You can track my progress here.

Here are some highlights, implementation details and unstructured thoughts about the add-on, and where I’m going with it:

SQLite Storage Back-end

I’ve chosen to use SQLite (via mozStorage) for the contact database. I was originally toying with using indexedDB, but it’s lack of support for substring searches (which is necessary for things like auto-complete) wasn’t very appealing. I briefly toyed with throwing my own indexing layer on TOP of indexedDB, and then I realized that I was probably reinventing the wheel.

So SQLite it is!

Diffs, Diffs Everywhere

Contact records are a representation of the fields and meta data about a contact. My add-on will be able to calculate diffs between records, and those diffs can be applied on top of records to make changes.

So, for example, suppose I decide to make some changes to a contact – I add some email addresses, remove a phone number, and change a birthday. I’m effectively creating a diff.

Now we apply the diff on top of the original contact, and send the resulting contact record to the datastore for storage.

If the storage happens to be on the network, and the original record we applied the diff on to was out of date, we should get a fresh copy of the contact record, apply the diff, and try again.

Conflict Resolution

With diffs comes conflicts resolution – but conflict resolution is never a pleasant experience, and I’d like the user to not have to deal with that if possible.

My solution is to just be optimistic – if a diff is asking to remove something that isn’t there, great! Mission accomplished! If the diff is adding something that already exists, no problem! We skip!

And for things that get changed, like birthdays, we simply say that the last writer wins.

Maybe that’s naive, but that’s the approach that I’m taking.

What do I have?

I can create contact records, diff them, apply diffs, and “merge” two records together. And I have tests for all of that work.

I’ve got the start of the SQLite backend working (basically, we can set up the database…but that’s it.)

I’m currently working on importing old Thunderbird contacts into Ensemble’s notion of contact records.

After that, I’ll work on getting them written to the database.

Comments? Questions? Complaints? Ask them here. It’s still really early on in the process, but if you find bugs in my code, please file issues on GitHub.

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