An update on my Thunderbird work…

It’s been a really long time since I posted any updates about what I’ve been doing with Thunderbird.

There’s a good reason – I’ve been hauling ass. My Unity Launcher and Messaging Menu extensions have gone through several iterations, and are shaping up well.  The plan is to bundle those extensions with the latest Thunderbird 5.0 beta to get some more user feedback.

The majority of my work lately has been on a project called EDS Contacts Integration.  Do you remember when I talked about Ubuntu One contacts sync, and how I wanted to integrate that with Thunderbird’s address book?  Well, I went to UDS a few weeks back, and I learned that a bigger / better goal would be to integrate with EDS (Evolution Data Server), which acts like the global address book, task list, calendar, etc for Ubuntu.  If I integrate here, then *all* Evolution address books (including the Ubuntu One address book and Google Contacts address books) should be available in Thunderbird.  So it’s a pretty big win.

So, like the Unity Launcher and Messaging Menu integration, this integration is currently being implemented as a Thunderbird add-on.

Currently, this add-on has basic read-only.  I can view EDS address books, contacts and mailing lists.  EDS contacts appear in the auto-complete when I start typing an e-mail address.  They’re searchable.  I can view the photos of EDS contacts.  There are some edge cases that I haven’t addressed yet (reading address books that require authentication, for example).  That’ll be coming soon.

Here’s a screenshot.

I’ve also started work on write capabilities.  I can now add and remove addresses on a mailing list, and set whether or not I want e-mail addresses to be hidden when I send mail to the list.

So, in short, I’m making pretty decent progress.  Not bad for a month’s work.

But I can’t just fork over the add-on for you to play with, because this work has several other moving parts.  The first moving part is the core address book de-RDF’ing work I started a few months backThe patch for this is landing in Thunderbird’s trunk shortly, which I’ve very excited about.  And the second moving part:  a patch in trunk where I’ve made a few slight modifications to the address book infrastructure.  This makes it easier for add-ons (like my EDS integration add-on) to extend the behaviour of the address book.  This will also, hopefully, be landing shortly once I’ve polished it up, and gotten it through review.

Once those patches land, my add-on should work properly on trunk.  And not long after that, the patches will land in an Early Bird release for you all to try!

More blogging soon.  And more screenshots.  And maybe a video.  Stay tuned.

8 thoughts on “An update on my Thunderbird work…

  1. Ionut


    why does thunderbird tries to integrate more with ubuntu and with technologies that are not upstreamed compared with firefox that tries not to be a gnome application but rather a gtk one?

    why this inconsistency?

  2. Mike


    Hey – thanks for the comment.

    So I believe Firefox actually does have some integration with Ubuntu Unity as well (UnityFox is an add-on that shows a progress bar for downloads, etc). So Thunderbird isn’t really alone here.

    But the real reason I’m working so hard to integrate Thunderbird with Ubuntu? Because that was what I was hired to do. 🙂


  3. Cameleon

    I guess that this is maybe also because Ubuntu has given a lot of interest into Thunderbird, which is considered as a good challenger against Evolution. I never heard that another distribution care about Thunderbird as a default mail reader…
    Anyway, thanks for the report Mike, and continue your hard job!

  4. Mike

    A direct export? Not at this point. What you should be able to do though is to drag / drop your Thunderbird address book contacts into your EDS directories. That’s the theory, anyhow. 😉


  5. jonathan

    mconley ftw! More seriously, will any distro be able to install and run EDS? That would be a great way to make for an officially support contact sync solution on Linux…

  6. Mike

    Hey protz:

    > will any distro be able to install and run EDS?

    Unsure – but I think the safe answer is that EDS will work on any Linux system where you can install and run Evolution.

    All the best,


  7. John

    This is all very good, but how does this help someone trying to share address books and/or calendars across multiple desktops, from multiple locations. How would the road warrior use this?
    From what I can see EDS only works on a single system it does not have “true” server capability. It is not a very flexible solution. I admit I may be missing something here, if so mea culpa.

Comments are closed.