[Preview] Mozilla Lightning 0.9


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velkymx

As a Windows user there is a distinct lack of good applications for tracking your calendar, email, and tasks all in one location. Some applications do email but not calendar, where as others do calendars without email. As a business user there is a distinct connection between the two. Our only option is Microsoft Outlook – not any more.

In steps Mozilla. Mozilla, the team that brought us Firefox and Thunderbird, both of which I love, is doing just that with their Lightning Add-on for Thunderbird.

Mozilla has had a calendar project, Sunbird, for some time now. With the increased popularity they decided that combining it with Thunderbird was the next logical step. In March of 2006 they release their first proof of concept pre-alpha. Many many hard long hours have passed since then and with the 0.8 release there work was paying off in spades!

With this new release the focus has really been on the look and feel of the add-on. The polish really shows through this latest update. The calendar view is on par with other release calendars out there. All necessary fields are included in dialogs. Overall it is a ready to use calendar.

Basically the Lightning add-on is added to your Thunderbird email through the add-on manager located under the tools menu at the top. Download the current lightning add-on release from their official page at: http://www.mozilla.org/projects/calendar/lightning/

Or if you are feeling more adventurous you can try out a nightly build of the latest build at: http://ftp.mozilla.org/pub/mozilla.org/cal....8/windows-xpi/

Once you install the add-on you will see the Today Pane on the right side of your Thunderbird window. In it is the current date, upcoming events and tasks. Users of Outlook 2007 should feel right at home. On the bottom left are three new buttons – Mail, Calendar, and Tasks. Clicking on each takes you to that main area.

But there is more to Lighting than just the calendar. Some of the most exciting features:

1. Multiple calendar support. Local calendars, iCal calendars, shared calendars, google calendars – all supported. Google calendar provider for extra features – the Gdata Provider.

2. Multi-day/week events

3. Tasks! You can create a to-do list – complete with due dates and alarms.

4. Drag and drop. Just drag your email from the email list onto the Today Pane and Lighting automatically create an event or task based off the email.

5. Add emailed events and invitations right to your calendar.

6. Send invitations

One of my favorite features is the Google Calendar support. This allows me to read and write to my Google calendar from Thunderbird without having to open up a browser window. Then when I am away from my desktop I can still open up my Gmail account and view/edit events – knowing full well when I get back to my desk the changes will be there. Look out Microsoft Exchange!!

My only complaint is the time dialog box. It is one of the most difficult to use dialogs. I think to improve it the developers need to remember that most Americans are not used to the 24 hour military time – it confuses us. Allow for me to make it a 12 hour clock and then choose AM or PM.

So to wrap this up... Mozilla Thunderbird and Lightning together is a Microsoft Outlook KILLER! This 0.9 release is polished, stable and very well thought out. Everything works correctly and things are organized in very user friendly way. The application is quick and responsive making the whole experience very enjoyable. The Lightning team continues to create a “game changing” project.

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bangbang023

Unless it's going to easily sync calendars with my Windows Mobile device, I'll have to stick to Outlook for my Contact and Calendar needs while using thunderbird for everything else.

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kl33per

Calendaring is due for an online explosion. In 5 years there will be a lot more people doing calendaring on their computers and no one is going to be storing there calendar's locally. Mozilla should be working on an online service with a program/s (i.e. desktop app, iPhone/WM/Symbian/Android app) to access the calendar offline as well as through a web browser.

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tsupersonic

I don't think calendaring is due for an online explosion...only business folks use it, and Outlook is the app for mail/calendar/contacts for business.

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Lex224

I'll be needing a calander for university to make sure I get all my assignments in on time, as I'm one of those forgetful people, so I'll have a look at this. I might try out the stand-alone Sunbird too, it looks quite good.

Thanks for the post!

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The_Decryptor
Calendaring is due for an online explosion. In 5 years there will be a lot more people doing calendaring on their computers and no one is going to be storing there calendar's locally. Mozilla should be working on an online service with a program/s (i.e. desktop app, iPhone/WM/Symbian/Android app) to access the calendar offline as well as through a web browser.

CalDAV and the Google Calendar solve that (Lightning supports CalDAV I think).

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DigitalE

Google Calendar support? I'll have to check this out... :)

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