How to Save Sunbird
Since the last blog post, many people have asked what can be done to keep Sunbird alive. I'd like to attempt to answer this question, and also tell you how to bring Sunbird forward (i.e attracting new users).
What's needed to keep Sunbird alive
On the development side, whenever a Lightning bug is fixed that touches shared code, extra testing and possibly some coding is needed to make sure that the bug is also fixed in Sunbird. In most cases no additional work is necessary, but once in a while Sunbird acts a bit differently. Similarly, when a new feature is added to Lightning, some extra work may be needed to make sure Sunbird can also benefit from it.
Extra testing is also needed for Sunbird. This includes regular testing of nightly builds and writing or adapting automated tests to work with Sunbird. Also some triage work needs to be done. When a bug is filed and there is no note if the bug relates to Sunbird or Lightning, the reporter needs to be asked just this question. Appropriate bugs should then be moved into the Sunbird Only component, which should be looked after in case of duplicate or obsolete bugs.
Some release engineering work also needs to be done when nearing a release. This includes configuring the automatic update servers and moving around builds on the ftp servers.
Note however you don't necessarily have to do all of this on your own. Depending on how many people are interested in actively working on Sunbird it's quite possible that you can split the work similar to how we've been doing it (backend, frontend development, user experience, release engineering, testing).
Sunbird's possible future vision
What Sunbird needs is a vision of its own. That means, that new Lightning features should no longer be incorporated into Sunbird by default. Instead Sunbird needs to get its own identity to attract new users. If you have experience with user interfaces, Sunbird could use your help to create a new and innovative way for users to manage their appointments.
A vision we have come up with and other users have also brought up is to make Lightning modify Thunderbird so far that starting from a new profile gives you the option of either a calendar or mail account (or both). If you choose Calendar, then you will be presented with only calendar relevant UI (i.e similar to what Sunbird is today). You will not be bothered with mail features unless you need them (i.e you want to invite attendees and send invitations to them). This would have the benefit of shared features like the address book being available without much extra work.
If you would like to save Sunbird, please drop me an email and I'll help you get started. Please be sure to tell me what area you'd like to work on and if I can forward your Email address to other people interested in helping with Sunbird.