Mozilla gives Sunbird its wings

The Mozilla Foundation's latest application is a open source calendar program, but as yet Sunbird doesn't pose much threat to Outlook
Written by Ingrid Marson, Contributor
The Mozilla Foundation has released the first version of Sunbird, a standalone calendar application, and you can download it here.

Sunbird 0.2 has various features including the ability to create scheduled events, and to see an overview of events on a particular day, week or month. The calendar can be shared by publishing it to a webDAV-capable server, such as the one provided by the Apache module mod_dav.

WebDAV is a set of extensions to the HTTP protocol that allows users to collaboratively edit and manage files on remote Web servers.

But Sunbird is not a viable alternative to Microsoft Outlook yet, according to some postings on the MozillaZine news site from people unwilling to switch.

One user said that Mozilla's browser Firefox has advantages over Microsoft Internet Explorer, but that Sunbird and the Thunderbird email application need extra features before enterprises will consider them as an alternative to Outlook.

"FF [Firefox] beats IE hand down, but no serious business users can switch from Outlook to TB/SB [Thunderbird or Sunbird] because of numerous usability issues," said one user. "If all you want is the email functionality, TB Thunderbird is fine. I use it for that, but I can't get anybody who likes the calendar, reminders, etc, to switch from Outlook still."

Others said that Sunbird needs to allow synchronisation with mobile devices such as Palm PDAs. "It needs a palm sync and server before it's viable," said one user. "I've never been able to convince anyone to use it over steekin [sic] Outlook."

"Sunbird looks really nice now but I keep waiting for a button to be added which says 'Palm Synch' and I can just click it and have my schedule synch to my Calendar," said another poster.

But Mozilla contributor David McGuinness pointed out that Sunbird is a relatively new software that is not aimed at enterprise users at present.

"Sunbird is still in the early stages of development and is certainly experimental software," said McGuinness. "Nonetheless Sunbird is a promising application for those already using Thunderbird or Firefox."

Although Sunbird is a standalone calendar project, the Mozilla Foundation has started a project to integrate it with Thunderbird. The project, code-named Lightning, is scheduled for its first general-user release in the middle of 2005, according to the Mozilla Web site.

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