Tutorial Thursday

We knew that there was a new method coming that would let you sync Mozilla Sunbird and Lightning with Google Calendar, but we weren’t sure what form it was going to come in. It was thought that this would be a built-in feature but it looks like they took an alternative route by delivering the synchronization capabilities in the form of an extension called Provider for Google Calendar.

This way of synchronization is much easier than using the GCALDaemon which we explained a few months back. In fact, you can have this up and running in just a few minutes…

  1. Download and install Sunbird (the stand-alone calendar application) or Lightning (the Thunderbird add-on) if you haven’t already done so. You will, however, need to be running a pre-release version of the calendar software (version 0.4 or higher). You can find the latest nightly of Sunbird here and the latest nightly of Lightning here (the extension is located in the linux-xpi, mac-xpi, and windows-xpi folders).
  2. Download the Provider for Google Calendar extension by left-clicking on the Install Now link, then right-clicking on the Accept and Install link, and choose the “Save as” option.
  3. Now open up Sunbird or Thunderbird, go to the Tools Menu, and select the Add-ons option. Then press the Install button and browse for where you saved the extension that you just downloaded. Restart the application to complete the installation.
    Sunbird & Google Calendar
  4. Now pull up your Google Calendar, go to the Settings page, and then click on the Calendars tab.
    Sunbird & Google Calendar
  5. Click on one of the calendars that you want to remotely access:
    Sunbrid and Google Calendar
  6. Copy the private XML address to the clipboard by right-clicking on it and choosing the Copy Link Location option.
    Sunbird and Google Calendar
  7. Now go back to Sunbird or Lightning and create a new Calendar. You should be prompted with a dialog box asking whether the calendar is on your computer or on the network, choose the On the Network option. Then on the next screen choose the Google Calendar option and paste in the URL you copied from step 6.
    Sunbird & Google Calendar
  8. You’ll be prompted to enter in your username and password for your Google Calendar account:
    Sunbird & Google Calendar
  9. Now give your calendar a name and press the Next button. Then press Finish. Your calendar will now periodically synchronize itself with the Google servers.

As you can see that is pretty easy to setup, but it does have its drawbacks which you should be aware of:

  • Recurring events can only be viewed, and not created or modified. I’m sure this will be a deal breaker for many people.
  • The newest version (released April 30, 2007) of the extension does support alarms, but it has to use a workaround to do so.
  • You cannot add attendees to your calendar.

Hopefully those remaining bugs will eventually get fixed because that will make this extension a lot more useful. In the meantime though, it is giving me an easy way to add release dates to our CyberNet calendar located in the sidebar!

Alternately you can also try using the newest version of Calgoo which also has several improvements. It does require Java in order to run which is something I’m not too fond of, but it does do a pretty good job of synchronizing the recurring events and reminders.