Address Book Sync with Thunderbird 24 and Horde 5 Turba 4

Abstract

I recently updated my old Horde Webmail. I did massive testing of the new groupware and sync features.

Recently I updated my old Horde webmail installation. It offers new groupware and sync features, so I had to do some extensive testing. I had to learn that there is no known address book sync option for Thunderbird's new version 24. I was tempted to write this blog in German, but I decided to write in English, since I think this might be interesting for a wider audience. Here's what I came up with.

Testing

My first impulse was to try the widely used Carddav Sogo connector. It only worked partly and I was unable to determine why my debugging failed. I ended up not using it, because if I can't debug problems I can't use in customer deployments.

Next I looked at the SyncML Funambol plugin, which worked more or less fine with older versions of Horde and Thunderbird. But there is no recent release for TB 24. And nobody knows if there ever will be a new release. My personal hacks also failed.

As a last resort I tested chacal, but this did not work either.

Native Carddav Support in Thunderbird

Some people are working on a native Cardav support in Thunderbird. You can find it under thunderbird-ensemble. At the time of writing this blog it didn't work for me.

Interim Solution

I finally rummaged through Thunderbirds Add-ons and found tzpush.

It is an ActiveSync client mostly used in combination with Zarafa mailservers. Its easy to set up, and you can test your Horde Webmail to communicate with an ActiveSync-enabled smartphone. Enter the servername of your Horde webmail in the Add-On settings and follow the provisioning. If you run into problems switch on the separate debug option for "ActiveSync" in Horde. Retry the connection by setting new device IDs and reset.

Switch off all other ActiveSync clients for inital tests -- it will make finding the relevant information in the LOG files a lot easier. Please note that a mass sync of huge address books also takes some time. Start to import addresses in your Thunderbird personal address book, with tzpush sync set to 0. This means never, after the initial import set it to 1 and watch the Horde log.

Finally have a look into Turba, the Horde address book. Subsequent editing addresses worked fine for me. Changes were synced automatically between Horde and TB.

To me, this is not the optimal solution. CardDAV would be better. Especially when having more than one address book. But this solution is as good as SyncML with the Funambol plugin was.

By the way: tzpush will not synchronise all Thunderbird address book fields. That's a well-known limitation between smartphones and SyncML clients. But it does sync all fields important for daily work (i.e. email address, phone number, mobile). To me that's what I need. YMMV!

I hope this solution helps some people. Sorry I did not have the time for massive testing in a real world scenario yet! Some feedback would be fine: rs@sys4.de

Additional Info

For additional email fields first have a look in turba/config/backends.php and turba/config/attributes.php and check if these fields are already enabled; they should exist in the most recent turba version, albeit commented out, see http://wiki.horde.org/TurbaExtraFields, then perhaps load tb plugin https://nic-nac-project.org/~kaosmos/morecols-en.html, finally you may report to Mark Nethersole marknethersole_at_gmail.com he will be happy to integrate new fields.

UPDATE

As I performed more tests it seems that only push addresses from Thunderbird to Horde are working, so at the moment there is no real working solution able to sync addressbooks between Horde and Thunderbird.

UPDATE II

Mark Nethersole is working to fix problems with Horde and Tzpush !

UPDATE III

to my latest small test the latest version 1.4.6 of tzpush is now working with Horde Turba, please try and report

http://code.google.com/p/tz-push/downloads/detail?name=tzpush-1.4.6.xpi&can=2&q=

Robert Schetterer, 10. November 2013