Windows/Linux: The first public beta of Spicebird, an attempt to combine all of Mozilla’s productivity apps into one Outlook-like package, has been released, and from first looks, its going to at least make fans of the already-converted Thunderbird crowd. While there are, to be certain, a fair number of rough edges, Spicebird makes it easy to migrate calendars, RSS reading, and task lists into one familiar interface. To see more of what Spicebird can do (and what still needs work), follow along to an introductory screenshot tour after the jump.
Once you’ve downloaded Spicebird for Windows or Linux, installed and fired up Spicebird, it hits you with two setup prompts: One standard Thunderbird/mail dialog, and a new Jabber/Google Chat option:
My first test at getting Spicebird working with my Gchat account was successful, but I didn’t realize this until after a restart and having it log on. I’m pretty familiar with Thunderbird’s setup dialog at this point, which asks you standard questions about your IMAP or POP mail account. Gmail users wanting IMAP access should follow Google’s Thunderbird guide, as well as check out Gina’s guide to making T-bird the ultimate IMAP client.
Once you’re done setting up, you land on the “Home” tab. Much like other personal information managers, Spicebird aims to give you “day at a glance” information on the tasks, messages and (in this case) feeds asking for your attention.
The heart of Spicebird, Thunderbird email management, is, well, pretty much an integrated version of Thunderbird. Each tab (Mail, Tasks, Contacts, etc.) has its own settings, and Thunderbird’s setup in Spicebird leads me to believe that it can accept standard Thunderbird extensions.
My favorite extension, however—Provider for Google Calendar—didn’t play friendly during my quick setup of Spicebird. That means I didn’t have bi-directional Google Calendar sync, although the one-way iCal import worked fine. I use the Thunderbird/Lightning combination right now to manage my mail and tasks, but I like how the calendar fits much nicer into Spicebird (and without cluttering Thunderbird with a “Today” or thumbnail calendar pane).
The “Contacts” pane is the home of both your standard address book and instant messaging. If the idea of keeping your IM inside the same window as your email appeals to you, great. If not, you might be a little annoyed at how the default double-click brings up a contact’s properties instead of sending them an IM.
That covers most of the basics, but you can check out more Spicebird functionality at the suite’s video introduction.
Spicebird is just a first-release beta right now, but it already does the good work of creating a Thunderbird-friendly all-in-one information center. The Synovel team has laid out its plans for the suite’s future, including:
- Blog posting through an email-like interface
- Many instant messaging improvements (huzzah!)
- Auto task-creation through smart email filtering (like Gmail/Google Calendar’s “Would you like to add …”)
- Document management
- Project planners
- A Microsoft Exchange connector, and many more tweaks and inter-operation fixes
What do you think of Spicebird from the screenshots or your own beta testing? What features (other than a Mac version, which will likely be coming) would you like to see? Share your thoughts in the comments.