Archive for October, 2011

Version 0.3 Feedback, Version 0.4

Version 0.3 and Duplicates

Version 0.3 is getting a bad reputation for creating duplicates.  I haven’t heard from any of these people–please send me an e-mail at least explaining any problems you may have instead of just posting a review without enough details for me to help you.  Feel free to post reviews but please let me help you or at least others by giving me some details.

I believe that at least one of those problems may be due to syncing the same address book with the same account using two add-ons.  This is a bad idea; don’t try it.  Other than that I think people are importing their contacts from Google into TB either manually or with Google’s CSV export then synchronizing those contacts (or switching synchronization add-ons and reusing their old address book without deleting contacts).  gContactSync 0.3 expects an empty address book and treats any contacts in it as brand new, so it adds Thunderbird’s contacts to Google and adds Google’s contacts to Thunderbird during the first sync without attempting to merge contacts. You should start with a new address book when synchronizing contacts.  One exception to this is if you’ve already sync’ed that AB with gContactSync in which case it will recognize contacts it synchronized in the past.

I plan on addressing this in 0.4 by, during the first sync only, getting all Google contacts and checking each TB contact to see if any names or e-mail addresses match.  If so it’ll pretend that contact was already synchronized a very long time ago.  It’s going to be a very dumb/simplistic merge, and during the actual first sync those contacts in TB will be updated from their Google contact.  This will probably be in 0.4.0a1, release date TBA.

Resetting Address Books

There was some confusion over what exactly “resetting” an address book does in gContactSync which resulted in a 1 star review.  There are two types of resets in gContactSync:

  • Reset (replace from server) – this is also what the button in the Advanced preferences tab does and what happens if your mailing lists break.

This deletes the local copy of all contacts and mailing lists from Thunderbird only.  Your Google contacts are not deleted and gContactSync backs up your address book first.  Due to multiple bugs in Thunderbird with mailing lists and deleting address books you must restart Thunderbird after choosing this reset option.  After you restart Thunderbird and sync, gContactSync will pull in your contacts and groups from Google then sync like normal.

  • Replace to server

This option tells gContactSync to push all your local Thunderbird contacts to Google.  No contacts are deleted in either location.

Fake e-mail Addresses (nobody…@nowhere.invalid)

I’ve also received several e-mails and forum posts, along with some bad reviews, about the fake e-mail addresses that gContactSync adds to some contacts.  Thunderbird does not allow contacts without e-mail addresses in mailing lists, so in order to sync groups with mailing lists, gContactSync adds a fake e-mail address to that contact in Thunderbird only. These fake e-mail addresses will never be added to Google. I know it is ugly, but the alternative is having a broken, unsynchronizable address book.  I often refer to these as dummy e-mail addresses.

Postal Addresses

Google is now converting postal addresses between their structured (separate fields for street address/city/state/zip/country) and formatted (one field for everything) flavors.  When I created version 0.3 Google had said they would do this, but didn’t implement it yet so I turned off postal address synchronization by default and left in the new formatted address fields that gContactSync 0.2.0 added.  It should be safe to turn it on now, but you still do so at your own risk.  See this for instructions –

Version 0.4

I’m starting to work on version 0.4, which will turn on postal address synchronization by default.  It also removes the formatted address fields that gContactSync 0.2 and 0.3 added since they are no longer needed.  I will put development versions of 0.4 on (look at the bottom of the page under Development Channel).

I’d like to make it more difficult for people to get duplicates, so I will push back my plans to sync with other sources to version 0.5.

I don’t know when I’ll get the basic merging done.  I’m going to be an uncle any day now and I will be spending some time with my family next weekend.


0.4.0a1pre has been released on AMO (under Development Channel) with postal address synchronization enabled.  It also removes formatted address fields.

0.4.0a1 – Basic merging during first sync

0.4.0a2 – Basic merging during imports

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