Synovel Techologies has released Spicebird 0.4, the first public release of its open source Mozilla-based personal information manager that integrates Thunderbird, Lightning and XMPP to deliver email, calendaring, instant messaging and other communication tools on a single product.
As expected from the demo revealed a few weeks ago, it adds a few integration features on top of the core components to make it a more efficient communication tool.
For example, Home is a dashboard style view that you can customize to add any of five currently available applets: Mail, a small preview of messages in your selected folder; web feeds, a list of web feed items that displays the full post when you move the mouse cursor over it; Agenda, a view of coming events; Calendar, showing current month with event days highlighted; and, Date & Time, which allows to add as many clocks as you want each showing the time at a different city.
The applet approach should make it a very flexible dashboard similar to aggregation pages like iGoogle, Netvibes and PageFlakes where you can add a variety of web content including movie show times, weather, comic strips, etc.
Home is one of five tabs the whole interface is organized on.
Inbox, is basically Thunderbird which brings support for email, newsgroups and web feeds. It adds some brains to emails that include a date and time, offering you to add them as events to your calendar. A handy little feature that could get smarter and more helpful it it was able to detect recurring and location keywords like every and at.
Integration with the IM component allows you to right-click on a sender and send a message right away.
Regarding IM, it supports Jabber (and other networks if connected to a server with the necessary gateways), so it means you can connect to Google Talk out of the box. To send a message you need to switch to the Contacts tab, select a contact and press the Instant Message button in the toolbar. The IM window is nothing fancy, just somewhere to write some text, some graphic emoticons and no formatting option.
In general it definitely feels like an alpha (despite it being labeled as beta) with several rough edges to polish in the next milestones but provides a taste of its ambitious goal of delivering a unique communication center that consumers and enterprise users will appreciate.
According to Spicebird’s roadmap, next release, 0.7, should bring email tabs (currently in the works for Thunderbird 3), email import/export, a buddy list applet for Home. The final version will bring content management integration (with Drupal, most likely) and a killer feature: Microsoft Exchange integration which could mean finally an option for me and millions of users tied to Outlook.
Spicebird is available for Windows as an 8 MB download and Linux (10 MB) in US English only at this moment.
For more details see Spicebird 0.4 release notes.