Split Horizon

Lightning add-on with Google Calendar-like color palette

Posted on: March 31, 2012

I’ve started using Lightning add-on for Thunderbird lately. Oh and Thunderbird, too. Again.

I just figured Evolution is unreasonably resources demanding, works a bit slowly on my notebook (Intel(R) Core(TM) Duo CPU T2250 @ 1.73GHz, 4GB RAM, ATI Xpress 1250 with 256MB), has a terrible connection error dialog that looks stylish in red and overlays message window list but pops up way too often — with many accounts and a bit flaky Internet connection and/or frequent sleep and resume cycles that gets just irritating because as a user I have to dismiss them manually or else they remain in their place forever limiting view of the list of new and old messages. Evolution also offers a pretty inconvenient way to turn HTML formatting on or off on a per single message basis. You’d have to go all the way to preferences and locate it in some section and tick the box off or on to get a single e-mail sent out in HTML if you prefer plain-text most of the time. That’s just too time-consuming and frustrating and IS a lot of work. Finally, I figured it crashes quite often under certain circumstances. Overall it works stable 98% of the time and is a very good mature e-mail client and I’d personally recommend it to a lot of people.

I didn’t feel like hunting down its bugs, though, because at the end of the day performance wise I’d still not be happy with Evolution, so I decided to give Thunderbird another try. I used to run it, it was OK. It met most of my expectations back then but at some point in time I defined my own user policy where I’d strive to use default DE applications as much as I could. I felt it would give me a more consistent look and feel, which kinda matters to me when I become a regular desktop user and not a Linux administrator who works mostly with black terminal and a web-browser.

So, I used to use KMail and Evolution and they were both OK. Since the last time I’ve used Thunerbird it got a cool add-ons manager and plenty of useful extensions (like Lightning, Gnome Integration, Copy As Plain Text, Personal Level Indicators, etc.) as well as nifty personas, sort of skins that can deliver a really nice touch of personality to your Thunderbird  if chosen wisely. Some of the extensions that I found useful and a very cool persona/skin can be seen in this screenshot:

Extensions that I found useful and persona/skin demonstration

By the way, when I was done extending Thunderbird’s functionality with all these add-ons I’ve figured I actually made myself a very pretty and functional PIM. One would think Thunderbird is just an e-mail client but with the Lightning add-on essentially you get a calendar and tasks application that, as some say, is even compatible with Microsoft Outlook’s invitations workflow. Compared to Evolution’s calendar the one that Lightning offers is way more prettier design wise. It looks way more cleaner, has a better but still disgusting color palette, side-pane that you can set to Events, Tasks or Event and Tasks view. It just looks really amazing.

One thing that I was upset with was the default color scheme for calendar weekend days and selected day. Utterly disgusting. So, I set out to change them to something else and ended up ripping off Google Calendar color palette and mixed it with Lightning colors (I loved Today color a lot so I decided to leave it intact).

So, here’s how it looks with default colors:

Lightning add-on, default color palette

And this is how Google Calendar looks like:

Google Calendar color palette

So, I took it and and modified a little bit and Lightning now looks like this:

Lightning add-on, Month view

Lightning add-on, Multiweek view

Lightning add-on, Week view

Lightning add-on, Day view

As you can see this color palette imitates Google Calendar very closely, except Today highlight color. This scheme is pretty much similar to Calendar.app on iOS, maybe iCal on Mac OS X too. So, I’m happy with it now. Luckily changing these colors was a snap. All I had to do was this:

 cd ~/.thunderbird/XXXXXXXXX.default/extensions/\{e2fda1a4-762b-4020-b5ad-a41df1933103\}/chrome/calendar/skin/calendar/
# Weekend
sed -i -e “s:F7FFE3:FFFFFF:g” calendar-views.css
# Weekend, non-business hours
sed -i -e “s:EAF7CA:F3F3F3:g” calendar-views.css
# Selected day
sed -i -e “s:FFFCD8:FFEDED:g” calendar-views.css
# Selected, non-business hours
sed -i -e “s:F2EDB2:FFD8D9:g” calendar-views.css

or use the following path to locate *.css files if you’re using a newer version of Thunderbird:

cd ~/.thunderbird/XXXXXXXXX.default/extensions/\{e2fda1a4-762b-4020-b5ad-a41df1933103\}/chrome/calendar/skin/calendar/common/

where XXXXXXXXX is a funny looking name of my default Thunderbird profile. Yours will look different. Dreadful {e2fda1a4-762b-4020-b5ad-a41df1933103} is a Lighnting add-on’s UUID, or home directory of sorts.

So as simple as it is, you can change colors with sed utility like shown above. For those uninitiated sed finds all occurrences of, let’s look at first instance that changes color for all weekend days, F7FFE3 to FFFFFF.

It reads kind of like this:

sed -i (change the file) -e (using the following expression) “s(search for):F7FFE3:(change it to)FFFFFF:g(globally, i.e. on all lines of the file)” calendar-views.css (in this file)

Of course, that’s a very frivolous interpretation of what really sed does, but it should let you help understand what you’re offered to do. Before you edit this css file make sure you make a backup copy of it somewhere. Also keep in mind that I run Thunderbird 8.0 and Lightning 1.0. If your versions are different make sure you’re editing the right file first.

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