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Old 2 Jan 2017, 07:44 PM   #1
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Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Wicklow, Ireland
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New Year Tip: CardBook extension for Thunderbird

LIke at least a few people I
  • don't use Facebook
  • deleted WhatsApp the day Facebook bought it
  • do use Privacy Badger and other browser plugins and other means (VPN etc.) to limit the extent to which I'm subjected to increasingly pervasive consumer surveillance

(that's in addition to using two-factor authentication, Lastpass and other good tools).

I have long been aware of the inconsistency in using an Android phone to sync contacts and have intended to drop that in favour of running my own operation. To that end I installed Baikal on my Synology NAS (much better than their default app) and used SoGo Connector to integrate it with Thunderbird.

This was a bit painful. SoGo won't sync addressbooks with the same server address. Thus one Fastmail addressbook per user is not a problem, but his, hers and family addressbooks is a problem and requires workarounds. On top of which I have found it a bit unreliable on Windows (less so on Linux).

I upgraded to Baikal 0.4.6 over the weekend and subsequently recalled seeing a mention of CardBook on Fastmail's web site. I installed it last night and decided in minutes that it was a MUST HAVE. I haven't finished migrating to it but I shall, ASAP. It's still a work in progress but it will be a relief to ditch SoGo Connector.

This is my NEW YEAR TIP. I hope someone finds it useful.

Happy New Year!
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Old 8 Jan 2017, 11:29 PM   #2
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Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 16
Thanks for the tip; CardBook seems both light and powerful and doesn't throw errors like SOGO used to so I've switched over to it, added my FastMail Address Book as a CardDAV account, and almost everything is perfect.


The issue I'm having is with Groups. While Groups set up within FastMail do seem to work in Thunderbird (I have sent test e-mails and they go to the correct recipients) they are displayed within CardBook as if they were individual contacts, and do not appear in the tree structure in the way they did using SOGO.

The Family Name and Display Name are the same as the FastMail Group name but no other fields are populated and there is no indication as to which contacts are members of the Group, or ability to edit it.

If I right-click on the Group within CardBook there's an option to "convert list to category" which uses the Group name to create a Category with which the individual contacts are tagged. This does make the Group editable, and it show sup in the CardBook tree structure, but alas it destroys whatever voodoo FastMail uses to construct its Groups. When I next use the webmail interface after sycning, the FastMail Group is gone.

It's unclear whether this is a limitation of FastMail's Groups, or of CardBook's UI, or both.

Like I said, the system does work and in many ways it's actually better than SOGO (I also had to maintain both FastMail Groups and local Thunderbird groups when using SOGO due to similar syncing issues). But while Groups do seem to transparently work using CardBook, I would prefer to be able to see what was going on "under the hood" rather than just relying on something I can't see into. The ability to edit Groups from within CardBook would also be nice.

I would contact the CardBook author directly but he seems to be using Chrome Store feedback has his primary support platform and it's less than ideal for the job. At this point I'm really just looking for a) any pointers to things I might have missed, and b) a confidence boost that I haven't done anything wrong.

Thanks again for the recommendation. I was never fully happy with SOGO and this seems like a much better option.
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Old 9 Jan 2017, 09:01 PM   #3
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I have also had issues with groups (categories / distribution lists). I have been in touch with Philippe about this and specifically about Fastmail and he promised last Friday to take a look after the weekend. He's a bit laconic but very responsive. Probably won't do any harm if you email him at and say you also have issues and look forward to a resolution.

The problem I had was that on the first sync with Fastmail I got attributes grouped into sets of categories (it's not worth rehearsing here; I have shared the details with him). My feeling, though I have not read the CardDAV 3.0 spec and I could be wrong, is that it looks close to working. I want to set up a test account and do a few experiments, starting with empty lists.

I'd be interested to know what client if any Fastmail say works best and also what back-end Philippe thinks works best.

Anyway, it it indeed great to get shot of SoGo. Cardbook is improving all the time.
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Old 15 Mar 2017, 02:07 AM   #4
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Join Date: Feb 2017
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I've asked Cardbook author (Philippe) and it is possible with Cardbook to edit the Groups.
In Cardbook Preferences, in the second Tab 'Edit', the checkbox 'List' has to be checked.
Then you'll be able to check members of the list and to edit it.
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Old 16 Mar 2017, 07:02 AM   #5
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According to Philippe:

"lists are not exported and categories are exported with a bug (commas are escaped and they shouldn't)... they have the same problem when updating a contact : categories are concatenated with a comma...I can not correct this. I've emailed them for reporting this bug... waiting for a response..."

He had no trouble syncing cardbook with Fastmail when starting with an empty Fastmail addressbook. I had problems when starting with the same set of contacts but no distribution lists in Cardbook.

I'm not sure how recently he emailed Fastmail but I hope he gets a response in a reasonably timely manner.
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