Thunderbird 13 second and third beta releases via new automation

I was going to write this post yesterday, didn’t quite complete it and so it gets an updated with activities of the last 24 hours as well.

Some people had noticed the extra long delay between the first and second betas of Thunderbird 13. Whilst we sometimes don’t publish a beta every week, in this case we were busy finishing off a transition that had started some months previously.

The transition has merged the Thunderbird build automation system onto the same system used by Firefox – we are now running side-by-side, using the same hardware.

The whole transition has been a big benefit to Thunderbird, we’ve brought the Thunderbird build systems up to date, removing a lot of the hacks that were specific to our comm-central based builds. In doing so, we’ve picked up lots of new things: an up to date tinderboxpushlog, self-serve build apis to allow any developer to request new builds and cancel running ones, the hg share extension reducing check out and build times, the latest release automation which includes automatic emails and better parallelism. I’m sure that’s just a small selection.

Ongoing this will help keep Thunderbird much more up to date, we’ll be able to keep in sync with Firefox a lot easier when it comes to the mechanics of building, signing etc. I’ve also got some ideas for where we can add/improve automation for both Firefox and Thunderbird, so I’ll be putting those forward soon.

Back to the events over the last 24 hours. Yesterday we finished shipping the second beta of Thunderbird 13, this was the first release that had been run on the Firefox system, and took about a week or two to complete as many parts had been missing or not quite there. A few hours after that I sent the go for the third beta, and guess what, we’ve just pushed that build out to the beta channel. Apart from a couple of minor hiccups, the automation worked fine. Wow, awesome!

This is a great achievement, and Thunderbird build and release is now in much better shape than it was a few months ago. I’d like to thank John O’Duinn and Chris Cooper for making this happen, and a huge thanks to John Hopkins who I know spent many hours working on the actual transition and the rest of the release engineering team who have been helping out with questions, solutions and fixes.