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Topic of this text is some insight in synchronization technology with the focus on synchronizing thunderbird related items with different devices. Items to synchronize:

  • Contacts
  • Calendar
  • Emails (...)

Devices and Services to synchronize with

  • Mobile Phones
  • other mail programs like outlook
  • other address books
  • Synchronization servers


SyncML is a standard which was developed by mobile phone companies to synchronize mobile phones. SyncML is supported by many phones. The SyncML protocol is XML based. In addition it defines different transport mechanisms, i.e. how the two synchronizing devices are connected.

SyncML over OBEX

The SyncML over OBEX uses OBEX as transport. OBEX itself has three possible underlying transport mechanisms:

OBEX over IrDA

IrDA was the first organization which defined the OBEX protocol. This is the infrared interface.

OBEX over Bluetooth

OBEX over Bluetooth uses the RFCOMM protocol. While RFCOMM is the underlying transport layer, the SyncML over OBEX standard also defines the identfication numbers used in the Service Discovery (SDP). Note that the Bluetooth synchronization profile is not required for SyncML over OBEX over Bluetooth.


The USB consortium also has defined an OBEX interface. Some more information here: [1]

SyncML over http

SyncML over http is another transport mechanism for SyncML. There are a number of companies/organizations which provide a SyncML server such that you can synchronize your data to a server which is located in the internet. Examples are Zyb or Funambol. Funambol also provides a Thunderbird plugin to synchronize to a funambol server.


ActiveSync is functionally doing the same as SyncML. ActiveSync has been developed by Microsoft and is only supported by Mobile Phones and similar devices which run Windows Mobile Operating System.

Existing work


NokSync is a thunderbird plugin which provides synchronization for Nokia mobile phones. It requires the Nokia Synchronization software to be installed and only works on windows.


blueZync is a thunderbird plugin which provides synchronization via SyncML. It is based on the OpenSync free synchronization software. Currently it only works for linux because a windows port is not working. Some porting activities are there.


TSync is a SyncML client for thunderbird. The transport is fixed to SyncML over http. It can be used to sync to internet based SyncML servers. Development stopped in 2006?

Palm Sync

This is part of the mozilla tree. Is this working?