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Popular tags: Mozilla, SeaMonkey, L10n, Status, Firefox

Used languages: English, German


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April 1st, 2007

SeaMonkey and the Kitchen Sink

Today's a special day, as you might know. Once again it's time for April Fools. In recent weeks, the suggestion that the SeaMonkey project should take part in that once again and fool people with "the kitchen sink" has come up - so I feel I should take the chance and blog about my point of view on that topic today. ;-)

If you're a native English speaker, you probably know the idiom "everything but the kitchen sink" well enough. For all others: This seems to be derived from the habit of some people (intentionally leaving out alleged gender connections) to seemingly take the whole house with them when leaving for vacation or even only a picnic. It often looks like they pack everything into the suitcases they can find and what they are able to carry. Everything but the kitchen sink, that is. Even if a kitchen sink might be useful in some cases on vacation or at a picnic, it seems to be a too intricate task to unmount it and pack it up.
I guess we all know that habit from someone we know. As a consequence, many people have bad connotations with that phrase, giving it a meaning of "more than anyone will ever realistically need", others seem to understand it as "just all you need".

And somehow, there are people who connect this phrase with Netscape Communicator, the Mozilla suite and now SeaMonkey. This actually goes as far as thinking that "everything but the kitchen sink" is not enough and filing a "Mozilla does not have a kitchen sink" bug on Bugzilla, which led to an XHML+JavaScript kitchen sink implementation (the flow can even be turned off and on by clicking the handle area), which was proposed to be shipped as an "about:kichensink" easter egg (and is available as a Firefox extension in AMO's sandbox [not publicly at the moment]). Since we founded the SeaMonkey project, the request to including this comes up every once in a while. When the idea came up about doing an April Fools joke that "SeaMonkey is now including the kitchen sink", I immediately feared that those requests will come up once again.

Now why am I opposed to including this "about:kitchensink" easter egg in SeaMonkey, you might wonder.
Granted, this is a very good joke, actually. It's even a nice example of simple, ASCII-art-based "DHTML" - despite its high demand of CPU power. It would probably show out humor and geekiness. But then, we already show that with long-lived easter eggs we inherited from our ancestors - as every decent browser with a Mozilla heritage, we feature the current "Book of Mozilla" verse in "about:mozilla" (yes, the 7:15 one about the "reborn beast"), and we even just recently fixed the fishcam easter egg to point to a somewhat working URL (no live images working there though, those can only be found in an AOL blog). So, what I'm saying is: Don't waste time on new easter eggs, rather help on interesting new features, beautification, fixing nasty issues, or enabling the future.

But it adding nothing of real worth to our software isn't even the real reason against this easter egg. My real reason is more that about:kitchensink would prove humor, geekiness, and that "everything but the kitchen sink" is our motto/guideline. So, while humor is good, it's not the argument to use our software over other alternatives. And geekiness, like humor, is nothing we lack as is, but it's a reason for potential users to be scared away - esp. those in business environments. They want a professional tool for internet access and communication, not a geeky joke. And then, I don't even think that SeaMonkey is or should offer "everything but the kitchen sink". For one thing, I don't want the connotation "more than anyone will ever realistically need", a.k.a. "a pile of useless junk on top of some nice, useful stuff". And then, I don't even think our software is "just all you need". Every user of SeaMonkey uses a pile of other software next to it, probably including a file manager, an image viewer, office programs, instant messaging apps, perhaps peer-to-peer, FTP, remote shell/desktop software, and whatever else. I think it would be neither useful nor reasonable for SeaMonkey to include all that functionality. Sure, our product is a suite. An Internet suite, to be exact. It includes and integrates the main apps advanced users, web developers, and maybe business users need in their Internet life, and it should not try to be even more than that. This mission is already enough, we actually have enough room for improvement even in that area: We currently lack calendaring, we lack good FTP support (or SFTP, for that matter), we lack RSS/Atom feed support, to name some areas. And we even need to improve in what we already include: We should finally start to not suck as a newsreader, we should get decent extension management, and even better rendering and default icons.

Lots of work is out there to be done, our suitcases are probably a bit bigger than other projects', we need to repack a bit and pack some not yet included items, but we don't nearly have the space for the metaphorical kitchen sink.

(And no, it won't even have a place in our to-be-selected new slogan(s).)

By KaiRo, at 09:00 | Tags: April, easter egg, Mozilla, SeaMonkey | no comments | TrackBack: 0

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