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Improving SeaMonkey with funding from Google

As you probably have heard already, Google is repeating its Summer of Code ("GSoC") program the third time this year, funding 600 projects in the open-source area with up to $ 5000 (up to $ 4500 for the student and $ 500 for the project they are doing their work for).
This year that program includes 10 Mozilla projects, among which even one project aimed specifically at SeaMonkey con be found!

The title of this project is "Make SeaMonkey Not Suck As A News Reader", done by Markus Hossner, and mentored by our SeaMonkey Mail & Newsgroups owner Karsten Düsterloh (also known as Mnyromyr). I asked both Markus and Karsten 3 questions, read what they have to say about this GSoC project:

First, some questions to Karsten Düsterloh, GSoC project mentor and SeaMonkey MailNews owner:

[KaiRo] 1. You created the idea of this project. What exactly "sucks" in SeaMonkey's news reader currently (many people tell us it's pretty usable, actually) - and what improvements do you expect we get from this GSoC project?

[Karsten] First of all, the project idea's title is stolen from a bug report in Bugzilla: "Bug 176238 – Make Mozilla not suck as a newsreader", a very old meta bug referencing several other bugs which make using (Mozilla back then and SeaMonkey and Thunderbird even now) as a newsreader not the experience folks are accustomed to from the Mozilla browsers or other newsreaders.
While most of the "major suckage" is gone by now, there are still some advanced features missing, even when compared to our Netscape 4.x ancestors. Clickable references or reordering the folder pane are requested very frequently.
Markus has a very good Mozilla background to get things running in this area, since he's the author of the MessageID Finder extension (almost a must for serious newsreading with Mozilla applications), so I think we will see quite some progress.

[KaiRo] 2. How much do you think Mozilla projects profit from each other's GSoC projects? That is, how can/will Thunderbird and Firefox projects help SeaMonkey, and the other way round?

[Karsten] The ties between the SeaMonkey MailNews and Thunderbird backends are rather strong, so here's a very good chance that any SoC project for one will help the other, too. (Roaming support for TB may be an exception, since we already have that in SeaMonkey.) In general, projects touching the common codebase are usually good for any project, eg. JPEG2000 support. Some of the Mozilla projects are rather application-specific and thus non-sharable, like the Firefox micosummary stuff.

[KaiRo] 3. What other improvements of the Mail and Newsgroups component of SeaMonkey are planned for the next few months or would badly need help, perhaps from new contributors?

[Karsten] Lots. ;-)
We still have lots of "parity bugs" asking for features known in Netscape 4.x or other mail and news clients, like score files or "real" message templates. Thunderbird has some features we would like see in SM as well, like back/forward in the mail reading history or folder views. There are some structural backend fixes pending, like unified header usage in view/forwarding/printing or blackboxing the mail storage.
Sometimes I feel its just a gift that everything is running so well even without that...

And then, let's see what Markus Hossner, the student working on this project, has to tell us:

[KaiRo] 1. Please introduce yourself: Who is this guy who wants to improve SeaMonkey's news client, what involvement did you previously have with the Mozilla and SeaMonkey projects/communities?

[Markus] I'm a German Student of Computer Science at the University of Karlsruhe (TH). For 3 years now I'm maintaining an addon for the Mail/News client of SeaMonkey and Thunderbird: The MessageID-Finder. An addon to deal with messageids and references.

[KaiRo] 2. What are your concrete goals you would like to achieve with this GSoC project?

[Markus] The project's slogan is: "Make SeaMonkey Not Suck As A News Reader". The project aims to make SeaMonkey a much more useful news reader by adding needed features. Features like clickable references, clickable headers in general, a more usable subscribe dialog, the ability to reorder newsgroups in the folder pane, the ability to quote only selected text, to offer a better offline support for news reading and a correct implementation of the nntp/news protocols.

[KaiRo] 3. Could you imagine to continue to work on improvements for SeaMonkey after this summer project?

[Markus] For sure ;-)

We all hope that SeaMonkey will "suck less" through this project, as will probably even Thunderbird. On the other hand, I hope SeaMonkey can gain from other projects as well, maybe even last year's Firefox GSoC project for a better Page Info window.
It's always good to see that a company like Google is giving back something to the open source communities, which provide a collection of good software which is probably also used intensely inside Google itself.

Entry written by KaiRo and posted on April 17th, 2007 02:31 | Tags: Google, GSoC, Mozilla, SeaMonkey | no comments | TrackBack


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