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Weekly Status Report, W43/2008

Here's a summary of SeaMonkey/Mozilla-related work I've done in week 43/2008 (October 20 - 26, 2008):

One of the areas I've been thinking about more and more recently and what also came up at MozCamp in Barcelona is the long-term vision for SeaMonkey. This is not about specific features we want, and this is not about SeaMonkey 2 or 3 or so - this is more about the stars shining on the horizon that give us a clear orientation of where we want to be moving to in the long term. That vision is closely related to our target audience, and is built up by high-level goals. For now, we are busy with making SeaMonkey 2 catch up to modern technology and represent where browsers and mail/new clients are supposed to be currently, but after we will have achieved that, we will need to know where to go from there, in what direction our software should develop.
Is conserving historic UI our goal? Is merely throwing copies of Firefox and Thunderbird into the same process our goal? Is tight integration and breaking up borders between browser, mail, chat and maybe even web page creation our goal? Is overloading the UI with options almost nobody uses our goal? Or having everything a power-user regularly uses available as easily and fast as possible? Is a strict structure of predefined UI our goal, or as fully customizable user experience? Is SeaMonkey relevant at all in the long run? Why (not)?
I'd like everyone who considers himself part of the SeaMonkey community to take a few moments in a probably otherwise unused timeframe, let you thoughts circle around this topic a bit, perhaps take notes, and try to figure out where you want SeaMonkey to go in the long term, where you see those visions and why. I'll start a thread on the development newsgroup about this soon, and I'll probably blog about it even more.
It will be interesting to hear your thoughts and figure out where we all will be heading in the future!

Entry written by KaiRo and posted on October 28th, 2008 19:42 | Tags: L10n, Mozilla, SeaMonkey, Status | 1 comment | TrackBack




Thoughts on SeaMonkey
I'm a SeaMonkey user and used Mozilla Suite before that and Netscape Communicator before that. SeaMonkey is the true evolution of this lineage and its UI should remain basically the same. I also appreciate the fact that it has an integrated email client. There should always be at least one major browser suite which provides in all-in-one solution though it should also allow users to select which components they install (mailnews, editor, chat) and allow them to be added later.

As for prefs, it's always better to expose as many prefs as possible via the prefs UI in addition to using about:config. SeaMonkey seems to be more of a techie-oriented browser than Firefox and as a senior software engineer I appreciate this. SeaMonkey should always allow users to choose how they do things and never force users to use a particular way. These are two areas where Firefox fails miserably, it seems the Firefox people are catering to the lowest common denominator with their simplistic prefs UI and forcing major UI changes like the awfulbar upon people despite numerous complaints is just wrong. Worse they appear to simply not care about user choice, a perfect example is bug 407836 where they removed a pref to change the urlbar dropdown appearance for no reason at all. Manually reverting this patch restores the pref and works just fine (I tested this with Firefox 3.0.3). The SeaMonkey devs should never go down the path of not listening to its users.

Also does SeaMonkey need to copy everything from Firefox and Thunderbird ? Obviously the Mozilla people control Gecko and the backend toolkit but SeaMonkey shouldn't simply be an integrated version of Firefox and Thunderbird, it should be its own entity. Copying things like the awfulbar without prefs to get the existing urlbar behavior, its frecency algorithm, combined back/forward button, any of Firefox over-simplified pref UI, the places system, bookmarks manager, download manager, etc. are a cause for concern for SeaMonkey users who don't like these features or don't see the benefit of them. Remember many SeaMonkey users probably like the way things are and may not want Firefox's way of doing things.

The biggest problem I see with SeaMonkey is that its always behind Firefox and Thunderbird. Firefox 3 is already on Gecko 1.9.0 while the release version of SeaMonkey is on 1.8.1. SeaMonkey 2.0 which uses Gecko 1.9.1 will likely come out months after Firefox 3.1 does (which is slated for the end of the year). Is there any way to close the gap ?

Finally has the SeaMonkey council considered some sort of campaign to increase SeaMonkey's profile ? I've found that while most people know of Firefox, few know anything about SeaMonkey.
2008-10-29 18:48

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