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Originally posted March 8 2005 at 00:03 under Mozilla. 3 Comments. Trackbacks Disabled.

Is Seamonkey Dead


It’s not that long since I switched from the Mozilla Application Suite (seamonkey, MAS, simply Mozilla – call it what you will), to a combination of Firefox and Thunderbird (and Sunbird). Looks like I may have just done so in time. From the 28 February staff notes:

*Mozilla 1.8 final*

- To be discussed tomorrow whether we do one
Staff notes

The idea of no seamonkey 1.8 has of course caused much heated discussion (and nobody seems willing to commit to one being produced), in replies to the posting of the staff meeting notes, Asa’s blog and other places (and will probably break out at the Mozillazine story too). And I think those who are upset have some good points. From an enterprise software point of view the suite offers a lot more, in terms of features and integration. And in some ways the browser is much nicer for power users (and hence more innovative)—I’ve previously mentioned the huge number of extensions needed to get Firefox up to speed. Some of the decisions for Firefox (no site navigation bar for instance) are very hard to justify.

Even putting aside the Firefox versus Suite arguments (a debate I’m still undecided over, even though I’ve switched—and I think that may be part of the point the Mozilla Foundation seem determined to miss; what is right for one is not right for the other, or even may change at differing times. It’s supposed to be about choice)—there are other issues. For a start, what’s the point in a long and protracted sequence of alpha and beta releases if no final product is to come out the end (if they’d told the suite users that to start with how many testers for their betas do they think they would have had?). Further the sheer amount of anger present in some of the claims show that the foundation is in danger of falling into a trap it’s tripped over before even in the narrower scope of Firefox (think naming issues); it seems happy to appear to arrogantly ignore the the views of a vocal minority of its users (and a proportionally large number of those users have been its most loyal, with Mozilla since before there was a Foundation). it gives the impression (and it doesn’t matter if it’s right or not) that if your views do not agree with the few at the top of the Mozilla Foundation they will be simply silenced.

The most puzzling thing is there isn’t really a clear reason why everyone can’t continue to be appeased. The 1.8 Gecko must be finished, according to the road map that’s what Firefox 1.1 is based off. So why not go the extra few inches (not even mile) to finish a final release of the suite as well. It got you here and you never know, perhaps it just might be the thing to carry you onwards once the excitement of Firefox 1.0 dies away, and it becomes clear it’s a good browser, but hardly that cutting edge of innovation. I’d hate to see seamonkey die, only for us to recreate a suite by bodging the stand alones together. The suite is designed to work as one, any bodge will never be as good unless something changes so Firefox, Thunderbird et al. do the same (one comment rightly pointed out the frustration with having to install extensions twice, once for Firefox and once for Thunderbird). Let’s hope Mozilla for once not only listen, but are seen to do so.

Comments (3):


I think one of the arguments is that people are going to see this ‘Mozilla 1.8’ and think it’s a new version of Firefox, which is now MoFo’s main product. They’re going to wonder what happened to 1.1, 1.2 etc., and why the interface looks so different and less intuitive.

Mozilla Seamonkey was my primary browser and email client for a long time but I’ve since switched to Firefox and Thunderbird because I found them more suited to my needs - the streamlined interface and theability to fully customise toolbars were two of the swinging factors. I do have quite a number of extensions but very few actually fill in for functionality that exists in Seamonkey but not in Firefox.

Oh, and hi from the other side of York :) . I found you via GeoUrl; my parents live over in Dringhouses near York College, although I’m now living in Bradford.

Made by Neil T. on Mar 15, 2005 at 10:34


I don’t really see how people are going to mistake Mozilla 1.8 for a Firefox release. The two have coexisted ever since the inception of Pheonix and have quite distinguished identities (if nothing else the suite has for some time been pushed somewhat to the side of the Mozilla homepage—I doubt it would get the fanfare of publicity a general Fox release would get either). The argument that it would confuse those on 1.7.x doesn’t really stand up either. 1.4.x existed as the stable branch alongside 1.5, 1.6, etc.

The aside I do agree that Firefox (and Thunderbird) have a lot going for them (and interestingly Thunderbird feels a lot closer to the suite’s Mail then Firefox does to the suite’s browser). But part of the problem is that Mozilla was originally perceived to be about choice—the opportunity to use something other than a broken browser—but now seems to be stifling choice. Firefox may meet your needs (and indeed mine, given that I’m using it) but that doesn’t mean it meets everyone’s.

My personal opinion is that the suite is out-moded. Firefox is slick and flash and in tune with the world. But that doesn’t mean the suite can’t teach it’s child a thing or two. Simpler access to some of the options for power users (perhaps a additional pane to the option menu which you could choose to have on install, but not present by default) would be a start, and help to remove the feeling sometimes put across that Firefox is a toy browser and the suite was always the innovative one (that’s almost acknowledged by the fact that seamonkey is still acting as the test bed for Gecko). Extension manager claims there are 76 extensions (not sure how much I believe that number but there are a lot) installed. I also just had a peek at seamonkey (1.8a4 seems to be the latest install I have) for comparison. I suppose about 10 of those are replacing things I miss from the suite’s default config (it feels like more because I went the many extension route rather than tab browser extensions). Most are just cool little add ons, so maybe it’s not as bad as I think (though why remove the site navigation bar, or advanced search sidebar?) I also probably made a fair few additions to userChrome.css, userprefs.js, etc. to get the behaviour I wanted (perform a normal Google from the address bar rather than I feel lucky for instance). Admittedly there’s no way I could have had that many extensions and still got the interface to something I could work with without the customisability of Firefox.

Phew, that seems a long comment.

Made by Ian Scott on Mar 15, 2005 at 14:45


Damn, I meant to add that the big thing that would please me is if/when Firefox and Thunderbird are more tightly integrated (reducing the memory footprint when both are running would go a long way).

Oh, and hi from York, where it’s sunny as ever (er yeh, honest) :-)

Made by Ian Scott on Mar 15, 2005 at 14:47

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This Crazy Fool

Dr Ian Scott
Croydon (and Gateshead), United Kingdom
Bullding Services Engineer (EngDesign), PhD in Physics (University of York), football fanatic (Newcastle United), open source enthusiast (mainly Mozilla)

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