7 weeks ago, I started a thread on long-term SeaMonkey project goals on
the mozilla.dev.apps.seamonkey newsgroup, trying to gather opinions from
the community on a vision for future of the project surrounding the
long-standing Internet suite from the Mozilla community.
The thread spanned 202 posts, below you find a collection of snippets
from 18 of those, written by Ed Mullen, David E. Ross, Simon Paquet,
Tony Mechelynck, Georg Maaß, Sledge Hammer, Robert Kaiser, Michael
Ströder, Jens Hatlak, Karsten Düsterloh, Evan Davidson, Dominique,
Michael Vincent van Rantwijk and Stanimir Stamenkov (ordered by the
timestamp of the first post of each person that I took any snippet from).
The excerpts below are intentionally not annotated, I want to have them
as a base for further work on a "final" vision without being biased by
who wrote any of this.
Multiplicity of application
Availability of user configuration
3. Documentation - how does it work?
4. Extensibility. I would hate to tell the many users I support that
"You're on your own." But, honestly, if you you make such major changes
to the profile that it destroys untold numbers of users' bookmarks,
history, cookies, etc.? You've lost me.
4. Love. Ok, this is silly, I admit. Still, think about it. What is
it that keeps us SM users here? Keeps us coming back? Well, hell, ok,
maybe not love, but, still, look. This is all a Quixotic quest, eh?
We're all tilting at windmills. I just really like your quest, I like
your windmills. Until you spin the blades and make some huge change
that makes the wind of my yesterday not spin the blades today.
Change for the sake of change is not necessarily good.
It provides the most necessary applications like browser, email and
composer together with useful tools arranged in a way to not bother long
where in the GUI to find the tool.
So it is easier for simple user to keep their most used software browser
and mail client up to date because they have to update only a single
It has the power of both Firefox and Thunderbird and more but presents
it in familiar UI that much better fits the needs of power users.
We should not ban stuff outright because it's been developped by/for FF,
but we have to choose very carefully which features are "worth" to
adopt. We are in a nice position to watch experiments fail/succeed
instead of annoying our users first. ;-)
OTOH, we're currently just running behind in terms of innovation.
We need to progress those strength that we feel make SM distinct!
I believe that being a bit more conservative in your UI decisions
is totally fine and fits well with your current userbase. Still,
being conservative does not mean being reactionary and change
nothing at all.
[tight integration and breaking up borders between browser, mail, chat
and maybe even web page creation] should definitely be a goal and also
be something, where you
could really be innovative. Right now the advantage of using
SeaMonkey instead of a FX/TB combo is pretty minimal. One could
certainly think of a lot of potential features here, that you
could add to the product, which would be much harder to replicate
in single apps like Firefox or Thunderbird.
What SeaMonkey needs is "enlightened conservatism". A chaos of constant
innovation would, I think, be one sure way to frighten away a large
percentage of the current SeaMonkey community.
That said I think SeaMonkey development is already on the right track.
We're integrating and porting new useful features and bug fixes as time
and resources permit (it helps that the relationship between
Thunderbird and SeaMonkey developers is so prolific). The transition to
Toolkit and the Mercurial repository shared with Thunderbird and
Calendar were and are necessary steps to create a sustainable
environment. But as Robert already said the question is what to do after
that transition has been done.
If you ask me there are multiple things that make SeaMonkey great. For
me the most important ones are integration, innovation, power, choice,
cross platform support and stability:
* Integration: Messaging and browsing need to be interconnected closely
in order to support my work flow
* Innovation: I like to see new useful feature getting introduced
* Power: I'm a power user and don't like software that limits my
* Choice: Everyone should be free to decide which parts to use and
* XP support: I'm running both Windows and Linux and I can use the same
program to access the Internet on both OSs
* Stability: I started using Mozilla around M13 (around 2000) and
stayed with the suite ever since. Over the years I got
used to many valuable features. It's good to know that
those in charge of the project care about them as much as
I do and won't sacrifice them just because the general
user might not use them (wink).
Therefore my vision for the future of SeaMonkey is that the things that
make it great are preserved and extended. I'm looking forward to an
even better browsing and messaging experience, with added calendaring
and what else lies ahead.
SeaMonkey. I love:
- the integration
- familiar UI
- longevity (I started out with Netscape ... I dunno ... 2.x or 1.x?)
- lots of UI options
Why do we have a gazillion main windows for those which basically behave
the same (same menubar items and such)?
Why can't I open my mail in "browser" tab? Why do I, as a user, need to
even think about that distinction between browser/mail/debugger window?
I am *for* security, privacy and choice of functionality.
- I'm for stability (which should not be confused with a frozen denial
of progress). I believe SeaMonkey provides overall a good "recognizable"
tool for meeting present-day Internet-related challenges.
I believe our goal is to meet the challenges of our times with a UI
which is recognizably in the same "look and feel" as that of Mozilla,
and of Netscape before that. Let's not act as our ancestors did, but
let's act in the same grand style they did, and hope to meet the
challenge of our times with the same success they met theirs.
Suite integration is certainly central to what makes SeaMonkey what it
is, but I don't think we should aim toward producing an empty shell
within which Firefox, Thunderbird, ChatZilla, etc. would exist virtually
We should certainly re-use what we think is useful in the Fx/Tb code,
and I think here more of the backend (which in general I esteem) than of
the frontend (which, especially in Firefox3, has elements I definitely
don't approve of).
IMHO plain-vanilla out-of-the-box SeaMonkey should, in the absence of
add-ons, have a well-defined and stable UI including a choice of two
basically constant themes; but at the same time it should offer to
add-on authors facilities comparable to those offered by Fx/Tb, which
would hopefully mean that users would in the long run have a rich set of
available extensions and themes which each user could install, or not
(and enable or disable at any time even if installed), according to
his/her own preferences however wild (or however old-fashioned).
The selling point for Seamonkey is it's seamless browser integration
with mail and HTML editing.
Seamonkey will never play in [the 'Firefox' mass] market -- its strength
is the features of the Suite.
As a user I would like to see the continued gentle evolution of the UI
as has been done in the past. Put new stuff in where necessary, but keep
the changes on the low side.
Integration. The suites biggest strength and the main reason I have used
it and its predecessors all these years. The ability to click on a mail
attachement (say a .pdf) and have it open in a browser window directly
is unbeatable. Its the suites raison d'etre and obviously must be
maintained and improved.
I strongly believe if a normal user has to go into about:config
regularly, we have a bug. Every such setting that triggers one to do
that often enough should probably be in UI prefs.
What I want from seamonkey, and perhaps the whole reason for a suite, is
one harmonious package which provides all of the features I *need*, many
which I find useful, and which contains no glitches which piss me off
Our current UI has its tried strengths, but it also (of course) couldn't
foresee where "the net" would be heading in other parts.
Combining new uses and workflows with accustomed (not necessarily: look
and) feel is _the_ challenge, imo.
We have a heritage to ground upon, namely being a tightly integrated
internet suite: everything essential for up-to-date participation on
"the web", tweakable to your needs without external ressources.
(Yes, that means getting offline help!)
I don't want to learn a gazillion different user interfaces just to live
my modern live. I want to read the web, send some mail, chat, etc. - all
with a common user experience (and the possibility to tweak it by
interesting extensions and unforeseen use cases).
For me, the long term goal for the SeaMonkey project is to offer a
polished integration of internet-related applications. I like it to be
no-nonsense, practical, simple enough for beginners as well as able to
adapt/adjust for more experienced users.
SeaMonkey should create more of its own identity, separate itself from
the old Mozilla suite (wasn't that one of the the main reasons for the
new name) and not wait too long with a first release.
I like the integrated suite approach as I have many settings (most
notably regarding display - fonts, font sizes, colors) affecting all
components and I wouldn't like to maintain number of copies of them for
every single Mozilla-based application I use.
Of course, those snippets are not the vision yet. I'll try to distill
those snippets into a nice, crisp and clear vision statements an run it
by the SeaMonkey Council before presenting it here again.
Thanks to everyone for your input!
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