SeaMonkey: Still the Best Suite for the 1990s

I have a few bones to pick with the direction of Mozilla SeaMonkey. It’s a wonderful suite, familiar to everyone who used Netscape in the 1990s. SeaMonkey is the current version of the Mozilla Suite. It includes the same things the Mozilla/Netscape Suite contained — browser, mail client, composer, address book. The different parts of it integrate well together. It’s themable and extendable.

So what’s to hate about it? Hate is too strong a word. There are a few things that are disappointing. Like, it’s so very 1990s. Here’s my list of SeaMonkey shortcomings.

1. It lacks RSS integration. This means SeaMonkey users have to use standalone aggregators. Firefox and Thunderbird each separately handle RSS. Without RSS, SeaMonkey is still Netscape/Mozilla Suite and still stuck in the ’90s.
2. It lacks an integrated calendar. Another standalone issue. Mozilla Sunbird doesn’t integrate with SeaMonkey. Lightning only works with Thunderbird. I like Sunbird, I want it integrated with my e-mail instead of setting up a calendar server.
3. The suite doesn’t sync with PDA. This is kind of moot since there’s no calendar program with SeaMonkey. But Sunbird doesn’t sync anyway — although one can manually export a calendar and then import it to PDA.
4. The editor is antiquated. It’s very limited — e.g., no CSS — in what it can do. I type out most of my basic HTML using a text editor (like I am now) anyway, and I have a more powerful editor available for bigger tasks. If it’s not going to be upgraded, why not add another feature in its place that will make SeaMonkey more useful both now and into the future?
5. It includes an IRC client. I understand the Swiss Army Knife approach to the full internet here, but I’d rather have RSS and/or a calendar program that integrates with the e-mail client. As valuable (and fun) as IRC is and can be, more users probably do instant messaging these days. Many of the open source IM clients like GAIM also handle IRC. And in comparing apples to apples with respect to features and configurability, I’d rank chatzilla way below bitchx and xchat.

The last two are less important issues to me than the first three. I want features that are relevant to today’s web and will evolve along with semantic web.

One of the things I’ve come to appreciate about KDE is how well Konqueror and Kontact — particularly Kalendar, KMail, and Akgregator, all of which can be run simultaneously within Kontact — integrate. There are a few minor issues but KDE’s direction in this area is better thought-out and better executed right now than Mozilla SeaMonkey. And KPilot, which also can be run within Kontact, can sync up calendars and contacts.

All that said, I continue to use SeaMonkey more often than anything else. As superior I believe Opera is, it’s an uncomfortable option for me and it similarly lacks a calendar (and sync) in the “free” (as in beer, not as in freedom) version; the pay version offers a calendar. I don’t always run KDE and I don’t think the large qt libraries (Opera also uses qt) are justified when I use Damn Small Linux, so I continue to use SeaMonkey. I just think in its current form it was better suited for the internet of 1997 than the one we have in 2007. I hope they’ll get it right soon.


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