Make SeaMonkey 1.1.1 Usable

I wanted to write an updated article of my endeavours to make SeaMonkey 1.1.1 compliant to my daily computer needs. SeaMonkey –not only should cover new ground, if only in a new fashion but– needs to replace or offer alternative functionality idiosyncratic to that of Firefox, if only in the way of commonly used extensions.

As mentioned in on a previous article of mine, some Firefox extensions listed at the SeaMonkey add-ons site fail to install or function properly. Moreover, the site’s search utility fails to find particular extensions while a manual search does not. For instance, searching for “Sage” (or “sage” for that matter) fails, yet it is listed under Recommended Add-ons. This sort of inefficiency needs to be pruned, if SeaMonkey is to gain user confidence –let alone be given a fair chance to become a viable and competitive browser.

Back to the point of how to make SeaMonkey viable. One approach would be to build upon (accentuate) SeaMonkey’s attributes. The other approach is to replace missing elements.

SeaMonkey already has a Address Book, a .html editor called Composer, and an Email and Newsgroups program. On the other hand, it notoriously is missing an extensions manager, making extension elimination laborious due to low level deleting of Mozilla files.

SeaMonkey also lacks a RSS aggregator. I believe that RSS readers should be implemented within a browser (not an email app) because RSS clients offer previews of what a browser is about to render. From there, you can utilize the .html page within your browser with which you are comfortable. So there is a natural association and progression between browsers and RSS feeds. Some aggregators (all?) use browser rendering engines as back-ends.

As for building on pre-existing infrastructure, “[Mnenhy] specifically for SeaMonkey … updates the [SeaMonkey] suite with Mozilla stand-alones … Mnenhy … allows me to implement Address Book from within Mail & Newsgroups, after a little configuring, as well as giving more header info …“. Seemless interration of Address Book into Mail is optimal.

When it comes to complementing missing functionality, “It [Mnenhy] … installs Chrome Manager which does a better job of uninstalling extensions than ExtensionUninstaller API and its companion Manager, Extensions Uninstaller … . Besides, Jeremy Gillick doesn’t clearly stipulate the license under which he releases his software, unless you take “All the content and code presented on this site is owned solely by Jeremy Gillick” to mean it is propietary, besides it doesn’t look as if Gillick provides extensions sources. On the other hand, Mnenhy is Open Source, at least (Free Software [GPL] would be better).

Extensions Manager often leaves extension specific files behind leading to problems when reinstalling the same previously installed extensions. The latter extensions will simply refuse to overwrite orphaned files (usually located under Profiles, in my experience). Adding to this, there’s been a few times where I swear I had to un-install the extensions twice, too. I haven’t had these problems with Mnenhy’s Chrome Manager. You can read about other problems related to Extensions Manager elsewhere, although I didn’t experience the worst of these (at the time of writing, the author didn’t know about Chrome Manager.

To implement common Firefox extensions, one needs to facilitate porting or adapting Firefox extensions to SeaMonkey. Suiterunner, SeaMonkey running Firefox 2 series back-ends, aims to improve Firefox compatibility on a larger scale than just extensions, but architecturally (suiterunner is XULRunner-based). Of importance to extension compatibility, the suiterunner site mentions, “It will be easier for extensions that work with Firefox/Thunderbird to be compatible with SeaMonkey“. The problem is, there are few extensions that are compatible with suiterunner. Support at this stage is pointless because suiterunner is a moving target, therefore lack of support is to be expected. It’s in tinderbox (unstable) and will not be ready for quite some time (the mac version is called phlox, by the way).

So if one can’t have the potential compatibility that suiterunner has because of instability and a lack of ported extensions, then the next best thing would be to bring that compatibility –due to the XUL base– to the present day 1.1.1 SeaMonkey. There is an extension that does just that, called xSidebar. The xSidebar page mentions, “In addition, xSidebar also implements the infrastructure – the XUL elements and java-script APIs from Firefox – to make porting Firefox sidebar extensions to SeaMonkey as painless as possible”. They even have a list of ported Firefox extensions workable with xSidebar, which is sure to grow, from which to benefit.

This brings me to another feature lacking in SeaMonkey, one many have lamented. SeaMonkey lacks a “proper” download manager. Enter my favourite download manager, DownLoadThemAll! –available thanks to xSidebar– a download accelerator that claims a 400% performance increase.

Available also from the xSidebar list are the ever popular Greasemonkey, Sage, respoof, (SeaMonkey) Showcase, as well as some interesting previously “unknown” extensions. I just wish that there were more GPL’d extensions, and that this were easily identifiable (upfront).

An extension that is SeaMonkey specific, called MultiZilla, also adds value. Here are a few features (nowhere near a complete list) that are eye-catching.

  • Browser Spoofing-I haven’t seen this since my OS 9 days with iCab.
  • Referral Spoofing-Choice of never sending a referral or spoofing one
  • Cookie Settings-Not quite a manager, SeaMonkey has one accessible via the Tools menu but MultiZilla has two noteworthy options, “Allow Cookies from This Site” and “Block Cookies from This Site”.
  • Kill all tabs except the active one
  • Allows deactivation of extensions
  • Enables the resurrection of closed tabs (Invoke with “command+z”. UPDATE: Currently buggy, see <http://bugzilla.mozdev.org/show_bug.cgi?id=16942>. There is a manual fix mentioned therein. It’s fixed already fixed in the developmental extension.
  • Use of green and red tab icons to signal when unselected tabs are loaded.
  • Readable and ungarbled tabs non-activetabs, not as in Firefox 2
  • Has the “Up one directory in this website” button
  • Duplicate active tab (somewhere, click on tab and look at sub-contextual menu pop-up)
  • Session saver
  • Importation/exportation of tabs in different tabs via sub-contextuals (in sub-contextual menu when clicking on tabs)

MultiZilla also has a simple RSS reader. You can keep your RSS feeds in favourites. When about to read, simply open Bookmarks in the sidebar and select feeds. Clicking on the the parent folder will open all feeds within selected folder into multiple tabs. The only nuisance is that CSS doesn’t kick in until you select a tab and refresh it, unless the RSS feed loads in the active tab. Even in the active tab, the CSS steps in a split second after loading. Clearly there’s room for improvement, but I like the simplicity and being worry free from import/export issues (read below).

Of course you could use Sage, FoxNews or any other xSidebar ported news aggregator, but seeing that exporting my RSS feeds from Sage on Firefox 2 created a list that xSidebar Sage refused to import, and realizing that the feeds were being bucked off to Vienna and Safari because of “feed:” and “feed://&#8221;, which I manually edited out and replaced with “http://&#8221;, I opted to just use MultiZilla as a RSS reader. I also decided to stay away from .opml because keeping RSS feeds in .html (Bookmarks) avoids these import/export problems (just save feeds as Bookmarks).

Not a caveat but I personally deactivated the “deletion by double clicking on tab” feature.

Caveats
The Tab Manager and Tab Session Manager stall SeaMonkey. You mileage might vary as I have a custom build.

Dominant modern browsers also feature a search feature. If you like the Firefox Google search bar, Googlebox does the same and much more. It limits searches to Linux, M$, BSD, Dictionary, etc. Googlebox is similar to Googlebar but does not take up valuable screen space and supports SeaMonkey while Googlebar does not.

Last Words
As you can see, SeaMonkey covers all your modern needs with excellent integration (and it does with less processing power than Firefox and Thunderbird added together). You also note that modernizing SeaMonkey is a simple case of installing a few extensions, considering that MultiZilla covers so many bases. In fact, MultiZilla makes the installation of at least one xSidebar adapted extension (that I can think of) pointless, and covers what would necessitate the installation of several Firefox extensions (using the Firefox browser).

I briefly mentioned that GreaseMonkey is available as a xSidebar extension. While I mentioned it in passing, this is one of two extensions that really upgrade the value of a browser. The other is Piggy Bank. They don’t quite so the same things, although there seems to be cross-over because Screen scraping is something they both do (Piggy Bank specifically makes mention of “Screen Scrapers”). Fortunately, GreaseMonkey is supported in SeaMonkey.

Remaining Issues (other than those mentioned above)
Question: What about bringing back Calendar via an extension such as Lightning?

Answer: I’m working on that. Lightning is not compatible with SeaMonkey nor is the SeaMonkey crew interested in it. There is a pre-Lightning extension called “Calendar extension” that is updated but an OS X workable version does not exist. I would port it if I only knew how (and may just learn).

Update: This page, <http://www.mozilla.org/docs/extensions/tasks/>, might be useful, in as far as launching Calendar from Navigator.

Comments

  • There is a tutorial on how to make Firefox extensions compatible with SeaMonkey at users.skynet.be, although I don’t know if there are mac specific issues not considered therein.
  • No, Lightning did not work for me on suiterunner, contrary to what you may read elsewhere.

Wishlist

  • The “x” tab kill button from my menu disappeared. Not sure which extension did this, although it’s not a big deal as I always use key bindings, but it might be troublesome for some.
  • An indexing feature like Flock’s simultaneous search through visited sites and Bookmarks via an app like Beagle would be useful.
  • I like Firefox’s ability to command one to select tab one, command two for tab two, etc.
  • I also like HaH which –together with the command tab selection– allowed for an almost entirely keyboard orientated experience, although I like to reserve my space bar to page-down and HaH designates this as a dedicated meta-key.
  • Bookmarking within sub-contextuals, “Place this Bookmark here”. –An Opera feature?
  • Deleting Bookmarks within sub-contextuals. –An Opera feature?
  • Toggle “navigate with/without pics enabled” to speed up slow connection surfing would be appreciated. –An Opera feature?
  • I like how the SeaMonkey Address Bar is highlighted on the first mouse click. I wish (x)sidebar and Googlebox had this setting.
  • There are few other features from Epiphany that I would like implemented, such as their cookie manager placement within the main menu, and their ability to have tabs go past their point of origin into the history of parent tabs.
  • Perhaps Firefox’s ability to totally customize their menus, but guarding against their failure to refresh underneath the customization dialogue once it has closed (an ongoing Firefox 2 OS X problem, at least with the MacBook Pros).

By Maurice Cepeda

For some info on Greasemonkey scripts and what they can do. Read,
<http://www.theinquirer.net/default.aspx?article=32756>

GreaseMonkey Scripts are available from,
<http://dunck.us/collab/GreaseMonkeyUserScriptsSpecific>
<http://userscripts.org/>

This is licensed under the Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported Creative Commons License. All brands mentioned are properties of their respective owners. By reading this article, the reader forgoes any accountability of the writer. The reading of this article implies acceptance of the above stipulations. The author requires attribution –by full name and URL– and notification of republications.

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