Mozilla Sea Monkey review
Gives users a simple, usable bundle of internet-related applications for free. Works across all operating systems
Very basic design and does not have support for the numerous Firefox extensions. Uses complicated IRC over instant messaging
There was a time when Netscape’s internet suite was pretty popular. The Mozilla Foundation, which was born out of Netscape, brought out the Mozilla Suite, consisting of a web browser, a mail client, a newsreader, a website editor and an IRC client. Now renamed SeaMonkey, this community-driven internet suite has recently hit version 1.x in its release cycle. The various components of SeaMonkey share code with the other projects run my the Mozilla Foundation such as the Thunderbird mail client and the Firefox web browser.
SeaMonkey is available for free download for all platforms, namely Windows, Mac and Linux. As it is built on the open source Mozilla Gecko rendering engine – the same one as used in Firefox, Camino and other browsers released by the Mozilla team – SeaMonkey renders pages in the same manner in which Firefox does. Let’s take a look at each of the components of SeaMonkey.
The SeaMonkey Navigator is the browser component of the SeaMonkey suite. The browser has many of the standard features you see in others such as tabbed browsing, pop-up blocking and cookie management. However, the overall look, feel and experience isn’t that of a modern web browser like Firefox, Safari or Chrome. That said, Navigator is a pretty lightweight application and is pretty fast with rendering pages.
The fact that SeaMonkey Navigator does not have support for the numerous Firefox extensions is both very surprising and is a bit of a deal-breaker. However, you can still find a collection of SeaMonkey add-ons here.
The SeaMonkey Mail and Newsgroups client looks just like Netscape Messenger did back in the day. It has a simple and clean interface with the basic features of any email client. It also comes equipped with the ability to import your email, address book and settings from other email clients such as Outlook. With junk mail filtering and the ability to handle multiple email accounts, this looks like an application that can replace most email programs out there today.
The newsgroup interface is also quite simple and utilitarian. The tool has all the basic features you expect from a newsreader, such as the ability to receive, compose and search messages. However, it still lacks any real innovation. One feature we did find particularly useful was the ability to fetch messages for offline consumption.
The SeaMonkey Composer, like the rest of the pack, has a very simple and straightforward design. It allows you to compose and edit webpages. There are a few graphical components for things like adding tables and images and formatting the text. But it’s really a glorified text editor with a few extra buttons. So don’t use it expecting it to compete with Adobe’s line-up. Think of it as a simple free alternative to Microsoft’s FrontPage. It can be very handy for making small changes to webpages, rather than building whole websites.
SeaMonkey’s Chatzilla is its IRC chat client. A lot of users out there might not have heard of or used IRC. Well, IRC (Internet Relay Chat) requires some amount of technical ability, which a lot of regular computer users lack. They are more comfortable using more modern instant messengers such as Google Talk, AIM, Yahoo! Messenger and MSN Messenger. An IRC user is quite likely to be somewhat technical. But even as far as IRC clients go, Chatzilla is just not as user-friendly as some of its competitors.
SeaMonkey’s Address Book component is again a very simple application. It works well, but lacks features and a cool design. One feature we found useful is its ability to import address books from various formats such as CSV, tab, text files and LDIF.
The SeaMonkey internet suite comes off as a half-baked attempt at building an application. The first impression it gives is that its user interface has not evolved much since the 1990s. The same goes for the features. The fact that the same group, the Mozilla Foundation, has brought us applications such as Firefox and Thunderbird, which can take on most if not all competitors, open source or otherwise, makes it even more shocking.
On the upside, Mozilla SeaMonkey gives users a simple, usable bundle of internet-related applications for free. The fact that it works across all operating systems is also a very good thing for users looking at migrating.
All in all, Mozilla SeaMonkey is pretty basic and still has a long way to go before it can be considered a real alternative to other suites currently available. The project is still young and can probably gun for a position among the top internet suites in some time.