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Why I switched from Thunderbird 3 to Seamonkey 2

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Lemon Juice
 
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Post Posted January 31st, 2010, 4:11 pm

In this post I will describe reasons why I finally decided to give up on Thunderbird and chose Seamonkey instead. This is a kind of small personal rant of mine but I'll try not to complain too much as it probably won't help anyone, I'll try to focus on differences between Thunderbird 3 and Seamonkey 2 from my personal experience. I know there are people who are annoyed by some of the new 'features' of Thunderbird and maybe don't know that there is Seamonkey which can be a better alternative. Long time ago I was a user of the old Mozilla Suite but later was using Thunderbird 1 - 2 for my mail because a separate application seemed safer for my mail data. After Thunderbird 3 RC1 came out I installed the new version and spent more than 2 months with it up until the final release. However, for about a month right now I am again a user of the new old-style Mozilla Suite which is now named Seamonkey - Mail, News, Browser and HTML Composer in one. Here are the reasons:

1. Startup time - while TB 2 startup was lightning fast, usually 1-2 seconds, TB 3 takes about 10 seconds to start on my computer. SM 2 takes about the same but it loads the web browser as well in this time so I have 2 applications ready. Most often I use both the browser and mail so this is not a problem for me.

2. Mail header pane - I don't know what is going on among the developers that they removed one of the basic features to collapse the header pane so that is doesn't take up precious space. The pane is now larger and can't be collapsed. Fortunately there is an extension to remedy that but is is a hassle. Seamonkey retains the good old arrow to collapse the header pane.

3. New layout of buttons which is a complete mess. In the past all buttons were on the top toolbar, now some have been moved to the header pane. Now the top toolbar has lots of wasted unused space and header pane is cluttered with small buttons whose purpose is not obvious at first sight because there is no room for text labels - you have to hover over them to show their functions. And when I want to perform an action I don't know where to look first: on the toolbar or the header pane? Fortunately, the top buttons can be restored manually and the CompactHeader extension can be used to get rid of the header pane buttons. But it's another hassle... Seamonkey retains the old clear layout of having all the buttons in the main toolbar.

4. This is minor but some of the toolbar buttons are better thought out in Seamonkey. For example, Thunderbird can have 2 toolbars named "Forward" but used for 2 completely different actions: going forward one message in history or forwarding mail. Seamonkey has "Go forward" and "Forward" - clear and simple. Besides, in Seamonkey the (mail) Forward button has drop down options to forward inline or as attachment.

5. This is the big one: "gloda", the new searcher and indexer. Takes up a lot of CPU and disk resources slowing down the whole system and using lots of bandwidth on IMAP accounts. The whole interface for finding messages is very confusing, inconvenient and unintuitive. I tried to like it but to no avail. Fortunately, it can be turned off. But a new user can be in for a big surprise not knowing why Thunderbird makes his whole system so slow... A global search would be nice but not for such a high price. I prefer my mail program to be lean on resources and not do anything in the background that can affect other applications. For me a good mail client is the one that sits quietly minimized until new mail arrives. Seamonkey doesn't have the new indexer and doesn't suffer from its symptoms. "Searching everywhere" is not really that important to me however cool it may sound.

6. Search box: even if I disable the indexer, from time to time Thunderbird's search box returns to the default "Search everywhere" mode which is annoying. I don't know if they fixed it in 3.01. Seamonkey is limited to "Search Subject or Address", which is enough for me in 95% of cases, otherwise I don't mind using the "Advanced" search button which opens a new search window. As a bonus Seamonkey provides the View mode dropdown list which is not present in Thunderbird. It allows me to quickly filter messages, for example only unread, only with attachments, only recent, etc. Overall, the search bar in Seamonkey is better for me.

7. Thunderbird has a new wizard for creating new accounts, which I find much more confusing than the previous one. It tries to be intelligent and guess your provider settings but in many cases it doesn't work right and provides only confusion. In most cases I ended up cancelling it and setting up all server info in standard account settings window. I don't even know why developers took the time of re-implementing a feature that is so irrelevant to anyone, especially when the old wizard worked just fine. There are certainly other areas of Thunderbird that need improving and are much more important. Seamonkey retains the old account wizard which is perfectly fine for me.

8. In Thunderbird when I send an email to myself my email address is hidden in the header page - it says "You". I don't know why hide important information under some nice words - looks good but how does it help with anything? I can own several addresses and have several identities, right? I'm sure it can be turned off somehow but it's another nuisance... Seamonkey simply displays the proper name and address - I'm not so stupid not to recognize my own email address.

9. Fixed in 3.01 now but up until 3 final I could't open txt or html attachments. Seamonkey never had the problem with that.

10. Thunderbird, clicking on an attachment doesn't display "Detach All" and "Delete All" for some reason, I have to go through the main menu to reach these options. No problem with that in Seamonkey. Additionally, there is the View Source option for each attachment. Pretty nice.

11. As of Thunderbird 3.0 it is not longer possible to have inline attachments included in quoted replies. Nothing to change that in the options. Maybe there is a hidden pref for that? Maybe but yet another hassle... Seamonkey however has a checkbox "Quote attachments viewed inline in replies". That is the professional way of dealing with new/changed behaviour - provide an option instead of forcing change.

12. Thunderbird is *supposed* to be more user-friendly for the general audience while Seamonkey more for computer geeks... Then how can anyone explain the fact than Seamonkey comes bundled with extensive help describing most of its features? It is not perfect and some minor details are missing but at least most features are described and hitting Help in preference or account setting windows gets you right to the proper help section. Thunderbird has no help and even when you go online to their official page you get some scanty general tips that are of not much help to anyone. I am inclined to say that Seamonkey is therefore easier for novice users.

13. Thunderbird now insists that I set up my preferred columns for every email folder I have. Now that I have LOTS of folders I have lots of work to do to enable the columns I want for each of them. Seamonkey preserved the old behaviour. I understand that the new behaviour is a welcome feature by some but then why not provide an option for that?

14. In Thunderbird I can no longer display message count in the folders pane. This feature was simply removed and now needs an extension. Seamonkey still keeps it working well out of the box.

15. Thunderbird kept showing me the useless tab bar even if no tabs were open, taking up my precious screen space. No options to change that. Actually... there is a hidden pref for that, I spent some time searching for it... In Seamonkey I can check "Hide the tab bar when only one tab is open". How simple!

16. Feature lacking in Thunderbird: in SM I can show/hide the folder and message pane by clicking the handle in the middle of the division line. I can also quickly show/hide the folder pane by pressing F9. And I can minimize toolbars by clicking on their handle to the left - useful for quicly getting more space for real content if you need.

17. Lacking in Thunderbird: SM can display a "Location bar" which is simply a drop-down list of all expanded account folders for quick navigation. If you have many accounts and many folders it is very useful.

18. I like the Seamonkey modern theme despite its age. If someone wants a more OS look they can simply switch to the classic theme.

There are also things I find better implemented in Thunderbird but they are not deal breakers for me. They are:

1. Thunderbird has a better new mail alert popup which includes subject and beginning of the message while seamonkey only says how many new messages arrived
2. When you choose to show the Received column instead of Date in inbox, there is no Date column in the Sent folder. I don't have an issue with having Date column so I don't mind it so much (bug #538838)

So that would be it as far as I am concerned. For the time being I am done with Thunderbird and feel happier using Seamonkey. Neither program is perfect but at least Seamonkey doesn't screw up essential features like Thunderbird 3, doesn't waste my space and doesn't try to make me happy with poorly implemented indexer that consume my computer resources. And I spent quite a lot of time hacking hidden prefs and finding extensions so that I can have basic features back and I'm already tired with this. I don't want to go through all of this again when installing Thunderbird on other computers. Seamonkey is the mail client that gets its job done without much effort on my part and without getting in the way. And I have the following extensions installed:

- Folderpane Tools for rearranging accounts in folder pane
- Lightning 1.0b1 - integrated calendar
- MinimizeToTray Plus - for minimizing Mail to the system tray
- Mouse gestures Redox - it's convenient to use mouse gestures for closing windows, etc.
- Message Archive Options - works only with addon compatibility check disabled because it is intended for Thunderbird only. It works only partially in Seamonkey for setting up archiving options but it enough for me.
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tanstaafl
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Post Posted January 31st, 2010, 9:01 pm

I'm not as bothered as you by all of the good points you raised. I view 3.0.x as a work in progress, and given the chaos caused by the re-org and the waterfall style project development they used to use I expected a lot of problems.

Thanks for sharing your reasons.

georgy_
 
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Post Posted February 1st, 2010, 3:51 am

Thanks for re-inforcing a suspicion I had that new is not always best. Like you I downloaded the latest thunderbird and encountered a liturny of errors. If it loaded up at all (often not doing so) it took massive resources to do so. It was meant to be an Imap configuration but sucked e-mails off the server that were critical when using web version of my IP providers mail forcing me to go home to retrieve and resend them. The tab browsing drove me mad and as you say the banner is obstrusive ...no idea how to get rid of it. What did I do? I reverted to thunderbird 2 and the house is much quieter with my lack of immoderate language and grinding of teeth.
Question for you...is seamonkey compatable with thunderbird 2? I have a lot of folders which have been sorted out and do not want to have to do that again any time soon. I keep research at home so need to keep some pretence of order
cheers from down under
G 8-)

Lemon Juice
 
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Post Posted February 1st, 2010, 4:34 pm

tanstaafl wrote:I'm not as bothered as you by all of the good points you raised. I view 3.0.x as a work in progress, and given the chaos caused by the re-org and the waterfall style project development they used to use I expected a lot of problems.

I understand 3.0 is a work in progress and can have problems but for me it's not so much about that. After using TB 3 I have a feeling that the development is going in an opposite direction to what I would expect and the developers are making decisions which don't give me hope for improvement. Recent development seems to be much about removing features which are essential, packing features which are gimmicks or not really important and screwing up things (like UI) just for the sake of changing something. If software has temporary problems or bugs I can wait but if it starts being developed in an opposite direction, I feel waiting doesn't make sense. I am saying this from purely subjective point of view of course and fully respect the right for anyone to like TB 3.0.

georgy_ wrote:Question for you...is seamonkey compatable with thunderbird 2? I have a lot of folders which have been sorted out and do not want to have to do that again any time soon.

What do you mean by compatible? Seamonkey 2 is built on the same engine as thunderbird 3, seamonkey 1.1 has the same engine as thunderbird 2. Seamonkey has an import manager for importing mail from thunderbird. I've heard it sometimes work and sometimes not but you can give it a try. My preferred way of moving mail is manually because I am sure no garbage will be dragged from my old profile. Basically I set up all the same accounts manually, then copy all mail files from the TB profile folder to the SM profile folder. You need to copy only the ones without any extension, the .msf files and others will be rebuilt automatically. This will recreate all your folders (be sure to have both programs closed when you copy). However, I'm not sure how to move saved search folders.

Nobody can promise you that seamonkey will solve problems you had with thunderbird 3 because they share the same engine, but it's worth a try. If you had cases of disappearing mail it's good to first do a backup. I use IMAP in seamonkey as well and have no problems with it.
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tanstaafl
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Post Posted February 1st, 2010, 6:59 pm

Lemon Juice wrote:I understand 3.0 is a work in progress and can have problems but for me it's not so much about that. After using TB 3 I have a feeling that the development is going in an opposite direction to what I would expect and the developers are making decisions which don't give me hope for improvement.

I'm a classic IMAP power user who hates offline folders so the current focus on message synchronization is annoying. And global searching does little for me since most of my email is in one IMAP account. But they used to neglect IMAP support, and are now focusing a lot of energy on it. So now its possible some IMAP features I want such as Push-IMAP or Lemonade Profile might eventually be supported.

I like the Personas support and some of the 3.0 specific add-ons such as FiltaQuilla (enhances message filters). I was worried about some of the initial statements of direction by their CEO which made it look like they were going to add support for social networking and integrating other types of communication in Thunderbird. That hasn't happened (they're targeting that type of user in Raindrop instead).

They didn't add support for maildir or some other alternative to mbox files to 3.0 but they have committed to adding an interface to make it possible for somebody to cleanly support other mail storage systems.

I initially loathed the new message viewer but now that I can use add-ons to customize its toolbar and header pane my main complaint is that they should have added the ability to add any button to that toolbar. That is supposed to be supported in a later release. I'm disappointed that they didn't do enough in the first pass to make it a more useful way to access the buttons, but I like the fact that they're trying.

My main concern is they have a tendency to make things worse for certain types of users in order to improve things for what they consider the mainstream. However, if I used SeaMonkey I'm sure I'd find something to complain about too.

rsx11m
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Post Posted February 1st, 2010, 8:56 pm

I'm using both SeaMonkey 2.0 and Thunderbird 3.0 with my "real" mail, where I must add that I have less to complain about on SeaMonkey than on Thunderbird. I agree with a lot of what's posted here, but still hope that user feedback (and participation in bugzilla and other places) will have a positive impact on Thunderbird development.

tanstaafl wrote:I'm a classic IMAP power user who hates offline folders so the current focus on message synchronization is annoying. And global searching does little for me since most of my email is in one IMAP account. But they used to neglect IMAP support, and are now focusing a lot of energy on it.

While that's true, there are a couple of regressions if you don't use message synchronization (like printing getting stuck when an attachment isn't fully loaded). Switching on synchronization without the ability to restrict download bandwidth and volume has locked out a couple of users. This affects Thunderbird and SeaMonkey equally, but bugs are pending on those issues (let's see if and what makes it for TB3.1/SM2.1). My initial reaction to the Gloda search results page was "nice", but the indexing turns out to be a resource hog on my not too recent machine, thus I ended up switching it off and go with the old-fashioned Search Messages dialog or the QuickSearch bar instead.

I initially loathed the new message viewer but now that I can use add-ons to customize its toolbar and header pane my main complaint is that they should have added the ability to add any button to that toolbar. That is supposed to be supported in a later release.

Tell me about it, I had to file two follow-up bugs on the header-pane buttons customization already, and the extension author has posted respective code as a patch for the regular releases, but no clear reaction thus far from the developers' side... :-k

My main concern is they have a tendency to make things worse for certain types of users in order to improve things for what they consider the mainstream.

That's a frequently read statement. In contrast to Thunderbird, the SeaMonkey developers made a step back though and didn't include new - potentially risky and immature - "killer" features into their release, instead went a more conservative way by retaining much of the proven user experience. I hope that they will keep this wisdom for their next releases and only adopt those Thunderbird features which are mature enough and have been improved on after respective user feedback.

tanstaafl
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Post Posted February 2nd, 2010, 2:08 am

rsx11m wrote:there are a couple of regressions if you don't use message synchronization (like printing getting stuck when an attachment isn't fully loaded).
I suspect setting mail.imap.mime_parts_on_demand false would prevent that (since you'd always fetch the entire message). If you have to do that to prevent those problems, and you need to download the entire message to have it in the disk cache, I don't understand why they didn't just set it false by default.

rsx11m
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Post Posted February 2nd, 2010, 7:00 am

Hey, thanks! Toggling mail.server.default.mime_parts_on_demand to false enforces download of the entire message, so it takes a bit longer, but the printing dialog opens correctly after that download. So, as always, it's a trade-off.

ericjs
 
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Post Posted February 2nd, 2010, 11:41 pm

I agree. Thunderbird 3 seems less a work in progress than a work in regress. Who is making these terrible decisions, like the UI changes, and the indexer? PLEASE t-bird team, do not let these people make any more decisions and find someone competent to make them!

My biggest peeves:

* The indexer obviously. It's one thing for it to have problems. But that fact that it's on be default and starts indexing EVERYTHING without so much as a by-your-leave, is just obnoxious. Didn't they ever test an upgrade with lots of mail and folders? Didn't anyone think, oh we have users with years of email, and multiple accounts. And you don't even let us turn it off selectively by account or folder? Just awesome.

* The buttons that have been moved to the message pane. Confusing and bad UI design. The version I have has labels on the buttons so that's not an issue, but it STILL is bad UI design.

*Some things go into tabs, some thing become new windows. Very inconsistent. I open an old message: tab. I write a new message: widow. I bring up the full search: window. And it doesn't help with window clutter, I'm much more likely to have multiple messages in progress open than multiple old messages open. We all know tabs are all the rage, but really, jumping on the bandwagon this late in the game isn't impressing anyone, and they aren't needed here.

*Email address auto-complete. It works differently. I start typing a few letters and it chooses different addresses than it used to. I've already sent a couple of emails to the wrong address, and nearly made a very embarrassing mistake with a personal email almost going to a work client. Again, awesome.

* What's with offline mode? All I have are POP accounts. I switched locations and tried to check my mail, and it tells me that I'm in offline mode and would I like to go back into online mode. How is this an improvement over just trying to connect to check my mail and giving me an error when it fails? That tells me that I'm "offline" just fine and doesn't require me to go "online" again.

Lemon Juice
 
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Post Posted February 5th, 2010, 4:16 am

tanstaafl wrote:I like the Personas support and some of the 3.0 specific add-ons such as FiltaQuilla (enhances message filters).

Actually, FiltaGuilla works with Seamonkey as well!

tanstaafl wrote:My main concern is they have a tendency to make things worse for certain types of users in order to improve things for what they consider the mainstream. However, if I used SeaMonkey I'm sure I'd find something to complain about too.

That's my concern too. There is a certain amount of regression I am willing to accept in new software and TB has crossed the line for me. Perhaps they think that gmail is the mainstream so the most important thing is global search because gmail has one too, and all the other stuff can be removed at will :roll:
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Don Pedro
 
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Post Posted February 5th, 2010, 9:29 am

The pane is now larger and can't be collapsed. Fortunately there is an extension to remedy that


Which extension? we had Maximize Message panel , no more compatible with 3x

P.
Thank you,
P.
Run Linux Mint 15, FF 23 , TB 17.08 with Gmail accounts Toshiba Satellite 64 bits T135 S1310 4 Ram memory

Lemon Juice
 
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Post Posted February 5th, 2010, 2:29 pm

Don Pedro wrote:
The pane is now larger and can't be collapsed. Fortunately there is an extension to remedy that


Which extension? we had Maximize Message panel , no more compatible with 3x

CompactHeader - see here: viewtopic.php?f=29&t=1405155&start=0
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zwarbles
 
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Post Posted February 5th, 2010, 6:54 pm

Thank you for a well written explanation of why you switched.
After reading what you wrote, I too switched to SeaMonkey.

I just installed Windows 7 yesterday and am in need of an email program. I had always used Outlook Express/Windows Mail and was happy with it.
Yesterday I installed Windows Live Mail and did not like that I couldn't use one inbox, outbox, etc. I have too many email addresses to have to sort through many different ones.
So I then installed Outlook. That was the same way as live mail. This morning I installed Thunderbird and spent hours configuring it.
There was quite a few things I didn't like about it, but felt it was new and I need to get used to a new program.

I've since installed and am currently using SeaMonkey and it's the best one so far. I have a few things I'd like different....BUT...I am having one huge issue I need rectified or I won't be able to continue using it.
Every time I open the program, it asks me to put in the password for each and every email account I've made. There is just no way I can continue to do that daily. (I also haven't even done all my email addy's yet)

Am I overlooking something to make this stop or is this the way the program is supposed to run? I want it where it saves my password and doesn't ask me for it when I open the program or send out an email.
Hopefully you know the answer to this and nobody has answered me in the SeaMonkey section.
Thanks.

Lemon Juice
 
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Post Posted February 6th, 2010, 3:16 am

zwarbles wrote:Every time I open the program, it asks me to put in the password for each and every email account I've made. There is just no way I can continue to do that daily. (I also haven't even done all my email addy's yet)

Next time you get the prompt for password check "Use Password Manager to remember this password" and you will not be asked again. You need to do it once for each account when checking mail and once when sending mail and then Seamonkey will not ask you again. Sure, it would be unacceptable if an email program couldn't remeber passwords!
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zwarbles
 
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Post Posted February 6th, 2010, 4:16 am

Thanks, I'll try that. Next question is whenever I click on a link, SeaMonkey browser opens...and I am using FF. How can I remain using FF and have that browser open when I click on links?

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