Archive of UserLand's first discussion group, started October 5, 1998.

Re: Mozilla is not a browser

Author:Nick Sweeney
Posted:4/12/2000; 12:05:29 PM
Topic:Mozilla is not a browser
Msg #:16131 (In response to 16104)
Prev/Next:16130 / 16132

Instead of thinking of Mozilla as an application like a web browser, think of it as a set of tools that lets you build lots of different web-enabled applications. You can use Mozilla to build web applications that take advantage of the web-centric nature of Mozilla.

Or you can use Mozilla to build a web browser.

Pardon the tone of cynicism, but my biggest misgiving with the Mozilla project, as it has now become, is the complaint cited by Joel elsewhere: that with the complete rewrite, and no firm project outline, it's become the simultaneous benificiary and victim of developer bloat.

In short, the project to "remake the browser" has produced something that still doesn't work as a browser. Which is all very well on the one hand, now that Netscape is the poor relation to IE in terms of the bottom line of HTML/Javascript compliance; but for those who wanted a fast and functional browser, there's a feeling that the project has been misappropriated. That's the real reason behind the rants against XUL and the use of application-centric widgets.

You can see it from two perspectives: Mozilla is the classic "stone soup" project, where starting from precious little -- a codebase which had to be more or less dumped anyway -- it's attracted a lot of talent and creative thought. On the other hand, after two years of development, I still don't have a reliable, fast, standards-compliant graphical browser on my Linux box, and I don't see one coming from any direction. And nothing stifles development as much as an unstable platform.

Mozilla is turning into the web's equivalent of Emacs; but it's important to use the codebase, and in particular the Gecko renderer, to come up with something that does the job of vi. An "Application Virtual Machine" has lots of advantages, but as anyone who's used a 100% Java browser can attest, cross-platform consistency has its costs.

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