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Firefox - The Platform 589

Posted by timothy
from the if-it-only-had-an-ssh-client dept.
Strudelkugel writes "Business 2.0 reports Firefox is becoming a problem for Microsoft. But FF is not just a problem as a browser; its potential as a platform is significant. From the article: 'It all adds up to a business opportunity for startups, established software companies, and Web giants alike. Though Ross and the nonprofit Mozilla Foundation don't stand to make money, Firefox's open platform gives it enormous potential to hatch a new class of applications that live on the desktop but do business on the Web.'"
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Firefox - The Platform

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  • by flynns (639641) <sean@@@topdoggps...com> on Sunday October 24, 2004 @06:43PM (#10616282) Homepage Journal
    The potential for development within firefox is fairly impressive...microsoft had better be concerned.

    Maybe Firefox is like the third-party candidate of browsers. Sure, it may not ever hold a dominant market share, but it will guide those who DO towards the right issues...
    • by CanadianCrackPot (727998) on Sunday October 24, 2004 @06:45PM (#10616295)
      Like security, stability, and compliance with actual standards.
    • by Ploum (632141) on Sunday October 24, 2004 @07:07PM (#10616442) Homepage
      Maybe Firefox is like the third-party candidate of browsers.

      But who are the two others ?

      You must say : Firefox is the other candidate !
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 25, 2004 @01:50AM (#10618467)
      Three years ago I had a fairly full function IDE for creating XUL applications working in Mozilla (project creation, form designer etc.). It was written in XUL+CSS+Javascript+RDF+XML.. I even demonstrated it at Netscape in Mountain View - Zero interest. At that time Netscape was entirely engaged in finishing the Browser, nothing else mattered.

      The problem is that Mozilla was designed as a platform to develop a browser (unsurprisingly), not a platform to develop applications. I believe they were wrong in this decision as they could have finished the project sooner if the platform had been powerful enough to bootstrap itself. Unfortunately the rush to finish the browser lead to a mish-mash of api's which treat HTML, XUL, XML and now probably XHTML documents entirely differently. For example, some api's had a large number of unimplemented functions. Embedding HTML documents in XUL or visa-versa led to bizarre problems. Also the parsers did not have a round-trip mode in which DTD, entities, comments, CDATA etc. were preserved. Writing an XML editor was an exercise in frustration.
      Application development in Mozilla/Firefox is possible. However, I believe that the current technologies seem to have been designed for excessive hand crafting - lots of exceptions and hard to comprehend mechanisms for overlaying functionality. Robert Ginda's excellent Javascript debugger was a labor of love and a triumph over adversity. It shouldn't be that hard.

      Unless Mozilla.org has had a change of heart, MS has nothing to worry about.
  • Google? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by sh1ftay (822471) on Sunday October 24, 2004 @06:45PM (#10616296)
    Though Ross and the nonprofit Mozilla Foundation don't stand to make money, Firefox's open platform gives it enormous potential to hatch a new class of applications that live on the desktop but do business on the Web.

    Can you say google?
  • by spin2cool (651536) on Sunday October 24, 2004 @06:46PM (#10616309)

    Online applications clearly have many benefits, especially with the recent surge in broadband, but adoption and support has been slow in coming. Why is this?

    Well, I think many companies are hesitant to move to online platforms, though, because they feel that it's a security risk. Putting sensitive data on a closed intranet seems safer in many ways, especially to those unfamiliar with encrpytion and other modern security measures.

    • by kent_eh (543303) on Sunday October 24, 2004 @07:04PM (#10616428)
      Well, I think many companies are hesitant to move to online platforms, though, because they feel that it's a security risk. Putting sensitive data on a closed intranet seems safer in many ways, especially to those unfamiliar with encrpytion and other modern security measures.

      As someone who has a reasonable understanding of "modern security measures", I don't do any online financial stuff.

      I do have a reasonable trust in the security of the data in transit. What I don't trust (yet) is the security of the transaction information once it's stored on someone else's server.
      I've lost count of how many times there have been news reports of credit card info (among other things) "leaking" off some supposedly secure system. Or of some worm taking out a bank's system, or some other breach of data storage.

      Nope, I'll keep moving my money around the old fasioned way for a while longer.
      • by Ars-Fartsica (166957) on Sunday October 24, 2004 @07:10PM (#10616460)
        If you really were an "expert" like you claim to be, you would know that financial services have been computerized for years. Do you use ATMs? LEt me guess, you'll lie in a response and say no just to stick to your party line, but it doesn't matter, going and dealing with the teller just means you strip off one layer of the digitization. It still happens upstream whether you like it or not.

        Now let me guess you will tell me you keep it all under your mattress and don't deal with banks at all.

        • by kent_eh (543303) on Sunday October 24, 2004 @07:21PM (#10616516)
          *sigh* 1) I never called myself an expert 2) Obviously financial services are computerized.
          What I intended, and apparently should have explicitly said, was that I don't (yet) trust the security of systems that are directly connected to the public internet. At least I don't trust them enough to bet my own money.
        • It still happens upstream whether you like it or not.

          Walking cross the street involves risk. I try to not spend all day playing in the street.

          The same for my finances. I do use banking services now and then, but most of the time it's cash and carry. The fewer debit registers I use, the fewer of them that have my information. If one is compromised (Open Wireless registers at Home Depot for example) the fewer chances my data will be compromised.

          It's about reducing risk, not elimination of risk for the
    • by Ars-Fartsica (166957) on Sunday October 24, 2004 @07:06PM (#10616440)
      Your bank? Check. Your brokerage? Check? Your government? Check. Your doctor? No, but thats because your doctor is still using Win95 and Office 97. Once someone consolidates the IT operations of law offices and medical practices, this will happen too...the cost of handling paper records is killing these industries.
    • by aldoman (670791) on Sunday October 24, 2004 @07:11PM (#10616466) Homepage
      Have you ever worked in a real office before?

      Most companies now use at least one IE (sadly, almost all are heavily locked into ActiveX atm) based app.

      I'd guess that most of new big backoffice apps are being developed for the web now. The benefits are so big.

      Firefox is what we should be focusing our attention on. Not Linux. Linux is at this stage a pipe dream on the desktop, at least for now. All Firefox needs to get is killer installs in the office, which I don't see too hard especially with the status of IE patching, and those tricky ActiveX issues can be got round with the use of an icon that opens IE only for that certain site and for the rest of the things, Firefox is the default.

      But, I've thought this for a long time that Linux is harping up the wrong tree. Look how quickly FF has got hold - this is the sort of real changes OSS can do. However, I'm not undermining Linux's achievements in the server room. I think that is where it will get hold next.

      Anyway, this is what I think we as an OSS 'people' should evangelize:

      1) Use of Linux in the server room. Mail servers, web servers. Anywhere that it works.
      2) Use of XUL in Firefox/Mozilla. Get Safari to support it.
      3) Get BigVendor (tm) cooperation. Show them how XUL is really a lot better than using ActiveX, especially as Microsoft is really not a great partner to work with.
      4) Watch as the books, tutorials etc for XUL gathers up. Watch the small developer presence increase.

      Basically what we want is XUL/PHP/mySQL (a very strong combination) is to become the new VB. Once we have this, it's going to be a cakewalk to get Linux on the desktop everywhere. Then the hardware support jumps up, and boom, desktop too.
      • by stephanruby (542433) on Sunday October 24, 2004 @08:32PM (#10616924)
        Firefox is what we should be focusing our attention on.

        I disagree. We should focus on whatever tool is right for the job. That may end up being Firefox, or that may not. Focussing on the tool first is ass-backward.

  • by LegendOfLink (574790) on Sunday October 24, 2004 @06:47PM (#10616313) Homepage
    It's about time the Mozilla foundation is getting the recognition they deserve. As a Windows user (yes, flame me), Internet Exploder has been nothing but a giant general protection fault.

    Just goes to show, when you take out competition, you get stale, passionless software. Thank you Mozilla.
    • by ScrewMaster (602015) on Sunday October 24, 2004 @08:23PM (#10616883)
      Actually, we don't call them "general protection faults" any more. That sounds too much like ... a problem with the operating system or something. Really, there's no need to burden the user with awareness of such things. In fact, one of XP's many improvements is in the way malfunctions are presented to the user. No outright lies, you understand, but we've dispensed with technical-sounding terminology and hexadecimal numbers. We simply say, "We're sorry, but your application needs to close." Much friendlier that way, don't you think? Wouldn't want the user calling tech support or anything. Best if they think that spontaneous application "closures" and loss of data is standard operating procedure.
  • by xlyz (695304) on Sunday October 24, 2004 @06:47PM (#10616315) Journal
    as soon a browser reach a bit of popularity, everybody seem to try to have it substitute his OS. why can't it just be a browser???
    • by SimplexO (537908) on Sunday October 24, 2004 @06:51PM (#10616347) Homepage
      The title is a catchy one because Firefox is "new and cool". Really, it's Mozilla as a Platform, and that just really means XUL as a Platform. XAML is Microsoft's attempt at XUL, because it's XUL's a "Good Idea".
    • by FuzzzyLogik (592766) * on Sunday October 24, 2004 @06:54PM (#10616357) Homepage
      It is a browser. But the components that were used to BUILD the browser are very cross platform (hence you have firefox on 3 major different platforms, windows, linux, and mac). in doing so the backend of all of this is cross platform and can be used to create other applications besides just a web browser. you only really need to know javascript, xul, and a few other things and you can use the stuff that was used to build firefox and make your own application. it's a novel idea and hopefully it'll be put to good use.
    • by mikael (484) on Sunday October 24, 2004 @07:01PM (#10616406)
      as soon a browser reach a bit of popularity, everybody seem to try to have it substitute his OS. why can't it just be a browser???

      Because in the corporate environment, system administrators are completely fed up of the constant battle with spyware, adware, trojans, email spam, viruses and popups that users inadvertently download while using web based applications (E-mail, web browsing). Since at least one of these applications is web-based, having a secure browser is manna from heaven. And as the other applications (calendar/diary, group conferencing/whiteboard, voicemail) need network access anyway, there is no reason why these shouldn't be accessed through the same browser. If all of this is possible, then it eliminates the need for all the applications to be stored/run on a PC, thereby eliminating the need to buy licenses for the "professional" release of a certain OS whose vendor maintained a web browser is a basic part of the OS.
    • by DrVxD (184537) on Sunday October 24, 2004 @08:09PM (#10616788) Homepage Journal
      > everybody seem to try to have it substitute his OS

      I like FireFox, but it ain't never gonna replace XEmacs as my OS of choice ;)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 24, 2004 @06:47PM (#10616320)
    I love Firefox. It's fairly fast (not startup, but in use), it has a decent UI and the extensions are amazing. However, I'm becoming increasingly dismayed by the sheer amount of security holes being found. I mean - shockingly - if you look at sites like Secunia, there have been _MORE_ vulnerabilities in Firefox than IE in the last six months!

    That isn't good. Sure, the FF crew may fix them faster, but ATEOTD it's getting hard to advocate FF over IE when effectively it's no more secure at present. I've already suffered this; a couple of people to whom I recommended FF have come back at me pointing out the recently discovered holes.

    Being a 0.x release doesn't really count, as the Moz Foundation is pushing this to the masses - even looking for a NYT ad. It'd just be interesting to hear some thoughts on this. I'll be using it for years no doubt, but how do others promote it considering it has had more vulns than IE?
    • by FuzzzyLogik (592766) * on Sunday October 24, 2004 @06:58PM (#10616390) Homepage
      The reason so many holes are found are due to the Bounty that the mozilla foundation puts forth for each security hole found. this means that people are actively looking for security holes to turn them in and get i think $500.

      Why are they doing this? Simple really. Find the holes now and lock firefox down pretty good. Better that the holes are found and fixed ASAP than found but not fixed at all... say.. like internet explorer. they're simply trying to make it more secure and this is a pretty good way of doing it.

      Look at it this way, if you develop software you look at the same code all the time and once you see it so many times you don't potentially see the security holes that you might otherwise see because you've looked at it so much that you kind of become numb to the fact that something could be wrong there. by having new eyes looking at the code you are having new eyes put on that older code and they're finding the problems, $500 is just an incentive to get people to look at the code.
    • by jsebrech (525647) on Sunday October 24, 2004 @07:07PM (#10616441)
      However, I'm becoming increasingly dismayed by the sheer amount of security holes being found. I mean - shockingly - if you look at sites like Secunia, there have been _MORE_ vulnerabilities in Firefox than IE in the last six months!

      The reason there have been more security vulnerabilities is because of the security bug bounty [mozilla.org], which rewards people monetarily for finding security bugs. They're simply trying to shake out the security bugs in advance, before it goes big.

      Plus, there's been more interest in firefox recently from security firms who see it as a rising star, and think they can get some fame and draw to their consulting business by finding and
      publicly revealing security bugs.

      I doubt mozilla/firefox is as insecure as IE. It doesn't have the same structural design problems, like activex, and "zones".
      • by cmeans (81143) * <cmeans AT intfar DOT com> on Sunday October 24, 2004 @07:29PM (#10616550) Homepage Journal
        Plus, Firefox is still in prerelease...kind of silly not to expect bugs (security or otherwise) in incomplete software...

        I use Firefox, it gets better on each release.

        I expect more bugs will be found, but I also expect they'll be fixed much, much quicker!

      • One thing that needs pointing out: Firefox (and other mozilla based products, as well) does, in fact, have "zones." The only difference is that there is only one zone by default: the insecure/internet zone.

        But the mere fact that Firefox has "zones" is a pretty solid indicator that at some future point in time, the Mozilla team intends to make use of "zones" in the base products.

        If you wish to enable the zones, all you need is this plugin. The plugin does not provide this zones itself, all it does i
    • by darnok (650458) on Sunday October 24, 2004 @07:09PM (#10616453)
      Your points are valid, but I can see a potentially huge market for Firefox in intranet applications. Many browser vulnerabilities are simply irrelevant in an intranet context, where users' PCs are already locked down.

      Most/all large customers have internal-only applications that have been client-server or n-tier with a custom front end. These apps tend to be brutal to deploy, particularly the front-end, as they are prone to DLL hell and various interdependency issues with other applications (it'd be nice if a customer's IT was mandated to only ever use version X of app Y to develop all apps, but that never is the case). In many cases, customers have resorted to deployment "hacks" such as deploying these front-ends to a small number of servers, then using e.g. Citrix terminal services to expose them to their users.

      Enter Firefox and other Mozilla browsers. Now it's practical to build your front-end GUI using XUL and related stuff, and have it talk to the backend over sockets, XML-RPC, SOAP, etc. The only thing that gets deployed to the end user is the Firefox/Mozilla/etc. browser (plus possibly a few addons, typically JavaScript), which is self contained and very easy to deploy.

      This is a potentially huge market, which is why MS is keen to grab it with Avalon. Unfortunately for MS, Mozilla is here now and Avalon is over a year away; Mozilla is easy to deploy, and Avalon will presumably be bundled with Longhorn and all the installation/testing issues that go with it.

      Finally, I suspect that it will be relatively easy to develop an XUL-based app solution and later retrofit it to Avalon using XSLT and not a huge amount of extra effort - an investment in Mozilla app development now *won't* be lost if a later decision is made to jump to Avalon.
  • November 9 lauch day (Score:5, Interesting)

    by solferino (100959) <hazchem&gmail,com> on Sunday October 24, 2004 @06:48PM (#10616325) Homepage
    Blake Ross's minimal website [blakeross.com] reveals that November 9 is the day we "take back the web" i.e. the launch date for Firefox 1.0.

  • by coupland (160334) * <.dchase. .at. .hotmail.com.> on Sunday October 24, 2004 @06:49PM (#10616332) Journal
    People need to be vewy, vewy quiet, we awe hunting microsoft...
  • by OneDeeTenTee (780300) on Sunday October 24, 2004 @06:53PM (#10616352)
    Is it possible that we could see a distributed OS where Firefox on one computer acts as an interface to multiple computers which act in concert to "simulate" a much more powerful machine?

    No this would not be a beowulf cluster.

    The maximum amount of processing power available to any one process would be limited to the fastest machine in the group, but it could be useful for anyone who can give thier computer difficult tasks faster than the computer can complete those tasks.

    Every new task would be automatically given to whichever node has the lightest load.
  • Mozilla? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cubicledrone (681598) on Sunday October 24, 2004 @06:55PM (#10616362)
    Wasn't this tried once? XUL + Javascript + CSS + XML + XHTML = the greatest programming platform?

    Must everything become an operating system? How about quitting trying to become a brand and just make a simple quality browser?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 24, 2004 @07:08PM (#10616445)
      " Wasn't this tried once? XUL + Javascript + CSS + XML + XHTML = the greatest programming platform?"

      What do you mean "tried once"? It's still there, and has been used. Just because every new use doesn't come with a press release, doesn't mean people aren't using it.

      As far as why? Rich-clients [slashdot.org] are the future, even if all the luddites rally against them.

      "Must everything become an operating system? How about quitting trying to become a brand and just make a simple quality browser?"

      Must every bit of FOSS have a scripting capability? I'm browsing with Mozilla now. I'd say it reached "quality" when the majority of the "were's my browser?" posts dropped severely about two years ago. And YES brand is important. Quick! What is LINUX? Quick! What is Apache? Much better than "a browser" or "an operating system".

    • Re:Mozilla? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by FuzzzyLogik (592766) * on Sunday October 24, 2004 @07:08PM (#10616450) Homepage
      a development platform doesn't necessarily mean operating system. look.. the idea is simple, write your code in XUL + javascript using the backend of Mozilla and 99% of that will work on every platform that mozilla/firefox already support. write once, run in all those other places... it's not an OS, it's a development platform. why does everyone think it'll become an OS? Seriously.
  • by jdkane (588293) on Sunday October 24, 2004 @06:55PM (#10616367)
    From the article: Along the way, Firefox is fast becoming the browser of choice for anyone fed up with all the nasty things polluting the Web (pop-ups and viruses and spyware, oh my!).

    However XP Service Pack 2 has taken a big bite out of many security, spyware, etc types of issues that formerly plagued Microsoft's IE browser. That said, users on other versions of Windows do not benefit from these new features.

    Going forward, I would say that Firefox has more of a fight on its hands, now that Microsoft is starting to listen to the browser crowds.

    I went strictly Firefox about seven months ago, and for the last few months have not even had the IE icon available on my desktop or in my menus. However since XP SP2, I've started moving back to using IE sometimes, because it blocks pop-ups, ActiveX controls, etc. Of course Firefox still has many extensions available which I (not the average user, but a developer user) have fallen in love with. However from the average Windows XP user's point of view, why would they switch to Firefox when Microsoft just made IE more secure for them and blocked annoying popups for them? It's definitely going to be harder to market those Mozilla features now that they doen't represent the edge over IE (XP SP2) anymore.

    • Going forward, I would say that Firefox has more of a fight on its hands, now that Microsoft is starting to listen to the browser crowds.

      "Going forward" is corp-rat speak. People who speak English prefer the phrases "in the future" or "from now on". The first of those two has become quite unfashionable; I'm not sure why.

      You may begin your speculation here. (Or not; lord knows I've missed the moderation and conversation window already.)

      I'll start. The word "future" was tarred by association with a se
    • "However since XP SP2, I've started moving back to using IE sometimes, because it blocks pop-ups, ActiveX controls, etc."

      Huh? You are going back to IE because it blocks popups? Firefox blocks popups too. Why would you stop using a browser you have used for seven months and go back to IE because it blocks popups?

      As for activeX controls I don't let anybody run activex controls on my browser. I have then disabled in IE. By the way MS put out an advisory not too long ago telling people to disable activeX cont
  • by YetAnotherAnonymousC (594097) on Sunday October 24, 2004 @06:55PM (#10616368)
    Uh oh. Didn't I hear this ~1996 from Netscape supporters? Not that Business 2.0 at all represents the average Firefox supporter or maintainer. But still, gives me shivers.
  • Deja Vu... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by D-Cypell (446534) on Sunday October 24, 2004 @06:55PM (#10616370)
    enormous potential to hatch a new class of applications that live on the desktop but do business on the Web.

    This sounds a lot like late 90's, .com era speak to me.

    I am using firefox to type up this comment, and yes it is a great browser, but it's not going to change the way the world does business.

    Nearly every business application that has been developed for the last 10 years does business on the web.

    I hereby petition for a change to this article text so that it reads 'do business in a tab'. Now that's innovation!
  • sshh (Score:5, Interesting)

    by guet (525509) on Sunday October 24, 2004 @06:56PM (#10616373)
    Yet here was Andreessen publicly proclaiming in the summer of 1995 that Netscape's plan was to reduce Windows to "a poorly debugged set of device drivers." "They didn't save it up," Myhrvold said. "They fucking pulled up alongside us and said, 'Hey, sorry, that guy's already history.'"

    "The tactic drove Redmond into a rage. The day after Andreessen's quote appeared in the press, John Doerr, the prominent venture capitalist and Netscape board member, received a chilling email from Jon Lazarus, one of Gates' key advisers. In its entirety, it read: "Boy waves large red flag in front of herd of charging bulls and is then surprised to wake up gored."

    from Wired [wired.com]
    • apt metaphor (Score:3, Insightful)

      by geg81 (816215)
      What an apt metaphor: an intelligent, young, adventurous member of the species "homo sapiens" (Netscape) gets gored by a bunch of dumb, overweight beasts with sharp horns (Microsoft).

      A lot more applications should have moved to the web over the last decade. Microsoft prevented that because they were not ready for it yet, even though the industry was. Instead, we got nearly another decade of poorly written VB, Office, and Access applications.
      • Re:apt metaphor (Score:4, Insightful)

        by dedazo (737510) on Sunday October 24, 2004 @07:51PM (#10616677) Journal
        an intelligent, young, adventurous member of the species

        I suggest you go back and review your history. The people who founded Netscape were as much hardasses as Gates and everyone else at Microsoft. These are the people who claimed they had "invented" the Internet (even before Gore) and took all the glory away from Berners-Lee and his team. It's just that they were not as good at the game as Microsoft were. They released a buggy unstable 3-4.x product that couldn't possibly compete with IE4 and then when they got reamed (Navigator was free, just like IE, remember?) they went to court to claim that Netscape engineers were not "weenies".

        poorly written VB, Office, and Access applications

        Yes, because I'm sure that the same people who wrote those applications would have done wonders with C, Python and Perl. After all, we all know it's the language, not the developer.

  • Memory leaks. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 24, 2004 @06:57PM (#10616380)
    Sure, Firefox is great, I love it, I use it all the time, but before adding any more features could the Firefox team fix up the major memory leaks? PLEASE?
    • Re:Memory leaks. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jesser (77961) on Monday October 25, 2004 @12:08AM (#10618079) Homepage Journal
      If you're interested in helping find memory leaks, look at how David Baron has been finding them:

      http://www.mozilla.org/projects/xpcom/MemoryTool s. html
      http://www.mozilla.org/performance/leak-brow nbag.h tml
      https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id= 25682 2#c2
      https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id =25721 8#c0

      Or e-mail David Baron and say "I'd like to help find memory leaks in Firefox. How can I help?".

      If you're not interested in helping, and you're just trying to get people already volunteering to shift their priorities, that's ok too.
  • by hsoft (742011) on Sunday October 24, 2004 @06:57PM (#10616381) Homepage
    Before taking back the web, I think Firefox team should start by making their website W3C valid.

    I noticed that today: Firefox page and "spread firefox" page are both invalid html code. Is it just be or they are supposed to be the ones caring about standards?
  • by geg81 (816215) on Sunday October 24, 2004 @06:57PM (#10616384)
    Firefox is a great browser, and there are a number of useful plug-ins available for it. It's also supported on many platforms.

    But I have my doubts whether it's a good applications development platform as it is. Out of the box, you get, what, XUL and JavaScript? I'm sorry, but that doesn't strike me as a good platform for application development. In particular, JavaScript is just far too flaky to develop anything significant or complicated in it, and a lot of libraries just don't exist for JavaScript at all. And, like it or not, even if you put part of the application on the server, things still get complicated if you want a high quality GUI.

    Maybe if Firefox shipped with a small, efficient JVM or CLR runtime and JIT that tie into the DOM, XUL, HTML, SVG, and event handlers (but without most of the bloated class libraries that Sun or Microsoft want to force on you), it could become a full platform. It would be even better if it included a small IDE out of the box.

    As it is, I think it will remain limited to simple web apps created by rather dedicated Firefox hackers (and thank you for it, it is a great browser).
  • by Ars-Fartsica (166957) on Sunday October 24, 2004 @06:59PM (#10616395)
    I can't think of a more bullshit-proof resume bulletpoint than to point to your commit log on a high profile project.

    Anyone using Mozilla code as a basis for a product will pay out to people with a commit history.

  • by Coryoth (254751) on Sunday October 24, 2004 @07:00PM (#10616403) Homepage Journal
    After seeing this [faser.net] demo of exactly what Firefox and XUL can do in the way of fast, rich applications, I think its only going to take a few significant applications in XUL to get people moving to Firefox just to get it.

    Does anyone know if someone is writing a webmail client in XUL? If not, someone really needs to (I've even started looking at trying to do it myself, and I'm no coder). Compared to current webmail interfaces a XUL interface would be almost indistinguishable from a local mail client. All you need to do is have browser detection send users to the old style webmail client if they aren't using a browser that supports XUL.

    Now, imagine if GMail started doing that... IE users of GMail get the standard webmail interface, but Firefox users get a full fast XUL interface. Have a look at that demo site [faser.net] again, and do some clicking around ... then tell me that that wouldn't be an absolutely killer app for Firefox.

    Jedidiah.
    • by CosmicDreams (23020) on Sunday October 24, 2004 @07:20PM (#10616513) Journal
      Does anyone know if someone is writing a webmail client in XUL?


      Yes, http://xulwebmail.mozdev.org/ [mozdev.org]
    • by Fnkmaster (89084) * on Sunday October 24, 2004 @07:47PM (#10616646)
      XUL is cool. Javascript is nicht so cool. I can't really imagine having to build or debug a complicated GUI application with Javascript as your primarily language for doing everything.

      I realize that part of the problem with Javascript has been different browsers with slightly different interpretations of DHTML and DOM stuff, and that has given Javascript a worse rap than it deserves.

      But that rap isn't completely undeserved. And trying to convince programmers that they should be building the key functional blocks of their applications in Javascript just isn't going to fly any time soon. At least call it something else. Like "XULscript", fix the marketing problem that Javascript has.
    • by IGnatius T Foobar (4328) on Sunday October 24, 2004 @10:14PM (#10617535) Homepage Journal
      That's a great demo. But the first thing I thought when I saw it was, "Damn, when Microsoft inevitably steals this and puts out their own version in the form of XAML, we in the non-Microsoft world are going to have a really hard time keeping our platform software relevant and viable."

      We've got to get this stuff out there and widely used before Microsoft does. The very future of computing is probably at stake.
  • by sphealey (2855) on Sunday October 24, 2004 @07:04PM (#10616430)
    I stayed with Netscape through the disaster years, started using Mozilla at 0.7, and do my best to implement Mozilla (and perhaps soon Firefox) in the corporate environments where I work.

    But - until I see some significant donations to The Mozilla Foundations, including some substantial in lieu payments from corps that are using Mozilla or Mozilla technology, I will have serious doubts that Mozilla will last in the long run. Serious cash is needed to fund a serious development effort.

    sPh
  • Cute (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dark Lord Seth (584963) on Sunday October 24, 2004 @07:08PM (#10616444) Journal

    Reminds me of a teacher at college. Well, not exactly a teacher, mind you. Teachers teach stuff, this guy just stood in front of the class and told us all to go learn ASP.NET from w3schools.com. If the guy was even at college to start with. But I digress. I recently argued with him as to why the hell we were learning ASP.NET while the course read "advanced programming". The moron gave me the following reasons why ASP.NET was to be the "entlösung" to all problems, including war, famine and dropbears*:

    • Web-based I: Everything will go over "the web" with .NET, ranging from word processors to databases.
    • Web-based II: Other programming languages like C/C++, Delphi, Java and anything not .NET will die because of this web-based 'paradigm-shift'.
    • Python: Python (my suggestion) was a joke programming language by amateurs and hobbyists.

    That's pretty much when I stopped listening and just started to stare in sheer amazement. The guy seems to be a bit right after all though, considering the possibilities that are now available for XUL regarding web-based applications. But hey, let's be fair; .NET isn't all that bad but riding the .NET car with ASP.NET is like driving a Ferrari with wooden wheels. C# would have been nice enough, instead. But this whole "everything will be web-based" idea was utterly shit and I KNEW there was a better solution than ASP.NET to web-based solutions. Then I saw a site with XUL elements plastered all over it and I was impressed. No more silly tricks with HTML forms and parsing it all through CGI scripts. It seemed like a clean enough solution for lots of things. Think of a small company; Items need to be tracked, clients need to be contacted and managed, rosters needs to be kept up to date and plenty more. Now all that can be done by HTTP with a standard webserver and a Mozilla platform.

    The compant where I worked as intern could have used that. Instead they adopted a win2k3 server with office 2k-something premium, using it as a terminal server to log in to single Access database using remote desktop, which would function as a POS system with the aid of heavy VBA scripting. Not exactly an elegant solution, though it sure is a creative way to make an Access database centralized. Now imagine the same trick with a cheapo webserver running Apache 1.3.something, serving XUL documents that read/write data from an MySQL database... ( It WAS a rather small shop, after all... )

    • Re:Cute (Score:4, Funny)

      by YE (23647) on Sunday October 24, 2004 @08:23PM (#10616887)
      The moron gave me the following reasons why ASP.NET was to be the "entlösung" to all problems...

      The Entlösung? As in "solution involving ducks"? Or "the Duck solution"? Is there a Monty Python + Holy Grail reference I'm missing here?
  • by CanadaDave (544515) on Sunday October 24, 2004 @07:10PM (#10616459) Homepage
    "Amazon (AMZN) could build a search application into the browser that lets users buy books without visiting its website."

    That already exists! Ok, it doesn't let people buy book yet, but you can search. I wonder if the author of the article knew that. Check it out here [mozdev.org] and here [faser.net]. I've actually tried it out and it works really well.

    Get the firefox extension here [texturizer.net].

  • The usual ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by orangeguru (411012) on Sunday October 24, 2004 @07:11PM (#10616469) Homepage
    Netscape was supposed to be a new platform ...
    Java was supposed to be a new platform ...
    Even Flash was supposed to be a new platform ...
    Now Firefox is supposed to be a new platform ...

    Did they kill MS? Nope.

    XUL is cool, but so far I haven't seen MANY great applications done with it.
  • by MetalliQaZ (539913) on Sunday October 24, 2004 @07:15PM (#10616489)
    Mozilla (seamonkey)? Its been around a lot longer than firefox, and it is just as much of a platform as firefox can be. I guess people just like the cool name...
  • by johannesg (664142) on Sunday October 24, 2004 @07:18PM (#10616505)
    People are talking about Mozilla/Firefox as a platform, but I don't entirely understand what to expect from it. Does it give me the ability to have processing in a webpage on the desktop? The ability to open windows with controls that look like "normal" (read: non-HTML) Windows-windows? The ability to create my own controls and use those on any desktop?

    • by Coryoth (254751) on Sunday October 24, 2004 @08:02PM (#10616747) Homepage Journal
      Does it give me the ability to have processing in a webpage on the desktop? The ability to open windows with controls that look like "normal" (read: non-HTML) Windows-windows? The ability to create my own controls and use those on any desktop?

      Um, pretty much, yeah. Open this [faser.net] in Firefox or Mozilla, or better yet, go here [faser.net] and click on the "launch in its own window" link.

      Jedidiah.
  • IE7 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by LordMyren (15499) on Sunday October 24, 2004 @07:29PM (#10616552) Homepage
    Why hasnt IE been updated in so long?

    Because IE7 was the biggest threat to microsoft. They nearly built open standards which would have let their users to everything as webapps. The only problem is they didnt have any lock-in.

    Thats why IE7 team was stomped into the ground and we havent seen or heard a major release since Win2000.

    Someone dig up some of those random facts i once had on this subject please? IE7 was a strong active dev team doing neat stuff. Then they were axed.
    • Re:IE7 (Score:3, Informative)

      by rmpotter (177221)
      I've wondered about this also. Check out Dean Edward's stuff [edwards.name]. He's created a nice Javascript library that "modifies" IE behaviour so that most of its CSS rendering bugs and incompatibilities disappear. Very cool work. Why can't Microsoft do it?
    • Re:IE7 (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bergeron76 (176351)
      Microsoft decided not to release a stand-alone IE application so they could circumvent the US Department of Justice ruling against them. They were found to be in violation of anti-trust laws because they were using their monopoly power to promote their product (IE) beyond their competitor (Netscape). Their best arguement in this situation was to eliminate the competing product, and [actually] integrate that code into the Operating System itself (the forthcoming Longwhorne).

      By doing so, they get the added
  • by shubert1966 (739403) on Sunday October 24, 2004 @07:38PM (#10616593) Journal
    It's a great browser. We can get into the security, but alot of what makes a killer app killer is the GUI. I don't know the legal specs, but I'm blown away no one else got famous using "tabbed browsing". Til now it's been the webdevelopers who've brought that to the average consumer through frames(sic) - who owns the rights to the concept? I sure hope M$ doesn't. The recent cross-tab vulnerability notwithstanding.

    Anyway, Firefox is more user-friendly than MSIE, without becoming a lecturing tedious drone(clippy). It's installation size (1.7.3) is roughly 9MB, compared to my MSIE at 14MB. It blocks most popups and allows me to configure/repeal this and other user-level-tweaks with intuitive ease.

    The open source aspect DOES have a positive impact on it's development as well. As another poster accurately stated - the more eyes on the code, the more better. Microsoft can't compete in that way. I think they should continue extending the platform - do they do firewalls as and end-product? (ok, I'll go find out later)

    We're discussing a free product that most of us feel is superior to the market leader. That itself is reason to celebrate. Way to go F^2!
  • by SendBot (29932) on Sunday October 24, 2004 @08:21PM (#10616866) Homepage Journal
    This is shamelessly ripped from http://xulplanet.com/tutorials/whyxul.html
    I think it presents a concise overview of firefox as a development platform.

    XUL and Gecko make an excellent choice for building sophisticated Web applications. It provides a rich user interface toolkit, an HTML and CSS renderer with excellent standards-compliance and support for web services, all completely cross platform.

    Work is ongoing with the Gecko Runtime Environment (GRE), which aims to make Gecko a snap to drop into a standalone application, complete with your own executable, if you desire. The idea is to allow the right version of the GRE to be installed automatically with the application if necessary. If the GRE is already installed, there is no need to install it again, or even download it. For those that are interested, the GRE is about 5 to 10 MB, depending on your platform, which is quite small compared to other application platforms. It's also possible to have Gecko run directly from a network drive or CD.

    Since XUL may be used on Web sites, it can be used with server-side architectures such as PHP and JSP to build dynamic content. This allows Gecko to be both a two-tier or a three-tier application model depending on your needs. There are projects in development now which aim to integrate Java, Python and other languages into Gecko directly.
  • by Animats (122034) on Sunday October 24, 2004 @09:00PM (#10617088) Homepage
    We've done this already. Three times. Once with Netscape. Once with IE. And once with Mozilla.

    Browsers, as a "platform", suck.

    You really don't want browsers downloading and executing code. It's just too insecure. That way lies the hell of Active-X. The great thing about HTML is that it's basically descriptive, not executable. Downloading code in some interpretive language is only slightly less insecure, and much slower. (Or, when there's a page with a dumb ad on screen, CPU usage goes to 100%)

    Asking the user for permission to run code doesn't work. Not only will users answer "yes" for hostile code, they'll implicitly agree to EULAs your business's lawyers would never agree to.

    Most free "plugins" are in some sense hostile code. They phone home. They look around the host machine. They burn CPU time when not doing anything for the user. Even the "good ones", like Google's toolbar, overreach. Others are much worse.

    What we really need are good extensions to HTML for forms. Better validation and help are all things that can be done descriptively, rather than by running executable code on the user's machine. HTML forms are lame; they can't even set up a field that must, say, have five numeric digits and must be filled in. You could do that on IBM green-screen terminals thirty years ago.

    • You really don't want browsers downloading and executing code. It's just too insecure. That way lies the hell of Active-X. The great thing about HTML is that it's basically descriptive, not executable. Downloading code in some interpretive language is only slightly less insecure, and much slower. (Or, when there's a page with a dumb ad on screen, CPU usage goes to 100%)

      One alternative is to go with VMs and enforce security that way. For example, it's possible to run a .NET application with restricted per

  • SlashHack (Score:4, Interesting)

    by graveyhead (210996) <fletch@fletchtroni c s . n et> on Sunday October 24, 2004 @10:12PM (#10617520)
    (see my sig)

    SlashHack is a cool example of an app written on top of the Mozilla platform.

    The article is correct Firefox (really Moz as others pointed out) is a fantastic development platform.

    The technology is especially cool for me: I wrote a system in 2000 for a client that positions Java Swing widgets using XML, in order that the app could support pluggable skins. I view XUL as the ultimate application of that architecture. A fantastic decoupling of logic and presentation.
  • by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Sunday October 24, 2004 @10:44PM (#10617703)
    But FF is not just a problem as a browser; its potential as a platform is significant.

    This was the Netscape threat of 5 years ago. That Java enabled apps running under Netscape would destroy Microsoft/Windows because any platform that that could support Netscape would run everything else as well.

    Didn't happen then. Don't hold your breath yet now.

  • works for us (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Gunark (227527) on Sunday October 24, 2004 @11:15PM (#10617855)
    I work for a company that develops intranet-type applications for big mega corporations here in Canada. We've been developing and deploying apps written in XUL/JavaScript + PHP or Python for almost a year now... so far so good. Surprisingly (or maybe not surprisingly) no one has complained about the forced switch to Firefox. In fact we tend to get thank you emails gushing with compliments about Firefox :)

    XUL is here, and it works. Having all of the advantages of web-based deployment, while being able to use proper user interface elements is a godsend.
  • by sstidman (323182) on Sunday October 24, 2004 @11:43PM (#10617980) Journal
    Firefox, a free open-source browser that loads twice as fast as Internet Explorer

    I keep reading comments like this from time to time. I like FireFox and I find that it is pretty fast once it is loaded, but on every box I have tried it typically takes 8 to 10 seconds to load the first time I use it. IE always loads in under 2 seconds, usually less than 1 second. Is there some trick I am unaware of? Does anyone know why folks keep claiming that it loads faster than IE?
  • by Ambassador Kosh (18352) on Monday October 25, 2004 @12:31AM (#10618174)
    Overall I can't see how doing stuff with XUL is a good idea until other systems support XUL also. The point of web based apps isa freedom to change at any time. If you write to XUL you have locked yourself in to one rendering engine essentially. If xul worked with khtml and opera then I would not have this problem.

    I want to have the freedom that web based apps give me and my customers not remove that freedom. Tieing myself to one browser engine does remove that freedom. Right now if I do regular html, css etcthe stuff works pretty much everywhere under almost any kind of device. With XUL I would lose that freedom and it is important.
    • AcitveX XUL? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by CaptainPinko (753849) on Monday October 25, 2004 @02:28AM (#10618576)
      just thinking but wouldn't it really help to get the ball rolling if someone developed an ActiveX plug-in to support XUL in IE? That way even IE only shops can write XUL where there might have written it in AcitveX instead. This could prevent the construction of another barrier to switch over to Mozilla/Firefox at a latter date. This would be a great way for OSS to get a foot in the door at some major organisation.
  • by vivehosting (825092) on Monday October 25, 2004 @04:34AM (#10618869)
    Alot of people are confused about the facts and the potential of Firefox, even the ones that use it. First, let me just say to those who claim IE is faster... IE loads up faster initially, but Firefox renders faster. Unless you are the type to go to a website, close the window, open ie, go to a website, and so on. Firefox is going to be a much faster solution.

    I've been noticing more here than anywhere else that some are confusing Firefox with the Mozilla Suite(Someone even mentioned being a user of FireFox 1.7.3). Firefox is not bloated and will never be bloated. Extensions are optional and if you are like me, you would only be installing about 5 small features to the default installation. The option is there to bloat to your wishes though ;).

    Now the potential as a platform isn't really going to be Firefox. It's starting with firefox, and will become popular because of firefox, but the platform is under development as the XUL Runtime Environment (XRE) [mozilla.org]. This is where the magic starts.

    One will be able to develop executable applications seperate from Firefox that automatically run on Windows/Linux/Mac. Right now, noone wants to tie their developments to a browser although a few like to tinker with it on their own. When the XRE is released, people will then actively develop XUL/Javascript applications with an optional backend of their choice. You will be able to create .exe applications. You can make those one-click installations someone mentioned somewhere here. No need for the browser although the browser can be used if you want to. Bad news is the XRE isn't being actively developed as Firefox is. So, who knows when they'll release it. But when they do, Firefox, Thunderbird, etc will be complete XUL/Javascript Applications that run using the XRE and GRE. I don't know much about GRE, but that's most likely going to stay browser-specific, although I'm probably wrong.

    I'm one of the people who has starting learning XUL and such, and although I have big plans for it. I do not plan on coding for a browser ;) XRE all the way!

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