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IBM Donates Code to Firefox 355

OS24Ever writes " is reporting that IBM has donated new DHTML code to the Mozilla foundation specifically targeted as accessability and rich interactive applications (RIA). These new features are expected to be in the next major update of Firefox (v1.5). Is this the first OSS application to get RIA/DHTML support for accessability? I would think this could open some doors for Firefox to replace IE in many Windows environments."
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IBM Donates Code to Firefox

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 15, 2005 @04:39PM (#13324671)
    Well, I can't exactly speak to this topic, but I am not so sure I see it happening, nor do I hear anything about it.

  • To IBM (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hey_bob ( 6104 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @04:40PM (#13324693) Homepage
    Thanks for supporting Open Source, and thanks for supporting Firefox.

    -Random Person.
  • As a nerd... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ErichTheWebGuy ( 745925 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @04:41PM (#13324695) Homepage
    I would really love to see the code. It is in CVS yet? I am rather excited, since I have been working on several RIA things lately. Anyone seen the code yet? Or at the very least, anyone have a more specific list of new functionality?
  • by aztracker1 ( 702135 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @04:41PM (#13324700) Homepage
    Why not go with Java's versioning, and just make 1.5 (version code) release 5!? .. seriously it's great that IBM is contributing back to those communities it is getting the use of... it's how "Free" Software is meant to work. Hopefully this will continue, would love to have a paying job working on f/oss software.
  • by sentanta ( 619440 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @04:41PM (#13324709) Homepage
    DHTML is certainly less annoying than 30 second flash intro's, but I want a simple,fast, non-Microsoft browser. I hope this doesn't become a bloated browser like Navigator became.
  • Not unless (Score:2, Insightful)

    by dook43 ( 660162 )
    the DOM magically becomes the same as MSIE's.

    Not unless XML Islands are suddenly implemented.

    • Re:Not unless (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MemeRot ( 80975 )
      XML data islands were really a pretty cool technology. Much more straightforward than writing Javascript to do XMLHttp requests to the server for the XML and then parsing it into HTML. Clean, simple, and unfortunately proprietary.
      • Re:Not unless (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Fortunately they can be implemented in a cross-browser way:

        Using XML Data Islands in Mozilla []
        • Right, exactly like I said. With it not built into the browser you have to write custom javascript to do the same thing.

          The advantage of it being in the browser is that you didn't need to spend time writing this basic glue code every time you wanted to use an xml data island.
  • I doubt it (Score:2, Redundant)

    by Bullfish ( 858648 )
    Really, if you want firefox to eventually gain more than a marginal acceptance rate, it has to be miles betters than IE and it has to be brought to the attention of the public at large. The spead firefox campaign was a start, but only a start.

    To many people who are only casual users of computers still consider firefox a bad Clint Eastwood movie and equate IE (and it's little icon) as THE internet.

    Dumb, but not everybody is as smart as us.
    • by Tumbleweed ( 3706 ) * on Monday August 15, 2005 @05:14PM (#13325115)
      To many people who are only casual users of computers still consider firefox a bad Clint Eastwood movie

      Please to remember: there's a difference between a bad movie that has Clint Eastwood in it, and a 'bad' Clint Eastwood movie. As Clint Eastwood movies go, Firefox is pretty damned good, really. Seriously, if you don't believe me, go see "Stealth." *shudder*

      And remember: your browser will only work if you think in Russian. Think...In...Russian!
    • Re:I doubt it (Score:2, Insightful)

      by jonadab ( 583620 )
      > it has to be miles betters than IE

      How about if, after using a modern browser for a few days, the very thought of using IE makes a user's skin crawl and they have to suppress the urge to go take a shower? Oh, wait, that was four years ago, practically forever in internet time, and ad interim IE is the only major browser that has not improved its interface at all.

      > and it has to be brought to the attention of
      > the public at large

      I'm pretty sure that has happened now. My dad, who only knows the di
  • by tcopeland ( 32225 ) * <tom@thomaslee[ ] ['cop' in gap]> on Monday August 15, 2005 @04:47PM (#13324788) Homepage
    Yup, I know, the Flash player isn't open source. But there's an open source compiler, MTASC [] (*), and with ActionStep [], there's a rapidly growing (BSD licensed!) open source component library.

    All sorts of nifty open source things are happening with Flash these days; you can track that sort of thing on OSFlash [].

    (*) Written in Ocaml, how cool is that? (**)
    (**) Very.
  • IBM == Good code. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vidarlo ( 134906 ) <> on Monday August 15, 2005 @04:48PM (#13324799) Homepage
    Usually IBM has got good code, so there is hope that this will make a better browser. Certainly, it will be a great merit for firefox. Branding IBM code is a quality sign in my eyes, and might lead to wider acceptance of Firefox, as IBM seems to have noticed the browser.
    • Re:IBM == Good code. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Bogtha ( 906264 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @05:28PM (#13325266)

      Usually IBM has got good code

      It's worth noting that IBM built one of the most popular browsers for blind people, IBM Homepage Reader [], which is currently based on Internet Explorer. Perhaps this is a move to help them switch to Firefox in the future?

      I can't help but point out though, that in a landmark website accessibility case, SOCOG were fined A$20,000 [] for not having an accessible website for the Sydney Olympics. Guess who built their website? Yup, it was IBM :).

    • SOME IBM programs have good code, perhaps. But IBM's currently in charge of Lotus Notes, and that program's a piece of crap.
  • ActiveX. It's great that FireFox gets a little added functionality, but I've spoken with many IT people that cannot implement FireFox into their network for the simple reason that they need to have ActiveX fuctionality. If we could get that addon(or maybe it exists?) that would be spectacular for FireFox and it's spread.
  • by Jerf ( 17166 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @04:52PM (#13324855) Journal
    Does anyone have a version of this article that isn't a vague promise that several buzzwords now have more to do with each other than ever?

    I would expect this code actually does something, but the article is so vague I'm not really sure what. What's an example of something that does not work now that will work after this code is integrated and released?

    (Preferably from someone who actually knows; I could make stuff up based on the article too, like this: "Before, if you set the ALT attribute on a dynamically-generated IMG tag, the screen-readers couldn't pick it up. Now they can." But I'm not sure if that's what they mean; that's just my plausible interpretation of the buzzword soup that I'm not very confident in, as I would have thought that works fine now....)
    • by veg_all ( 22581 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @05:22PM (#13325210)
      I believe I saw this code being demonstrated at a recent New York PHP meeting; the IBM guy was tabbing through a tree menu and the voice would say, for example, at what level down the tree the current focus was, the tag in question, whether or not the field was editable and the like. Far and beyond the functionality of, say, JAWS.

      The demo was mainly focused on the "ajax" lirary which was a rapid-deployment web-app framework and the accessibility features were an aside, but it was pretty impressive. See here [] for the code and here [] for an example app.
    • yes, the article is a bit buzzy. But the rich internet application thing is obvious. Why do slashbots (including myself) hate webmail? Three words: multiple round trips.

      RIA's are what Java was supposed to be years ago - something you could deploy universally via a browser, and would run just enough code locally (e.g. the view part of an MVC system) that the program would feel reponsive, but be able to get data in a more complete and granular way than most current web pages do. For example, we've all see
  • While this doesn't necessary concern Firefox itself, I would like to comment on embedding Gecko. For the past week or so I have been attempting to embed Gecko into a proprietary C++ graphical user interface toolkit. So far I have found it quite difficult.

    The existing documentation is either extremely out of date (ie. 2002 or earlier), or partially complete. Some of the documentation contains old names for various XPCOM interfaces. While the various embedding examples are a start, they are very poorly commen
    • []

      Use the source luke. Examples of Gecko embedded in Gtk, Win32, Cocoa on OS X and lots more. Even OS/2.
    • Without telling you how to do your job, have you considered KHTML as an alternative? If you're using C++ it's worth looking at, and the developers reputedly put a lot of effort into code clarity and documentation even at the expense of getting features quickly.
      • Indeed, that would have been my first choice. I'm quite fond of Konqueror, and KHTML. But unfortunately the project I'm assigned to requires cross platform support.

        While I've heard of efforts like KHTML for Win32, they don't seem usable enough yet or lack the continued momentum that we require. WebCore might be an option under OS X, but we'd prefer one solution for all platforms. Mozilla theoretically provides this.

        The high code, documentation and comment quality of the KDE KHTML part merged with the develo
        • KHTML is supposed to be crossplatform, IIRC KDE 4.0 will be a fully crossplatform release, but I know the porting effort to Qt4 is only just getting underway so it's probably not usably crossplatform yet. I'm not sure even then it will have the same "development impetus" though, since keeping the documentation and comment quality up necessitates slower progress.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 15, 2005 @05:19PM (#13325180)
      I tried to write a firefox extension over this summer and was absolutely shocked by the degree to which firefox-related documentation either doesn't exist or is completely inadequate and disorganized. The solution for every problem of this sort seems to be to point you at source code, and expect you to puzzle out for yourself what meaning the programmers intended that code to have. The ONLY instructions on how to create a firefox extension are an open source demonstration extension on the blog of someone unconnected to firefox-- an extension which itself has few comments and no documentation, you're just supposed to use it as sample code. While there is something to be said for learning by example, this just doesn't work as the sole form of information. You find yourself immediately hitting two problems:
      1. At some point you're going to need to know how to do [X random thing] that your sample code doesn't already do. Your only options at this point are to start scouring the internet for firefox extensions, looking for extensions which do something kind of like what you want to do, and then looking at their source code to see how they did it; or mercilessly bother the IRC channel until somebody who's already done this comes by
      2. At some point, inevitably, you're going to hit a point where the sample code deceives you! All code contains implicit contracts. You cannot learn those contracts simply by looking at source code. Without documentation to make those contracts explicit, you are left either breaking contracts-- and thus your entire program, when some other part of the program expects something to be X at a certain time when it is in fact Y-- or doing a crazy kind of cargo cult programming, terrified to change anything unless you break the magic incantation that makes the component or preferences or whatnot system recognize your existence. I lost about two weeks on my project because I looked at the sample code, saw it always did a certain thing a certain way, concluded I could do the same thing the same way elsewhere, and was entirely ignorant as to the fact that there was another file in a totally different part of the package which I had to modify for every instance of this specific thing. What this meant was that I made extremely simple alterations to the file I was working on, and the entire extension broke-- for no reason I was aware of-- because I had accidentally caused a mismatch between the file I was working on and a totally different file.
      And this is just for extensions, a VERY common thing many people have done. As I started to poke my nose into more intricate and obscure things-- say, components-- I found the amount of available information on how to proceed went from inadequate to absolutely nonexistent. I can only imagine what you are going through trying to embed the entire engine.
  • RIA? (Score:3, Funny)

    by John Napkintosh ( 140126 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @04:52PM (#13324864) Homepage
    stop making up acronyms for every stupid little thing (ESLT).
    • Re:RIA? (Score:3, Funny)

      by Dunbal ( 464142 )
      You know, there is a tendency to make TLA's (three letter acronyms) because apparently it ICE's (increases communication efficiency). This habit can be traced back to the 30's and FDR's alphabet soup. It's generally a SAH (silly American Habit) however it's catching on throughout the RoW (rest of the world).

      The problem with TLA's is that they only ICC when everyone KTA (knows the acronym).

      Even worse, TLA's are now BHAFA's (big huge ass fucking acronyms), not just TLA's.
  • This is great (Score:2, Insightful)

    by veganopolis ( 630667 )
    AJAX has opened many doors for me, and this addition will help me rule the world. To all those who oppose.... hmmmm well....

    but seriously, keep buying IBM and support OSS.
  • "Optimized for IE" (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pommaq ( 527441 ) <> on Monday August 15, 2005 @04:54PM (#13324892) Homepage
    I'd certainly like for it to open doors but features like these won't really matter unless IE pick up on them, too. The sad reality is that most sites need to work 100% with IE and the attitude towards Firefox/Safari is "if the site's legible, then it's ok". Maybe it can get some headway in some specialized areas, libraries or job centers or some other place where accessibility is a real priority, I don't know. I do however know that the one and only thing that will help Firefox dethrone IE is browser stats. It needs to hit some serious percentage. Only then will people stop "optimizing" for IE and start building their HTML according to standards.

    Great job on the DHTML patch, though! This sort of thing is why I use Firefox :)
    • by Phroggy ( 441 ) * <slashdot3@[ ] ['phr' in gap]> on Tuesday August 16, 2005 @12:06AM (#13327754) Homepage
      Normally I'd agree with you, but think about what IBM does. They sell solutions to businesses. IBM isn't contributing to Firefox out of the goodness of their hearts (although it does buy them a little goodwill from those of us who read Slashdot and care about the Mozilla project) - they're doing it because they want to make money. What does this probably mean for IBM? They want to deploy an internal webapp for a company that will pay IBM boatloads of cash, but it needs DHTML accessibility features, which no current browser supports. So, contributing to Firefox was the best way for IBM to make it happen.

      So, follow this through. IBM will be deploying Firefox in a corporate setting, on a large scale, so they can use this custom webapp. Juggling browsers is a pain, so these companies will be standardizing on Firefox and not using IE. This means that any web sites the company needs to use cannot be IE-only; they must work in Firefox - so if you've got an IE-only web site, you can either fix it to make it work in Firefox, or they'll go to your competitors.

      Percentages aren't everything.

      Oh, and did I mention that standardizing on Firefox means one less reason they have to keep Windows on the desktop?

      (OK, yeah, there are a dozen other reasons, but at least IE won't be one of them anymore!)
  • by TheFlyingGoat ( 161967 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @04:55PM (#13324899) Homepage Journal
    I work with websites, but have never done anything specifically toward accessibility. Aren't large subsets of the CSS specifications just for those applications, though? CSS2 and CSS3 have large sections devoted to screen readers, plus most browsers have the capability to scale content to whatever size you want. I'd rather see the Firefox crew make sure they handle CSS3 while keeping the bloat out. It'll keep the browser fast while giving site and application developers the option of using those standards.

    Really, can DHTML make it that much easier on someone with an impairment than a well designed site using CSS3?
    • I don't know if you've seen the types of sites this is aimed at. Go to [] and find your hometown and surf around. Really sweet interface, so quick to scroll, lets you move all around and load surrounding images as needed.

      Now, view the page source. It's completely unreadable. A text reader would simply not be able to make use of this. Search for directions to your house or office. You can clearly see the directions in the right hand side, again page source will show nothing usable.
  • by DragonHawk ( 21256 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @04:57PM (#13324920) Homepage Journal
    From the Slashdot article:
    OS24Ever [mailto] writes "... I would think this could open some doors for Firefox to replace IE in many Windows environments."

    Yah, and with a nick like OS24Ever, this person is obviously the perfect choice for making predictions about the acceptability and potential for success of a product.... ;-)

    (Sorry, I couldn't resist. I'm a former OS/2 user and licensee myself. "Blue Spine" all the way, baby.)
  • I don't follow... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Mr. Cancelled ( 572486 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @04:58PM (#13324941)
    I would think this could open some doors for Firefox to replace IE in many Windows environments.

    Firefox already adheres to standards better than IE, has a more rubust, and secure environment, and arguably provides a superior user experience to IE, and yet IE lives on... So why would some (arguably nice) DHTML addons make a difference?

    I think the situation's kinda like this: Those who care, and/or are "in the know" are already using Firefox.

    The rest of the users still left on IE either
    1. Don't care (lazyness, "not my pc", whatever)
    2. Are too intimidated by technology to go outside the little box they've created for themselves
    3. Think IE's still the better browser
    I suspect the bulk of the switchers have already switched, and the rest either will not switch until either their OS of choice changes (OSX anyone?), or they are faced with a computer-oriented crime which makes them paranoid about using IE (be it identity theft, stolen cc info, whatever)

    So while IBM's gift is a "nice to have", I don't see it making a huge difference in the lives of the average IE user. Not at the moment, at least.
    • Re:I don't follow... (Score:5, Informative)

      by JimDabell ( 42870 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @05:39PM (#13325364) Homepage

      Firefox already adheres to standards better than IE, has a more rubust, and secure environment, and arguably provides a superior user experience to IE, and yet IE lives on... So why would some (arguably nice) DHTML addons make a difference?

      Many organisations are legally obliged to make their internal applications, including web applications, accessible to the disabled.

      Two of the most popular applications that can read websites out to blind people, JAWS [] and IBM Homepage Reader [], are both based on Internet Explorer.

      This code will supposedly make it easier for web applications using DHTML to work in Firefox for disabled people.

    • >The rest of the users still left on IE either

      1. Don't care (lazyness, "not my pc", whatever)
      2. Are too intimidated by technology to go outside the little box they've created for themselves
      3. Think IE's still the better browser

      While I agree, and use firefox exclusively myself, you do realize that those 'users still left' encompasses about 60% of web users, and probably closer to 90% of the people who are not web users as well.
    • Re:I don't follow... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mochan_s ( 536939 )

      Firefox already adheres to standards better than IE, has a more rubust, and secure environment, and arguably provides a superior user experience to IE.

      I have to disagree.

      There is a website that reloads the page every minute or so. In Mozilla, it would invariably reach a point where it would stop reloading with an error message and show an empty page but IE never did that.

      Upon further investigation, I found out that it was an embedded thingie in the page that Mozilla was choking on. That si

    • Re:I don't follow... (Score:3, Informative)

      by mpcooke3 ( 306161 )

      4) They visit pages that make use of DHTML effects which on firefox would suck all your CPU, cause your laptop to burn a hole in your leg and the menus to become unresponsive.

      On IE the same DHTML normally takes 1-4% CPU usage. Fixing the efficiency of DHTML in firefox would be useful. Sometimes I think my computer has gone AWOL and it turns out to be a scrolling dhtml advert in a firefox tab.
  • by TheLetterPsy ( 792255 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @05:01PM (#13324972)
    Firefox allows site-by-site popup blocking/allowing, would it be too much of a stretch to have the same feature for Javascript?

    From my experience, all the new 'pop-unders' that are experienced with Firefox are triggered by Javascript. Of course there are multiple sites that depend on Javascript for core functionality (Gmail, others). So it'd be nice to do a site-by-site feature so that it is easy to put, for example, webshots on the blacklist.

    Asa, are you out there and browsing at at least a +2 level?
  • by msblack ( 191749 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @05:08PM (#13325056)
    Damn, IBM just sold our campus their WebAdapt2Me product which provides assistive technology for visually and motor impaired web surfers. It works only with MSIE.

    The basic features of IBM WebAdapt2Me are: font size adjustment, web page magnification (125%, 150%, 175%, etc.) which magnifies the entire page, font selection (bold, inverse bold, font style), kerning (spacing between letters), leading (spacing between lines). These features go way beyond the MS magnifier functions. If true, this is fantastic news that IBM is dontaing the technology to Mozilla.
  • The SVG master of mozilla [], isn't he from IBM? Isn't he contributing code to mozilla continuously?

  • Firefox and Google.

    Why do I visit Slashdot multiple times a day, everyday? [sigh]

  • DHTML = CSS Filters? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Gertlex ( 722812 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @05:27PM (#13325256)
    Would the inclusion of DHTML mean the ability to implement the CSS filters like glow and shadow for text?

    I was recently looking into why the filter tag doesn't work in Firefox, and learned that it's actually DHTML. Exploring the question on the Firefox help forums, I learned that these features, (shadows at least) were likely to make it into 1.5 (next version).

    Perhaps this means that Firefox was negotiating with IBM to get this code?

  • Major update? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Mozk ( 844858 )
    1.5 is not a major update. 1.5 is a minor update. 2.0 would be a major update. It goes major.minor.
  • Oh Oh (Score:2, Funny)

    by UtSupra ( 16971 )
    I heard that SCO is claiming that code is theirs!

    • I heard that SCO is claiming that code is theirs!

      double oops, I heard that SCO pirated the code from Firefox and then IBM showed it had patented it and donated the patent to open source ...
  • One hell of a move (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tolkienfan ( 892463 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @06:05PM (#13325602) Journal
    This chess match has just taken a surprising turn!

    The code checks one box that IE doesn't have checked - Accessibilty for rich internet apps.

    This is a carefully designed move to further boost Firefox. It's an excellent reason to give for switching, especially at government facilities.

  • The OpenLaszlo [] project has a set of Rich Internet App components and a framework for building them, it compiles to Flash player format, however, not to DHTML at the moment. But if you are trying to make a cross platform browser-embedded app, this is probably the least work to have the same code run on Win/Mac/Linux browsers.
  • by TFowl ( 907860 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @06:25PM (#13325760)
    Just to inform the author of this article, RIA, in this context, stands for Rich Internet Application and NOT Rich Interactive Application. The term was originally coined by Macromedia in late 2003. In addition, Rich Interactive Application is a pretty generic term and could apply to any number of areas where an "application" of any sort (not just an Internet application) might be used.
  • by heroine ( 1220 ) on Tuesday August 16, 2005 @12:29AM (#13327852) Homepage
    Through the years of Mosaic dominating, then Netscape dominating, then IE dominating, then Mozilla starting over from scratch, then Firefox starting over from scratch, then Firefox getting some code, it's a lot like watching coal miners in the 60's.

    No matter what happens in the world. No matter what problems the world has moved onto, there is always this club which eats, sleeps, and breaths web browsers. They insist that winning back the lost users in 1998 is the most important breakthrough, that it wasn't Mozilla rewrite #20 but this version. This is the version which is going to get back the users they lost to Microsoft in 1998.

    Just like coal miners saying the future isn't in space, it's underground, these web browser programmers seem to be eternally in 1998, endlessly chasing after the web browser trophy while maybe the world isn't watching anymore.

Someday somebody has got to decide whether the typewriter is the machine, or the person who operates it.