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Moshe Eshel The eye in the sky - just fell down

I like this blog thingy :-) I read something somewhere, write something about it (this system apparently does auto trackback) He notices my trackback, has something to say about it... That in fact fits to post I've been thinking of writing. I love this!

Anyway, Firefox only, this is actually what scared me originally. You see Microsoft is developing is developing XAML which to my understanding is pretty much the same thing... And these will take time to converge as DHTML did. If anyone thiniks a few years back and why the whole IE only thing started, it was in part a Microsoft marketing plan that gave free stuff to all those small devs who put that logo on their page. And due to uncompatible DHTML capabilities, notice I'm not saying tags or language, it was simply not as easy to accomplish the feats possible with IE in Netscape (there was no Mozilla yet). You could do it... but even the best cross-platform scripting libraries I saw were not giving the same functionality for both browsers (in the end Netscape still behaved differently, and usualy worse than IE).

The compatibility reached today, is mostly, finally better standards compliancy from both browsers, and also the fact the Mozilla/Firefox designers understood, that in order to beat/fight IE they at least have to join them a little, so they implemented many of the IE additions, just so that people could browse most sites with their new browser. This is the biggest success of Firefox in my opinion - it is a great browser, but in fact it wouldn't be such a huge hit if not for this single fact...

Anyway, if Firefox only applications start (and are starting) this in my opinion is bad for me, as developer, and not so good for the unknowing end user, since what works for them so good at their home computer where their grandson installed Firefox for them and put in some nice links for them to use. Will not work as well when they go on vacation to florida and use the Internet kiosk to browse for their email...

So I do not like the thought of seeing that much dreaded FireFox only icon anywhere, some people will think it a way to get back the Microsoft, I just see it as a bad idea for a browser that is based on openess and supporting industry agreed upon standards... XUL is not an industry standard - when you make it so, and get more than just one engine to support it (think about how many XML parsers are out there, that's what should be for XUL as well before it is a standard) it should (it already is basically) be able to work on any platform, and provide the required capabilities, I'm not sure it fully does that now (saving files to disk etc...). It should of course support and be secured! I don't no spyware being installed as easy as an ActiveX script.

Why will MS initially win this game? You think the wide install base? well yes, that is one good point for them.. But the reason that they can win this is the mass of developers that will develop in XAML. Not because it is better or marekted more, but because Microsoft is sure to come up with such a great IDE for developing XAML that it will just be easier to do it for the average developer - which means most! whoever has more and better utilities will win.

So Mozilla foundation, if you really want to push XUL.
1. Get it adopted by the industry (W3C/ITEF)
2. Develop some GUI for developing XUL!!!! and do it before Microsoft releases Longhorn!

This is Open Source so anyone can actually take up the lead (maybe IBM or HP?)...

Also check out:
MyXAML  here:
http://www.myxaml.com/ and here: http://www.myxaml.com/marcclifton/ (a blog of the developer) another effort in the same direction

 

Posted on Sunday, March 6, 2005 11:54 AM Personal | Back to top


Comments on this post: FireFox Only applications? I think not! (actually I hope not)

# re: FireFox Only applications? I think not! (actually I hope not)
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Platform independent as long as you use Mozilla/FireFox! the fact that you can only use FireFox is what is bad about this.
Left by Moshe Eshel on Mar 06, 2005 6:02 PM

# re: FireFox Only applications? I think not! (actually I hope not)
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How is that different from XAML Win only and IE only?
We are on the road to rich web apps, for everybody.
Let them compete and may the best win.
Left by GeorgeNava on Mar 06, 2005 6:29 PM

# re: FireFox Only applications? I think not! (actually I hope not)
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That's exactly my point. This should be an industry standard (one or both) and should be supported by all the browsers...

Last time with DHTML it took a few years to sort out the mess (and it isn't sorted fully yet!). So why start stupid wars again? when everyone knows that eventually they must converge... Do you want to develop two different applications each time to supports most of the clients??? Or do you want to develop one that will support all? It is unlikely that one of these browsers will ever achieve the complete dominance the IE (or Netscape at its time) had over the market... So a compromise will have to happen....
Left by Moshe Eshel on Mar 06, 2005 6:34 PM

# re: FireFox Only applications? I think not! (actually I hope not)
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I'm not entirely sure what your post is trying to say.

Is is that Mozilla should dump all the work they've done with XUL and implement XAML?

That developers should entirely ignore XUL just because MS are choosing to reinvent the wheel and do it their own thing?

How is having an XUL based Firefox only application any worse than having an XAML/IE/MS only application?

Or am I just reading far too much into it? :-)
Left by David Parrott on Mar 06, 2005 6:38 PM

# re: FireFox Only applications? I think not! (actually I hope not)
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I'm sorry if this wasn't clear.
To your two first questions my answer is no.
In the post I pointed that IF Mozilla wants to succeed with XUL (which I really like, and was there first) They must start now really pushing it BY:
1. purposing it as a standard through one of the known bodies
2. Creating a Development environment to allow developers to easily create such application (some IDE like Visual Studio would be nice - maybe using an existing open source one like Eclipse)
3. Making sure XUL is wrapped up (no ugly rendering, security bugs etc... in the spec or in the engine - Gecko)
4. Publish a complete (as far as possible) and official documentation...
This list can go on....
I am not dissing Mozilla and XUL I think it's a great way of making Rich Apps. I just think that in order to win the race they have to work a little harder - and if they need help, they should maybe advertise this a little more (when Mozilla first started XUL it was all over the place, afterwards the noise level has gone down to zero - I'm trying to raise it up!)

Of course having a FireFox only based XUL engine is not worse than IE+XAML+MS one, but it is almost as worse - and I would (although realistically I know it is not possible) like to avoid the problems I experienced as a web dev before FireFox came out.
Left by Moshe Eshel on Mar 06, 2005 6:48 PM

# re: FireFox Only applications? I think not! (actually I hope not)
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Just read through some of the comments that appeared while I was writing my first one.

The idea of a comprimise is a nice ideal, but is never really going to happen. As it stands XUL is functioning, in use in the real world, across multiple platforms, now.

Does this make XUL the best system? With an already installed userbase, maybe, but there is no way in hell that MS are going to back down and dump XAML. It ends up that there's no comprimise at all, you either carry on as we are or bend over and do it Microsofts way.

One other point I want to comment on is that XUL and XAML aren't just designed for doing rich web interfaces, but all interfaces. Firefox and Thunderbird are both written using XUL. Longhorn apps will be written using XAML.
Left by David Parrott on Mar 06, 2005 6:52 PM

# re: FireFox Only applications? I think not! (actually I hope not)
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> 1. purposing it as a standard through one of the known bodies
> 2. Creating a Development environment to allow developers to easily create such application (some IDE like Visual Studio would be nice - maybe using an existing open source one like Eclipse)
> 3. Making sure XUL is wrapped up (no ugly rendering, security bugs etc... in the spec or in the engine - Gecko)
> 4. Publish a complete (as far as possible) and official documentation...

Ah-ha, I can't disagree with any of that :-)

Seeing it go through as a standard would be fantastic.
I also agree completely with the documentation, which is where MS will almost certainly win every time. Poor docs seem to be something that open source projects suffer from.
Left by David Parrott on Mar 06, 2005 6:55 PM

# re: FireFox Only applications? I think not! (actually I hope not)
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> One other point I want to comment on is that XUL and XAML aren't just designed for doing rich web interfaces, but all interfaces.

I think this is the main point here. XUL and XAML can be thought of as toolkits.. think WX, GTK, QT (etc)... Nobody suggests that the same code should work with more than one widget toolkit. The developer just uses whichever they prefer, and the end result is usually transparent to the user.

Think of some of the applications you run... you may run
older VB stuff that needs VB runtime libraries, java stuff that needs java runtime environment, .net stuff that needs .net platform, etc, etc. Is this any different than running a stand-alone XUL app versus a stand-alone XAML app? Most users wouldn't notice the difference.

As for 'web applications,' there is no reason an XAML app could not be launched from within Firefox, or an XUL application from IE... it would just be a matter of setting up the right helper application for that type of file (clicking a link to an XUL app in IE could easily launch the Gecko engine, and pass it the url to the XUL).

That said, I do agree that XUL should be better documented, and a RAD tool for it would be bad ass. Having the specification accepted by standards bodies is an interesting idea, but it will probably never happen... XUL has too many dependencies on netscape libraries for that; at least the naming conventions would have to change a lot for standards bodies to consider that.

Also, keep in mind the Gecko engine has not gone stand-alone yet. When this happens, there will likely be a lot more interest in XUL again, as people use it in place of other cross-platform widget toolkits...

Moral of the story? Developers, develop applications under whatever toolkit suits your needs. Users will use whatever apps they want, they don't know or care what toolkit library powers the gui. XUL will come along in good time; patience is a virtue.

One more thing, sorry but i have to say this. A RAD designer for XUL is a great idea... why not start work on one yourself? And, documentation is one aspect of development that even non-programmers can contribute to...

--Nick
Left by Nick on Apr 14, 2005 9:21 PM

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