[Project_owners] Getting to know you...

Todd Ross mozdev at brainsick.com
Fri May 27 07:17:59 EDT 2005

Asheesh Laroia wrote:
> I find this a very interesting statement.  On one hand, I believe that 
> Firefox is very much still more a "project" than a product.  For Ubuntu 
> and Debian users like me, that project gets packaged by Debian into 
> something that fits in a consistent way into my computing environment.
> For Windows users, some work has to be done by the user that would 
> normally be part of the product.  For example, selecting extensions to 
> download (it comes with none, despite how many of them rock),

Firefox is a product.  Mozilla the Platform is still a project, which I 
believe, isn't ready for 3rd parties to pick up and begin using.

> In the Free Software world, GNU writes code, and GNU/Linux distributors 
> package it up.  We're moving away from "distributions" like Slackware 
> and toward "products" like RedHat Enterprise Linux and Ubuntu; we're 
> moving from balls of code to systems that are well-integrated.  In the 
> same sense, I would be very interested to see more *products* based on 
> Firefox, like a Windows "Megafox" that, on install, grabs the latest 
> version of Sun's Java, Macromedia's Flash, and other commonly-desired 
> plugins and that grabs cool extensions like Greasemonkey and Adblock by 
> default.  I would be happier recommending such a "Megafox" to my 
> Windows-using non-techie friends.

That's a very Firefox-centric view and not what I'm talking about.

> At the same time, the answer that it is not "ready yet" begs the 
> question, "Ready for what?".  To me, Mozilla XPCOM has become the real 
> Java: It seems to me to be the current home of cross-platform GUI 
> programming for the end-user.  Clearly, it's in use.  So, I'm curious: 
> what does "ready" mean for you?

Ready for 3rd party developers (non-Mozilla hackers).  As far as 
capabilities go, the Platform seems capable, albeit, with a few ugly 
warts.  But, it gets better all the time -- that's why I still lurk and 
that's exactly what I'm watching evolve.

I bought 'Creating Applications with Mozilla' back in 2002 and I'm still 
waiting for Mozilla to create the Platform that the book was all about. 
  The same thing goes for the 'Rapid Application Development with 
Mozilla' book that I bought in 2003.  I just don't think that the 
Platform has materialized yet, and what little there is of the Platform 
is poorly documented and not ready for 3rd party developers.

Now, Myk mentioned http://developer-test.mozilla.org/ is being used to 
address this problem, but from what little I've seen, developer-test is 
a replacement for the now-dead Netscape DevEdge.  In other words, it's 
not Platform documentation; it's more like IBM's DeveloperWorks, which 
is useful, but not the type of documentation that I think needs to be 
available for Mozilla to be a viable Platform.

I will also throw out the amazing http://www.xulplanet.com/ website as a 
good beginning source of documentation.  But, it's one person 
maintaining the whole thing right now with very little community 
involvement.  The forums are virtually dead, comments on the various 
tutorial pages/reference pages seem few and far between.  I feel that 
it's a PHP-like documentation site that just hasn't achieved critical 
mass which doesn't make it as useful as it could be.

With XULRunner on the horizon, Mozilla the Platform might be just around 
the corner.  I don't know because I can't find a decent roadmap, or even 
exactly what XULRunner is supposed to be providing us.  I get the sense 
that the immediate goal is to get XULRunner ready for Firefox, 
Thunderbird, and Sunbird, but that's not going to lead to a very well 
thought out Platform by itself.  Again, it'll be interesting to see it 

I really don't want to whine about the state things are in because I'm 
not doing anything to make them better.  Whining is not my intention. 
You asked for clarification on my stance and I believe that I've 
provided exactly that.


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