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Web Applications with Mozilla's XUL?

Cliff posted more than 12 years ago | from the better-widgets-than-HTML dept.

Mozilla 23

An Anonymous Coward's idle musings inspires this query: "Web-based applications are a hot topic, right now, but sometimes HTML is too simple for your applications. Using a cross-plataform, more powerful and efficient UI like Mozilla's XUL would be great." XUL is more an interface description language rather than an application language, as it still uses Javascript to handle application processing. It would be interesting to see if future browsers (or future versions of existing browsers) would add XUL bindings for other languages like PHP, Perl, or even Visual Basic if such a thing interests you.

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GTK (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2749555)

Using a cross-plataform, more powerful and efficient UI like...


Re:GTK (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2750849)

cross-platform? GTK+ is about as cross platform as my ass.

Re:GTK (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2752926)

Can I run my dick on your ass? Cause it really is petrified and needs some hot grits. Woo hoo.

Re:GTK (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2751361)

Uh, I guess GTK+ is cross-platform if all your platforms are UNIX.

Otherwise, well, no.

Re:GTK (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2753717)

Hell, they have PHP GTK [] on Windows. GTK [] is already there.

Now macs are something else, but Windows ain't Unix.

Re:GTK (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2760735)

Windows ain't Unix.

Macs are UNIX [] however.

Use Cygwin (1)

yerricde (125198) | more than 12 years ago | (#2784205)

Windows ain't Unix.

Neither is GNU/Linux, nor any of the free BSDs, but that doesn't stop them from running programs written to the UNIX spec. Windows too can run free *n?x software with Cygwin [] , and now Cygwin with XFree86 [] runs on all Win32 platforms from 95 to NT to XP.

If you're going proprietary... (3, Interesting)

Lally Singh (3427) | more than 12 years ago | (#2749621)

If you're planning to require the user to have a specific piece of software on their machine already, why not give them Java web start?
Then you can use something your developers are more likely to know. Besides, the more popular the technology, the less expensive the developers...

Re:If you're going proprietary... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2753093)

IRT your sig, if you puke your Wheaties, your mouth is a cereal I/O port...
-1 Tasteless, -1 Offtopic

Re:If you're going proprietary... (2)

mvw (2916) | more than 12 years ago | (#2776711)

Java Web Start is an execllent solution to deploy and update Java apps.

Be they pure web centric apps (thus client apps to some server with JWS just doing the network caching and using the clients CPU power in end effect) or full apps (signed JWS apps) that run on the client like any other program as well.

To me it is the easiest means to get Java stuff installed and running on a box.

I believe .NET's global assembly cache will go for the same (the configuration file allows for assembly download from servers as well).

So we get rid of the old setup/install from some medium paradigma and install from an URL rather (be it a web server in Australia, or a web server that is on the dvd, start by autorun.inf :)

However XUL and similiar systems might be easier to program and not require some Java GUI programmer.

Another reason is GUI changing at runtime.

Plus it might be nicer/easier/better to write GUI designers that operate on XML rather than generating and reverse engineering Java Swing code.


This is why developing for the web sucks (3, Insightful)

pong (18266) | more than 12 years ago | (#2749705)

Yes ... Lets try to introduce another web technology. (Sarcasm!!)

Everyone and their momma want their new and old software to be "web-enabled". What a great idea - someone invents a great concept for browsing hypertext documents with images, and hey... ho we all find ourselves being forced to develop applications for it! Of course web browsers, being web browsers, were never intended for running applications so the market place is now plastered with different technologies to make the web browser a better platform for .. you name it!

I hate developing for the web for two reasons primarily:

1. The user experience is seldom exactly what you want because, well.. web browsers are web browser - hypertext and images, remember! Good thing someone invented the web - writing gopher applications would probably stink even more.
2. You write the GUI in HTML or XML/XSL whatever, then you have your clientside scripting in javascript or vbscript. The server side is implemented in [customers bizar language requirement here]. Of course, as you are writing a state-of-the-art distributed application you use .... good-ol' one-way http for communication. WHAT A MESS! You have to master all these technologies and the tools/testing frameworks/IDEs to work with them. Good riddens

Am I the only one considering a change of career?

Re:This is why developing for the web sucks (1)

bvankuik (203077) | more than 12 years ago | (#2757895)

At my workplace, we happily develop (and sometimes just generate) web applications using the UIX framework. These are a couple of Java libs which make your life quite easy. Lots of things here which make a good natively compiled user interface are implemented in cross-browser HTML/javascript.

See also Oracle JDeveloper [] on OTN.

Besides, you can talk all you want. But there's no way you can stop the customer asking for web applications.

What's MS answer to XUL? (0)

pepper_pusher (452533) | more than 12 years ago | (#2751626)

Reusing IE technology is the equivalent to mozilla embed I guess, then what is MS answer to XUL?

For the Java coders, I'd have a look at JXUL [] . This could mean an end to the frustrating work with LayoutManagers.

.NET (n/t) (1)

benb (100570) | more than 12 years ago | (#2767564)


Re:.NET (n/t) Bullshit (0)

pepper_pusher (452533) | more than 12 years ago | (#2772958)

.NET? huh?

What I mean is what technology is MS providing to compete with XUL, CURL and IBM's SASH. Is there a way to manage the layout of a program using XML or HTML alike lang.?

perl and python XPCOM bindings... (2, Interesting)

jjn1056 (85209) | more than 12 years ago | (#2753445)

Activestate ( is working on this. They actually have the python bindings out in beta form, but I don't knoe what happened to the perl bindings. They actually use the the python bindings to build their IDE, called 'Komodo', which is built on top of Mozilla, and I think uses Scintilla for text processing.

Forget XUL, use Flash! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2766659)

Okay, sounds hokey. Yet another technology rammed down the throat of the poor web browser. Hey why not start an operating system in a browser? No wait, emacs does that already.

Flash looks great and one thing that flash can do that XUL cannot. Task oriented user interface. Think about it, if you emphasize the task and de-emphasize the widgets. People will catch on to what is going on. For example, I worked for a large financial company and we incorporated Flash applets for things like stock tickers, text scrollers and other nifty things. The site looked great, it loaded fast and was dynamic. There are many books describing why icons suck, frame based user interfaces (windows) suck and we are discussing this very topic because the web now sucks. Why not do something different if every web site has a different user interface experience anyway. You can't control that. You might as well enjoy a user interface tool that at least has a good IDE.

Re:Forget XUL, use Flash! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2767249)

> Why not do something different if every web site has a different user interface experience anyway. You can't control that. You might as well enjoy a user interface tool that at least has a good IDE.

because exactly that's what confuses most computer "newbies": you have to have some kind of consistency on the web to allow the newbie to adapt quickly (well in a perfect world the web should adapt to the user but that's another question...)

Re:Forget XUL, use Flash! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2777948)

>because exactly that's what confuses most >computer "newbies
uh... i don't know what you are talking about but here is what i meant. Every web site has a different look and feel. This is confusing to the novice web surfer.
Anyone in the web application development business knows you need to know about 5 different technologies (minimum) to get an application out the door. With Flash you need 1 technology.
Most importantly, approach each problem with creativity and skill! Everyone knows what to do with the Frog in the blender [] when he starts talking trash. You don't need a "submit2 button or a scrollbar to figure that out. Approach each User Interface problem creatively!

Communicate with a java bean i.e. (0)

pepper_pusher (452533) | more than 12 years ago | (#2772966)

Is there a way to create something like a projector (executable flash file) that will run outside the browser and talk to a java bean that is the core of your app. (doesn't have to be java, anything will do, I just know that shockwave can be exported to java classes)

Re:Forget XUL, use Flash! (2)

mvw (2916) | more than 12 years ago | (#2776655)

Aren't you comparing apples with pears?

XUL was invented by the Mozilla folks for two reasons

  1. to allow non C++ coders to do create GUI apps by using simpler (ok, this is debatable) XML and JavaScript coding

  2. to change the GUI at runtime, which is a big deal if you consider how huge the mozilla code base is (it is called like Godzilla for a reason :), where resynching from cvs and recompiling takes a considerable amount of time - thus changing some menus is possible without redesitribution large binaries

The chatzilla IRC client is such an app. By the way it is possible to upgrade this part of Mozilla at run time, by getting a jar file (a zip that has the necessary xml and xul files). Nice thing.

Flash to my knowledge is a tool for non programmers as well, primarily people with some graphic design background, to create interactive content using quality graphics (sharp antialiased fonts, animation, ..) and sounds. Thus not prior hackers, but rather Photo shop users. :)

This started at a time when Java applets were the only means to achieve this. And the Java graphics libs were far less advanced than they are today. My guess from recent nice Flash sites is that the graphics toolbox available to Flash programmers is still somewhat better than the Java2D API. :)

However I have no clue how Flash programming works, I guess it is done in some GUI designer rather than using procedural programming.

Thus the only connection I see, is that both XUL and Flash offer to use GUI designer software. Otherwise it is different technology, with different focus.


Re:Forget XUL, use Flash! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2777922)

>Aren't you comparing apples with pears?
First learn what Flash "is" and can do. Flash is a file format like XML, XUL or La-Dee-Dah.

Java sucks because:
a. Every AWT implentation on each java VM has minor but highly frustating differences.
b. A call to put a pixel on the canvas is interpreted
c. The best sound quality you can get from an applet save the 5+ meg JMF download is 8bit .au encoded.
d. Many Netscape (non mozilla) VMs on Solaris (et. al.) do not have JITCs which takes heavy floating point operations out of the picture. Unless you want to tie up the user interface. (whee)

Flash Interpreters rule because:
a. They are native and when you render a pixel it is a native call.
b. Flash already understands XML.
c. Flash can be scripted with a Javascript style syntax and can interact with Javascript.
d. Flash can perform async. HTTP GETs and POSTs.
e. Sound quality on Flash applets is MP3 quality and is "native". Beats the heck out of Java.
f. You don't have to write any "code" to paint your pretty UI on the screen. (XUL or otherwise)
g. Like Java, Flash has been ported to pretty much every platform at some version or other.

I don't see the topics as varying greatly since the original poster was talking about using some technology to be pervasive with web applications. Flash is pervasive.

Use Sash from IBM instead (1)

g8oz (144003) | more than 12 years ago | (#2782674)

Check it out. Its everything you need
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