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Creating Applications with Mozilla

timothy posted about 12 years ago | from the lizard-is-the-new-black dept.

Mozilla 255

Peter Wayner writes "The book Creating Applications with Mozilla did not set out to capture the essence of modern open source software development in a few hundred pages, but it comes closer to that unreachable goal than almost any other book I can imagine. Everything is there: the proliferation of acronyms, the funky names, the endless layers, the earnest collaboration, the unstoppable yearning for customizability, and, of course, plenty of source code. The book is just supposed to be teaching us how to turn Mozilla into a front end for everything, but it's really a distilled exhibit of all that is hip and now in code creation." Peter's review continues below.

On the first and most obvious level, the book is just the typical, thorough treatment of the important APIs that we've come to expect from O'Reilly. There are chapters addressing all of the important layers of the Mozilla platform and plenty of examples that show you how to customize the platform. Some may want to change the icons and others may want to add more robust features. The range of possibilities is surprising and coders are creating one-to-one communications enhancements, add-on widgets, and even games. There are certainly some things missing, and some areas that could use more detail or more complicated examples, but the book is already 454 pages long.

On another level, this book is also one of the first finished documents that explains what the Mozilla group has really been up to for the past five years. Some have abandoned the project, and others have attacked it as fundamentally misguided. This book shows why it took so long by demonstrating all of the cool features added during the long march to a new, thoroughly extensible architecture.

Are the results enough to justify the time and the effort? Some note that the features may be a bit overhyped, because building your own browser with the Mozilla API is like making a pizza with $15 and a telephone. While there's a large part of the book devoted to the work you can do to change the look and feel of the buttons on your browser, the book and the project offer much more. The Mozilla project is one of the biggest threats to simple tools like Visual Basic to come down the pike in some time. The various layers offer many ways to provide good, customizable interfaces to databases, the web, and much more. I can see how many corporate development shops may want to start making Mozilla the platform for a license-free front-end, simply because it's a straightforward tool without extra costs or restrictions.

At the most abstract level, the book is a great way to get a taste of modern software development. Computer scientists sometimes fix problems by adding more and more layers of indirection. This may not solve anything, but at least there are hooks for a real solution to use some time in the future if some one ever does figure out how to make the box do it. The Mozilla browser is one of the most extreme examples of this philosophy to ever emerge. Emacs was something special, but this is even more insane. Everything can be changed around by rewriting some XML and Javascript and most people don't need to juggle the pointers in grubby C to do amazing things. I realize it's not as beautiful as Lisp to some, but it's got a clarity and level of abstraction that's stunning to behold. Lisp was just procedural, while XML is more like logic programming.

This relentless customizability embodies one of the deepest reasons for the success of open source. Technology is inherently complicated and the only way we can use it is if we can look under the hood. You can say all you want about CVS trees and bazaars filled with competing code, but opening up the interface is one of the most powerful themes of open source. It's not about teaching people to build their own VCR or PVR from scratch, getting the VCRs for free or even debugging the VCR's source code -- it's just about making them easy enough to program.

The book illustrates how Mozilla opens up the API to create a relatively easy language for people to use. The real open source is not the C in the tar ball, but the XML interface spelled out in the book. Many people feel that the most important thing that the first browser designers did was make it easy for people to see the HTML tags marking up the document in front of them. The new Mozilla takes this transparency to a new high.

If you look at the book at all of these levels, you can see that this is one of the most important documents to emerge from the open source community in some time. At first glance, it's just another set of APIs for us to wiggle. I realize it's not fair to credit the Mozilla team or the book authors with creating the browser or XML ex nihilio -- they just jumped on some of the most popular bitwagons propagating across the Net. But the result is a stunning completion of a very important and cohesive vision. The book doesn't crackle with bleeding-edge novelty, but shines with the certainty of a job well-done.

Peter Wayner is the author of Translucent Databases , Disappearing Cryptography , and a number of other books. You can purchase Creating Applications with Mozilla from Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.

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Wow! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4461521)

First post! Woohoo!

Don't Forget IE (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4461525)

It can be modified and stuff, too.

Plus its faster and more openly used.

Re:Don't Forget IE (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4461623)

You can't programme in IE like you can Mozilla just a few XUL and soms css and presto a new application ;-)

Re:Don't Forget IE (1)

chrisseaton (573490) | about 12 years ago | (#4461662)

How exactly? You can change the background of the rebars and the title bar text, but that's it. You must not understand exactly how open Mozilla is. With the source code and the APIs you can do absolutley anything.

Second Post?! (-1, Offtopic)

eastshores (459180) | about 12 years ago | (#4461540)


Standards anyone ? (0, Insightful)

BESTouff (531293) | about 12 years ago | (#4461541)

How is developping a web application which will run only on Mozilla different from doing an IE-only website ? Honestly, I'd like to know.

Re:Standards anyone ? (2)

tsa (15680) | about 12 years ago | (#4461568)

Well, the only difference I see is that Mozilla at least runs on many OS'es. But you got a good point there.

It isn't necessarily a web application. (3, Insightful)

BoomerSooner (308737) | about 12 years ago | (#4461570)

It could be a stand alone app that uses mozilla as the core functionality. It's my understanding Mozilla runs on almost every available platform where IE is windows specific (the mac version is nothing like the windows version).

That being said I run mozilla on mac os 8, 9 & 10, linux, solaris and windows. I'm not sure what the problem would be.

Re:Standards anyone ? (1, Offtopic)

Breakfast Pants (323698) | about 12 years ago | (#4461587)

Please. READ THE ARTICLE BEFORE POSTING. Why can't slashdot at least implement a timer that doesn't allow people to post based on the byte size of the slashdot article itself. I know this wouldn't solve the problem for articles that link outside slashdot but it would be a start.

Yes, it may cause a huge queue of people waiting to get first post when the timer runs down but this could be solved by adding a bit of randomness on a user level to the amount of time it would take to be allowed to post.

Re:Standards anyone ? (5, Interesting)

Breakfast Pants (323698) | about 12 years ago | (#4461636)

Ugg you got modded insightful. I better clarify before I get modded down:

This article is about the mozilla application framework. The application can be a stand alone application! This is not some kind of "mozilla only webpage."! This is just a method for creating an application that uses parts of the mozilla codebase, or more appropriately (though you and the mdos don't seem to understand the meaning of this) the mozilla application framework.

Re:Standards anyone ? (3, Redundant)

Jeppe Salvesen (101622) | about 12 years ago | (#4461599)

I would not call it a web application in the common interpretation of the word. The Mozilla framework would be used to create a client/server application. It would be more similar to creating a new alternative to (X)HTML.

Besides, Mozilla technology is available on most important platforms by now.

Re:Standards anyone ? (4, Interesting)

sporty (27564) | about 12 years ago | (#4461601)

Mozilla just becomes a toolkit and VM to run applications. Think of it like Java. Can you run a java app w/o the JVM? No. It's not executable without it.

It seems Mozilla is working closer and closer to being an OS than just a browser. Kinda funny if you think about it, where MS has windows which was supposed to be an OS and is now including a browser.

Re:Standards anyone ? (5, Insightful)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | about 12 years ago | (#4462062)

It seems Mozilla is working closer and closer to being an OS than just a browser. Kinda funny if you think about it, where MS has windows which was supposed to be an OS and is now including a browser.

What is doubly amusing is that when Microsoft attempted to kill (perhaps did kill) Netscape, they did so because they were scared the browser would turn into a platform that would let you write kickass apps making Windows irrelevant. In a way, this became a self-fulfilling prophecy, as if Netscape hadn't been taken over by AOL and left to do its own thing, would Mozilla (a platform as well as a browser) exist today?

I doubt that one day all desktop apps will be written using Mozilla. But it's an intriguing possibility, I look forward to the GRE with much interest.

Re:Standards anyone ? (3, Funny)

jdavidb (449077) | about 12 years ago | (#4462091)

Eventually Mozilla will become emacs.

Re:Standards anyone ? (1)

Jedi Alec (258881) | about 12 years ago | (#4462128)

Not really. Mozilla is based on Gecko, which is simply an engine, on which you could build just about anything. Much like the tons of games that have been built using the Quake3 other words, using the actual engine behind Mozilla, you could code a Spreadsheet Editor, Word Processor, Instant Messaging Program, whatever...

Re:Standards anyone ? (5, Insightful)

veddermatic (143964) | about 12 years ago | (#4461602)

Let's see... can I embed IE into my web app?

Can my IE web app run on almost every platform out there?

Can I modify IE in case I need additional functionality?

There's the tip of the iceberg in differences...

Re:Standards anyone ? (3, Interesting)

NineNine (235196) | about 12 years ago | (#4461770)

Good troll attempt! I'll give you an A for effort!

Let's see... can I embed IE into my web app?

Yes you can. I've done it before, and I currently use three different programs with IE integrated.

Can my IE web app run on almost every platform out there?

You're right about this one, but for most commercial apps, hitting 99% of the users is pretty damn good. You can't please all the people all the time.

Can I modify IE in case I need additional functionality?

Yup, you sure can. I run a customized version of IE for a few special projects.

Oh yeah, and this has all been true for several years now.

So, 2/3 were flat wrong, and the third one was pretty irrelevant. All in all, I gotta say this was a *very* professional troll. Blatantly wrong, and intentionally inflammatory.

Re:Standards anyone ? (3, Interesting)

brokeninside (34168) | about 12 years ago | (#4461914)

Point one. You are correct. IE is extensible. Although the availability of source code makes Mozilla more extensible by an order of magnitude. (However, this extended extensibility that Mozilla has over IE is only of value to a minority of developers. That said, for that minority, the issue is of paramount importance.)

Point two is not only correct, as you yourself admit, but is most certainly not irrelevant as you claim. Between desktop boxes, PDAs, embedded systems and non-Windows PCs, IE does not have a 99% market share. I think that perhaps you are confusing a particular segment (commercial retail) of commercial software with the universe of commercial software.

Point three is probably correct despite your denial. I'm fairly certain that the previous poster was referring to mshtml.dll and not IE itself. While IE provides a powerful and flexible toolkit, the fact remains that if there is a need to alter the core behavior of the toolkit there is no method for the developer to do so aside from petitioning Microsoft to change the behavior. This is not the case with Mozilla.

Ninety-nine percent? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4462192)

Is the ninety-nine percent based on visitors to your porn site? Many non-IE browsers must claim to be IE to avoid annoying warnings or blocked pages from IIS-based websites. Ignoring that, 99% is still a ridiculous exaggeration.

Re:Standards anyone ? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4461867)

Is this post some kind of a joke? It's totally, totally wrong.

Re:Standards anyone ? (3, Insightful)

henben (578800) | about 12 years ago | (#4461603)

No, I think they're on about using the Mozilla codebase to make desktop applications, where the code is installed on your machine. Like Galeon, or kiosks, or that wacky Mozilla-based OEOne desktop thing, or something. NOT "web applications" that work over HTTP.

Not sure whether it will catch on, but it's nice that they make it easy for other developers to benefit from all the work that's gone into coding Mozilla.

MS has been pretty damned sure. . . (3, Insightful)

kfg (145172) | about 12 years ago | (#4461641)

this could catch on. Why on earth do you think they were so hot to kill the browser market for anything but IE?

Hint: It was *not* to simply have the most popular browser that they made no profit on.


Re:Standards anyone ? (2, Insightful)

nervlord1 (529523) | about 12 years ago | (#4461663)

Mayeb because these standards are open, and can be extended by anyone who chooses to extend them. That simple really

Re:Standards anyone ? (2)

tomhudson (43916) | about 12 years ago | (#4461669)

There's nothing (except Micro$hafts' penchant for not getting it right) to prevent Micro$haft from adopting the same standards (OMG - embrace, extend, fuck up).

Re:Standards anyone ? (0)

nmg (614483) | about 12 years ago | (#4461847)

"Micro$haft"? What are you, 12?

Re:Response to your off-topic question (1, Troll)

tomhudson (43916) | about 12 years ago | (#4462036)

Re: <quote>You said: "Micro$haft"? What are you, 12?</quote>

It's obvious from reading your comments (all 6 of them) and your high user id # that you're a bit of a newbie, AND a windows luser (remember - you're the one who started with the personal comments).

Please keep that in mind the next time you are tempted to use an ad hominem attack.

Micro$haft, Micro$hit, Microcrap, whatever ... it's still a piece of shit that only got to be the dominant desktop "OS" by lies, deceit, fraud and illegal activities.

Note to moderators: please check parent post, which was way off-topic and/or a troll, before rating this as flamebait. Thanks.

Re:Standards anyone ? (5, Insightful)

JordanH (75307) | about 12 years ago | (#4461677)

I think the point is not to develop web applications with Mozilla, but more generally to use the plugin architecture and the customizability of Mozilla to develop generalized local applications.

An example of this kind of thing would be Komodo [] , an IDE for Perl/Python/Tcl/ development.

I seem to recall that some use MSIE as a component architecture to develop generalized applications in much the same way, but I can't think of any examples of this right now.

Re:Standards anyone ? (3, Interesting)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | about 12 years ago | (#4461858)

I seem to recall that some use MSIE as a component architecture to develop generalized applications in much the same way, but I can't think of any examples of this right now.

Good examples would be Oddpost [] , an email app that launches from the web, and RhymBox [] , a Jabber client.

Note that I've spoken to the froods who did both of these projects, and they've been constantly hitting the wall in terms of what IE can do. RhymBox now uses quite a lot of ActiveX code in order to work around the general lameness of using DHTML .hta files for the ui.

Re:Standards anyone ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4461796)

It is different in a way that you can create more then web pages. For example there is a calendaring project for Mozilla that has very little to do with the web. It is just built on top of Mozilla. Also look at Komodo IDE which is based on Mozilla. No browsing there either.

Re:Standards anyone ? (2, Interesting)

japhmi (225606) | about 12 years ago | (#4461837)

In addition to all of the fine examples above, it'd be great for a company Intranet. It's a case where you can standardize all the computers that will have access to the app to have Mozilla.

eat my bawls II (-1)

neal n bob (531011) | about 12 years ago | (#4461552)

Sequel to the slashdot best seller "Eat my bawls"

Please take my non-existant sig and shove it right in your dirty brown starfish.

My Review (-1, Interesting)

Pave Low (566880) | about 12 years ago | (#4461561)

Mozilla is not just a browser. Mozilla is also a framework that allows developers to create cross-platform applications. This framework is made up of JavaScript, CSS (Cascading Style Sheets), and Mozilla's XUL (XML-based User-interface Language) as well as the Gecko rendering engine, XBL (eXtensible Binding Language), XPCOM (Mozilla's component model), and several other components.
Creating Applications with Mozilla explains how applications are created with Mozilla and provides step-by-step information about how you can create your own programs using Mozilla's powerful cross-platform development framework. This book also shows examples of many different types of existing applications to demonstrate some of the possibilities of Mozilla application development. One of Mozilla's biggest advantages for a developer is that Mozilla-based applications are cross-platform, meaning programs work the same on Windows as they do on Linux or the Mac OS.

Working through the book, you are introduced to the Mozilla development environment and after installing Mozilla, you quickly learn to create simple applications. After the initial satisfaction of developing your own portable applications, the book branches into topics on modular development and packaging your application. In order to build more complex applications, coverage of XUL, JavaScript, and CSS allow you to discover how to customize and build out your application shell. The second half of the book explores more advanced topics including UI enhancement, localization, and remote distribution.

Mozilla 1.0 was released on June 5th, 2002, after more than four years of development as an open source project. This book has been written so that all of the information and examples will work with this release and any of the 1.0.x maintenance releases. In addition to Netscape's Mozilla-based browsers (Netscape 6.x and 7.x), the Mozilla framework has been used to create other browsers such as Galeon and Chimera, and chat clients such as ChatZilla and JabberZilla. Developers have also used Mozilla to create games, development tools, browser enhancements, as well as all sorts of other types of applications.

I can see hordes of uses for this. (2, Interesting)

Cujo (19106) | about 12 years ago | (#4461684)

What embedding Mozilla promises to me is the ability display and interact with appropriately transformed HTML and XML documents in any kind of application without having to reinvent all the complex machinery to do that. XML apps like MathML and SVG are particularly important to me, but who wants to write the code to display them? Now lots of things are possible that have little to do with browsers. I like it.

Examples? (1)

torpor (458) | about 12 years ago | (#4461714)

Developers have also used Mozilla to create games, development tools, browser enhancements, as well as all sorts of other types of applications.

Anyone got good examples of these types of applications handy?

I'd love to know what Mozilla-based games there are, for example ...

Re:Examples? (2, Informative)

thegoldenear (323630) | about 12 years ago | (#4461745)

follow the [games] link in the review. thats what this web things alll about

Re:Examples? (4, Informative)

Malcontent (40834) | about 12 years ago | (#4462101)

komodo [] from activestate is a stunning example.

This is a rip off of the book's preface (3, Informative)

twistedcubic (577194) | about 12 years ago | (#4461996)

Very Insightful

Re:My Review (4, Insightful)

Dalcius (587481) | about 12 years ago | (#4462181)

Hiyas, Pave! Good trolling!

Folks, this is a rip of the preface of the book.

Have a look for yourself [] and then mod this troll down.

potential of mozilla development (2, Interesting)

alandrums (593019) | about 12 years ago | (#4461582)

from what i've read in the past it sounds like mozilla can be used to develop just about anything. is this true? who has done it? what about applications? it's odd to think of a browser as a platform for application development. i'd really like to get my hands on a good explanation. perhaps this book.

Re:potential of mozilla development (2)

mbyte (65875) | about 12 years ago | (#4461685)

IIRC someone was creating a complete desktop enviroment with mozilla, but i don't remember the name. It was mentioned some while ago here on slashdot.

Re:potential of mozilla development (3, Informative)

IIEFreeMan (450812) | about 12 years ago | (#4461947)

It's named OEOne []

Re:potential of mozilla development (4, Informative)

Hugh Kir (162782) | about 12 years ago | (#4461691)

I've been developing some apps using Mozilla at work. I've been really happy with it, frankly. The GUI development couldn't be easier, you can create relatively complex widgets with it easily, and, with the exception of any compiled XPCOM objects you may have, it's cross-platform. We picked up a copy of this book as well, and it's quite good. I don't know if it's the wave of the future or not yet, but I rather hope so, because it would make my life a lot easier (especially when I have to write Windows apps; I'm not a big fan of the complex IDE tools Microsoft provides).

Potential Of A Free United States +1, Patriotic (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4461834)

Remember, fight the powers that be.
Kick out the jams, brothers and sisters!

Read more about the 10 Point Program For Freedom []
from The Chump-In-Charge []

Thanks and spread the news that democracy IS possible in The United States of Amerika.

Illegal (-1, Troll)

tsa (15680) | about 12 years ago | (#4461584)

Isn't creating cross-platform applications illegal by Microsoft law?

Re:Illegal (0, Offtopic)

wintered (75625) | about 12 years ago | (#4461642)

It's illegal except when microsoft does it :)

Don't click on Slashdots book link (-1, Informative)

RedWolves2 (84305) | about 12 years ago | (#4461600) has the book for $31.96. Amazon has it for $29.97 []

Save yourself some money!

Re:Don't click on Slashdots book link (1, Troll)

RedWolves2 (84305) | about 12 years ago | (#4461624)

Sorry it is $27.97 [] Even lower!

Re:Don't click on Slashdots book link (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4461657)

But for the extra 2 bucks, you get a free bucketload of pleasure that you can only get from ordering from a comapny that didn't try an patent one-click purchases.

Re:Don't click on Slashdots book link (5, Informative)

seanmeister (156224) | about 12 years ago | (#4461660)

mozdev [] has it for free []

Re:Don't click on Slashdots book link (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4461707) has it for $24.50

Re:Don't click on Slashdots book link (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4462014) has it for $25.16.

And they have free shipping!

Re:Don't click on Slashdots book link (2)

NearlyHeadless (110901) | about 12 years ago | (#4462018)

There are several book price comparing services, I like this one: []

Even Less Ethical Than Spam (4, Informative)

Schlemphfer (556732) | about 12 years ago | (#4462074)

As pointed out in a discussion a couple days ago, this RedWolves2 guy is embedding his associates ID into his amazon links, in order to make a profit. And he's not telling anybody about it. He's done this a dozen or more times, and seems to be using Slashdot primarily for posting these Amazon ads. Moderators don't seem to be catching onto why this is a bad thing, and are modding up his posts. A user named Schlach had a couple great posts about why this is sleazy behavior. One's here [] , and the followup is here. [] Both are worth reading. Incredibly, I've been modded down for pointing out this questionable behavior on the part of RedWolves2. Read Schalch's comments and judge for yourself.

Don't click on RedWolves2's link (2)

VP (32928) | about 12 years ago | (#4462081)

If you buy it from the Slashdot link, you are supporting Slashdot; if you want to save money, go to BookPool. I don't see why we should make money for RedWolves2 (his link contains his referrer ID), and AFAIK, Amazon still has the OneClick patent in their name...

XML is amazingly powerful (5, Informative)

PhysicsScholar (617526) | about 12 years ago | (#4461615)

This is one way in which you just know that the Mozilla developers are at the top of their field(s) -- deciding to go with XML full-fledged (several years ago, too) was one of the greatest decisions they've made so far. The XUL interface, which is basically XML-based at its core, is about as flexible as one can get with the UI experience.

Furthermore, and of particular interest to someone like myself, the XML format offers a number of advantages for computational physics: clear markup of input data and results, standardized data formats, and easier exchange and archival stability of data.

I will definitely use a few dollars of grant money to purchase this book and keep it in the labs for all to read and enjoy.

Re:XML is amazingly powerful (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4461781)

You fail to consider that by investing a large amount of time in developing and refining XUL, the Mozilla developers greatly delayed the release of a stable product. During the resulting period of delay, hordes of Netscape Navigator users finally gave up and switched to IE. Now, very few are switching back.

What you praise as visionary, I regard as self-defeating folly. Undeniably, Mozilla is vastly more flexible because of its XML foundation. It's also largely irrelevant.

XUL and coordinates (2, Insightful)

Tablizer (95088) | about 12 years ago | (#4462214)

The XUL interface, which is basically XML-based at its core, is about as flexible as one can get with the UI experience.

When I last checked, XUL did not have coordinate-based positioning, but rather nested-based. Coordinate-based works better with visual screen builders IMO. True, it does not auto-scale as well, but when the boss wants something very specific WRT GUI layout, coordinates are much easier than nesting to give him/her precisely what they want.

the important part (2, Insightful)

cetan (61150) | about 12 years ago | (#4461620)

On another level, this book is also one of the first finished documents that explains what the Mozilla group has really been up to for the past five years. Some have abandoned the project, and others have attacked it as fundamentally misguided. This book shows why it took so long by demonstrating all of the cool features added during the long march to a new, thoroughly extensible architecture.

To me this is the one of the most important parts. I'm not a programmer, nor will I ever be I think. But from an evangelism perspective, I can point to this and say: "See, see? They were not just f-ing around for years, they were building something with amazing functionality!"

Re:the important part (2, Insightful)

K. (10774) | about 12 years ago | (#4461736)

The last thing the world needs is non-programmers evangelising programming tools.

Re:the important part (1)

cetan (61150) | about 12 years ago | (#4461774)

I never said I was.

I evangalize and 2 of the binaries they've produced: mozilla browser and phoenix browser.

The last thing this world needs is another programmer with an ego problem.

Re:the important part (1, Troll)

K. (10774) | about 12 years ago | (#4461891)

I evangalize and 2 of the binaries they've produced: mozilla browser and phoenix browser.

And may I just complement you on the wonderful job that you're doing. With people like you fighting the good fight, it may achieve double-digit market share sometime this century!


Re:the important part (1)

cetan (61150) | about 12 years ago | (#4462019)

Oooh a troll. a british troll! On slashdot no less. Who'da thunk' it?

Re:the important part (1)

cetan (61150) | about 12 years ago | (#4462064)

Clearly another example of someone who doesn't understand what they're looking at, but knee-jerk a reaction anyway.

I'm sorry you're so bitter? jealous? pathetic? (all of the above?). Someday you'll find love beyond your right hand.

Re:the important part (1, Offtopic)

K. (10774) | about 12 years ago | (#4462111)

Keep replying, you're sure to come up with a witty remark sooner or later. Well, that or a line from Hamlet.

Re:the important part (0, Offtopic)

cetan (61150) | about 12 years ago | (#4462126)

Hamlet was a tool. You his cousin?

Re:the important part (1, Troll)

K. (10774) | about 12 years ago | (#4462139)

I don't think I have any royal Danish blood, no.

Re:the important part (1)

cetan (61150) | about 12 years ago | (#4462185)

Your fatalism is sure spot on for Hamlet and Danish blood would have helped with the teeth that's for sure.

Re:the important part (3, Informative)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | about 12 years ago | (#4461879)

To me this is the one of the most important parts. I'm not a programmer, nor will I ever be I think.

But have you dabbled with web design? If the answer is yes, then you can write Mozilla apps. It's due to this fact that it's so easy to write patches for Mozilla. XUL (which if you know html is easy), CSS and JavaScript are all you need to know.

You could well be a programmer with Mozilla, and never know what a pointer is.

Lisp is just procedural?! (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4461628)

How come Lisp become 'just procedural'?! Do u have any idea baout what u r writing?

Mod up!! (1)

purrpurrpussy (445892) | about 12 years ago | (#4461735)

It's true - I hate to have a go but Lisp is NOT a proedural language. It is a FUNCTIONAL language.

With a few nasty side effects....

Online book (5, Informative)

redtail1 (603986) | about 12 years ago | (#4461675)

In true open source fashion, the book is also available in online form at []

Current Applications? (1)

Creedo (548980) | about 12 years ago | (#4461676)

Anyone have links to current projects using Mozilla as a basis? I mean, non- browser specific projects?

Re:Current Applications? (4, Informative)

HappyPhunBall (587625) | about 12 years ago | (#4461775)

You can browse different categories of Mozilla projects at MozDev [] .

Re:Current Applications? (2)

Queuetue (156269) | about 12 years ago | (#4461805)

ActiveState's Komodo...

Re:Current Applications? (4, Insightful)

DrXym (126579) | about 12 years ago | (#4461861)

Aside from all the extensions and skins for Mozilla (of which there are hundreds already in places such as in, the various apps that comprise the Netscape/Mozilla suites (browser, mail/news, chatzilla, dom, js debugger, aim etc.), you also have browsers such as Phoenix & Beonix, and entire new applications such as Komodo [] . and Crocodile Clips [] . Then there are the numerous 'embedded' applications which use the Gecko engine (little or no chrome) to host content in the likes of Compuserve, Galeon, Chimera, and more.

In short anywhere which requires a web-oriented application (preferably cross-platform) would do very well to evaluate Mozilla as a development platform. I expect database and server-side apps will ship in due course with applications based on Mozilla to do form design and other administrative tasks in a cross-platform manner.

Re:Current Applications? (1) (583400) | about 12 years ago | (#4461988)

Komodo 2.0 [] : a commercial IDE for multiple languages: Perl, Python, PHP, Tcl, XSLT. I've not tried it, but it looks interresting.

The real problem here (4, Insightful)

Jack Wagner (444727) | about 12 years ago | (#4461680)

Isn't so much about standards, it's more about de-facto standards and their general tendancy to change. I couldn't see devoting 5 or 6 months to develop a custom application specifically for Gnu/Mozilla when one year down the road they may decide to alter the XUL "standard" and totally screw me.

This is why stuff like TCP/IP and "C" took off, because they were in the hands of a standards body who were responsible and considerate of issues like this.

The Gnu/Open Source community needs to take into consideration that since they are working their way into the mainstream they *must* begin to be more proffesional and intelligent in matters of "standards" or they risk alianating the commercial development community.

That would be a serious mistake on their end, serious indeed.

Warmest regards,

Nice troll (0, Troll)

smileyy (11535) | about 12 years ago | (#4461750)

Good work, chum.

Re:The real problem here (1)

purrpurrpussy (445892) | about 12 years ago | (#4461788)

TCP/IP, C, Television, Radio, Mobile Phones, mp3 etc. standards (esp. for data interchange) are very important. Possibly _only_ important for data exchange.

I wouldn't follow a Mozilla only route either. Apps written for a browser should work on any browser. I suspect Windows/IE support should be at the top of the list as this accounts for a colosal number of users.

BTW and

Re:The real problem here (5, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | about 12 years ago | (#4461810)

That's true of TCP/IP, but not of C.

The TCP/IP effort was very focused on standards and interoperability. That's what the U.S. Department of Defense, which funded the effort, wanted, because they wanted all their computers to be able to talk to each other. (Back then, IBM, DEC, Xerox, etc. each had their own network protocols, all incompatible.) The DoD project management people were very insistent on this; a formal DoD TCP/IP standard was pushed through. The individual implementations were forced to comply. (The Berkeley BSD crowd had to be hammered on a bit; they'd gone off on a LAN-only tangent for a while, neglecting long-haul issues.) And it worked.

C was the creation of two people. K&R C was rather PDP-11 oriented and lacked a real type system, but UNIX took off within the academic community before C was standardized. ANSI C came years later, so the UNIX world was still on K&R C years after the DOS world used ANSI C. Eventually, everybody settled down on ANSI C, but it took a while.

Indeed (3, Interesting)

Jon Erikson (198204) | about 12 years ago | (#4461842)

As an IT consultant I've pushed this point to many of my clients before; either you go for a solution supported by robust standards supported by accredited standards bodies, or you go for a de facto standard which while it may not have the cast-iron guarantees that say an ECMA-approved standard would, at least ensures that you're not going to get left behind your competitors.

For a group of people which rely on so many open standards (and indeed, complain when companies don't use them!) I've yet to see little progress here on ensuring XUL remains an open standard. Which is a pity, because otherwise it has little to recommend it, no matter how extensible it is.

Also, does anyone here know anything about performance issues? Visual Basic nowadays is fairly reasonable for certain aspects of enterprise solutions, but if this is anything like Mozilla I'm not sure I could recommend it as being a good platform for applications.

Re:The real problem here (4, Informative)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | about 12 years ago | (#4461899)

XUL is largely frozen, and if you only use the 1.0.x branch, it's guaranteed to only get perf improvements and bug fixes.

Having said that, 99% of XUL is now solid anyway. If you develop apps, the syntax may change or more likely you'll get new features, but if you then want to upgrade to that version of Mozilla, you can simply run the old XUL through some XSL transforms. It's the same as with any API really, except it's easier to upgrade/alter XUL.

Re:The real problem here (2)

DrXym (126579) | about 12 years ago | (#4462040)

This is a ludicrous statement (not least for calling it Gnu/Mozilla).

How are they screwing you exactly? Is it because you get millions of lines of source code to an entire application development environment and an extremely generous licence terms for free? Or is it that you're not happy that XUL is not standardized by some body such as w3c?

If the latter is your worry, simply don't upgrade and XUL will remain forever frozen in the state that you released your app in. Alternatively take the risk and download a new version of Mozilla in six months and see what minor tweaks you need to keep it working and benefit from all the bug fixes that six months of open source development bring. Besides, the XUL specification is already documented and versioned, so there should be no worries about it suddenly changing, at least in the forseeable future.

online version (2, Redundant)

alexc (37361) | about 12 years ago | (#4461683)

here is the online version of the
book []

IWBEvent (2, Funny)

Trusty Penfold (615679) | about 12 years ago | (#4461689)

I implemented IWBEvent for my app which uses the MSHTML control. There is a bug in IE which causes the OnUIActivate method to be called with an incorrect parameter.

Does Mozilla have an option to simulate this bug so that my app can be run without change on that platform?

No XUL (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4461748)

hmm sorry but personally i dislike the idea writing applications using the XUL widgeset. in the linux community it is a known fact (and the noises are increasing) that people tend to dislike the XUL widgeset.

Any questions for the author? (5, Interesting)

Tayto (4193) | about 12 years ago | (#4461800)

I know this is short notice, but I'm going for dinner with one of the the authors tonight in two hours time, and then going to his talk with the Internet Society [] in Trinity College Dublin [] (Ireland). The details of the talk are here [] .

bad words (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4461833)

my name is brian king, yet i didn't write this crap. they stole my name, and i will pay them back in blood!

Author giving talk tonight in TCD, Ireland (3, Informative)

K. (10774) | about 12 years ago | (#4461872)

Anyone planning to go to this probably knows already, but Brian King is giving a talk on Mozilla in Trinity College Dublin tonight. More details at []

Mozilla to make gnuApps? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4461882)

From quickly browsing the free online version of
the book, I couldn't tell if it was possible
to use the Mozilla API to create open source
versions of iApp's like iMovie, iPhoto, iDVD, iTunes, etc. I know anything is possible with
software but how hard would it be to create these
gnuApps with Mozilla instead of using gnome/gtk+/QT stuff. The GUI would be a piece
of cake but what about the other pieces of code
for the gnuApp's?

New Challenge (1)

reitoei1971 (583076) | about 12 years ago | (#4461895)

It's very nice that you can write all these games with XUL and mox, but not a challenge. So here's my challenge: Write an API that is so incompetant that no one can write tetris for it. Shouldn't be hard, just patch windows.

Komodo Mozilla based non browser application (3, Informative)

oldstrat (87076) | about 12 years ago | (#4461904)

Well the subject of my comment pretty much gives away the comment.

ActiveState (The Perl,Python,PHP,Tcl people) have a great IDE application written on the Mozilla engine called Komodo, it's up to version 2 now and certainly worth checking out.

Now if only ActiveState would just open source it, after all it's base is open.

XUL (3, Informative)

hpavc (129350) | about 12 years ago | (#4461929)

i have to say that i have converted a bunch of cgi's that deliver HTML to cgis that deliver XUL and provide RDFs. the interface is awesome ... so many things you cannot do with IE alone (unless you cookup some ActiveX)

it was rough in the begining since i had people that were not using mozilla and even now some people just use mozilla because they have to.

but the power of the lists, tabs, etc are awesome compared to having to write javascript/layers/etc crap that takes more effort than the cgi environment to code.

i love it ... i hope an activex control for IE is around that will allow IE to use XUL

Re:XUL (2)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | about 12 years ago | (#4462118)

i love it ... i hope an activex control for IE is around that will allow IE to use XUL

There is an ActiveX control that emulates the IE APIs allowing a drop in replacement of Trident (the ie rendering engine) with Gecko. In theory I guess some registry hacks could make IE itself use Mozilla, in much the same way that Konqueror can be flipped between KHTML and Gecko. Dunno if anybody has done that yet, but for embedding apps there is already a solution.

Gecko Runtime Environment (2, Interesting)

Tayto (4193) | about 12 years ago | (#4461960)

One of the big updates being done for embedding purposes in the big 1.2 push is to get a basic installation prepared which can be used for all sorts of Gecko/Mozilla-based applications. See it coming to an application near you soon!

This is a very important development as it means that the full Mozilla suite will no longer need to be packaged with your custom application. The basic installation may even be installed on the system already - and can then be discovered and used by your system without installing a second copy!

This miraculous beast is the GRE, and its webpage is here [] .

You need to "get it." (5, Informative)

Fished (574624) | about 12 years ago | (#4462033)

This is not just making fancy web pages. This is not about the Mozilla browser, it's about the Mozilla framework. This framework was used to develop the browser, the mail program, composer, and everything else including chatzilla. These run as local applications on your box, just like Mozilla composer does.

There are a couple of very interesting examples developed using this technology out already:

  • OEOne [] , a complete desktop environment.
  • Kimodo [] , a python and perl IDE.
I myself am working on a Bible program that will run, locally, under Mozilla. This is probably the future of desktop application development for most stuff.

DigiGuide (0)

slainfu (528905) | about 12 years ago | (#4462103)

One of the best examples of Mozilla-based code I've seen is DigiGuide [] . It's an online TV guide based on Mozilla using XML. It has a themable interface and plug-in support.

It's been going strong for a few years now, and the developers have just included support for US TV listings, with European listings in the works.

Subscription to the service is (a very reasonable) £4.99 GBP/year.

Cheapest yet? (2)

CodeWheeney (314094) | about 12 years ago | (#4462115)

$24.50 [] plus shipping, as of 16 October, 2002

Mozilla Development (5, Informative)

Lao-Tzu (12740) | about 12 years ago | (#4462211)

I've been developing a Mozilla-based application component since August 2001. It's an HTML-rendering MOO client [] , and recently I've been pouring some 90% of my free time into working on it.

75% of that 90% of my free time lately has been updating the application to newer standards which have come into place since August 2001. For example, the Navigator/Mail/Editor/Chatzilla options used to be on the 'Tasks' menu in Mozilla, and were moved to the 'Window' menu around 1.0rc1. Bang, suddenly my application stops working properly, and less importantly, stops being a friendly component which works like all the others. A patch from a friend moved just about everything over to the 1.0rc1 way of doing things, and all was fine. Not everything worked flawlessly, though. The 'MOO Client' menu option didn't have an associated key visible, and the 'Window' menu inside MOOzilla didn't have any visible keys. The menus inside the application had long since stopped graying-out/disabling properly depending on what you have selected in the window. Many hours of last weekend was spent fixing these problems by conforming to new command handler expectations, and so on. (Where 'new' means 'changed since 0.9.6'. ;))

XUL is a wonderful tool. However, it runs dog slow on OS X. You don't have to take my word for it, just look at the Pheonix project. Pheonix is available for Windows and Linux, but not for OS X. Why? Because Chimera exists for OS X, which is faster (I'm using it right now) and integrates with the OS better. But... it doesn't support XUL. That's why it's faster. So where is my Mozilla application left? Stuck in the massive Mozilla suite when it's run in OS X. Mozilla, at startup, uses over 120 megs of RAM on my TiBook. Thank God for good VMs.

When initially writting MOOzilla, the XUL documentation was shit. The only place to go for any idea of how things really worked was deep inside the Mozilla source. And sure enough, this worked. The official XUL documentation at that time had sections which trailed off in 'blah blah blah' often because someone got bored of writting. I specifically remember it once read 'This is very important because blah blah blah'. Arrrg! How frustrating!

Mozilla is a powerful application development environment. XUL is a wonderful tool. Books like this one are going to make the world a better place for Mozilla component developers. And more cross-platform software developed with Mozilla makes the world a better place for users. Now... if only we can somehow apply this book heavily to the head of people who don't want to download Mozilla to try out an application, because they don't want to use it as a web browser. *sigh*.

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