Full Article Attached Editorial: NGLayout in Communicator 5.0 - Truth and Consequences

Thursday October 1st, 1998

I've had a few days to consider the NGLayout / Communicator 5.0 issue and the WSP petition, and finally have some words to speak on it. So, click "Full Article" below if you're interested in reading mozillaZine's first editorial opinion piece.

I should make clear before you start that mozillaZine is an independent site, and the opinions expressed in this article and in past articles in no way represent the feelings or opinions of the Mozilla Project or Netscape. We like the guys, but we would never presume to speak for them!

#15 Re: Editorial: NGLayout in Communicator 5.0 - Tru

by Andrew Zimmerman <>

Monday October 12th, 1998 10:30 AM

You are replying to this message

I am a professional web developer and here's my take on your article. I won't go into the contradictions in your own article/opinion piece. And I am not flaming you or the developers of Mozilla at all. I do not speak for WSP nor am I a member.

First, I, and I think many web developers would agree, that Netscape needs to get its act together, especially with standards like CSS-1. Poeple claim they don't see much CSS in use. A prime reason is the buggy or incomplete use of CSS in Navigator 4. NS 4 supports roughly 55% of CSS-1. IE4 PC supports nearly 90%. Even on the Mac it supports about 85% of the spec. Yet, really basic CSS doesn't work in Navigator. So it comes down to a chicken or the egg approach. Is CSS not used because developers find it hard to develop for cross browser/platform or because people don't want to use it? I develop in a Navigator 4 environment and there's a ton of things I'd love to use but simply can't because of Navigator's flaky implementation of CSS.

I don't think it is so much a problem of wanting/demanding NGLayout in version 5. Developers want it ASAP. When Netscape releases Navigator 4.5 and the only changes over 4.0x are the "smart browsing" and tying the browser closer to Netcenter (a morass of a website that does nothing to support developers or make it easy to find info) that is seen as an insult to developers. Sure, Netscape may be making more money, but what about the developers? A "major" upgrade that doesn't actually fix any bugs or developer concerns? Sounds like a Microsoft approach to me.

I want Netscape and Navigator to prosper. Microsoft doesn't support open standards and IE5 is going into even more proprietary tech. But even so, their standards support are much closer to W3 specs than Netscape's efforts to date.

If Navigator doesn't want to become a fringe market browser (meaning being used by mac and unix users) they need to do something soon. I want NGLayout in version 5. But without Netscape supporting NGL in version 5 or even givng a release timeframe, people and developers wonder if Netscape will even be around. Netscape needs to convince developers and users their browser is relevent. Unfortunately, they have failed to do that for me. I am not advocating some Microsoft approach of announcing vaporware and I realize Netscape has neither the resources of MS nor the development turnaround time (especially with Open Source), but *something* needs to be done by Netscape to convince developers to stick to Netscape and I just don't see any direction at all.

While Netscape is to be applauded at the moves it has done in order to restructure its core business model, its going to have to do a lot more on the developers side to convince web developers to stick with Netscape Navigator. I find IE4 on my Mac consumes less resources, crashes less, and handles specs much more efficiently than the elder Netscape 4. I won't speak about the PC platform, but can you give me a *practical* reason why I should stick with Netscape 5 without NGL?

Make a Navigator 4.7 release and put all the current improvements in it and keep NGL on track for 5.0, but most importantly, give developers the tools they ask for and stick to specs (I'm not against innovation unless it conflicts with standards). At least do a better job of promoting Navigator and its features. Its been 18 months since NS4 was unleashed. People won't wait another 18 months for Navigator 6. Its sad and its true.

Respectfully, AZ