Netscape's Plans for M14 and Beyond

Monday February 7th, 2000

Cmad writes, "Want to know more about Netscape's release plan? Another interesting article has been posted on that matter by Jim A. Roskind in the SeaMonkey newsgroup."

If the link above doesn't work for you, try this link.

Jim goes into detail about what Netscape is expecting to do with M14 - it could turn into an alpha Netscape product, a beta product, or, worst case, they might end up holding off to M15 for a branded version. They're expecting that M16 will be feature complete (presumably the skin-switching code and security module will be in by that time, too).

Beyond the obvious performance issues, I think Netscape should really try to address the usability issues with the current skin if they are looking to push out a beta product. For example, the toolbar buttons should be labeled, and the buttons themselves should not extend over the grey space below the main toolbar -- it looks like an unintended effect (or defect).

What do you think? Post your thoughts and ideas in the forum for this news item, but since this has been a contentious issue in the past, I'm asking that you please keep your post civil.


#13 more on native widgets

by Maroney

Monday February 7th, 2000 2:18 PM

You are replying to this message

The first Java user interface system used native widgets and they found it made it very difficult to maintain the software and to deliver on "write once, run anywhere." The second generation went to pure Java widgets. Hard to say how well that worked because no one seems to be using them on the Web.

HTML layout is a lot more forgiving than Java direct positioning, and minor changes in widget size are easy to compensate for across platforms. What one can do with widgets in JavaScript/DOM is also much more constrained than it is in Java. I don't see the AWT difficulties with native widgets as being much of an issue in HTML.

Apple and Microsoft have both put millions into designing and implementing their widget systems, and the way they work is subtle and intricate. Many of the unobvious facets of interaction are deeply wired into eyes and fingers at this point. Using Mozilla already feels "weird" due to the differences from platform standards.

In Mac OS X and Aqua, the widgets have become so challenging that there is no chance that Mozilla could possibly duplicate them with a parallel implementation. When Microsoft rips off Aqua in two years, then there will be yet another set of impossibly hard widgets for Mozilla to duplicate. And so for every platform (e.g., whenever there is an Aqua equivalent for Linux).

Re-implementing the widgets is a serious mistake that can't be made up for by platform-specific "skins". Appearance can be partially duplicated by skins, except that appearance may be protected by design patents, and Aqua widgets require more capability than skins offer. Interaction is even less "skinnable" and has even greater consequences on whether the user feels comfortable and in control.

Some thought needs to go into how feasible it would be for Mozilla to fall back to using platform widgets.