Weekend Discussion

Friday March 24th, 2000

Time for another weekend discussion. The question this weekend:

What do you feel is an appropriate level of integration between a browser and an Operating System? And at the other end of the spectrum, what are your feelings about Mozilla's cross-platform approach?

#4 Skinnable keyboards

by wwrafter

Friday March 24th, 2000 10:47 PM

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What level of integration between an OS and a Browser? About as much as between a word processor or a spreadsheet and the OS. The OS should have APIs to ease the development of a GUI, and the GUI should have APIs to ease the development of applications. The applications should (almost) never talk to the OS directly. Possible Exception: Security validations. As far as cross platform functionality (generically, not specifically Moz), if we were still back in the pre gui days, where every application had it's own keystroke sequence for performing commands, I would say that using the same keystrokes with in an application across all platforms is a good idea. If we all had NCs on our desks, and we only ran one application, I'd say using a consistent keystroke approach would be correct. This is not our reality though. There is no one who can successfully argue that the learning curve on a new application is not greatly reduced when the application uses the platform standard interfaces. In the interest of getting a product out the door, I'd say let's keep going with the cross platform UI. But be prepared. One of the first things that will have to change (based on the feedback you're going to get) is the lack of platform specific compatibility. Take heart however. With the component architecture of the GUI, it shouldn't be too hard to extend XUL to include the keyboard shortcuts and perhaps the mouse-based interaction as well. We might even be able to come up with "skinnable" keyboard layouts (does that sound like an Atari keyboard?).