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?
#42 web browsers vs. viewer applications
Sunday March 26th, 2000 11:41 AM
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Web browsing yes of course, is only browsing the web. A web browser application, however, conveniently also allows us to view gopher (not that there are many left) and ftp sites. Why aren't you ready to allow this application to be used to view local files and documents too? Just because the NAME of the application is "web browser"?
I think that the application design in IE - and now Mozilla - is perfect. By allowing the browser canvas to be embedded into other applications, you can plug the net & browsing capabilities into any application if you so desire. You can also use a stand alone browser if you want to.
If you want to use the engine for email, fine.. do so. Telnet? Xterm? IRC? An engine for help? Easy..
This is how IE is "integrated" into the operating system. The browser engine is used where it makes sense - and in a few places where it can be argued that it doesn't make too much sense. I think that in some cases, the integration hasn't been used like it could have. For instance the HTML enhanced folder views in explorer isn't used that much. With a little coding and an embedded web server, you could do just about anything with this. Overriding normal folder views and creating thumbnail views of images, integration to applications like CVS, ZIP, FTP uploads, virus scans.. All using HTML and "CGI". Think about what this could be used for in intranets if applied to shared folders.
Instead of blindly criticizing things because it's Microsoft, I think we should look at what they are doing and learn from it where it's appropriate. IE is a great piece of software.. If it supported standards even better than it does now (and yes, it DOES support standards quite nicely now) it would be almost perfect.
I hope Mozilla will do everything IE does well now, but with the perfect standards support that IE does not currently have. However at this point, I'm not seeing a lot of reason for excitement. The layout engine is much slower than IE even though it's starting to be "fast enough" now so it doesn't matter so much. The user interface (which is still very much work in progress) is absolutely terrible. Slow, ugly, inconsistent.. The mail client is a catastrophy speed wise. While it inherits the same user interface problems that the browser has, the biggest problem is definitely lack of speed.
Modularity of the applications is what we need - in a standard way - so that I can take Mozilla and throw it in where ever I want. I should be allowed to decide just how much integration I want - and with what.