Suck on Skins
Tuesday April 11th, 2000
TheUIGuy wrote in about a Suck.com article that talks about Mozilla/Netscape 6 and it's skinnability. It takes a very negative view on what we feel is a very positive technology.
Skins allow the user to pick their interface. Packages allow them to extend it. This customization allows anyone to choose how they browse the Web, manage mail, or use any of Mozilla's other applications. The author of the Suck piece, Greg Knauss, seems to feel that choice is bad, because there is the possibility for poorly designed or useless skins. That comes close to saying, "there could be ugly pages on the Web, so shut it down."
Greg also states, "by adding in all the flexibility of XUL, the Mozilla programmers have removed our ability to make the application use the native controls of the operating system." This shows a fundamental misunderstanding of Open Source. The direction Mozilla is taking doesn't prevent anyone from doing anything. The capability to do exactly what Greg wants is right there, in the code sitting on the CVS server, and in the mind and will of someone who needs something done differently. Mozilla might not be doing what you want, but that does not mean that you are prevented from doing it yourself.
(FYI, there are projects for Windows and Linux -- and nothing preventing a Mac project -- for embedding the HTML renderer into a native wrapper application.)
#11 I thought the suck article
by davidecsdcom <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Tuesday April 11th, 2000 8:51 PM
You are replying to this message
...was pretty much on.
I feel that as a user, I should at least get the option of a UI which is consistant with the native GUI. I like things to be consistant. I really don't need whiz-bang themes/chromes/skins, I want to be able to sit down use the app without having to think, "Okay, now is this a button or a menu? What happens if I click here?" And, quite frankly, it's more work for me to make things all look the same. Will I have to get a GTK skin for mozilla, or a mozilla skin for GTK?
When you say, "Skins allow the user to pick their interface. Packages allow them to extend it," You're completely ignoring that the average user doesn't really care how nifty XUL is, nor are they going to roll up their sleeves and extend it themselves. They have better things to do and they trust that the people who write the program that they use (in this case Netscape/Mozilla) will look and feel like what they're used to in other applications on that particular platform.
"[...] Greg Knauss, seems to feel that choice is bad, because there is the possibility for poorly designed or useless skins. That comes close to saying, 'there could be ugly pages on the Web, so shut it down.'" No, to me he seems to be saying (rather long windedly) that "Sometimes more is just *more*"
You see I really like Mozilla, and I think that themese are great, but they should be left down at the level of the toolkit.
My half-drunk $0.02, David