Suck on Skins

Tuesday April 11th, 2000

TheUIGuy wrote in about a 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.)

#2 Criticism is justified

by mka <>

Tuesday April 11th, 2000 7:42 PM

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I do think that is right in criticizing Netscape for their new browser's appearance and UI design shortcomings.

As developers, we all know the virtues of Seamonkey, so they don't need to be repeated here. However, I disagree with Chris on the notion that Open Source software like Mozilla is immune to end-user criticism just because anyone can enhance it if need be. Cars can be tweaked, too, but that doesn't change the evaluation criteria.

Netscape has just released the first preview release of their next generation browser. Netscape hopes Communicator 6 will replace earlier versions on millions and millions of desktops, soon, so this is the final hour to voice opinions about the direction they're taking.

I, for one, hope that Netscape will direct significant amount of resources into making Navigator 6 the easiest and most efficient to use browser out there. If that is to happen, then pr1 is farther from the final than a Netscape preview release has ever been