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.)
#24 What "Users" want...
Wednesday April 12th, 2000 10:51 AM
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There is (and will continue to be, until we come up with a new term) confusion as to what is a user. In this thread, the term is used to mean two different things. First, the person doing the browsing. In this case, I am of the opinion that skins are utterly useless. The average person will not want to take the time and effort to change the skin. In addition, the average person would probably not be able to do it anyway. Second, the person designing a user interface (AlphaNumerica for example). In this instance, skins can be invaluable. The sullivan skin is by far the best looking browser I've yet to see. As a developer currently working on the architecture for a web based client for our application, I am paying very close attention to these skins. Even though the powers that be wouldn't even consider such a project, when I show them our web pages in a browser that makes the whole window look like our app, I think they'll jump at it. In other words, it won't look like you're just browsing. It will look like a real application that just happens to have some of the same behavior as a web page. Both of the groups are users. We just need to be aware that some users are more equal than others.
Have a nice day!