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.)
#25 so many people missing the point
Wednesday April 12th, 2000 10:54 AM
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Mozilla doesn't have skins as an optional feature. Skins are not some side project that is stealing time from other areas of development. Skins are an end user bonus byproduct that result from Mozilla's basic design. The fact that Mozilla lays itself out rather than relying on the OS makes the widgets easilly styled with css and images. Every app under the sun has a skin, Mozilla just makes it easy to alter that skin in a simple and standards compliant way using css and images. There is no siphoning off of core development hours that yields this functionality. This is functionality that comes from a well thought out approach to building a cross platform application with a consistent look and feel. (and don't forget the i18n and localization benefits, the english speaking world is not the only world)