MozillaZine

Full Article Attached MozillaZine on Skins

Tuesday April 11th, 2000

I have decided to put my own head on the chopping block and weigh in on the Mozilla skins and native widgets debate. To read more, click "Full Article" below.


#1 Good job. It's a floor wax AND a desert topping!

by jesusX <jesus_x@mozillanews.org>

Tuesday April 11th, 2000 7:35 PM

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Mozilla is a browser, AND a platform, AND an HTML engine, and a lot more. It's a box of possibilities. But it's so revolutionary, that people are bashing it like the Win95 OS when it debuted (yes, I like it, and the OS2 Warp Bar too). But it took over, and no on ecomplains now. It's faer of the unknown. Mozilla is The Next Step and it scares people, so they try to brush it off.

Ignorance stops NOTHING people. Embrace the change.

#2 Mozilla needs to be a browser first

by archen

Tuesday April 11th, 2000 8:02 PM

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To me it just seems like Moz needs to be a browser first, as proof that you can do something with it. If you can make a kick ass browser with it, people will start to see potential. Composer and messenger also can serve as good examples of what you can do with Moz, but a browser is what most people want to see. Basically no matter what you do, people just wont get it at first, but as more people start messing with it, hopefully it will start to dawn on people.

As for widgets, I think many people are unfortunately locked in their own world when it comes to native widgets. A lot of people don't like when a program doesn't have widgets that look exactly what they're used to, regardless of whether their better or not. I even like the gfx scrollbars better, but until it works with my Logitech mouse wheel, I have to use the native ones.

And last but not least, Moz has to really get going on the performance end. I think it could be a major setback if things don't start speeding up some, and that gigantic memory print doesn't shrink a LOT. I myself am interested in making a nice little image viewer out of Moz, because most of the stuff I use to view images now are pretty big. But then again I'm not going to do the 30+ second wait every time I want to view an image and I have to wait for Moz to load.

and so I wait to look at M15...

#21 Re: Performance

by basic <_basic@yahoo.com>

Wednesday April 12th, 2000 1:15 AM

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You are right on in terms of performance. I've not seen any major performance improvements since M12 (M13?). I'm more worried about the performance issue than the UI issue as alot is being worked on to get the UI to look like native widgets right now. That is not to say that I'm not interested in the UI dev. though, what I'm looking forward to is a package that allows easy exchanging and combining "native" widgets from different platforms, desktop enviroments, packages and applications (a.k.a. ultimate skinable package). Isn't that what the original Chromezone wanted to do?

#34 re: preformance

by archen

Wednesday April 12th, 2000 10:30 AM

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Well to their credit, the nightly builds have been a LOT faster than m14, but then the mouse menu disappeared (it came back a about 3 days ago), and it has severe background, and frame problems. So it has been getting better, but it has a way to go. Then again, from what I've heard, they haven't started optimizing it yet either.

#75 Re: re: preformance

by basic <_basic@yahoo.com>

Saturday April 15th, 2000 1:58 PM

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Yes performance work is not at the center of attention right now. UI and feature work is. XUL/XBL is changing, maybe that is why you see some UI problems. But after this, it would become more skinable!! Optimization will come after M16 (NS beta2?) if I'm not mistaken...

#78 Re: Re: re: preformance

by guyh

Saturday April 15th, 2000 2:47 PM

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Perhaps NS 6.02 should be held up until performance issues ARE addressed, since this seems to be a major beef in the reviews. UI tweaking is nice, but not enuf to justify a second look by most people...

#87 re: preformance

by archen

Sunday April 16th, 2000 12:49 AM

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I have to say I agree, but the cat is already out of the bag and I don't think it makes a difference anymore. Personally I feel that Netscape made a bad decision in releasing N6PR1... it just isn't ready for public consumption yet, and I think that releasing a crap preview release is a big mistake. Mozilla keeps preforming better and better, so it's only a matter of time. Hey the gfx scrollbars even work with my logitech mouse now! M15 definatly has improvements

#3 A new OS has born

by badben

Tuesday April 11th, 2000 8:04 PM

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> it's a platform from which many Internet-ready applications can be created and deployed

Sounds like an OS to me.

What, if I have a speech recognition facitily, that (only) works with my native widgets?

I don't want to give up functionality just for some nice web-integrated look. If CSS requires that (I didn't check it), the spec is flawed.

Apart from that, I think, using native widgets would have saved Mozilla *a lot* of work and bugs in the past and future.

Disclaimer: I'm *not* speaking about XUL, which could (mostly) be implemented with native widgets.

> [...] suffers from this same issue as would any attempt to bridge the platform gap in standardized way

No, (X)HTML is truely XP, standardized and I can still use native widgets.

(It doesn't provide all widget types, but that could be changed.)

> Unfortunately, where they're headed might not be the direction that many people had hoped Mozilla would go.

In fact, I hoped, that Mozilla would give the power back to the user, away from the content provider. But in some cases, the opposite happened obviously.

Maybe, my choice of platform was not arbitarily, but in part based on the widgets and their functionality...

> They can strike out in their own direction, from the Mozilla code available

I guess, removing XPToolkit and using native widgets *within* the browser window and mailnews (not just wrapping with native code) will be a lot of work.

But I know your argument is valid: I can't force Netscape to code the way I want. And I am happy, that Netscape released the 4.x and new code.

#6 Re: A new OS has born

by Tekhir

Tuesday April 11th, 2000 8:31 PM

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"I don't want to give up functionality just for some nice web-integrated look. If CSS requires that (I didn't check it), the spec is flawed. "

It requires widget to be able to have style applied.

"Apart from that, I think, using native widgets would have saved Mozilla *a lot* of work and bugs in the past and future."

The problem was that it the team was forced to do this then Mozilla would only be for Win32 platform. Which is ok for most people, but Netscape is the only good browser on some platforms. Plus its easier to make International versions of Mozilla now.

#8 Re: Re: A new OS has born

by dbaron <dbaron@dbaron.org>

Tuesday April 11th, 2000 9:23 PM

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I would disagree with your statement that CSS requires that widgets be stylable. Widgets fall outside of the CSS rendering model (i.e., they are not fully described by CSS), and therefore CSS does not define how CSS applies to them. However, many people (I am not among them) seem to want form widgets to be stylable.

#27 Re: Re: Re: A new OS has born

by sdm

Wednesday April 12th, 2000 7:29 AM

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This is news to me - could you provide a reference saying what elements must or should be stylable?

#22 Re: Re: A new OS has born

by briansmith <briansmith@iname.com>

Wednesday April 12th, 2000 2:20 AM

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" If CSS requires that (I didn't check it), the spec is flawed. " I agree.

"It requires widget to be able to have style applied." It is possible that CSS requires the style elements to be attached to the controls, but I am not sure it requires any specific rendering.

Where can I find the information about styling widgets and/or form elements in CSS1/CSS2 or any other web standard document? I'm curious because I did a text search on the CSS1/CSS2 specifications for "form," "widget," "input,", "button," etc. and I couldn't find any relevent information.

It doesn't make sense for W3 to REQUIRE styling of HTML form controls (which are the only widgets it could know about). Most native control toolkits do not have the functionality to support a full range of CSS properties. In order to bear this unreasonable burden, UA providers would have to:

a) make numerous changes to the native widgets (something only the OS provider could realistically do)

b) extend the behavior of the native widgets (which is not realistically possible on many OS's)

c) create their own widget toolkits. Being a HTML/CSS UA shouldn't require implementing a nearly-complete set of widgets.

Notes:

The HTML 4.01 spec. vaguely mentions styling forms, but doesn't give specific information about the actual controls (widgets).

The "User Interface for CSS3" working document from w3.org indicates that they are working on a replacement for HTML forms by adding styling to DIV's and other currently-non-editable elements. Similiarly, the XForms working group (again W3) seems to be completely redesigning the forms functionality into a layered architecture. It also mentions vaguely that it should be possible to style forms, but it isn't specific either. If mozilla implements these (proposed) standards, then they will have to throw out a lot of what they've been already done anyway.

I would sincerely appreciate any specific information about web standards that require widgets to be styled. I would especially appreciate any corrections to my above understanding of the situation (that is, if I misread the above standards).

- Brian

#33 Here you go

by Tekhir

Wednesday April 12th, 2000 9:47 AM

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"The CSS box model describes the rectangular boxes that are generated for elements in the document tree."

"Each box has a content area (e.g. text, an image, etc.) and optional surrounding padding, border, and margin areas;"

-- pg. 81 CSS2 Spec (PDF format)

From those line I get the impression that all HTML elements are boxes and should be able to be styled like a box. I believe this is what the engineers got from the spec too.

#9 Huh?

by damian <daemonc@netscape.net>

Tuesday April 11th, 2000 9:29 PM

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Surely i can't be the only one to whom your post makes no sense.

Mozilla an OS? Not even close. More of a cross platform, multi-OS tool kit. It's not going to replace your operating system, it will make internet software that will run on more than one OS.

What in the world does speech recognition have to do with your widgets, let alone with Mozilla?

How would having to port Mozilla to use the native widgets of each of the almost a dozen operating systems on which it runs (many of which don't even have native widgets for some of the things that mozilla needs) SAVE work?

> I guess, removing XPToolkit and using native widgets *within* the browser window and mailnews (not just wrapping with native code) will be a lot of work. Well, yes it will, isn't that the point? But it's open source, so feel free to go ahead and do it!

Windows is the past, Linux is the present, Mozilla is the future. --damian's quote of the day

#37 Re: Huh?

by Dan6992

Wednesday April 12th, 2000 2:09 PM

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"What in the world does speech recognition have to do with your widgets, let alone with Mozilla?"

Most speech recognition software packages for Windows use a global hook that generates key stroke messages and sends them to the active Window. This makes it so their software will work in any text contorll, in any software, anywhere in the OS. This may or may not effect Mozilla, because it all depens on how Mozilla handles incoming Windows messages and I'm not fimilar enough with the source to know. However if Mozilla does not corectly handle the messages generated by this type of software there will certainly be alot of people that reject it.

#41 Re: Re: Huh?

by krakan <jonas@init.se>

Wednesday April 12th, 2000 3:07 PM

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This still have nothing to do with widgets, does it?

#63 Re: Re: Huh?

by badben

Thursday April 13th, 2000 9:18 PM

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Right, that's bascially, what I meant. But I don't know, if these apps generate only keystrokes. Standardized windows message boxes have some predefined answers - "OK", "Cancel", "Yes", "No" etc. (you can easily see that on a localized version of windows: in some apps, the msg text appears in english, but the buttons are labeled in your language) - and IIRC, some speech recognition packages let you speak the answers and choose the right button.

It's also the other direction - speech generation. A smart app might catch and react according to their class - alert, warning, question or whatever.

This will all break with Mozilla. OK, such dialogs (Yes/No) are not extensively used in Mozilla, but if it will be an app platform, they will be.

#23 XUL/XBL/native widgets

by briansmith <briansmith@iname.com>

Wednesday April 12th, 2000 2:28 AM

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"I'm *not* speaking about XUL, which could (mostly) be implemented with native widgets."

Has anybody done any work in creating user interfaces in XUL/XBL outside of mozilla. For example, generating VB, Java AWT, Java Swing, Windows MFC, etc. code? I am particularly interested in XUL->Swing XML Serialization->Java Code. What are the known issues, examples, documentation?

#51 Re: XUL/XBL/native widgets

by basic <_basic@yahoo.com>

Thursday April 13th, 2000 12:13 AM

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Not an expert here but I believe that the current number 1 obstical is that XUL and XBL is still evolving.

#49 Cross-platform GUI 101

by ttfkam

Wednesday April 12th, 2000 9:11 PM

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"Apart from that, I think, using native widgets would have saved Mozilla *a lot* of work and bugs in the past and future.

"Disclaimer: I'm *not* speaking about XUL, which could (mostly) be implemented with native widgets."

=========================

Have you ever coded UIs in more that one GUI toolkit? I doubt it. Basically it is nigh impossible to make a common API for all of them. While they may appear to do the same thing, they may (and do) programmatically do it in drastically different and incompatible ways.

You bring up an interesting point with regards to preferences toward native widgets. I have developed Java applications with both the original AWT widgets and the newer Swing equivalents.

As a point of history, the reason why Sun moved away from native widgets (the implementation of the AWT package) was because different platforms' widgets reacted differently to input and rendered differently so that a Java applet/application that looked good in Win32 would end up looking horrible in Xlib or OS/2 PM.

Swing tried to make platform-neutral widgets that appeared on the surface like the native widgets with the platform-specific look&feel (basically skins). This appeased the platform widget purists to some extent while still allowing look&feel changes when required/wanted.

The only thing holding back Mozilla from _appearing_ to support native widgets is a custom CSS skin just like Swing. The only problem with this is that people need to spend the time to code the CSS for each platform -- a far cry from actually implementing the native widgets of all of the disparate platforms.

If you want native widgets, make a CSS file that makes the cross-platform widgets look and act like *insert_favorite_platform* widgets.

And no, mapping XUL on top of native widgets is not the answer. Layout issues (different sizing/spacing) being the most prominent reason. You end up with only a marginal advantage over straight native widgets.

#52 Re: Cross-platform GUI 101

by basic <_basic@yahoo.com>

Thursday April 13th, 2000 12:18 AM

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> mapping XUL on top of native widgets is not the answer. Layout issues (different sizing/spacing) being the most prominent reason. You end up with only a marginal advantage over straight native widgets.

And probably loose the "cross-platform" advantage...

#64 Not look&feel

by badben

Thursday April 13th, 2000 9:46 PM

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I was *not* speaking about the look&feel. Yes, you can mostly emulate this using CSS and maybe XBL or so.

I was speaking about *functionality*. See my post "Re: Re: Huh?" about speech recognition/generation and message boxes. Each platform has its own little special feature, which in part makes the difference between this platform and others. And many people are used to them or even actually choosed their platform because of them. One example: The cool thing of the BeOS UI is its responsiveness due to heavy multithreading. How will Mozilla emulate that? It shouldn't just ignore all that.

As for XP GUI toolkits: Yes, I have coded for Swing. But as your subject implies, there are a lot of them, and Mozilla will be number 101. It may be successful, but that might be just because it is so famous. (However, your article say exactly the opposite. Did I misunderstand you?)

You are right, that most XP GUI toolkits don't catch all platform-specific features, but most of them catch a *lot* more than Mozilla. Re "Layout issues": I depends on the "language".

#4 kill the superfluous crap

by pbreit

Tuesday April 11th, 2000 8:12 PM

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it's a platform that first and foremost should be a rendering engine (or browser, since that's the term everyone's familiar with). they should have killed the superflous crap that almost noone will use but that has burned an inordinate amount of very precious engineering resources: Editor, News, Email and Skins. they could have had a high performance, lean, stable, standards-compliant browser months ago had they scoped properly.

as for widgets, i would have gone with native since that's what you would do if you were designing for users. since thay have instead designed for developers, i would have borrowed the newest java widgets.

#10 Re: kill the superfluous crap

by briansmith <briansmith@iname.com>

Tuesday April 11th, 2000 9:37 PM

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pbreit's posting was right on. I think they could have saved a lot of trouble by borrowing Swing's UI for a uniform, cross-platform solution, especially if the Blackwood/Pluglet project succeeds. I think a a big part of the widget architecture will have to be redesigned so that different widget sets (or at least native) can be plugged in if AOL really wants this to be an embeddable component.

(speculation follows) It's important to remember who manages and controls the project: AOL. As long as nearly the entire team is on its payroll, AOL will be making the major decisions. Millions of AOL users see a proprietary non-native-widget UI every time they sign on, so AOL probably expects people to just get used to it. The project is not just about Mozilla or even Mozilla and Navigator. I think it is likely that the entire mozilla.org team is also (perhaps unknowingling) creating the next-generation UI for AOL Anywhere. I could see the AOL 6.0/7.0 client using gecko/XUL/etc. for it's proprietary content while using MS Internet Explorer to do "real" web rendering. I wonder if there will be an open-source "please help us embed IE into Gecko" project?

#16 Re: kill the superfluous crap

by Ben_Goodger

Tuesday April 11th, 2000 11:21 PM

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get a clue. Lots of people use Netscape Messenger 4.x.

#5 Good article, good points

by Kovu <Kovu401@netscape.net>

Tuesday April 11th, 2000 8:27 PM

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I think one thing you danced about but never quite said:

Mozilla came from code that was a browser, e-mail client, etc., and has morphed into something that even the Netscape developers working on the 5.0 code then could never have dreamed -- an open standards Web platform.

About this we have to realize one thing: Mozilla is in its infancy. It is a one of a kind. The only thing that approaches this is Linux, and Linux is relegated to being an OS. Mozilla is not an OS, not yet in any case. Not while NSPR still relies on the underlying platform. But again, Mozilla is an infant, hell, it ain't been born yet even. Anyone who saw Windows 1.0 will know that infant technologies don't look all that great.

Those who point to the loss of native widgets (some claiming keeping them would have saved time, even! Ha!) aren't looking at the bigger picture: those native UIs are at the end of their development cycle, Mozilla's is at the beginning, and Mozilla's have the greater advantage -- they look the same from Amiga (well, they WILL) to Mac to Unix to Linux to Windows. Developers can write a UI once and never again, instead of developing it 15 times for as many platforms. Can you imagine what Mozilla's UI will look like after the embryotic stage?

Basically, all the whining about the UI boils down to two things: stubborn blustering about native UIs that don't look THAT great anyway (sorry Mac, the only thing I like is the colored scrollbars) -- and don't think someone didn't bitch about the loss of the wooden wheel when the rubber ones came out -- and 2, impatience.

I for one think that cross-platform development is worth the wait, and that native UIs are a reasonable sacrifice.

#30 Re: Good article, good points

by djm <djm@mindrot.org>

Wednesday April 12th, 2000 8:23 AM

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"Those who point to the loss of native widgets (some claiming keeping them would have saved time, even! Ha!) aren't looking at the bigger picture: those native UIs are at the end of their development cycle,"

Rubbish. Native widgets are incrementally improved, not thrown out for each new generation of software. Better yet, compatible apps benefit from upgraded widgets _for free_. Win3.x apps magically looked like win95 apps which run on Win95. Mac apps look better when Kaleidescope runs. GTK apps can be centrally themed.

This attitude to Mozilla's skins is pure NIH arrogance.

#35 No, "native UI supremacy" is arrogance

by Kovu <Kovu401@netscape.net>

Wednesday April 12th, 2000 10:56 AM

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"Native widgets are incrementally improved, not thrown out for each new generation of software."

Then why is Aqua totally different from Mac's UI? It's a new interface altogether, I'm afraid. The attitude that any one OS's UI is superior enough to warrant Netscape developers slaving to keep native versions of Communicator into eternity -- and doing so takes LOTS and LOTS of manhours, FAR more than with a XP UI -- THAT is arrogant. And it's also "rubbish," especially given that all of the UIs you mention are pretty boring to look at. If you don't like the new UI SKIN THE THING. If not, keep your old archaic 4.x until the end of time, because that's your only choice in the matter.

#43 How user-centric

by djm <djm@mindrot.org>

Wednesday April 12th, 2000 3:53 PM

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"all of the UIs you mention are pretty boring to look at"

A utterly subjective judgement.

"If you don't like the new UI SKIN THE THING. If not, keep your old archaic 4.x until the end of time, because that's your only choice in the matter."

This is exactly the arrogance of which I speak. This sort of attitute is going to may Mozilla sooo popular with non-technical users.

#47 No, arrogance is...

by Kovu <Kovu401@netscape.net>

Wednesday April 12th, 2000 7:17 PM

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Arrogance is a tiny platform like Mac complaining about anything at all. Amiga users still aren't supported by Netscape, THAT's something to bitch about, not a UI issue for a UI that's still not even complete yet. So Netscape does their best to remedy the fact that other platforms arent' supported, making the code as easy to cross platforms as possible so that platforms like Amiga have a prayer of one day having a decent browser, and all Mac users seem to be able to do is bitch that Netscape isn't throwing cross-platform to the wind just so they can spend centuries coding to match Mac's rather uninteresting and definitely yesterday UI. So, what, I should suffer because Netscape has to cater to a few Mac users rather than go cross-platform so that we all see the same thing? THAT's arrogance, I'm afraid.

In any event, did I hear someone say BETA 1? Can you say UNFINISHED SOFTWARE? You can bitch when it's FINISHED and STILL doesn't do what you want. I am confident that by the time it ships, Mac users will be impressed enough to use it QUIETLY, or whatever look they want with easy skinnability.

And as Chris mentioned, no one's stopping you from creating a native wrapper for Mozilla yourself. That's the point of open source. If you don't like it, code it yourself.

#48 Re: No, arrogance is...

by danielhill <danielhill@hotmail.com>

Wednesday April 12th, 2000 9:02 PM

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I'm not trying to flame you here, but why would Netscape support a dead operating system and computer? Mozilla, yeah. But Netscape is a commerical company. It just doesn't make sense to commit Netscape engineers to a really marginal platform.

#53 They ARE supporting it with XP code

by Kovu <Kovu401@netscape.net>

Thursday April 13th, 2000 12:23 AM

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They're supporting all platforms, including mine, by making the UI 5 percent or less dependent on the underlying OS. They're making it very, very easy to port to a new OS compared to with Classic, where 90 perent of their time was dedicated to a handful of platforms only. My point, is that I don't think XP compatibility should be sacrificed in any fashion for extensive time to code native UIs that further promotes the illusion that only 3 OSs matter in this world.

My point to the post: be thankful Mac is so high of a priority. It's in one of the three top spots, where coders actually have to support code if it breaks Mac. I am in favor of bringing all platforms, including the new Amiga (Red Hat and Corel have announced they're going to the run the new OS hosted as a multimedia interface for both Linux systems) and the old.

XP development brings all OSs onto the same level. If people don't have to slave over native code to support the Amiga OS, since with XP support my OS is supported merely be default. They've made it It's called undoing the deed that Microsoft done, and the way to do that is not by wasting time on native UI work.

#65 Agreed. Mac users do tend to whine more...

by jesusX <jesus_x@mozillanews.org>

Thursday April 13th, 2000 11:51 PM

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In my experience, Mac users have a much higher Whiner population that other OS's per capita. It seems like every Mac users whine about SOMETHING that it trivial or absurd, yet 99% of Windows users don't give a crap. And Linux guys just rewrite it rather than whining. Ugh.

#68 re: Mac Users and Whiners

by tjspiel

Friday April 14th, 2000 8:02 AM

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Mac users are more likely to have chosen their platform because of the UI, so naturally they are going to be more upset when something doesn't conform to the Mac UI standards.

Call it whining or call it feedback, it's what Beta's and pre-releases are for. Linux users don't complain because they are used to, um... variety in their UI(s). Or to be more frank, Linux UI(s) haven't yet shone the level of refinement that commercial ones have. This is one reason Linux is not doing as well on the desktop as it is in the server room.

Also, this notion of being able to fix what you don't like is limited to a certain subset of developers of who have the time and the skills to do so. Most users have no interest in taking advantage of that option, and will just select whatever browser suits them. Wouldn't it by nice if that browser was Netscape?

#69 re: Mac Users and Whiners

by jesusX <jesus_x@mozillanews.org>

Friday April 14th, 2000 1:35 PM

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Considering how many Multimedia CDs were produced on Macs with a wide array of UIs, yeah, I call it whining when a Mac users start complaining because a scroll bar is one RGB value off from what they're used to. Yes, I consider a lot of Mac users Whiners because they bitch about every little thing. First they whine about how superior their OS is, then they turn around and whine because they don't have all the features other PC users have and so they're being "neglected". If I were a developer, I wouldn't bother to develop for the Mac, because I wouldn't want to deal with the tremendous amount of trivial "feedback" that they generate. I salute Mozilla for dealing with them.

#7 Great Article Chris

by Tekhir

Tuesday April 11th, 2000 8:33 PM

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"I believe people are learning to think of the computer interface more in terms of generalities that concrete representations."

I agree 100%. In fact I say this all the time, just noby is around to listen.

#11 User Interfaces

by hubick <chris@hubick.com>

Tuesday April 11th, 2000 9:41 PM

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First let me state that I love Mozilla, and I think they have made reasonable design choices given the constraints.

Now, in general (not pertaining specifically to Moz)...

I think all apps on an OS should look the same. You don't have to be a useability expert to know that continuity is a good thing. That is not saying I am againsed skin/themeablility, if I want to theme my desktop, fine, but all applications should adopt that theme. If someone comes up with some new OS which uses a major shift in UI design paradigm, that is great. I mean, the Mac is the only platform to do things slighly differently. What happens when someone does a radical departure to a holographic UI and things really start to work differently. Of course, all applications for that platform should follow it's way of doing things. If I as a developer write a Mac, Windows, BeOS, Gnome, Kde, motif, whatever app, I feel it is my duty to follow that platforms design guide. When you think about it this way, the differences in UI's from platform to platform are going to become so great, it is not really possible to write a truly cross platform application. I think, theoretically anyhow, I am againsed them.

Then there is reality.

Ignoring reality, I would like to see Mozilla concentrate soley on Linux + GTK. I would like to see it "integrated" with the linux OS in the same way IE is integrated with windows (not really). I would like to see Mozilla mesh really well with Linux. I would like to see it become a core part of Gnome. Hell, I would like to see Gnome be implemented using Mozilla. I think Microsoft and their crooked business practice has made competing with IE on Windows a losing battle. Being how much I support everything mozilla stands for, I _hate_ the fact that I like using IE5 a lot better under windows. The sad fact is, it just works better with the OS than mozilla does. By concentrating on one platform, MS is able to leverage ties to windows to make IE better, such as preloading DLL'S, and tying into the filesystem, etc, etc, etc. It's no one major thing, just a lot of little ones. I would like to see Moz do this for Linux rather than what I feel is wasting time with Windows (lost cause). I would like to see MS become _fully_ standards compliant with IE so that Moz isn't _needed_ on windows. Personally, I don't have a problem with Microsoft having a complete monopoly on Windows and all the software that runs on it...it's their platform, let them do as they please. In the meantime I will work to make Linux better. I ultimately think IE will take over windows, if it hasent already, and Mozilla will end up finding life as the primary browser on Linux (aka the New World Order, which will outlive windows).

I realize there is a commercial reality here though. I also realize there is a need for a good browser on every platform, windows and other. Being a big standards guy, I really want to see this happen, and I really want to see Moz happen. It is a commercial reality that Moz needs to support windows. We should be thankfull their is cross platform support at all, seeing as how I can't come up with nearly the _immediate_ business justifications for that.

So where does that leave Moz? In a bad situation. Providing _true_ (you can't tell it from native) cross platform support is a software engineering holy grail. As a full time Java programmer, I think I have seen the best attempt, but it still isn't there. I think Mozilla has done a great job considering.

The world is really all about layers upon layers of API's. Many of these high level api's are what Mozilla is implementing, such as DOM. Mozilla iteself though needs to be layers upon lower level API's, such as C++ and Posix. I think what I would like to see the most out of this, and any other project for that matter, is the continued extension of standardized cross platform low level API's. It is that which has much broader positive implications for the computing world in general, ie extending the C++ STL. Mozilla needs things that there are no standard API's for. As we all know, they have now for the most part created these API's and an open source implementation, which if you ask me, is the most exciting outcome of this project.

I think mozilla has created too many API's though. I would rather see complete reliance on the C++ STL and posix threads than NSPR. If you want moz on your platform, implement C++ and posix. That would have a much better long term effect than spending time porting NSPR. It makes me VERY happy to see documentation stating that this is the way Moz is headed.

Stangely enough, with all the API's created, there isn't really an AWT (abstract windowing toolkit to borrow from Java nomenclature). What I would like to see in Mozilla would be: An XPIDL API definition of all UI controls, and a factory for creating them. And perhaps a default XP implementation of those control API's, as we have now, using Mozilla itself. This would make it easy to provide an alternate UI implementation in the future. Then the GTK people could look at that API, and it's requirements, and add them for their next major version and implement a Moz factory.

Actually, take that one step further, I think Moz should screw providing interally implemented cross platform support, and just concentrate on defining the cross platform API's it needs from the OS. That way, say Apple, could look at the Moz project and say..ok, here we need to implement an STL api, NSPR (or posix) API, an IMGLib API, a UI toolkit API, an NetLib API, etc...and they (or someone else) could implement these for each platform. I think moz should just worry about defining these API's, and say, the windows implementation, and let others take care of the ports, as would be sure to happen (and has).

Anyhow, that's more than enough out of me :-)

#12 Re: User Interfaces

by damian <daemonc@netscape.net>

Tuesday April 11th, 2000 10:05 PM

Reply to this message

Wow. I'm still trying to grok all of that. But one thing i feel certain of is that GNOME will make heavy use of Mozilla. The new file manager underway sounds great, very modular. It will be able to embed all kinds of components, including an HTML renderer. I think there are a lot of GNOME folks that are looking at Mozilla as much more than a browser, but a component that will fit very nicely into the GNOME desktop.

viva GNOME. viva Mozilla!

Windows is the past, Linux is the present, Mozilla is the future. --damian's quote of the day

#76 Re: User Interfaces

by basic <_basic@yahoo.com>

Saturday April 15th, 2000 2:08 PM

Reply to this message

> Actually, take that one step further, I think Moz should screw providing interally implemented cross platform support, and just concentrate on defining the cross platform API's it needs from the OS.

Greate idea, except I think Moz has to implement something to show them that it works. That is why I think that a full featured browser/mail-news/htmleditor has to be produced first.

#13 "Mozilla is not a browser"

by luge

Tuesday April 11th, 2000 10:44 PM

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It has become painfully obvious to me that what developers want Mozilla to be and what users want it to be are two completely different things. Users don't want a cross-platform development environment- they want a fast browser. If Mozilla insists on delivering something other than a browser (which appears to be the current course), it is going to lose, because it is going to have forgotten the customer. Or rather, it will deserve to lose. AOL will ensure that doesn't happen- but that will be a hollow victory indeed. Anyway, I wish you all good luck in building what looks to be a fantastic and wonderful environment that no one except AOL members and Linux users with no better choice will ever seriously use.

#19 Re: "Mozilla is not a browser"

by damian <daemonc@netscape.net>

Wednesday April 12th, 2000 12:41 AM

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As a Linux user with no better choice, I am very much looking forward to whatever will come out of the Mozilla project. In the long run it will not matter in the least if Mozilla even produces a browser for Windoze. The potential of Mozilla is that it will be THE browser for Linux, as well as an important component in future linux desktops.

Windows is the past, Linux is the present, Mozilla is the future. --damian's quote of the day

#66 Mozilla IS a browser. It just has a lot more also.

by jesusX <jesus_x@mozillanews.org>

Thursday April 13th, 2000 11:59 PM

Reply to this message

It's MORE than just a browser, but that doesn't mean that it's not a browser. And AOL wnats to give IE the boot from it's software. They'll be rolling the Mozilla code into AOL's interface as soon as possible.

In short, here's a nickel, buy a clue.

#73 Re: Mozilla IS a browser. It just has a lot more a

by danielhill <danielhill@hotmail.com>

Saturday April 15th, 2000 2:30 AM

Reply to this message

Umm, when Netscape 6PR1 was unveiled, I distinctly remember Steve Case or Barry Schuler (sp) saying that AOL had NO PLANS IN THE FORSEEABLE FUTURE to use Netscape 6 or Mozilla in the AOL client.

Obviously AOL favour having a crappy little icon in a folder on the desktop which can be disabled rather than support their own company.

Spit on AOL.

#85 And you BELIEVE THAT?

by jesusX <jesus_x@mozillanews.org>

Saturday April 15th, 2000 10:28 PM

Reply to this message

The day corporate "official positions" reflect reality is the day monkeys fly out of my butt. Microsoft, a feww months ago, stated that there was no XBox project. AOL denied that they had any intent to sell user information to outside sources. Steve Jobs is an Interim CEO for Apple. Bill Gates never said Netscape was a threat. AOL is Secure. Intel was NOT caught flatfooted by AMD, nor beaten in the MHz race.

Is it just me, or are all these corporate positions smelling a lot like fertilizer?

#20 Re: "Mozilla is not a browser"

by basic <_basic@yahoo.com>

Wednesday April 12th, 2000 1:01 AM

Reply to this message

> It has become painfully obvious to me that what developers want Mozilla to be and what users want it to be are two completely different things.

Not totally true...

> Users don't want a cross-platform development environment- they want a fast browser.

True, but users today are looking for other apps besides a browser...

> If Mozilla insists on delivering something other than a browser (which appears to be the current course), it is going to lose, because it is going to have forgotten the customer.

Well, users want more than a browser. Otherwise why is AIM so popular? Besides Mozilla IS AN XPDE (cross-platform dev. env.), but a (or rather many) fast browser(s) is (are) also being build using this XPDE.

> Or rather, it will deserve to lose.

We will see, I'm not sure about the deserve part. I guess that depends on your point of view...

> AOL will ensure that doesn't happen- but that will be a hollow victory indeed.

Why would AOL ensure that it doesn't happen? I believe that in the long term AOL is probably more interested in Mozilla for its XPDE than its fast and standard compliant browser. But a good browser doesn't hurt either of course.

> Anyway, I wish you all good luck in building what looks to be a fantastic and wonderful environment that no one except AOL members and Linux users with no better choice will ever seriously use.

I'm afraid that I'm not just a Linux user. I'm a DOS / Win31-95-98-NT / Linux / Mac / BeOS user. And I look forward to use Mozilla not only for browsing the web, but also email,html/xml editing,chatting and maybe even as a XP desktop enviroment.

#14 WTF is it with the widget debate?

by jesusX <jesus_x@mozillanews.org>

Tuesday April 11th, 2000 10:49 PM

Reply to this message

I'm SO sick or hearing about it! Open 5 apps, and tell me they ALL have identical buttons. Guess what: THEY DON'T!

Netscape: the online/offline plug in the lower left? That qualifies as a button, or a switch, yet it doesn't look like it! Open Photoshop, in the History, or Layer's pallete, the New Layer button, AIN'T a button in the 'Native OS' sense!

GROW UP PEOPLE. So a radio button looks a bit different, or a button is a differnent chade of grey, SO FLIPPING WHAT? HA! Abotu radio buttons, get into a Ford, then a Chevy, guess what, the buttons on the radios look different, and yet we still know they're radio buttons! HA! WOW! People AREN'T so stupid!

Ugh. I am so sick of this griping about it. I guarantee you, most users who DL a finished browser will not notice the difference enough to actually care, IF they notice AT ALL!

One last question, was anyone here actually CONFUSED about what the new widgets were supposed to be? Did you honestly not know it was a button or a check box or scroll bar?

#15 Ever met an end user?

by hubick <chris@hubick.com>

Tuesday April 11th, 2000 11:12 PM

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Dude, you should spend a week in tech support. I would bet 70% of the people that run this thing (AOL) wouldn't be able to download and install it. I think you really overestimate a large part of the user base. Most people can't set the programmed stations on their car radio, or their vcr for that matter. Photoshop is software for graphics professionals. _Netscape's_ target audience is a substantially lower common denominator. Most people aren't the programmer types that hang around here.

#17 Re: Ever met an end user?

by gerbilpower <gerbil@ucdavis.edu>

Wednesday April 12th, 2000 12:06 AM

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And there are people who don't even know what a browser is, but use it everyday :)

Not saying that most people are idiots, but we can't expect every computer user to have spend so many hours on a computer to know the little things.

<:3)~~

#77 Why users complain, was Re: WTF ...

by Swinger

Saturday April 15th, 2000 2:32 PM

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I have been testing Mozilla since M3 and am joyed that NPR1 is finally stable enough to use. Releasing it to the public was a mistake though. It is too slow and ugly to be accepted by end-users. As for the attitude of: "GROW UP PEOPLE....notice the difference enough to actually care, IF they notice AT ALL!"

This philosophy is WHY Mac users are glad JesuX does't develop for that platform. Interface is 50%+ of everything to them. Imagine if the designers of the Porche Boxster decided to make the body literally a box. No one would of bought it. User spend much of the day looking at the same screen. If that screen is ugly they are looking at ugly all day. Mac users spend a couple hundred $ extra for a more refined looking interface than that of Windows or the nightmare that is the Linux-motif/gnome/kde/athena/etc. user land. They don't want ugly apps that take away from that user experience they paid $ for.

The ugly xp-widgets still bug me.Even though I support the idea and the politics of the XP-widgets both I and the general active mac user hate the look. I think a default Mac skin and speed up would solve this but until then beta releases are a big mistake. Right now the browser often seems to hang [it's not dead, it's resting!] for many seconds at a time. What does the user look at in frustration? Ugly X/-Windows like widgets! When the browser gets fast and responsive, and gains user-side features [hint users don't see CSS1 compliance, autocomplete they do] then the ugly widgets will not be as bad. But please, can't someone make optional button widgets with rounded edges that we could use?

#86 I'm sure they're glad I don't develop. ;)

by jesusX <jesus_x@mozillanews.org>

Saturday April 15th, 2000 10:33 PM

Reply to this message

"This philosophy is WHY Mac users are glad JesuX does't develop for that platform."

That makes them and me. =-] I don't like the Mac platform, yes, but it does have it's good points. But the users, to me, are not one of those good points.

I feel that a small difference in a UI should not be a big deal. Obviously, it is to a large number of people, BUT, only when they choose it to be. Altavista and Lycos use an image, not a button, to submit a search. Yahoo uses a button, but people figure it out just fine. I think the difficulty in using a changed UI is not in the UI, but in the fact that the user is afraid to think, when they feel should shouldn't have to,. And yet, they manage with a dizzying array of different UIs on web sites, just fine. It just seems silly to me.

Did I mention that I generally prefer text based interfaces also? That shows how much I care about a pretty UI. :)

#18 You all may have missed the point...

by hebble

Wednesday April 12th, 2000 12:37 AM

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Customizable UI's don't require skins. You can rearrange native widgets - look at MSOffice's toolbars for instance. XP doesn't require skins either - Navigator 4 was released for UNIX, Windows, and the Mac, with native widgets on each platform. There was even a neat-looking special compile for IRIX. I think there are two real reasons why skins are being used. First, to make the UI the same across platforms. That relates directly to my second idea - BRANDING! AOL/NS wants some flashy eye candy they can toss out there to get people's attention, something unique which people will recognize as THE NEW NETSCAPE NAVIGATOR. This way there will be no mistake which browser appears in trade magazines, on TV, etc. I think this has a very real potential to backfire, though, since they have a priori sacrificed the familiarity and integration of native widgets. Consistency between apps is important, and a browser doesn't really need (its own) skins any more than a word processor or a telnet client does. And before you remind me "NS isn't MZ", don't forget that the great majority of MZ workers are still NS employees. The fact that the default MZ skin was used in NS6PR1 is telling.

#24 Mozilla isn't the platform, the *Web* is

by ttielkes <t.r.tiekes@zap.a2000.nl>

Wednesday April 12th, 2000 3:31 AM

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I can build an web "application" using 95% W3C technology in IE5 and 5% non-W3C (Microsoft-specific) standards.

I can also build this app with mozilla using 100% NON-W3C (XUL) standards.

I Netscape is building the web platform of the future, they're on the wrong track.

#31 Re: Mozilla isn't the platform, the *Web* is

by ndeakin

Wednesday April 12th, 2000 8:40 AM

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You could build many applications with existing standards. But it would be very difficult. HTML is a language designed for creating documents, not user interfaces. XUL is a language designed for creating user interfaces. It makes more sense to use a technology that fits what you're trying to do.

It is very difficult or impossible to create toolbars, trees and menu bars using existing standards. (There is no way to create a Mac menu that I know of.)

I personally think that XUL should have been created years ago. Developers want to be able to create cross-platform apps easily. Web developers shouldn't have to care what platform the end-user is using.

#36 Re: Mozilla isn't the platform, the *Web* is

by ttielkes <t.r.tiekes@zap.a2000.nl>

Wednesday April 12th, 2000 11:37 AM

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Thousands of applications are created with HTML every month. Some have more client-side logic, some less.

XUL wasn't created years ago. It's still indevelopment now.

Meanwhile essential features are still lacking in Mozilla as a client Web platform. Features that IE got back in 1997.

#56 Re: Mozilla isn't the platform, the *Web* is

by timechanter

Thursday April 13th, 2000 6:00 AM

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Err...Like what?

#58 Like:

by ttielkes <t.r.tiekes@zap.a2000.nl>

Thursday April 13th, 2000 9:46 AM

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1) XML scripting

Loading of XML into the browser using ECMAScript and being able to access it through W3C Core(xml) DOM1.

2) Embedded fonts.

Had these in Netscape 4, not in Netscape 6?

3) Hundreds of other ui/data enhancments, that could actually give the nice ECMAScript support in Mozilla something to work with.

#79 Re: Like: XML,SVG,???

by basic <_basic@yahoo.com>

Saturday April 15th, 2000 3:21 PM

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1) You mean Javascript. That would be bug 15119. There isn't much activity going on on this front (as far as I can see), but there are enough people asking for it. Now if someone would ask a little louder... ;-)

<http://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=15119>

2) Proprietary technology and licencing problems. There have been mention of using the font feature mentioned in the SVG draft...

<http://www.w3.org/TR/SVG/fonts.html>

Speaking of SVG... Moz has some cool SVG stuff coming up!!

<http://www.mozilla.org/projects/svg/>

3) could you be more specific on what type of enhancements? If it is suggested before M16, it may be implemented.

#82 Re: Re: Like: XML,SVG,???

by basic <_basic@yahoo.com>

Saturday April 15th, 2000 4:05 PM

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2) If you want to see the embedded font feature in NS6 or Moz, you would have to ask bitstream to get their Font Displayer to work with Moz, however that would most probably not be an cross platform solution, unless they rewrite it from scratch. Then again the less prominant platforms would not get support for it unless it goes open source...

<http://www.bitstream.com/…bfont/regnsdisplayer.html>

#25 It's the user, stupid

by mpt <mpt@mailandnews.com>

Wednesday April 12th, 2000 7:24 AM

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It's completely understandable, but still very sad, how many people in this discussion have overlooked one simple fact. And that is that software is meant to be used.

There's a lot of fluff and nonsense here about Mozilla being skinnable, and being a platform for future Internet apps, but all that is really only of interest to developers. And what is the ratio of end users to developers? A thousand to one? Ten thousand to one?

A few points.

* The large majority of users do not care about skins, just as they do not care about Windows or Kaleidoscope themes. In fact, for a decent proportion of users, if you changed their Netscape skin behind their back, the next time they tried to use Netscape they would be utterly lost. If you doubt this, try it on your mother after she has been using Netscape 6 for a few months.

* The vast majority of users do not care that Mozilla is a platform for future Internet applications. They couldn't give a stuff. Mozilla opens up all sorts of exciting possibilities for developers; but for the end user this is largely irrelevant, and will remain so for a couple of years at least (until those exciting possibilities start becoming real apps with significant market share).

* If someone complains about the tackiness of Mozilla's default user interface, saying `but it's skinnable!' is not a valid response. In fact, it is a shameful response. When I buy a new car, I should not have to repaint it because the default color is hot pink with green polka dots. Why should I have to put up with the equivalent from a computer program?

* If someone complains about Mozilla not using widgets with native look and feel, saying `the capability to [use native widgets] is right there, in the code sitting on the CVS server', as Chris did <http://www.mozillazine.or…alkback.html?article=1330> , is not a valid response. In fact, it is absurd. When I buy a new car, I should not have to replace its engine with one of my own making, in order to allow the car to drive on the same side of the road as every other car in the state. Why should I have to put up with the equivalent from a computer program?

* Saying that the non-native toolkit was required to fully comply with CSS standards is a red herring. No user agent should be expected to do things which are impossible with the native toolkit. The W3C is not that stupid, and if the CSS specs really say that, it is an error.

* Consistency with the rest of the OS is one of the most fundamental things required for a usable user interface. The sort of people who read MozillaZine persistently underestimate the importance of consistency to the average user, because (a) they use computers more than the average user, giving them more time to learn the intricacies of inconsistent apps, and (b) they often use multiple platforms, so they are exposed to inconsistent user interfaces anyway.

* Netscape 6 must ship with native-looking skins on each platform, and these native-looking skins must be the default. If this does not happen, Netscape market share will continue to wither, and Mozilla will suffer as a result.

-- mpt (Aphrodite <http://critique.net.nz/project/mozilla/> design maintainer)

#61 Re: It's the user, stupid

by i387

Thursday April 13th, 2000 1:39 PM

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QU1: "software is meant to be used"

RE1: The question here is, for what means? Let's not forget that Mozilla is a platform for building web applications such as browsers, email clients, etc. This is similar to how Visual C++ and Windows is a platform for building applications.

QU2: "Mozilla opens up all sorts of exciting possibilities for developers; but for the end user this is largely irrelevant, and will remain so for a couple of years at least"

RE2: And where would we be if the people behind the web itself would have thought about this? It certainly doesn't matter how long it takes if the technology is revolutionary.

QU3: "When I buy a new car, I should not have to repaint it because the default color is hot pink with green polka dots"

RE3: The logic is valid, but the premise is compromised. Mozilla is _NOT_ the car. Mozilla is the blueprint for the car. It is up to Netscape/AOL to use those blueprints to actually create their own version of the car. The 'look-and-feel' of the current Mozilla is merely a prototype, not a finished product.

Q4: "Netscape 6 must ship with native-looking skins on each platform, and these native-looking skins must be the default."

RE4: I agree 100% with you. But keep in mind that it is up to Netscape to do this, not Mozilla.

#26 Skins and shit

by leafdigital

Wednesday April 12th, 2000 7:27 AM

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I hope Netscape ships with skins for each platform.

Okay, for Linux, it doesn't matter: as Greg Knauss said in his article, no two Linux apps look the same anyway. For Windows, it maybe doesn't matter too much either - Windows users are getting used to, well, any old crap, too :)

But Mac users are often fanatical about their interface. It's best to give them what they want, as a default. (And that can be done with XUL "skins".)

Chris is right that users can use pretty much any controls these days (as long as they look reasonably correct - I don't think the slightly-different radio buttons will confuse anyone, but the horrible "looks like it's pressed, but no it just has focus" checkbutton needs to be fixed) and I don't see anyone having problems with the scrollbars. But Mac users will be annoyed at it just because it looks "Windows-like".

But, as long as it's skinned to *look* (at least by default) and work roughly like a native app, nobody will mind too much that the controls aren't really native.

Native controls aren't feasible cross-platform, as Sun found out with Java pre-Swing. Netscape are right not to replicate that mistake. But having an interface that fits at least reasonably well, especially on Mac, would be a very good idea. (Hell, I'd use that skin, and I'm on Windows. :)

--sam

#70 Re: Skins and shit

by Stromgol <rochette@autray.net>

Friday April 14th, 2000 3:10 PM

Reply to this message

//but the horrible "looks like it's pressed, but no it just has focus" checkbutton needs to be fixed

You can change that questionnable look by editing ../res/html.css

look for input[type=checkbox]

and tweak the properties so that the widget looks appropriate for you.

I understand that this procedure is not acceptable for general users. They won't learn CSS to be able to change the checkbox on their browser.

#90 Re: Skins and shit

by masri <masri@nolex.com>

Wednesday April 26th, 2000 1:00 PM

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That's all Mac users have been asking for. I've been reading about this for a long time, and I knew when PR1 was released the complaints were going to get much louder. My hope is that they do include a default skin for each platform, that adheres to that platform's unique UI and uses native UI widgets. The fact that a website can tweak that UI using skins is very cool. Perhaps someone will make a skin that everybody loves on all different platforms. But we don't need to forcefeed skins down users' throats the first time they see Moz or Nav.

- Adam

#28 From an end user's point of view...

by hkrause <hkrause@capu.net>

Wednesday April 12th, 2000 7:53 AM

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Mozilla 14 doesn't seem to do very much very well.

I'm still trying to understand the excitement and hoopla over Mozilla. I appreciate why developers like it, because similar code will run on a number of platforms. I understand why content pushers will like it, because it apparently will make it easy for them to clutter up your browser with all sorts of commercialism.

But I've been playing with Mozilla and now Netscape 6 for weeks and weeks, and, from an end user's point of view, I just don't see anything of great value, other, perhaps, than the ability to access multiple mail servers without having to reload another profile from outside of the program.

What are all the benefits from the user's point of view supposed to be? Not the B.S. benefits, the real ones?

If they aren't there, users simply will not use it. There have to be *real* benefits...and so far, they seem more like vaporware.

#80 Re: From an end user's point of view...

by basic <_basic@yahoo.com>

Saturday April 15th, 2000 3:35 PM

Reply to this message

If you are looking from an end user's point of view, well the very latest newbies would not see much advantage in Moz. It is still rather crude. The UI definitely needs polishing, not all features in Mozilla has its own "front end" or GUI yet. The Moz team is hoping to get it done in another 2 Milestones (meaning the next NS6 beta, you will see some improvements). It is not vaporware, but not done yet. The Moz dev community is still working on it.

It is true that the end user would not use Moz if they don't see much benefits, but once NS6 is out, and many of the Mozilla features and capabilities are stabilized (and bugs are fixed), web/internet app developers start using Moz features, end users would have very compelling reasons to use Moz...

#29 Reality please

by djm <djm@mindrot.org>

Wednesday April 12th, 2000 8:17 AM

Reply to this message

Reading Chris' article scared me. It seemsed an attempt at justification in the face of direct user feedback.

My mom and my partner are not going to use Mozilla/Netscape if they have to go through yet another "what does this button do" experience. IE works fine for them now and, frankly, the advantages that Mozilla/Netscape does offer are largely philosophical to an non-technical user.

Operating system vendors, for all their failings, pour large amounts of money into usability testing. While the results may not be wonderful, they are for the most part _consistent_. When some application with delusions of grandeur comes along an ruptures this consistency, all that results is confusion and a quick reach towards the quit button.

It may feel validating to pat yourself on the back and tell yourself that you are not building a web browser, rather a /platform/ for an open Internet, but Mozilla/Netscape has to walk before it can run. Right now it is not even crawling as far as most users are concerned.

#83 Re: Reality please

by basic <_basic@yahoo.com>

Saturday April 15th, 2000 4:10 PM

Reply to this message

That is what the IE skin is for...

#88 Re: Re: Reality please

by basic <_basic@yahoo.com>

Sunday April 16th, 2000 5:04 PM

Reply to this message

It may be "largely philosophical" right now, but as long as developers are developing applications for it, they would have good reasons to use Moz.

#32 and about those Native Widgets (TM)...

by deevl <kherna1@umbc.edu>

Wednesday April 12th, 2000 9:29 AM

Reply to this message

I'm more off an end user than a developer, but i've seen enough development to begin to understand where they (developers) are coming from. I work on Win95/98/NT, GNU/Linux+GNOME, MacOS, IRIX. I've seen many flavors of an interface. And this is how i see the ms-tainted world through my technicolor spectacles:

There are users vs. developers, browser suites and mozilla, native widgets vs. cross platform widgets, big mess of other stuff.

I think most users want more than a browser. If Mozilla was "just" a browser, why would anyone bother to download it? Because it's standards compliant? What does the end user care about standards, she(he) just wants to check her mail, surf the web, and maybe chat to some people on IM. So you say, "but Mozilla has a faster rendering engine." So what? If Mozilla is just a browser, then the users who already use IE (which is conveniently intergrated into Windows) are not going to go to the hassle of downloading and installing another app that only does one thing really well (browse). And so Mozilla must now be a browser-suite. With IE, you can check mail,news,browse. And with Mozilla, you can do that too. so now users can switch to Mozilla knowing that they can do all the things they did with IE, but better (maybe). See, in order to compete with IE on Windows (and i mention IE because IE does have the market share in the browser space), you'll constantly be playing "catch-up" with MS. Face the facts, MS is on top. If you want to win, you have to innovate and appeal to a larger user base. How? well Mozilla supports W3C standards better than IE. ok so in an effort to that, Mozilla utilizes they're own widget toolkit, that looks *the same* across every platform that it runs on. (More on the widgets later.) so as a web developer, i can write a page once, and not have to kludge it to check for IE-on-Win/IE-on-Mac/NS-onWin/NS-onMac/NS-onLinux. I can write one Mozilla version of my pages, and maybe others for IE, if i really want to support them. After all, it's MS's fault that i have to do all this extra work. I should only have to code to the W3C spec, and whichever browser the user browses with should support that spec. Not vice versa. But from a developer standpoint Mozilla is a cross-platform development env. Who cares about IE on Windows? If you think 10 years down the line you're going to be using the same silly toaster sitting on your desk right now to navigate the web or anything, you need to wake up and sniff the possibilities. Windows may dominate the desktop realm, but that's all it dominates. What about information appliances? They're basically a browser and a mail reader. perfect for Mozilla. What about PDAs or set top boxes like WebTV? Companies can utilize Mozilla. It's free, open-source, cross-platform, and probably easier to port than IE.

On the note about widgets: Remember what Windows used to look like? or MacOS? i couldn't stand it when i went to scroll up, and the scrollup button was on the bottom of the scrollbar, instead of at the top where it should have been.

I understand that a applications *should* look the same on the platform that they run on. But in reality that isn't really the case. And the widgets from the XPToolKit aren't ultimately much different from the native ones. Buttons, checkboxes and scrollbars still function as buttons, checkboxes and scrollbars.

Also i agree that the current default skins for both M14 and NPR1 are horrid (color scheme, choice of pictures for buttons) i think that issue is more trivial when compared to the possibilities that Mozilla embraces.

#38 Want to use Mozilla with native widgets?

by damian <daemonc@netscape.net>

Wednesday April 12th, 2000 2:50 PM

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And without all that "extra" stuff like mail, news, composer, and sidebar? Then quit your whining, and switch to Linux!

Nautilus, the new component-based file manager for the GNOME desktop, which is due for release around August, will be able to embed the Mozilla browser engine for all your web browsing needs. Read about it here <http://news.gnome.org/gnome-news/955488634/> and here <http://www.advogato.org/person/blizzard/> and quit yer bitchin'.

#54 Re: Want to use Mozilla with native widgets?

by arielb

Thursday April 13th, 2000 2:50 AM

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what about kde?

#59 KDE

by damian <daemonc@netscape.net>

Thursday April 13th, 2000 10:23 AM

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Well, KDE's file manager already acts as a web browser, so who knows if they will take the same route of embedding Mozilla? Also I have no idea if KDE has a component system like Bonobo, so if they don't, adding Mozilla to the filemanager would be adding a lot of bloat.

#39 Want to use Mozilla with native widgets?

by damian <daemonc@netscape.net>

Wednesday April 12th, 2000 2:56 PM

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And without all that "extra" stuff like mail, news, composer, and sidebar? Then quit your whining, and switch to Linux!

Nautilus, the new component-based file manager for the GNOME desktop, which is due for release around August, will be able to embed the Mozilla browser engine for all your web browsing needs. Read about it here <http://news.gnome.org/gnome-news/955488634/> and here <http://www.advogato.org/person/blizzard/> and quit yer bitchin'.

#40 sorry about that

by damian <daemonc@netscape.net>

Wednesday April 12th, 2000 2:59 PM

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And i was just criticizing some guy the other day for doing this. If MozillaZine asks you to repost form data, just say NO ...

#42 Ford buttons don't belong in my Chevy

by tjspiel

Wednesday April 12th, 2000 3:50 PM

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I like the idea of skins, but Netscape 6 needs to ship with "native" skins for each platform or at least for Windows and Macs. Linux users are used to having, um...variety. Mozilla is not Netscape and maybe the same requirement doesn't apply.

If a user is sophisticated enough that they want to customize the appearance of their browser, that's OK by me. But I think what many people are forgetting is that computers are EXTREMELY confusing to a great many people. The negative reactions so far have been from early adopters, - people who are good at using computers. I'd expect even worse reactions from those who are not so good.

Part of the reason that the Mac caught on in the first place is that Apple really tried to enforce consistancy among applications. We shouldn't forget this. I still get beat up by my users when the screens for applications we create don't always work/look the same way.

Someone suggested that people wanting native controls should switch to Linux. And what is one reason (there are others) that Linux isn't as popular on the desktop as it is in the server room? A lack of a consistent UI.

Don't get me wrong. I like Linux and open source in general. The problem is that while there's a great deal of flexibility in UI's, there's nothing that I would call refined. I expect that to change in good time.

#46 then build your own Chevy

by damian <daemonc@netscape.net>

Wednesday April 12th, 2000 4:50 PM

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Well, linux may not be for everyone, but it sure works for me. The real point is that Mozilla was designed in such a way that the browsing engine can easily be embedded in applications on any system. So you could easily build a browser that uses native widgets, and intergrates nicely into the operating system of of your choice. It's already been done in GTK/GNOME, and there's nothing holding back the other operating systems. (except for the usual closed source, bugginess, and poor design that have always held them back.)

#57 Re: then build your own Chevy

by tjspiel

Thursday April 13th, 2000 9:33 AM

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Well here's where I draw a distinction between Mozilla and Netscape. It's great that Mozilla can be embedded in applications.

It's the Netscape preview and not Mozilla (to the same degree) that's really caused all the commotion. Netscape is an app and not a component. It should look and work like other apps in the environment in which it is running. Currently it doesn't, and that's why people are complaining.

I often here this kind of response from the open source community. If you don't like it, fix/build it yourself, the source is available.

This option is a definite plus, but it's only practical for a very small group of people. I don't have the time, skills, or resources to build my own Chevy or my own browser.

#60 Re: Re: then build your own Chevy

by damian <daemonc@netscape.net>

Thursday April 13th, 2000 10:28 AM

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Indeed, neither do I have the time or skills to build my own. But rest assured that someone out there does and will, if the demand for a native interface is as great as these people seem to think.

#44 Mozilla life cycle

by i387

Wednesday April 12th, 2000 4:39 PM

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It has been stated before that Mozilla is not even in it's infancy. I couldn't agree more. This pre-birth state is bound to have usability problems, inconsistencies, and generally be rough around the edges. These problems are not being overlooked by Netscape or Mozilla. This is a small snippet from the April 11, 2000 release of the mozilla.org status update <http://www.mozilla.org/status/> written by Warren Harris of the Necko crew.

**SNIPPET** We're all happy that our beta was so well received, although somewhat concerned about 2 things: 1. What are we going to do to make the UI a little more presentable? 2. Are we going to get hammered on performance/footprint issues for beta2 if all we do is feature work?

We're also concerned that much of our necko beta2 work falls below the radar of the user-visible feature set of the product which makes our stuff mostly "non-essential." As Clayton's group moves forward with more of a platform focus, we're going to need to change to a more developer-driven criterion for beta selection -- are the APIs right, are they complete, usable on the right threads, work with minimal dependencies, etc? **/SNIPPET**

To all those web designers out there that are worried about the future of Mozilla, this is a new technology. It will take time for Mozilla to mature, but be assured that it _WILL_ mature. How long has Linux taken? And it is just now starting to come into it's own as a seasoned product.

What a heated battle this is. 1. Newbies: Still learning what the 'Forward' and 'Back' buttons do. While it may be obvious to you and me what happens when we click on a looped arrow (the reload button), the new user has no clue. Even with text that states 'Reload', how does the new user know that it's the current webpage that is to be reloaded. To make things worse, inconsistencies with what they already know are going to confuse and disorient the user.

2. Power users: Want user-customizable chrome. Are going to embrace Mozilla in any form they can get it, so that they can make it look like Netscape Communicator 4.72 and be the envy of their friends. They will find the multiple email account management a 'must-have' feature.

3. Web designers: Will be torn between the de-facto standard of HTML 3.2 (a 4 year old specification that was the result of growing pains) and HTML 4.01 + CSS 2. Personally, I'm going to move foreward and not look back. The past is exactly that, it's overwith. Just think, someday you'll be telling war stories of the world wide web and how you used to code for each browser.

I've heard that the web is a fast-paced place, but I tend to disagree. With standards that don't get implemented for years after their recommendation, it's no wonder people have turned to alternatives such as flash to do the same things they could do with the DOM.

My guess is that Netscape will make a few chromes to choose from (just as Microsoft ships various 'themes' with Windows 9x). These chromes will probably look an awful lot like the native platforms on which the browser runs. The Mac installer will probably set the 'Mac' chrome as default, the Windows installer will probably set the 'Windows' chrome as default, etc.

All in all, we are witnessing a birth of a revolutionary platform. Let's not lose hope at the last minute. Don't worry about Microsoft dominating the web, they are shooting themselves in the foot as we speak (er, type) by ignoring the web standards that have been in place for nearly 2.5 years.

#45 Mozilla life cycle

by i387

Wednesday April 12th, 2000 4:39 PM

Reply to this message

It has been stated before that Mozilla is not even in it's infancy. I couldn't agree more. This pre-birth state is bound to have usability problems, inconsistencies, and generally be rough around the edges. These problems are not being overlooked by Netscape or Mozilla. This is a small snippet from the April 11, 2000 release of the mozilla.org status update <http://www.mozilla.org/status/> written by Warren Harris of the Necko crew.

**SNIPPET** We're all happy that our beta was so well received, although somewhat concerned about 2 things: 1. What are we going to do to make the UI a little more presentable? 2. Are we going to get hammered on performance/footprint issues for beta2 if all we do is feature work?

We're also concerned that much of our necko beta2 work falls below the radar of the user-visible feature set of the product which makes our stuff mostly "non-essential." As Clayton's group moves forward with more of a platform focus, we're going to need to change to a more developer-driven criterion for beta selection -- are the APIs right, are they complete, usable on the right threads, work with minimal dependencies, etc? **/SNIPPET**

To all those web designers out there that are worried about the future of Mozilla, this is a new technology. It will take time for Mozilla to mature, but be assured that it _WILL_ mature. How long has Linux taken? And it is just now starting to come into it's own as a seasoned product.

What a heated battle this is. 1. Newbies: Still learning what the 'Forward' and 'Back' buttons do. While it may be obvious to you and me what happens when we click on a looped arrow (the reload button), the new user has no clue. Even with text that states 'Reload', how does the new user know that it's the current webpage that is to be reloaded. To make things worse, inconsistencies with what they already know are going to confuse and disorient the user.

2. Power users: Want user-customizable chrome. Are going to embrace Mozilla in any form they can get it, so that they can make it look like Netscape Communicator 4.72 and be the envy of their friends. They will find the multiple email account management a 'must-have' feature.

3. Web designers: Will be torn between the de-facto standard of HTML 3.2 (a 4 year old specification that was the result of growing pains) and HTML 4.01 + CSS 2. Personally, I'm going to move foreward and not look back. The past is exactly that, it's overwith. Just think, someday you'll be telling war stories of the world wide web and how you used to code for each browser.

I've heard that the web is a fast-paced place, but I tend to disagree. With standards that don't get implemented for years after their recommendation, it's no wonder people have turned to alternatives such as flash to do the same things they could do with the DOM.

My guess is that Netscape will make a few chromes to choose from (just as Microsoft ships various 'themes' with Windows 9x). These chromes will probably look an awful lot like the native platforms on which the browser runs. The Mac installer will probably set the 'Mac' chrome as default, the Windows installer will probably set the 'Windows' chrome as default, etc.

All in all, we are witnessing a birth of a revolutionary platform. Let's not lose hope at the last minute. Don't worry about Microsoft dominating the web, they are shooting themselves in the foot as we speak (er, type) by ignoring the web standards that have been in place for nearly 2.5 years.

#50 DoDots

by basic <_basic@yahoo.com>

Wednesday April 12th, 2000 11:51 PM

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Has anyone taken a look at dodots? <http://www.dodots.com/>

Will Moz App look something like this in the future (except being XP)?

#55 A couple of thoughts on interface

by davidecsdcom <david@ecsd.com>

Thursday April 13th, 2000 3:14 AM

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There have been some good points made on both sides of this discussion.

One thing I'd like to point out on the consistancy issue. Had they used/enabled native widgets, the interface of mozilla itself would be consistant with itself. I think I've come across three different style of check boxes, a few different types of click buttons two types of radio buttons (some of which turn into the other type when clicked). Two types of drop down boxes... And that's just in the browser part. Sometime I come across tree views which will open up on one click, some open up only with a double click. And *now*, in the nightly builds I seem to have come across a mutated "open" dialog which looks like a Windows reject (<tangent> and which I suspect will eventually work like that wonderfully complicated windows open dialog, only buggier *and* under Linux! *hint* if I wanted something like that, I'd install Win 98 and use IE...</tangent>)

One of the few good things about things looking and acting ->mostly,_ the same from platform to platform is that I can pretty much talk my parents through this mess when (not if) they call me with frustrated questions because the program isn't acting like it should.

This type of thing is almost unacceptable from this user's POV. You see, when people start telling me stuff like, "trust me, it's for your own good and you'll be better off in the long run," *I* start checking to make sure they're not offering me a cup of kool aid to wash it down with.

Well, I think that this poor dead horse has been beaten long enough...

#62 What about the end users?

by cybr

Thursday April 13th, 2000 7:25 PM

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As a human-computer interaction student, I can find several flaws in the Netscape 6 and the Mozilla interface. Unfortunately, I feel that these issues will prevent the majority of computer users from giving this new project a chance.

Let's face it, the vast majority of Netscape 6 and Mozilla users are going to be general Windows users.

These users do not know, nor do they care, what XUL is. They do not care about web standards. They do not care about portability. The only thing that concerns these individuals is that they have a program that is comfortable to use.

To these users, the new interface is downright intimidating. It is new and unfamiliar. If they have heard about 'skinability', they will not use it, even if a simple 'skin switching' option is added. (This is statistically accurate)

As much time and patience as the developers have put into this project, they have ignored some fundamental flaws.

Here's the most important one. Cross-platform interfaces only benefit the developer. Most users will only use one brand of operating system, and stick with it for the rest of their lives.

The generic sterile interface will not adapt well with their operating system. It does not conform with the users specified colour settings. It does not conform with the users specified scrollbar and button sizes. It does not conform with the users specified font settings. This should not be dismissed. There are several users who depend on these settings to interact with their computer (the seeing impaired, for instance).

As much as developers like to create beautifully abstract and portable code, you must realise that the user is not a developer, and will certainly not share your views. Please remember who these products are written for. It could very well be the key to a successful project.

#67 Re: What about the end users?

by deevl <kherna1@umbc.edu>

Friday April 14th, 2000 7:57 AM

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I think that you're right about how intimidating the new interface will be for general users. I recently downloaded and installed Netscape 6PR1 on a friends PC, and she doesn't use it because the interface is different, it's still crashes every now and then, and because the performance (greater lag time and starting time) is less than that of Netscape 4.7.

I'm used to working on different systems, so personally, I have little or no problem acclimating to new interfaces or environments. But i think that an important distinction has to be made about which audience Mozilla and Netscape cater to.

True, Mozilla was spawned out of Netscape's decision to release its original code base to the public, but ultimately, their mission is to crank out a cross-platform browser-suite /development environment. They are naturally going to be more concerned with the internal workings of Mozilla and the stability of the infrastructure than the usability of the interface. They're in the manner of making engines, rather than cars.

Netscape on the other hand, is in the business of making cars (browsers), So it's in their best interests to ensure that the final release of Netscape 6 has a polished, good looking, and easy to use interface. But in this particular case, i think that Netscape was busy enough trying to incorporate the proprietary aspects (net2phone, AIM, etc) into their branded browser in time for a beta release, that revising the current interface became a lesser priority.

I think it would be very beneficial to Netscape if the current users of PR1 would give suggestions as to how to better the interface. I've been thinking about sitting down to hack together an UI myself, but I know very little about human-computer interaction or XUL, and i don't have the time to get started right now. Maybe more people could get involved in that aspect and submit fruits of their labor to chromeZone?

#71 Issues

by SuperNovus

Friday April 14th, 2000 4:02 PM

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Okay, standards are very important. I refuse to use Netscape 4.x anymore because it completely ruins the look of a lot of pages using tables by it's lack of support for proper table formatting. This is unacceptable. In Windows I use IE and in Linux I use Mozilla. Netscape 6 when it is finished will be a great upgrade to the browser world. It will finally give Netscape users a browser that will be able to properly format pages without turning tables into garbage. As for this wigets issue. I think what should be done is simple.

Do it like Java's L&F system.

*Make chromes for each of the major OSes that Mozilla will be distributed for.

*Make those chromes install by default on each platform.

*Allow the user to install their own chromes if they don't like the defaults.

I personally like to be able to customize things. I've got themes for Gnome and GTK, themes for Enlightenment, I've got themes for XMMS and Winamp in Windows. I use Windows themes. I like to be able to make things look the way I want. Not be forced to use some crummy interface just cause it's what came with the program. If I want it different I'll make it myself. But like I said, there should be a set of default themes that look like the native wigets of the major operating systems.

I also agree that Mozilla + Linux are the ultimate combination. Go open source!

May Mozilla evolve into the most powerful XPDE ever - and may Netscape 6 come out soon as 4.x is terrible!

#72 User denied! Developers wanted!

by IndpdntMind

Friday April 14th, 2000 5:09 PM

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It seems that the mozilla.org project has so far served the developer community and denied what the common users need in a modern BROWSER. What USER needs something that was supposed to be a browser but is now primarily called an OS by the people who created it? I would have served the USER first and then the DEVELOPER, but mozilla.org did it all backwards. Why?

#74 Re: User denied! Developers wanted!

by basic <_basic@yahoo.com>

Saturday April 15th, 2000 1:44 PM

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Mozilla IS for developers!!! The developers are suppost to serve the USER!!! That is how it was intended to work and it is working. When M16 is out you will see a more or less full featured browser/mailnews/htmleditor. After that the browser should strat to crash much less, loose weight and build up some more speed :-)

#81 Cross-platform widgets?... WRONG! Next issue.

by kaldari

Saturday April 15th, 2000 3:37 PM

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Not only are the cross-platform widgets ugly and unneccessary, but they don't even work right, at least not on Macs - check out bugs 31131 and 33602 on Bugzilla. I'm all for Mozilla being as cross-platform compatable as possible, but widgets are an OS function, not an application function. Why reinvent the wheel?

#89 Re: Cross-platform widgets?... WRONG! Next issue.

by basic <_basic@yahoo.com>

Sunday April 16th, 2000 6:42 PM

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#84 Web Sites ARE User Interfaces

by qaexl

Saturday April 15th, 2000 7:28 PM

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Look at it this way:

Everytime you create a new web page, you create a new user interface _regardless_ of which platform.

I'm not talking about the toolbar, the window, the widget, the buttons--

I'm talking about the page itself. A web page is a standalone GUI.

A well done site will never require the superfluous stuff supporting the browser, yes: even the traditional back, forward, reload, and stop buttons.

And now, Mozilla lowers barrier of entry to creating GUIs. The people who think they can do much better with Mozilla's skins can do just that.

Don't tell me that the average person wouldn't care about that. Of course they wouldn't care about that.

That's why the average person is just that. Average.

---hhh