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.
#32 and about those Native Widgets (TM)...
Wednesday April 12th, 2000 9:29 AM
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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.