MozillaZine

ActiveState to Build Cross-Platform IDE Using Mozilla Foundation!

Thursday May 25th, 2000

Mitchell Baker wrote in to tell us that ActiveState is also using Mozilla as foundation of its cross platform IDE "Komodo."

Again, this damn "Mozilla is a platform" meme keeps turning up, refusing to be squashed by the "Mozilla should only be a browser" naysayers (the same folks, mind you, who admit that Microsoft is turning IE into a platform as well). When a company like ActiveState throws its development muscle behind Mozilla as it has with this announcement, it proves that Mozilla is actually being recognized as a key to future cross-platform development.


#1 That is great...

by rgelb <nospam@nospam.com>

Thursday May 25th, 2000 7:38 PM

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but can we have a damn browser first. Wasn't that the point of Mozilla when it started 2 years ago?

#2 Uh, no...

by mozineAdmin

Thursday May 25th, 2000 7:53 PM

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The point of Mozilla was opening up the source code. What came out of it was in a way up to the community and the developers.

As it is, you can't have a "browser" first, because the browser depends on the core of the application working properly. When it's working properly, you will also have a development platform for cross-platform Internet-centric apps.

#3 Re: That is great...

by sdm

Thursday May 25th, 2000 8:02 PM

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Last I checked, this has no negative impact on the browser development - it can only help.

#4 besides XPCOM, what else? XUL/XBL?

by basic <_basic@yahoo.com>

Thursday May 25th, 2000 10:06 PM

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Does anyone know which part of Mozilla will be used?

Specifically, will XUL/XBL come into play?

#5 Perl, Python...

by basic <_basic@yahoo.com>

Thursday May 25th, 2000 10:16 PM

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This will be a Perl/Python specific IDE? I'm wondering if it could also be adapted to work with XUL/XBL/Javascript, Java or even C/C++?

#6 Mozilla is not a platform.

by leafdigital

Friday May 26th, 2000 4:46 AM

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Yawn. It just isn't going to happen. Yes, a few things might be done based on Mozilla, but it's not going to rival Windows, MacOS, Linux or even Java as an application platform.

Frankly, there's no point (those other application platforms are fine), and Mozilla's market share is never going to reach a high enough point (80%+) where people can really rely on these Mozilla-only features for developing web applications (the one niche where they'd be useful).

I don't understand why people are obsessed with "Mozilla as a platform" - yes, it's cool, it has a few useful applications, but it's not going to change the world.

Why not concentrate on "Mozilla as a browser" (and email client and news readers), which really *might* change the world? There are lots of incredibly cool developments - first, it is/will be a great browser with very good standards support, second the customisation potential (which goes way beyond traditional "skins") is truly awesome, third the Gecko/Mozilla core may be of use on many smaller devices such as the Intel/Nokia developments we've heard about. This is all great stuff! There's no need to build our hopes on the mythical dream of an application platform that will take over the world, which seem to linger from the old days when Netscape really thought it could take on Microsoft in general (OS) as well as in the browser market. Netcape was wrong then; Mozilla is wrong now.

(I'm not arguing about development priorities, I understand the issues there, as far as development goes it's fine, yes XUL+etc. that makes Mozilla a platform is required for the development and is the right way to do things... it's just the talk and focus on the "platform" idea that annoys me.)

IE isn't a platform, either. Yes, in single-browser company environments it can be used as the basis of custom software, but that's *it*. Nobody else does significant work in IE-based applications. Same applies to Mozilla.

--sam

#7 Re: Mozilla is not a platform.

by mozineAdmin

Friday May 26th, 2000 5:55 AM

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"IE isn't a platform, either."

Tell that to microsoft. They are building IE to be a platform for web-based Internet applpications. That's what their HTML components are about. That's what their XML and XSLT push is about. It's all about building a means of creating Internet-based applications around the browser. You can't say that nobody is doing significant work in IE-based applications other than single-browser environments, because that makes it sound like IE is lacking the monopoly-power and muscle to force their views of the world on the rest of us. And we know that's just not the case.

What you don't seem to understand is that Mozilla doesn't require an 80% installed base for Mozilla-based applications to come about. Because these applications *don't require* that Mozilla the browser be installed! They can use as little or as much of the undelying Mozilla code as they need to create their own applications. The examples that we have seen so far - XMLTerm, ChatZilla - they all are installed inside the Mozilla browser suite. However, new applications can be build from the ground up with no connection to the browser suite whatsoever. What Mozilla offers is a means of getting a lot of underlying cross-platform networking and rendering and standards-compliant technologies for free! And that's why ActiveState is jumping on board. Their IDE is not going to require Mozilla the browser - it will be built using Mozilla's technologies.

There is no "mythical dream" of Mozilla as an application platform. The fact is it's already here! Mozilla the browser that you are using is just an example of it in action. Chatzilla, now cross-platform, is a simple example of how to extend it. ActiveState's IDE will be an example of how to build entirely new applications with it. If Mozilla wasn't an xp application platform already, the Mozilla browser that you see today wouldn't even be possible.

#8 Re: Re: Mozilla is not a platform.

by sdm

Friday May 26th, 2000 7:13 AM

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Hmm, well, how much of mozilla do you need to use for it to be considered "based on mozilla?" NSPR? XPCOM? Gecko? XPToolkit?

#10 Re: Re: Mozilla is not a platform.

by leafdigital

Friday May 26th, 2000 9:40 AM

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Microsoft are building support for Web applications, not general applications. (They may hope for the latter too, but it won't happen.) They have a better chance at that with their market share, but still not spectacularly great. I imagine it will be used extensively to develop things like database access within a company (e.g. ordering systems, stock control, blah blah). It won't be used on the general Web, unless Netscape/Mozilla and the other browsers decline into complete insignificance leaving a complete IE monopoly.

If you mean the "Mozilla as a platform" concept in the sense that portions of Mozilla's code can be reused in other completely separate applications, then yes, sure. This is after all one major point of open source, and it doesn't apply just to Mozilla. Perhaps this is what ActiveState are doing, I didn't look at it. I don't really see this as "Mozilla as a platform", though - to me it seems more like an API. A tool for software developers to make their software, not a platform for software to "run on". Somewhat akin to the cross-platform GUI libraries that have been around for ages.

What I really disagree with is "Mozilla as a platform" based on web apps with XUL/JS and only the Mozilla browser binary. I mean, some people seem to think that this will take over the world and nobody will need to install desktop apps any more... well, er, no. This has already been done for IE (where the same claims were made), and nobody uses it.

Basically, I think saying that "Mozilla code can be reused in some other applications to good effect" is true and surely everyone would agree; but saying "Mozilla is a platform" is not at all the same.

--sam

#12 Re: Re: Re: Mozilla is not a platform.

by sdm

Friday May 26th, 2000 11:05 AM

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"Microsoft are building support for Web applications, not general applications."

There's really no difference between the two.

#13 My Interpretation...

by Silverthorn <shawn.fumo@the-spa.com>

Friday May 26th, 2000 12:07 PM

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Now, from what I gather from what is being said, they do mean running applications on it as a platform and not just re-using the code. However, I think you have a misconception when you mentioned "using the Mozilla binary".

From what I gather, the "Mozilla Platform" is just things like some of the .dll and .xpt files in the components directory.

That stuff defines the system calls and ways of defining the interface of the application, etc.

So then Mozilla the browser is an application running on top of this. Currently the browser has its own executable (and is the only executable?), and so other applications have to run on top of it, but I think they don't mean to keep it that way.

My guess is that what would happen eventually is that there would be a file you could download that contained all of the basic files needed between applications. You install that and you have the "Platform". I'd guess it wouldn't be that large of a file.. 5-10megs? It'd need some sort of executable file to lauch the applications, but this would be non-application specific instead of the browser executable as it is now.

Then if you wanted an application that used the platform (such as the browser or anything else), you'd download it and it'd include its program scripts, its chrome files, its xpcoms?, etc...

So you wouldn't need the browser installed. I'd guess you wouldn't even need Gecko installed unless the application was using it (like a preview for a html editor or something?).

Does anyone have any comments on this. Is this what people mean?

If it is, I think it is an interesting idea. I'd guess the main things factoring in how much it actually gets used is how many developers use it, the speed of the applications (this was of course a big part of why Java hasn't been used as much), and other things like that.

I don't see it being a massive trouble on the user end, just like how old applications would need VBRUN or whatever to run. The application website would just link to the mozilla platform installer for if you needed it.

The developers may tend to use it more than something like java because of the easier time making interfaces and support for skinning and such, etc. And instead of traditional languages of course because of the cross-platform support being so much easier to do.

Whether the users use it I think will depend more on how well these applications actually work, the speed of them, how well they look, all of that normal stuff.

But I don't think it'll get to that point unless it really does get seperated all the way and you don't have to install the browser and all of that just to run these applications...

Shawn

#9 Re: Mozilla is not a platform.

by svn <svn@xmlterm.org>

Friday May 26th, 2000 8:56 AM

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Netscape is primarily focused on Mozilla as a browser, although the netscape contributors are taking care to put in the hooks necessary for it to be used as a platform. (Presumable AOL would find the hooks useful as well. I believe AIM uses Gecko for its layout, like Chatzilla!)

Open source volunteers usually build something that they personally are interested in using. They are not trying to help out the average browser user as a community service or trying to help out AOL/Netscape. It so happens that some contributors do want a better browser, and they are contributing towards that. Some other contributors want to build their own favorite application using Mozilla as a platform. They contribute to the browser only in the sense that they identify bugs etc. But they aren't slowing down the browser development either. This is open source, and you can't insist that the second group of volunteers must only work on the browsing functionality. If you did, they would just walk away.

Some people play dual roles. If you look at the chatzilla project page, you will see that Rob Ginda builds a browser by day (as a netscape employee) and chatzilla by night (as a volunteer)! If you "ban" chatzilla development, he may just decide to go to a movie instead!

#11 Er, I wasn't suggesting banning anything

by leafdigital

Friday May 26th, 2000 9:44 AM

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I thought I made it clear that I have no problems with Mozilla's development plan or what other developers choose to do, only with the concept of Mozilla as a platform somehow equal to Java, Win32, Linux/X, MacOS, etc.

I'm not one of the "well they should get the browser to work first before they do all that other stuff" idiots.

If that wasn't clear, apologies.

--sam

#14 Mozilla Toolkit?

by basic <_basic@yahoo.com>

Friday May 26th, 2000 1:52 PM

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Since platform might not be the right word, how about toolkit?

#15 Re: Er, I wasn't suggesting banning anything

by svn <svn@xmlterm.org>

Friday May 26th, 2000 2:08 PM

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It wasn't specifically your comment that I was addressing, but there is an impression Nestcape may be neglecting its "core competency" of building a browser. My post was just to argue that probably wasn't true.

Anyway, I would agree with you that Mozilla will never be a platform in the same sense as Java, certainly not in back-end applications (although XPCOM and NSPR may be useful in a C++ context). But it could be a good front-end UI platform, like client-side Java. I do think it is more than just a glorified toolkit, though. Its competitors would be cross-platform stuff like Java.

#16 Re: Mozilla is not a platform.

by aengblom <aengblom@gwu.edu>

Friday May 26th, 2000 3:56 PM

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[I may know nothing! But this is my understanding]

Yes it is :P !

Ok seriously, Being open source, etc., the Moz team wanted to make Moz available to as many people/OS's as possible. However, there were/are not enough resources available to code "a Mozilla" for each seperate platform (at the quality/consistency desired). Instead, Moz developers created a small program (OS dependent) that could run the code of the browser (not OS dependent). As time has gone on, more and more people are realizing that they can harness the small OS dependent code to write their programs once and have them run on all the OSs that Moz supports with minimal difficulty.

What people have failed to understand is that Mozilla (the browser) is simply the one program to run off Mozilla (the platform). Similarly, Mozilla (messenger) and Mozilla (web editor) and Mozilla (address book) are all run on top of the Mozilla "platform." However, programs do not have to resemble a browser suite AT ALL!

The feeling that we all want a great browser is true, but to understand the full potential of the Moz code, it's important to realize that Moz CAN BE a platform. Further, Moz is not in competition with Win/Mac/Linux/etc. The Moz project is an attempt to make the OS you're running irrelevent to the applications you can run! This is an incredible feature, especially for the alt-OS community which often suffers from a lack of APPS!

Of coures this doesn't mean it will happen (ex. JAVA) and I highly doubt that an APP written on the "Moz platform" is going to debunk MSOFFICE, but it offers an incredible amount of power for smaller projects.

In the end, our opinions don't really matter. If you JUST want a browser and don't want a "PLATFORM", you're too late. Mozilla the BROWSER is already build on top of the Platform.

#17 Re: Mozilla is not a platform.

by aengblom <aengblom@gwu.edu>

Friday May 26th, 2000 4:01 PM

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[I may know nothing! But this is my understanding]

Yes it is :P !

Ok seriously, Being open source, etc., the Moz team wanted to make Moz available to as many people/OS's as possible. However, there were/are not enough resources available to code "a Mozilla" for each seperate platform (at the quality/consistency desired). Instead, Moz developers created a small program (OS dependent) that could run the code of the browser (not OS dependent). As time has gone on, more and more people are realizing that they can harness the small OS dependent code to write their programs once and have them run on all the OSs that Moz supports with minimal difficulty.

What people have failed to understand is that Mozilla (the browser) is simply the one program to run off Mozilla (the platform). Similarly, Mozilla (messenger) and Mozilla (web editor) and Mozilla (address book) are all run on top of the Mozilla "platform." However, programs do not have to resemble a browser suite AT ALL!

The feeling that we all want a great browser is true, but to understand the full potential of the Moz code, it's important to realize that Moz CAN BE a platform. Further, Moz is not in competition with Win/Mac/Linux/etc. The Moz project is an attempt to make the OS you're running irrelevent to the applications you can run! This is an incredible feature, especially for the alt-OS community which often suffers from a lack of APPS!

Of coures this doesn't mean it will happen (ex. JAVA) and I highly doubt that an APP written on the "Moz platform" is going to debunk MSOFFICE, but it offers an incredible amount of power for smaller projects.

In the end, our opinions don't really matter. If you JUST want a browser and don't want a "PLATFORM", you're too late. Mozilla the BROWSER is already build on top of the Platform.

#18 Seperation of Mozilla platform and browser...?

by Silverthorn <shawn.fumo@the-spa.com>

Friday May 26th, 2000 5:35 PM

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I know this is probably still a bit early into things to think about this, but I'm curious. After writing my interpretation message, not sure if I was going too far in that direction or not... so...

I'm curious if there are any plans in terms of really seperating the platform from the browser. I mean thinking along the lines of something like GIMP, I don't really know the history but I'm guessing GIMP and GTK were origionally one and the same, were updated together, distributed together, etc.

After a certain point, they got split off a bit more with installing GTK in a seperate package (in Linux at least), and both of them having their own sites, version numbers and everything...

Is this going to happen with Mozilla? Once things get a bit more settled, will there be such and such version of "Mozilla platform/tookit" that you install. And then a version of the "Mozilla browser/news/etc. suite"?

I know that right now things are moving too fast for that to be really practical, but is it moving in that direction? It seems like it'd be the most logical thing if lots of other applications start to use the platform part of things.

Any thoughts?

Shawn

#19 Bunk

by eriix <ERIIX@Netscape.net>

Monday May 29th, 2000 11:01 PM

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" IE isn't a platform, either. Yes, in single-browser company environments it can be used as the basis of custom software, but that's *it*. Nobody else does significant work in IE-based applications. Same applies to Mozilla. "

That's BS! Ever heard of musicmatch jukebox, alice 99, tons of internet-based apps on windows... IE is, unfortunately, used often by developers too stupid to realize that it is not part of windows... Then again, these are the people who actually believe that windows is an OS and dos is just an app that runs under it (which allows me to have SO much fun daring people to delete command.com and laughing in their faces when their computer won't boot any more)! People should learn that it is still possible to fix Microsoft's mistakes and remove ie from installations of windows. Just use 98lite at <http://www.98lite.net> then delete c:\windows\system\mshtml*.* . Bingo! An IE free install (_VERY_ important for a low RAM of low HD space system like mine). Now open your favorite apps and see just how stupid some developers can be. They can't include the sections of IE that they use because it's not OS; they just opt to /assume/ that ie will always be there...