Suck Claims Mozilla Dead

Monday July 31st, 2000

Suck has yet another anti-Mozilla rant from Greg Knauss, website maintainer and TV critic.

Greg has gone about cataloging all of the extraneous features that are unnecessary to a modern day, competitive browser. Mail. News. XML. XSLT. MathML. In response to XUL, he writes, "Why? Who cares? The mere fact that it sounds sort of neat justifies its existence, and gives it priority over shipping something usable to the ninety percent of the population that has no use for the feature."

Why? Let's see. Could it be because at its heart is the ability to write the application to work on platforms other than just Windows? The ability to customize the application so that people like you can easily have "just a browser"? The ability to be prepared for the future by creating an application that's extensible and robust? The necessity of having a codebase that's easily ported onto emerging platforms? The ability to compete against a company who has turned their own browser product into a platform?

No, couldn't be any of those things. They're all just "cool shit", apparently. They're not important relative to having a browser that runs only on Windows that alienates 50% of the entire Netscape user-base because it doesn't have a Mail/News reader nor half the feature-set necessary to be a "just-a-browser" competitor.

Apparently cross-platform technologies such as XPCOM are a wasted effort; maybe coding the same browser independently for four or more platforms would be less of a waste of resources, Greg? Apparently cross-platform support isn't a sensible marketing strategy in today's monopoly-driven marketplace.

Greg indiscriminantly lumps third-party coders' work on such projects as XSLT, MathML and ColorSync [you must have delved into the archives to find ColorSync!] with the work of the main development effort, in an effort to prove his point that they're bogging down the process. Wrong. Those efforts are independent, and they'll only go into the first release if they're completed before the ship date. If you had been paying attention, Greg, you may have realized that.

The piece ends with a curious paragraph that begins, "Theater owes its advantageous position to picking its spots, exploiting its audience and making slow, purposeful strides, even if every step is second-guessed for its cost."

They don't call it Suck for nothing, I guess.

Maybe I should just give up on Mozilla. Maybe I should resign myself to a life of banality and security breaches using IE and Outlook the rest of my days.

I think I'll stick with it. I hold the Mozilla developers in higher esteem than I do any of their sniping critics.

UPDATE: There's a great comment in our forum from Alec Flett.

#27 Re: Re: The man-month is a myth

by FrodoB

Monday July 31st, 2000 4:47 PM

You are replying to this message

I find it ironic that you're trying to argue to a man that he should not have a job. Because Alec Flett is one of the lead developers of mail/news.

Or perhaps you are arguing that someone whose strengths lie in knowing the intricacies of the IMAP and POP protocols should be helping to implement the HTML specifications.

What really makes no sense is that you agree with his premise that more developers can hurt but that that's exactly what should be occurring. People have their strengths in different areas. Some people know IMAP, others know HTML, still others like myself know music theory (yes, this is supposed to be a joke).

FWIW, the chat client is not sucking up Netscape resources (it's being developed by Robert Ginda, who doesn't work for Netscape). Skins are not optional; they're the only reason we have Mozilla on Mac, Linux, and well, basically anything other than Windows. (Pinkerton has said as much; without XUL, Netscape's management would not have approved programming for Mac and Linux.) Mail/news is required (there are a LOT of Netscape Mail users, and Netscape has to keep their market share in mind [when I say it's required, it's required for Netscape]; I personally use the newsreader in 4.74 and intend to use it in Mozilla). And the editor is used for all forms (including the URL bar, etc.) and all mail composition.

Mozilla can make no headway on any platforms where it matters without mail/news (and, yes, Windows is about the only place it matters right now, as the market share of Windows makes the statistics gathered from other platforms almost irrelevant to Web developers). Linux users (of which I am one, about 20% of the time) can probably rightly complain that they have no halfway decent Web browser right now, but what good is a standards-compliant Web browser in Linux if all Web sites are designed for IE (and therefore, for Windows and MAYBE Mac)?