Suck Claims Mozilla Dead
Monday July 31st, 2000
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.
A little something that the Suck article linked to was a story talking about the decision for the total re-write. I've never seen the original NS 4.x code, and what I have seen of the Mozilla code sure seems confusing enough. Looking back in hindsight here, but Netscape had this Gecko engine written over a year ago. Pretty much everything else in the Mozilla project has had to do with all the stuff that had to go around Gecko, like the networking protocols, screen handling, scripting, and all that.
Looking back on this, shouldn't there have been some effort to get the 4.x code base to talk to Gecko before embarking upon a complete re-write of everything? 4.x may have been yucky and all, but by gosh it worked. It had a functional menuing system, preferences that actually stored, a bookmark database that worked, an E-Mail client that is still above par, and all the other shell stuff. What was lacking was the display engine, not all that other stuff. I find it difficult to believe that the code in there was so bad as to make it a more than 2 year project to implement.
Okay, so they couldn't open source a lot of it. So what? Has being open source really done all that much for Mozilla? As I recall, Gecko and some of the other key components for it were developed almost entirely by Netscape folks anyway. That engine could have produced a closed source browser by now, thus allowing Mozilla to continue development on this massive project involving XUL, XPFE, Necko, and all the other tools involved in an open source environment.