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.

#51 Suck Isn't Far Off

by gobucs

Wednesday August 2nd, 2000 8:29 AM

You are replying to this message

My first post but I've been keeping up with the Mozilla project for awhile now. I'm not a web developer but rather an end user who doesn't want to see the browser market go the way of the OS market.

Last summer as my company was arguing over standardizing on a browser. All the developers wanted IE 5.0 I tried to make a stand to wait for Mozilla and explained the advantages. Well, we delayed the decision but after 8 months one was made. 400,000 sales force members are now being told IE is the only supported browser, most of whom were NS users back from our first web-initiatives. Those are now lost mozilla users since our sales force doesn't download and charge browsers. We might have not gone this way, even at that late date, but there is nothing to indicate this browser will be out any time soon. The NS Preview Release did nothing to help my cause either.

The Mozilla effort is a terrible example of a project. The goal of being perfect when shipped is lovely but isn't realistic. The lunatics are running the asylum. The browser is being built to meet the nitpicking whims of techo-geeks and groups like the W3C. The bottom line is that end-users don't know that the current NS rendering engine sucks becuase pages display fine to them- thanks to ennormous tweaking by developers no doubt. There are short comings in IE5 but those also don't stop me from using the browser. Mozilla thinks folks (read: not people working on the project) are going to be impressed with 100% compliance and they are wrong. CSS2 support means nothing to our sales force, or to any other end-user. Outsiders want a browser that lets them go to, and E-trade. NS would have been better in releasing an 80% compliant browser 6 months ago rather than a 100% compliant one 6 months from now. Products have versions for a reason and folks accept/expect it in the browser area. The NS market is vanishing, hell I'm even tempted to go IE since NS4.7(whatever) is such an unstable mess. The bottom line is that anything that works is better than everything that doesn't. IE is working right now and mozilla/ns6.0 isn't.

Other aspects of the development reek of the "coolness" effect. The entire UI is terrible but extremely cool. When folks in the office saw the preview release UI they were appalled. They could not imagine recommending something like that to end-users- and no we are not going to skin it ourselves nor is our user base one we want to explain how to download better UI's. Our users, like many, expect the product to work "out of the box".

One has to imagine that the joke the Mozilla project has become will really keep any sane company from trying to open-source any other projects. At this point the mozilla project is more like an academic effort rather than a business effort. You all might build the perfect browser but you know what- no one will be using it.

Loyalists to this project hide behind the "We aren't gonna be like MS" mantra and use that as a rationalization for a project that is gone too long for no return. Opera went from development to v2.1 (the first release) in less than 2 years by a very small team. They are now to version 4.0. It is stable, looks great, now has a mail and new client. It runs on Win9x, Win3.1, Win NT, BeOS, EPOC, MAC and LINUX. Mozilla has more resources at it's disposal and in about the same amount of time has accomplished a few milestone releases and one terrible preview release.