MozillaZine

Ars Technica Review of Mozilla 1.0

Wednesday July 31st, 2002

No fewer than six people wrote in to tell us about Ars Technica's in-depth review of Mozilla 1.0. As well as rating the Windows version of Mozilla, the article also examines the success of the Mozilla project as a whole. When looking at the product, Gecko was highly praised but Navigator and Mail & Newsgroups came in for criticism. However, the review is much more positive about the Mozilla project, declaring it as "nothing less than a resounding success."


#1 test

by kerz <jason@mozillazine.org>

Wednesday July 31st, 2002 3:54 PM

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test

#2 test

by kerz <jason@mozillazine.org>

Wednesday July 31st, 2002 3:55 PM

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test

#3 Several very positive comments

by asa <asa@mozilla.org>

Wednesday July 31st, 2002 5:55 PM

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He says basically "no feature compelling enough to move away from IE" but goes on to conclude with:

"If you're dead set against a Microsoft solution, your two major choices are Opera and Mozilla. They're both great, and generally problem free, but Mozilla beats Opera in a few key areas. The interface is arguably nicer, the rendering engine provides better web standards support (especially when it comes to Javascript and the DOM) and it seems to handle current webpages slightly better. I suspect that many Opera fans will disagree, of course."

"If you are a Netscape 4.x user, upgrade yesterday. Mozilla is much more stable, renders websites better, and does things quicker. Mozilla won't choke on random bits of HTML like older Netscape versions will, and it's capable of handling advanced features of web development that were previously unavailable to Netscape browsers."

"If you are using a non-Windows computer, though, upgrading to Mozilla (or any other Gecko based browser) is a natural choice. Unlike Windows, no other operating system has a browser with the polish of IE 6. The feature-set and standards-compliance of Mozilla is definitely the best out there on non-Windows platforms."

"The Mozilla project has been nothing less than a resounding success. The mozilla.org group has created a realistic alternative to IE for both today's web and 5 years from now's web. By creating viable competition for IE they've raised the bar and pushed other browser developers ahead. Is there any doubt that IE6 would be of a much lower quality had the Mozilla project not been looming over the Internet Explorer team? Overall, the Mozilla developers (both the Netscape employees and the outside help) did an incredible job overcoming hurdles and sticking to their stated goals."

--Asa

#4 a step backwards in functionality?

by bamm <bamm@gabriana.com>

Wednesday July 31st, 2002 9:36 PM

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> Most of Navigator's looks are defined with "skins" and skin developers > have quite a bit of control over how the browser looks. Unfortunately, > this comes at the expense of the end user options. Toolbars, colors, > and icon sizes are all fixed by the skin developer. For people used to > the customization options of IE windows, it's a step backwards in > functionality.

That's not true. Skin developers can choose to make the skin use system fonts and colors. However many skinners decide to hard-code the font size and window colors into their skin, which is probably what he is against. But this is not Mozilla's fault. It's the theme authors' decision.

As a counterexample the Internet Explorer skin for Mozilla does use system colors and fonts:

<http://mozillako.hypermart.net/ieskin/>

#5 a step backwards in functionality?

by bamm <bamm@gabriana.com>

Wednesday July 31st, 2002 9:40 PM

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> Most of Navigator's looks are defined with "skins" and skin developers > have quite a bit of control over how the browser looks. Unfortunately, > this comes at the expense of the end user options. Toolbars, colors, > and icon sizes are all fixed by the skin developer. For people used to > the customization options of IE windows, it's a step backwards in > functionality.

That's not true. Skin developers can choose to make the skin use system fonts and colors. However many skinners decide to hard-code the font size and window colors into their skin, which is probably what he is against. But this is not Mozilla's fault. It's the theme authors' decision.

As a counterexample the Internet Explorer skin for Mozilla does use system colors and fonts:

<http://mozillako.hypermart.net/ieskin/>

#6 Any new info on 1.0.1?

by mesostinky

Thursday August 1st, 2002 12:17 AM

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On June 28 it was reported that "we're planning on being complete by mid next week" which was over a month ago. The 1.1 branch is more buggy than the 1.0 still and the later 1.0 nightlies fixed some important post 1.0 bugs, like the Windows Media Player problem. For that reason and others, I prefer the stable branch. It seems like its been put off indefinitely. I bring this up because the 1.0 series was supposed to be "long lived" and that is what Moz people want 3rd party vendors to work with. I'm not trying to be a pain or say I don't appreciate the great work and hard efforts of the Moz team, but I would just like to hear what happened.

On a similar vein any info Netscape 7? I'm sure it will be 1.0 + fixes, but I wonder what they are waiting for. I hope they don't do a PR2 release. With 2kSP3 out and XP SP1 coming out + the DOJ fixes, it would be awesome if Netscape could get some OEM's to bundle Netscape 7.0 with the new PC's. If configured properly IE wouldn't be on the desktop and Netscape might actually regain some market share.

#7 Re: Any new info on 1.0.1?

by zreo2 <aa@globecom.se>

Thursday August 1st, 2002 2:35 AM

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Guess Netscape has some bugs to work on. I tried out the ICQ functionality in Netscape prev 1 and it stoped working after 1 minute =) I sent message and then I changed the size of the textarea (where you type the message) and the whole GUI collapsed... :(

I did report this and serveral other issues to Netscape but I don't like that they don't give some response back. Ok. Maybee they are recieving alot of emails but that is no excuse. And that leads us to another questions. Why don't Netscape have some kind of Bugzilla ? Are they afraid of meeting the user ?

Ok. Netscape is not bad but they should be more service minded as a company.

#8 they gave away the jewels of their crown

by thegoldenear

Thursday August 1st, 2002 5:35 AM

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"Why don't Netscape have some kind of Bugzilla ? Are they afraid of meeting the user ? ...they should be more service minded as a company"

afraid of the end user!? they went further than any such company had then done by giving us the source code to their browser suite. we have mozilla.org because of what Netscape gave away, how far are you expecting them to go? they are after-all a capitalist software organisation. we have Bugzilla, and of-course Netscape have their Bugzilla, called Bugscape, which isn't publically available, but many issues are reported either in both or just in Bugzilla - they need somewhere non-public to keep track of proprietary issues like when dealing with other organisations who don't want their secrets public - this is how capitalist software development works and Netscape appear to have just kept the minimum of the required and made the rest public

search Bugzilla for 'go go speed racer' if you want some idea of what Netscape specifically are working on

#12 Re: they gave away the jewels of their crown

by zreo2 <aa@globecom.se>

Thursday August 1st, 2002 9:17 AM

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I was talking about their own software. Not Mozilla. I think there is a huge difference there. Shouldn't the "capitalist" software company's support their users or atleast give the users who tries to help them a "thanks" or something ? How do a company survive without their customers ? When you contact a company with a question or a opinion of a feature, bug or something the company nearly always response with some kind of answere, well except of Netscape that is.

And the example I mentioned before is just one of 5 times I have tried to contact Netscape about broken links etc... I think all the mails just go into some black hole in cyber space :)

For the bugscape part: I do understand why bugscape isn't opened for the public but I wasn't talking about that.

#17 Re: Re: they gave away the jewels of their crown

by asa <asa@mozilla.org>

Thursday August 1st, 2002 12:04 PM

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Try your help menu and the item called Feedback Center.

--Asa

#21 Netscape users aren't their customers

by mpthomas

Friday August 2nd, 2002 3:18 AM

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"Shouldn't the `capitalist software company's support their users or atleast give the users who tries to help them a 'thanks' or something ? How do a company survive without their customers ?"

Um, most Netscape users aren't the customers. They're the product -- Netscape is selling them to advertisers. It's the advertisers who are the customers. :-)

If Netscape provided any support to a single user, it would probably cost them several times as much money as they made from advertising to that user, so it's not really worth it.

-- mpt

#18 So in other words...

by mesostinky

Thursday August 1st, 2002 5:32 PM

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Nobody has any idea? Oh well.

#9 overall, a nice and detailed review

by dipa

Thursday August 1st, 2002 6:08 AM

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Imo, it is the best Mozilla review I've read so far. The author has a good knowledge of the html standards. He also discusses about the html compatibility and browser sniffing issues.

What I mostly didn't like is that he fails to mention the superior security of browser and mail wrt IE/Outlook. Imo, this is a key part for the success of Mozilla based products. As more opinion makers realize that superiority, market share will be increased.

I did like the table vs CSS part (it was in favour of the latter, of course). It is one of the few occasions where the table layout nightmare is mentioned in a major tech site. CSS1/2 compatibility advantages are well exploited and screenshots are quite explanatory.

"Many of the problems stem from Navigator's cross platform implementation, forcing the developers to create a more generic application instead of targeting a specific platform and optimizing the interface to fit in and interact nicely". I think he is close to the truth. I am not an adverse of the XUL based interface but it's performance and robustness problems are well known to us :-)

His rant about ui customization is well reasoned, I think. We do need toolbar customization and separation of the navigation toolbar from the url bar. Hoping it won't be postponed for 2.0 release. Ui responsiveness and cpu usage wasn't mentioned. So it seems that my 400MHz cpu is quite out of mainstream. That sounds reasonable.

"A host of rather serious problems that are present in 1.0 have been fixed in 1.1 alpha, so if you are interested in using the Mail application, you would wise to upgrade ASAP. However, even with 1.1, the Mail client just feels unfinished". Fair judge, although I repeat that he should mention the immunity to numerous wide-spread worms, in contrary to the Outlook full backdoor implementation :-) Similarly, image blocking in html mail should also be mentioned.

"Mail includes an almost useless Local Folders account (which you cannot remove)". It is quite remarkable how a typical power user (outside Mozilla community) has immediately noticed a bug that clutters mail front end. I agree with him, but mozilla.org doesn't seem to follow :-(

Still puzzles me why he describes XBL as non W3C standard. If my memory serves me well, W3C had standardised XBL about a year ago. Or it was something else?

A final note: has anyone of you noticed how well Mozilla text zoom feature is implemented ? (well, don't take into accounbt some form elements). IE6 still can't "magnify" text when absolute font sizing is used. Most sites use that sizing, I think. This feature alone would be enough for me to use Mozilla. No more blown eyes because of those silly sites with the extra small fonts.

#10 Re: overall, a nice and detailed review

by MXN

Thursday August 1st, 2002 6:33 AM

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"Still puzzles me why he describes XBL as non W3C standard. If my memory serves me well, W3C had standardised XBL about a year ago. Or it was something else?"

Actually, I think XBL was submitted to the W3C as a suggestion. It's now kept as a W3C Note at <http://www.w3.org/TR/xbl/> . According to the Status of this Document section:

"This NOTE was submitted to the World Wide Web Consortium (see Submission Request, W3C Staff Comment) on 2001-01-12 with the intention that the W3C use it as a basis for furthering the work on BECSS .... This document is a NOTE made available by the W3C for discussion only. Publication of this Note by W3C indicates no endorsement by W3C or the W3C Team, or any W3C Members. W3C has had no editorial control over the preparation of this Note. This document is a work in progress and may be updated, replaced, or rendered obsolete by other documents at any time ...."

- MXN

#22 overall, a nice and detailed review

by grayrest

Friday August 2nd, 2002 2:32 PM

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As some background, he's a web developer and that's why the understanding of HTML/CSS. From the resulting discussion, he has stated that he didn't mention security because he feels mozilla's security is unproven. Yes, there was that one bug that came out a while ago, but he says that with so little market share it's not worth targeting.

#11 usability remains an issue

by jilles

Thursday August 1st, 2002 8:19 AM

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I'm a full-time mozilla user since about two months and have used many of the Mx and 0.x builds before that. However, I have to agree that the UI continues to feel very rough on the edges. Most of the XUL widgets have serious usability issues associated with them. The worst are the textfield and tree widget (still has a few nasty bugs). Most of these bugs are in bugzilla and have been for a long time. All of them receive lots of duplicate bug reports.

Things that annoy me most are: - Bookmarks sidebar. A few ugly bugs with respect to collapsing/uncollapsing, screen refresh. I've also lost data in it (drag, drop, and its gone). Inconsistencies with other parts of the UI (e.g. context menu's). - Text fields. Weird behavior when selecting text with mouse. - Useability issues with tabs. I want to drag them around, have a "open in new tab" option in bookmark context menus, open tab in new windows, etc. Right now it feels like somebody bolted on tabs at the last moment. - Poor scrolling support with my logitech mouse. Sometimes the page just keeps scrolling when I just want to scroll down one line with the wheel. It never scrolls smooth.

Despite this I generally like using mozilla because of its advanced feature set but a bit more attention to useability would greatly improve the end-user experience.

#14 Re: usability remains an issue

by guanxi

Thursday August 1st, 2002 10:03 AM

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"Useability issues with tabs. I want to drag them around, have a "open in new tab" option in bookmark context menus, open tab in new windows, etc. Right now it feels like somebody bolted on tabs at the last moment."

Many similar bugs have been filed. I came across this one ... does anyone know if it's what prevents many of these functions from being added? <http://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=127685>

#15 Re: Re: usability remains an issue

by SubtleRebel <mark@ky.net>

Thursday August 1st, 2002 11:08 AM

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"Many similar bugs have been filed. I came across this one ... does anyone know if it's what prevents many of these functions from being added? "

Time.

#13 When oh when will Mozillas UI get better?

by joedirt

Thursday August 1st, 2002 9:30 AM

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Good review. Mozilla's good but the UI suffers, and this review pegs it's major problem right on.

"Unfortunately, the new features are overshadowed by Navigator's problems in the more basic areas, such as the user interface"

"A good UI is functional, adaptable and transparent. Navigator is reasonably functional, completely inflexible, and sticks out like a sore thumb."

"For people used to the customization options of IE windows, it's a step backwards in functionality. For people who need better accessibility tools, it's a disaster."

"As it stands right now, the browser isn't up to par with the rendering engine, which isn't surprising given that the Mozilla developers spent the majority of their time on Gecko and the browser itself suffered as a result."

"The problem is Navigator and the add-ons. Navigator is certainly usable, and admittedly it does have some interesting bells and whistles, but its non-standard, inflexible interface drags its rating down to a 6"

Hopefully this will grab some of the developers attention, though I highly doubt it.

#16 Mail, etc.

by PaulB <pbergsag@home.com>

Thursday August 1st, 2002 11:53 AM

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I wish that the reviewer had omitted his review of anything beyond the browser. IMHO his comments on Mail come accross as if he hadn't bothered to use Mail.

"Mail has a host of functionality problems. For example, it includes an almost useless Local Folders account (which you cannot remove) that apparently is meant to be able to be a central repository for drafts/sent mail for your various accounts. The problem is, it does not remember which account a message came from. Each individual account you create will have its own versions of the same folders in Local Folders."

I never had the impression that the Local folder was a central repository as he claims. Each account has its own repositories for "Sent" and Unsent" messages. His comments here sound like an afterthought as if he submitted the story to an editor and was told to go back and finish the review of the entire browser suite, not just Navigator. He did a good job reviewing Navigator, but definitely came accross to me in the crappy review of Mail as having never seriously used the applicationfor anything other than openning the app and viewing menus and account folders. Did he ever use it? If not he should have kept his comments to himself.

#19 Re: Mail, etc.

by johnlar <johnlar@tfn.net>

Thursday August 1st, 2002 6:09 PM

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Ok, so then can you tell me what the "local folder" is for???

#20 Re: Re: Mail, etc.

by dipa

Friday August 2nd, 2002 1:25 AM

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>Ok, so then can you tell me what the "local folder" is for???

for cluttering your folder pane, that's simple :-) I never used an imap account, but the inability to delete the Local Folders of my pop account is annoying.

#23 Re: Mail, etc.

by bamm <bamm@gabriana.com>

Monday August 5th, 2002 8:05 PM

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You can delete it in prefs.js