Downloadable Chrome News

Sunday March 28th, 1999

Two news items for those interested in Mozilla's "Downloadable Chrome". First, David Hyatt has posted to his first draft at the downloadable / configurable chrome spec.

Second, Steve Morrison has announced the creation of his "XUL Tool" site. Steve's site is a repository for Mozilla themes, and soon you will be able to create your own theme via a simple HTML interface.

#1 Re:Downloadable Chrome News

by Kovu

Sunday March 28th, 1999 8:34 AM

Very, very cool.

#2 Re:Downloadable Chrome News

by anon

Sunday March 28th, 1999 9:25 AM

Really cool stuff! Btw. I see this guy is taking the screenshots in the Linux version of Mozilla. Does this mean the Linux version doesn't lag much behind the Windows version now?

#3 Re:Downloadable Chrome News

by WotsUpInDaHood?

Sunday March 28th, 1999 2:07 PM

The only thing I didn't hear is - asociating chrome/skins to a) this site only and forever (a user may want this - for example at a searchy engine I may want things diferently) b) current site only (returns after leaving it, as a site such as Disney would want it) c) from now onwards (as a user I may prefer this skin to the installed one)

Users may want to change for ever, but site owners don't want their look and feel to be succesfully applied to their competitors sites!!! THIS IS IMPORTANT

#4 Re:Downloadable Chrome News

by basic

Sunday March 28th, 1999 4:05 PM

Sounds like there should be chrome plugins and Chrome for particular site?

Another issue is chrome copyrights, now that look and feel is not just on the website but the whole interface (applyable to chrome for particular website). should look and feel be restricted to particular websites?

Of course users should be allowed to turn it on and off.

#5 Re:Downloadable Chrome News

by WotsUpInDaHood?

Sunday March 28th, 1999 5:34 PM

I think of skins as CSS for the browser. It is a pplied when you are at a particular website and not applied when you leave the website. My focus is developer-based.

However, should the user prefer a look and feel, he/she may want to continuosly use the skin.

In that case, a message box should pop up saying that this website has its own skin and does the user want to use the new one while surfing this website. It must state clearly that the users own choice will be returned once they surf away from the site.

#6 Re:Downloadable Chrome News

by steve morrison

Sunday March 28th, 1999 5:58 PM

- Your right, this was done all on linux. Linux is pretty close to windows as far as features go.

- It's hard, right now, to do chrome per website, since *everything* is defined within one XUL file - including a lot of basic javascript functions to do things like make the Back button work, etc. Websites would have to agree to make everything behave the same. Remember, these themes describe actions as well as the look of the browser. This will all become a lot easier, though, when the downloadable chrome spec gets fleshed out, and hopefully presentation, structure, and behavior will separated a little bit more.

#7 Re:Downloadable Chrome News

by _Dan

Sunday March 28th, 1999 10:20 PM

What about only allowing the author to update the chrome on a window that he/she created using Then if the author wanted to offer it as a permanent change for the browser he/she could use a .jar file(wich allready has built-in security) to download and overwrite the main xul file. This would prevent malicious hacker from crippling the main browser window, while allowing web programmers to add OS level interfaces to there pages.

#8 Re:Downloadable Chrome News

by _Dan

Sunday March 28th, 1999 10:29 PM

What about only allowing the author to update the chrome on a window that he/she created using Then if the author wanted to offer it as a permanent change for the browser he/she could use a .jar file(wich allready has built-in security) to download and overwrite the main xul file. This would prevent malicious hacker from crippling the main browser window, while allowing web programmers to add OS level interfaces to there pages.

#9 Re:Downloadable Chrome-XUL Tool Site Crashes 4.51

by vead

Monday March 29th, 1999 9:51 AM

I just crashed the w95 ns4.51 browser twice trying to get it to load, the new XUL Tool site. -dcm 3-29-99 11:52 est

#10 Re:Downloadable Chrome News

by Dave Hyatt

Monday March 29th, 1999 9:54 AM

The site is not allowed to change the user's chrome without the user first being prompted, and the script to do so would have to be signed.

Sites can use to open a new window with their own set of chrome, but they won't be allowed to change the user's chrome easily. Having the chrome change from site to site would be a thoroughly unpleasant experience.

As for separation of structure and appearance, the spec outlines how this should be achieved (even though the navigator.xul file is not living up to the spec yet).

All style should be in CSS files (and moved out of inline style declarations, so that the main XUL file doesn't contain any style info). All JS functions should be removed into a separate XUL fragment (so that behavior and structure are separated). Even better would be if we could get support for action sheets within CSS, so that handlers like "onClick" could be defined using style rules and placed in the CSS. Then "look and feel" through CSS would really mean "look and feel", and not just "look". :)

I'll try to clean up the XUL file in my next checkin, assuming I have XUL fragments working well enough to try to pull that stunt.

#11 Re:Downloadable Chrome News

by incubus

Monday March 29th, 1999 10:11 AM

I would like to just download chrome like Amp Skins. To use the look I want and not have companys wind new ways to stick ads in my face. Although it would be interesting to see what a porn site would look like. But I think that there should be a .netscape/chrome folder where you download .chrome files and use the same skin until your bord of it. Any one interested in makeing a NeXT style chrome?

#12 Re:Downloadable Chrome-XUL Tool Site Crashes 4.51

by vead

Monday March 29th, 1999 12:36 PM

I just tried it again. After poking around, I found that the link

(note the trailing slash) will work on w95/ns4.51 .

The link as listed has no trailing slash, and crashed me twice. So. For the xultool item above the link here should work.

--dcm 14:36 est

#13 Re:Downloadable Chrome-XUL Tool Site Crashes 4.51

by steve morrison

Monday March 29th, 1999 1:21 PM

Sorry, folks. The linux 4.51 is more stable than windows 4.51 ;-) The problem was specifying a border on the body element using stylesheets. When reloading the document (by pressing back), it crashed. This usually works, but not here... I took the border off. It doesn't crash anymore. Sorry for the inconvenience. I'll fix this for real tonight. Vead - You probably caught me before and after I fixed it ;)

#14 Re:Downloadable Chrome News

by _Dan

Monday March 29th, 1999 9:57 PM

"Sites can use to open a new window with their own set of chrome, but they won't be allowed to change the user's chrome easily. Having the chrome change from site to site would be a thoroughly unpleasant experience."

Will a signed script be required to change the chrome in a new window opened using or just in the main browser window??? I think the page author should be allowed full controll of windows opened using, and no controll over the main browser window!!! This would keep the user safe from unwanted attacks on the main browser window, and still give developers the controll they need to create true web based applications.

#15 Re:Downloadable Chrome News

by Dave Hyatt

Monday March 29th, 1999 10:33 PM

You wouldn't have to run signed JS to open a new window with

#16 Re:Downloadable Chrome News

by SomeSmartAss

Tuesday March 30th, 1999 8:00 AM

It called a **User** Interface for a reason. It's because it is what the end user uses to navigate with the web. It is NOT the play thing of some witty (or more usually half-witty) page designer.

I design site, and I also design end user interfaces for corperate clients (Oracle forms/VB stuff) I get more flack about where a button/text feild/menu Item goes, and how it works than anything else (huge HEATED debates).

The majority of USERS (not designers) don't want a consistantly changuing chrome!!! it confuses them, and in some cases, scares the crap out of people. If they want to download your chrome, they will. If they want to try your chrome, they will follow the link. You force them, through javascript, to endure the jamming of your chome down their throat, they will never come to your site again, they will tell their friends never to go to your site, and they will flame you, telling you why they will never go to your site. They will probably also stop using a browser that allows the horendous "feature" (I being one of the latter)

Why is so important to you to suddenly have to change the chrome!!! Isn't page content enough. I already sit through more than my fair share of Java Craplets that do nothing that a gif-animation/JavaScript mouse-over could do. I realy don't (and I said this before) want to have to figure out if the Wookie head means back or reload.

BTW. Disney won't want to do this type of browser hyjacking (and that's exactly what it is, hyjacking). This because Disney has a marketing department that says that a large percentage of their audience are familys who just bought a computer "for their kids". These people live in fear of those (non-existant) nasty "don't open e-mails entitled ..." viruses that'll wipe out there hard drive just cause you looked at them. The marketing department will tell them that hyjacking the chrome would be viewed as invasive and confusing to these newbies. Marketing will also tell them that hhyjacking will be viewed as invasive and HIGHLY agrivating by a lot of power-users.

We designers have been given a very powerful tool here, don't shoot yourselves in the foot by demanding too much power.

a browser that allows me to change chrome is cool. a browser that allows site-designers to force chrome change is NOT cool. its evil and it will never be accepted by the mainstream, no matter how small/fast/compliant it is.

Stop thinking with the "uhhh..HHeHHeHHE.. this is the Coolest thing I have ever seen. uhhh..HHeHHeHHE../Look Ma NO HANDS" part of your brain and look at it from a non "web-designer on an ego-trip" perspective.

#17 Re:Downloadable Chrome News

by AnotherSmartZass

Tuesday March 30th, 1999 1:51 PM

Hey Kovu, quick over here! A naysayer!!! Welcome SmartAss, you'll fit right in.

Speaking from the perspective of a web-designer on an ego trip... nay, power-user enjoying the web (shucks, both!) I don't entirely agree. However I do HEHEHEHEH enjoy your writing style HEHEHHEEHE.

Getting to the point... Disney WOULD want to ship chromer which integrates and accentuates their site. They would probably have two index/home pages - one with and one without (kind o like one with 'craplets' and one text only)

I imagine I would spend an enormous amount of time in the skin one because I - unlike you - DONT think designersand huge coporations like Disney are stupid. In fact I think they will NOT use unituitive wookie heads, rather they will add custom searches and Aurora trees and weird buttons which do cool things. Perhaps if you let them would ship chrome which makes this kind of skin for an app look like this

And yes I know users dont like change. I hve experienced these things as well, but you shouldn't stop progress, regardless of how you feel about it or whether you would use it yourself. I bet you don't use PUSH or CDF or the G2 channels? Does that mean no one else should be offered the technololgy? I may suit their clients or their target market or their needs better than yours!!

Freedom to innovate and freedom to do new things. Don't straightjacket your developers into YOUR world view.

#18 Re:

by Kovu

Tuesday March 30th, 1999 2:40 PM

I think the option is necessary, and gauging from the large, hostile response from TUCOWS customized IE5 , I think many people agree--and that was all over adding a measley Hotbot button. The wookie head would be cool, but you have to let me choose it first. I do think that Netscape is SORELY lacking in the customizable department at this point--if they want me to forget Windows they have to be able to make my computer interface LOOK like a Netscape machine. Imagine at least a DESKTOP theme God forbid. Do you know how shocked I was to find no official Netscape desktop theme? But still, I agree that the choice to change my UI should remain with me, not somebody else. If Disney can do it, so can the idiot that did that Melissa thing and his home page. You can't get hosed just because you make the mistake of visiting a page.

#19 Re:Downloadable Chrome News

by Kovu

Tuesday March 30th, 1999 4:07 PM

I think the best way to please both sides would be to have "webtop themes" or something like that. Put a button or indicator flag (maybe on the personal toolbar?) that waves letting people know when they visit a site that they can push it and change their theme to match that site if they should so wish--and just as easily change it back again. This button/indicator should remain similar or identical in all "themes," and should only flag tested (and therefore approved) sites, similar to the new Netscape channels.

#20 Keep off my UI.

by Waldo

Tuesday March 30th, 1999 4:50 PM

Ok, here's why I don't want remote sites to control my UI:

* Ads - They're annoying enough IN the page. * Bandwidth - I don't want to have to download a screenful of crappy UI buttons and graphics for every page I go to. * Security - I don't want someone moving my buttons around, eliminating a "back" button, say, or remapping buttons to do weird shit (say, make all buttons go to their "order" page or something) without me knowing.

if I need to use a foreign UI (which shouldn't change for most people, because it's supposed to be CONSISTANT) web designers can build their custom buttons w/regular old javascript INSIDE the page area. Ie, extend the buttons but not replace/remap them.

Incidentally, is there going to be an easy way for the user to distinguish between their own UI and the actual web page contents? They're both made of similar "stuff"...


#21 Re:Downloadable Chrome News

by Adhitya Chittur

Tuesday March 30th, 1999 8:20 PM

Now we're gonna hafta make back and forward buttons for the Chrome...and then make sure that these back and forward buttons can't be tinkered with...

#22 Re:Downloadable Chrome News

by ItHadToHappenSomeday!!

Tuesday March 30th, 1999 8:30 PM

It had to happen one day - I cannot believe it!! Are you sitting down? Kovu is right. I believe his button to show or unshow the skin is the correct and balanced answer. On the one hand the site has the skin, on the other hand the user has the power (I always want to stand up and shout that while holding a sword towards lighting or something!) the butn should be fixed regardless of the chrome and thus provides easy exit from a wookie-induced nightmare.

#23 Re:Downloadable Chrome News

by Kovu

Tuesday March 30th, 1999 9:19 PM

Great Waldo, so don't click the button. That's why it's there, and no, you don't need back and forth buttons, the one will be fine, and if it's on the personal toolbar, that means it can be deleted just like the Netscape AOL Instant Messenger one that comes with 4.5. Hopefully it would be non-annoying like the Netscape Mail Notification that sits in the bottom right of your taskbar now, and would just wave at you when you happened upon a site that had a Netscape registered skin/theme. If you don't want to use the themes, DELETE THE BUTTON. It is, after all, your PERSONAL taskbar.

#24 Re:Downloadable Chrome News

by Waldo

Tuesday March 30th, 1999 11:37 PM


I'm not against having themed browsers and cool skins, I'm just saying that if I've got a particular skin I'm happy with, that I've toiled over to get just the buttons I want, the shortcuts I need, and the graphics perfect... I don't want some other site coming along pulling out buttons or remapping 'em without my permission. At the very least, as you propose, there should be a "switch" between the "local" skin and my default skin, although that too could be a pain.

So let's say we have a button down in the bottom right that says "SKIN-AWARE SITE" basically. You click it and it replaces your skin. Does it do it JUST for that site or domain, like a cookie? Or does it continue to be the default site for other pages? Now if you switch to another site which also uses a custom skin, when you click the button saying you DON'T want it to load, does it revert back to your default or does it revert back to the previous custom skin?

Furthermore, is there any way to avoid a situation where someone is maliciosly remapping my skin? (removing forward/back, or remapping buttons to go to say, banner sites or doing some kind of web spoofing, etc.)

See how it's confusing? But ok, fine, so how about an immutable button somewhere on the bottom that means this is a "SKIN-AWARE" site. But if you click it, it's at your own risk-- you could get hosed.

Is this somewhere in the XUL scheme? Ie, a way for the browser to check if a site is providing skins - and a button for users to press to turn them on and off? (I'm telling you right now, though, I'm keeping mine off...)


#25 Re:Downloadable Chrome News

by _Dan

Wednesday March 31st, 1999 12:54 AM

Every one is so worried about having there crome magicly altered just by visiting a site, they arn't paying attention to what Dave Hyatt is saying. He said that if a site wants to change the crome in your main browser window they will have to use a signed script (which produces a big warning message before it does anything). He said that the user has total control over there crome (the're even including an all elese fails reset defaults button). He said the only power given to web designers is the power to change the crome in a window they open using JavaScript in the first place, and that crome will only apply to that window. They allready let you remove all the crome from a JS window, why not let you change it???

#26 Re:Downloadable Chrome News

by Daniel Hill

Wednesday March 31st, 1999 2:27 AM

I think I said this somewhere else, but if you go the signed scripts, nobody outside of the US can get the developer certificates. Well, not in Australia, anyway.

Personally, I think it should not be site controllable UNLESS you explicitly download the skin yourself and dump it in a directory, then select it. Don't allow webmonkeys to change it.

#27 Re:Downloadable Chrome News

by Kovu

Wednesday March 31st, 1999 4:37 AM

The button should default to your standard "skin," yet allow you to right-click on it and select from past themes you have been at this session, and have an option to "bookmark" those themes you like, or not. If you kill the browser without doing so, when you bring it up again your default theme should be the one to pop up. You should also be able to switch your default theme, but this should be fairly difficult to do and still have an easy out to the original theme somewhere. This whole thing maybe should be as difficult to start as the Netscape Mail Notification now is (to avoid scaring the crap out of newbies), you have to deliberately go into Start/Programs/Communicator/Utilities to set it up and change the default.

I also think it should go up on your personal toolbar (above) and not in your system tray (bottom right). I was only comparing the button to the Netscape Mail Notification button that just so happens to reside in the system tray (which is fine, mail is more important than webtop themes). Enough crap clogs up my system tray without that there, too.

Note that whether through JavaScript or whatever, these themes should only be somehow registered first and approved before they can use this flag. I agree above and still do, that you should not be able to just go to a site and have your system change. If you really, really wanted it this way, maybe you could go into Security and lower your default "webtop" security, allowing sites you visit to change your theme at will. This should be just as hard to do as it is now to lower your security defaults--and no harder.

Concerns above are justified, I think, this should not be taken lightly. However, with the proper cautionary measures taken, like the ones I've described above, I think it should also be doable for those who want to participate.

#28 Re:SomeSmartAss Weighs in again

by SomeSmartAss

Wednesday March 31st, 1999 11:14 AM

OK. I went a tad too balistic. sorry. I must say though that this discussion is nicely moving towards an acceptable middle ground for all of us.

The only problem I see with a "Skin Aware" button (ala Kovu) is that, well, either we'll have to build them into each chrome all the time; or there will have to be some sort of "Perma-Chrome" which realy just defeats the purpose. The best place to put it is a branch in the Properties dialog, complete with list of previous chromes.

As for dynamically downloadable Chrome. the "fork in the road" start page method (akin to many Macromedia-aware sights) is a very nice Idea. I'm just afraid of (some) designers doing a <BODY onLoad=";self.close;" sort of deal, that would, in effect, force a user to pull down chrome (or just not see the page).

I know Disney will build chrome, and lots of it. never disputed that for a second. I just don't think that they would want to force it on users (as WotsUp had insinuated).

And I never said Disney, nor designers were stupid (well... not ALL designers)

I personally have a large "web-designer on an ego-trip" part of my brain, that gets really dangerous if left to run unchecked. is perfect example of my own, personal "JavaScript out the wazoo" self-agrandizing methodology (and this link proves that I love to show it off). Heck, it used to be even worse... (I will never play with KAI's power tools again) Despight our best intentions, there will be those out there (present company potentially included) that will attempt to hyjack, and (Waldo's worse fear) find new and inovative ways to advertise, and generally, pull some some pretty annoying "look what I can do" stunts. I was just trying to stave off a stampede towards the potential disaster that would be ultimate, unchecked, control over Chrome. (like I could ever stave off a stampede of any kind ;) )

BTW. there will be Wookie head back buttons, and worse. (the thought of "Porn Throbbers" quickly jumps to mind)

#29 Re:Downloadable Chrome News

by HaHaHaHaHaHa

Wednesday March 31st, 1999 3:45 PM

Bring on the porn throbbers! YEEHAA!!! This gives a whole new meaning to hat a "knob control" is!!

#30 Re:Downloadable Chrome News

by Kenshin

Wednesday March 31st, 1999 7:38 PM

I call it "the invasion of people with no design skills and very bad taste". It's a very frightening thought...

#31 Re:Downloadable Chrome News

by _Dan

Wednesday March 31st, 1999 11:06 PM

"I'm just afraid of (some) designers doing a <BODY onLoad=";self.close;" sort of deal, that would, in effect, force a user to pull down chrome (or just not see the page). "

This can't happen!!! Try calling self.close() in the main browser window, it pops up a dialog asking you if you want to let the script close the window. This is part of the built in JavaScript security in all browsers!!!

You guys are so paranoid your basicly making downloadable chrome into a plug-in, forcing web developers to provide a "You must first download my crome for this site to work" link on all there pages. You obviously don't see the potential for web based applications!!! Giving developers the freedom to change OS level interface controlls opens Mozilla up into a developement platform, rather than just a browser.

So once agian I say that "Full" controll of the chrome in a "New" window (opened using should be given to the web developer. Whats the worst that could happen??? Some punk who thinks he's funny opens a new window with wierd wookie head, add cluttered crome, that can be discarded simply by closing the new window??? How is this any worse then someone oppening a full screen window with no chrome at all, sites that pop up endless advertisements in new windows, or even the stupid newbee who starts off his site by poping up 50 alert boxes one after the next???

#32 Re:Downloadable Chrome News

by Dave Hyatt

Thursday April 1st, 1999 1:08 AM

Web developers will have full control over any new windows that they open via JavaScript. They already have that control, so it would be silly to restrict what chrome they could place in the new window.

#33 Re:Downloadable Chrome News

by mozineAdmin

Thursday April 1st, 1999 5:16 AM

Everyone is concerned about the use of skins in an abusive way. I'd be interested to hear what you think about the positive uses for skins - like for web-based application development.

#34 Re:Downloadable Chrome News

by SomeSmartAss

Thursday April 1st, 1999 8:55 AM

Point taken _Dan. Its just when this discusion started, some of us were asking for an auto-chrome switch in the main window. That's what I didn't like. links to a new window, or downloads are fine. BTW speaking of JavaScript security, how will "Save Page/Image As" work?

Umm, positive uses eh? Well, I've actually been playing with Oracle webServer here at work (yes, even SmatAsses find employment sometimes). It dynamically converts Oracle "Forms 4.5" data entry forms to Java and pops them up within an Applet. Its pretty quick, but there is a bit of lag time trying to load up dynamicly created Java code every time you switch from form to form. Since all the actual data manipulation and grunt work is done through Servlets, chrome would be much faster for the client without sacrificing too much usability. (unless we can us the Function and arrow keys through JavaScript now)

#35 Re:Downloadable Chrome News

by Kenshin

Friday April 2nd, 1999 11:13 AM

Well, mozineAdmin wanted to here some interesting uses for skins. I'm not an expert, but you could have some sort of web application stuck into the skin which acts sort of like "My Netscape", getting you headlines through XML details (for example, if programs a skin it could have a little fold-open part like that for Disney news. You folks are obsessed with It's just a thought, don't know if it's entirely possible. Just trying to add to the postive conversation :-)

#36 Re:Downloadable Chrome News

by _Dan

Friday April 2nd, 1999 11:02 PM

Web based applications can go way farther then just simple "My Netscape" clones. With the combination of full DOM and CSS support Mozilla actually has the potential to become a development platform. It will be possible to create real applications that look and feel just like their desktop counterparts (without the need to download and install disk space eating executables). Downloadable chrome just adds to this possibility. It gives web authors the ability to create OS level interfaces saving them the hundreds of lines of JavaScript and CSS code it takes to replicate them. I can't wait for a final product!!!

#37 Re:Downloadable Chrome News

by Kovu

Saturday April 3rd, 1999 9:56 AM

That is a really cool thought. I want to see that happen. Do you mean beyond webmail, etc.?

#38 Re:Downloadable Chrome News

by _Dan

Saturday April 3rd, 1999 3:42 PM

"Do you mean beyond webmail, etc?"

Yes!!! I'm talking about web based applications like word processors, spread sheets, HTML editors, etc...

It will all take time to catch on, but I think that over the next year you'll start to see simple applications written in DHTML and then they'll only get better from there!!!

#39 Re:Downloadable Chrome News

by Gimme Features!

Saturday April 3rd, 1999 5:27 PM

I need to have someone clarify this question. Who or when will javascript be extended to provide access to the XML DOM?? Only VB script via IE5 can do this. It is CRUCIAL that 4.5 be updated to provide this to the development community NOW. I am thousands others need it NOW - not at the end of the year. IE is living in a features vacuum - their features are the only ones out there, there is no competition!

Whats going to happen on this issue?

#40 Re:Downloadable Chrome News

by Kovu

Sunday April 4th, 1999 4:54 PM

check this out for theme ideas...