Shock as Microsoft Evangelist Robert Scoble Recommends Microsoft Technologies

Monday May 10th, 2004

Much has been made in recent days about Microsoft evangelist Robert Scoble and his comments about how Mozilla can take advantage of the new technologies introduced in Longhorn, the next major version of Windows. Scoble's thoughts on how Mozilla Firefox could be enhanced via features such as Avalon, Longhorn's new graphics layer, and WinFS, the enhanced file storage system, prompted InternetNews to conduct a follow-up interview, sparked a discussion at Slashdot and caused MozillaNews to quote almost enough to stretch the definition of fair use.

Which is interesting, as nothing Scoble said was particularly surprising. The fact that a Microsoft employee even mentioned Mozilla was a shock to some but it should be noted that Scoble, who was an established member of the weblogging community long before taking a job at Microsoft, was speaking for himself and not Redmond. Furthermore, Microsoft have recently started encouraging their employees to maintain weblogs, launching initiatives such as and Channel 9. In addition, while some media outlets reported that Scoble was offering advice to Mozilla, in reality he simply was recommending technologies whose widespread adoption would benefit Microsoft. At its core, this is a simply case of a Microsoft evangelist evangelising Microsoft. Nothing particularly surprising about that.

So far, the reaction from the Mozilla camp has been cool. While some features like WinFS and Avalon may be embraced in time, any evaluation is unlikely to take place until much closer to Longhorn's release. Meanwhile, technologies such as XAML (which, to be fair, Scoble is not advocating Mozilla adopt), have been met with outright hostility, with leading Mozilla figures viewing the proprietary XML user interface language as a threat to the freedom and interoperability of the Web.

#35 Re: Sorry, guys....I was getting out of hand

by jgraham

Wednesday May 12th, 2004 3:10 PM

You are replying to this message

> Correct me if I am wrong.

You're wrong :)

Here's my take on how things actually work. This is off the top of my head and will be slightly inaccurate. Later bz or someone will come along and correct me and make me feel silly.

XUL is a language for defining interfaces. In the XUL file, you specify which widgets go where and how they behave. It gets parsed into a DOM tree in memory, the scripts get interpreted and so on. From the DOM tree, (some part of) Mozilla decides which widgets need to be rendered and where they need to go. It then uses the platform-specific APIs to provde the actual rendering (see <> which I think is the relevant code). There's also nsITheme which asks the native toolkit to draw bits of widgets so that we have a nativeish look (e.g. the scrollbars look like the scrollbars in your OS theme). There's a bit more infrmation (out of date of course) here: <>

Anyway ignorng the fact that the above isn't quite right, XUL and GTK are /both/ needed on Linux because they do different things. XUL specifes the structure and behavior of the UI and GTK provides the rendering. You need GTK equivalents on other platforms, but they're not listed because they can't be uninsalled like GTK can.

As for Longhorn, I imagine that Avalon (if that's the graphics layer) support wll be integrated quite quickly. The more interesting question is whether the /other/ suggestions that Scoble made will be taken up. The only concrete thing I remember him saying is that WinFS would allow a better history. I have more difficulty believing that Mozilla would take advantage of that because it would mean frkng a fairly major chunk of code and of UI that is currently (more or less) cross platform.