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 blogs.msdn.com 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.
Before I begin, I would just like to say I hate the name "Favorites." I find it condescending, like so much of what Microsoft does. Let's look past the name for a moment.
First, you're a Windows programmer. Thank you for your interest in Mozilla! We need people like you. As for you being yelled at, every site on the net has creeps. Just ignore them.
Second, if you have a patch for Mozilla or Firefox that enables use of IE Favorites, just go to bugzilla.mozilla.org, create a bug, and post the patch to it, seek reviews, and chances are it will be checked in. The people snarling at Mozillazine don't make the call as to whether the patch gets in. The people who make the call are all very intelligent people.
Third, even if you do find a roadblock on Bugzilla, just make your patch into an extension, go over to Mozdev.org and put it up there for the world to see and use.
Foruth, I agree with you 100% on IE Favorites. As a long-term die-hard Mozillian, I must sadly admit that IE Favorites are light years ahead of Mozilla bookmarks. Let me tell you why. Not only do they just work better, they are less prone to data loss. Our bookmarks.html file has a number of open bugs concerning files that have been totally blown away by bugs in Mozilla. Those bugs still exist.
For that reason, I have switched over to 3rd party bookmark managers for all my Mozilla bookmarks. I have found them lacking. Now I'm just using IE Favoties. When I need to get a bookmark, I just drag it over to Mozilla. It works okay. At least my data is safe.
A couple of benefits to the IE Favorites implementation.
* What you really want in a bookmarks manager is the ability to organize entries into subdirectories and the ability to search. In short, you want a file manager. Our current bookmarks.html makes a rather poor file manager. IE Favorites leverages the system's file manager (NTFS or whatever). Hard drive space is not really the biggest consideration in the era of 80GB drives.
* Searching through IE Favorites is easy. You go to the Start menu, Find, Files or Folders, search in c:\windows\favorites , and look for the filename. If you want to search by URL, use "Containing text." This is not rocket science. UNIX had grep eons ago. Our bookmarks.html search function works, too. On this account, we're even.
* Organizing IE Favorites is incredibly easy. It's far easier than dealing with the clunky Bookmarks Manager. You can either use IE's interface, or you can just use any file manager, such as Windows Explorer.
I would prefer for us to just scrap our bookmarks.html implementation and clone IE Favorites. In fact, I wish somebody would open a bug to do that in Bugzilla. (Post the bug # here!) Just getting Mozilla to use IE's Favorites, though, would be huge.