Neoplanet Debuts Tech Demo with Gecko!

Thursday April 15th, 1999

Here's some good news for all of you out there worrying 'bout Moz. Neoplanet, which in the past has used IE's ActiveX HTML rendering control to create new browser interfaces for IE, is doing the same for Mozilla. They have a new technology preview for Windows users that allows you to switch between Mozilla and IE renderers in the same browser interface. It's still buggy (as Mozilla is still buggy), and they seem to be using a rendering engine from a while back, but it's an interesting development that signals Mozilla's entrance into an area once exclusively owned by MS.

In addition, Neoplanet is hiring 4 full-time coders to help with the Mozilla project.

I question a few statements in the CNet article announcing this new release.

First, "Its [Neoplanet's] first contribution will be an ActiveX wrapper for Mozilla, which will enable the browser to run ActiveX controls." I may be wrong, but I thought that ActiveX wrapper allowed Mozilla to be used as an ActiveX control itself. Adam Lock is already working on that (we have screenshots of two Mozilla ActiveX controls running in IE on our screenshots page).

If they are talking about building support for ActiveX into the layout engine of Mozilla, my question would be "Why?"

Paul states,

"Mozilla has been stymied by its inability to turn around a usable browser in more than a year of working on the released code.

Part of Mozilla's troubles have had to do with a lack of outside developer contributions. Contrary to the group's hopes, the lion's share of the Mozilla work is still done by Netscape/AOL engineers."

Paul's point is clear: Mozilla hasn't been released because third-party coders aren't picking up the slack. Even the most casual observer knows that Mozilla's pushed-back release date is due to their moving to an entirely new rendering engine for not only the HTML renderer, but for the UI as well. Sure, there are places for coders to step in and help fill gaps, but all the essential coding is getting done. It just takes time, and you could throw a thousand coders at it and it wouldn't get done significantly faster. Features that may be put off until a future release may make it in, but the core browser development is moving as quickly as it can under the circumstances. Methinks that the mainstream press is relying too much on Jamie Z's words. But, as one developer stated recently, "Let's not talk about him. He's irrelevant to us now."

Thanks to basic and kovu for the news.

#1 Re:Neoplanet Debuts Tech Demo with Gecko!

by SomeSmartAss

Thursday April 15th, 1999 7:43 AM

"Cre-e-e-e-e-e-e-k" (sound of flood gates beginning to open)

Besides the basic "I thought it already WAS an Active-X?" and "How will they put out a finished product BEFORE the gecko even goes beta?" questions that most of us no doubtably have, this is a great sign of things to come. If they're doing this now, before the lizard even goes beta, It should be no time before companies like NeoPlanet/Sausage/Allaire/Lotus start shipping with Gecko as they're default internal HTML rendering engine.

#2 Re:Neoplanet Debuts Tech Demo with Gecko!

by Chris Knoll

Thursday April 15th, 1999 8:01 AM

To support activeX controls embedded in Gecko, NeoPlanet will prolly rewrite some of the rendering engine to handle ActiveX controls. I don't know how the Mozilla development feels about supporting the <object> tag to embed activeX controls, but I think ActiveX controls embedded in web pages is as bad as using proprieteray HTML extensions. However, I'm confilcted about whether or not allow the use of embedded activeX controls would hinder or help the browser. I know the difference between Gecko being an ActiveX control vs. an ActiveX container, I just don't know if it would limit the cross-platform capacity if it was able to contain other ActiveX controls....


#3 Re:Neoplanet Debuts Tech Demo with Gecko!

by Kovu

Thursday April 15th, 1999 8:56 AM

I think Neoplanet may be counting on that by May (M6 completion) the rendering engine will be just about done if not done.

I think it's funny that they say they are "looking" at the UI feature to see it it's "worth" putting in. This feature is going to be one of the hugest selling points for Gecko, not withstanding full CSS1 support, etc., etc.

I like the Cre-e-e-a-a-k reference, yes, friends and neighbors, JZ's whining will soon be quite difficult to hear as ball really gets rolling.

I think if nothing else the four full-time Mozillans they hired are worth the article, maybe that's why they think they can make it by May.

#4 Re:Neoplanet Debuts Tech Demo with Gecko!

by Tekhir

Thursday April 15th, 1999 9:03 AM

I don't want ActiveX, it has too many security problems. It allows a coder to do too much harm. If I wanted ActiveX I would use IE.

#5 Re:Neoplanet Debuts Tech Demo with Gecko!

by SomeSmartAss

Thursday April 15th, 1999 9:03 AM

I didn't think that Mozilla was to have ONLY standerdized capabilities? The effort was to have Compliancy be the main push, but the engine also emulates the older (broken) DHTML implementations in NS4.x and IE 4.0 (doesn't it?) and I don't think they've done away with the <BLINK> tag either. It might even be advantagious to have IE-centric capabilities built in to the engine (maybe as undocumented "features" like "mocha:" and "about:mozilla" were). That way end users get to see everything with Mozilla, or just what MS wants you to see with IE) I don't think we should be trying to chase bleeding edge technologies (like XSL for example) until clearly defined standards are in place, but adding items that have been around for a while (since IE 3), standard or not, does makes sense. All in all, added functionality wouldn't be a bad thing, as long as it doesn't come at the expense of the staderized functionality.

Besides, while allowing Gecko to display ActiveX's would be a Windows-only endevour (unless, they've managed to port it to Mac as well) it would allow Mozilla to make inroads into the NT-Server intranet market, where a lot of companies have made internal web apps based on the ActiveX technology. The only problem is that the companies that develop these solutions tend to also use VBScript in their implimentation. (do we realy want VBScript? might as well add LotusScript while we're at it)

#6 Re:Neoplanet Debuts Tech Demo with Gecko!

by rgelb

Thursday April 15th, 1999 9:37 AM

I don't think they are talking about making Mozilla an ActiveX container, just an ActiveX control, so that they can embed it into the NeoPlanet. On top of that this ActiveX control already exists (by Adam Lock), so I don't what they are talking about. I don't understand what effort they are going to contribute if what they want is already done.

#7 Re:Neoplanet Debuts Tech Demo with Gecko!

by eMonk

Thursday April 15th, 1999 9:50 AM

It's nice to see the potential of Gecko in a product that's almost(?) ready to hit the market. It was also interesting to be able to switch between the Mozilla and IE rendering engines. Neoplanet with the Mozilla engine didn't render the box acid test correctly but it righted itself when I switched to fullsceen view.

As for whether supporting ActiveX controls will help or hinder the browser, I've yet to use a webpage and be seriously hampered because I dont have ActiveX support in Communicator. It don't care about it from a web development or a user perspective. It's a proprietary and single platform technology. It seems to me that's not what Mozilla's about.

#8 Re:Neoplanet Debuts Tech Demo with Gecko!

by stephan

Thursday April 15th, 1999 10:44 AM

I think we should really appreciate NeoPlanet's efforts. It could help tremendously.

Netscape 5 wont be out for some time yet, and NeoPlanet 5.0 will allow users to use the Mozilla rendering engine a lot earlier (May). Despite the Active-X dispute (I think this relies on a misunderstanding, I don't think NeoPlanet wants to claim credit for the ActiveX wrapper) NeoPlanet will offer a real browser we can point at and say "hey, Mozilla is the best implementation of web standards in any *shipping* browser". It will also make it a lot easier for us web developers to start designing pages for Netscape 5 without having to experience the tons of bugs that we have become so familiar with when using Apprunner.

I have to admit using IE5 - because running Netscape 4 on a P-133 is really a waste of time - and, let's face it - Netscape 4's CSS support sucks. I look forward to using a standards-based Mozilla browser. If that means using NeoPlanet for a while, I will.

Let's back Neoplanet to make sure Netscape fans can get a better alternative to 4.51 and 4.08. It might help stop people from using IE5 as well. And perhaps most important - we would get rid of the 'not there' and 'I wont believe it before I see it' arguments.

#9 Re:Neoplanet Debuts Tech Demo with Gecko!

by Kovu

Thursday April 15th, 1999 12:08 PM

Yes, of course we'll back them. They were using the IE5 exclusively, and merely saw the future and jumped on it. Once the Moz is really done people will start screaming and the avalanche will begin. This is just the first shout.

#10 Re:Neoplanet Debuts Tech Demo with Gecko!

by JavaTHut

Friday April 16th, 1999 12:12 AM

I wouldn't mind an active-x container so much as long as it defaulted to off and had massive warnings before turning it one; at that point it's become a smart plugin model.