Mozilla Services Proposal

Thursday June 24th, 1999

Xplo Eristotle writes in with his proposal for new functionality for Mozilla.

Xplo writes, "I've had an idea for an addition to the Mozilla UI which I call 'Mozilla Services' (or MZS for short). It doesn't really affect Mozilla itself, but it could potentially mean a lot for Mozilla users. I've put up a web page describing it."

It's an interesting proposal, even though it would be "Mozilla only" functionality. My opinion? Well, since you asked! I think that any "proprietary" functionality that is extraneous to the HTML of the page is fine. It's when the functionality starts showing up in HTML and breaking pages on other platforms and browsers that the browser-specific stuff becomes a problem. This seems to be a case of the "extraneous" functionality - similar to Flash panels and plaintext content parsed by other webpages.

#12 Oh good, you *are* still reading

by Anon

Thursday July 15th, 1999 6:03 PM

You are replying to this message

`And why shouldn't I be? It's my proposal.' Because you didn't *say* it was your proposal. I suspected you might be Xplo -- I couldn't see how anyone else could be so vitriolic towards someone who disagreed with MZS -- but I didn't want to jump to conclusions about your identity. :-)

`I find the implication that I am required to wait for you to explicitly describe your flaws before I become capable of recognizing them, faintly offensive.' What, so you think that my rejection of unwarranted personal attacks is `faintly offensive', but your description of me as `possess[ing] no attribute that could NOT be improved by kissing a piece of hickory at 120 kph' is presumably *not* offensive? How very strange.

You can accuse me of poor grammar, misspelling, inconsistency, hypocrisy, anything you have got evidence for from my posts; but if you don't have the evidence for any other personal attack (such as your attack on *all* my `attributes'), then desist, because it just makes you look bad.

`Here you go again saying that MZS will cause bad design and broken pages.. but you have no evidence to support your claims'. Ok, I'll spell it out more clearly.

No matter how good Mozilla gets, it will never be the only Web browser in existence: blind people, those who use headphones-and-microphone Web browsers in their car or kitchen, those who browse in text mode on their cellular phones, and so on, will always be using browsers other than Mozilla, and for good reason.

Because there will always be a plethora of Web browsers, it increases the usefulness of the Web as a whole if all Web pages follow the same standards which allow them to work on any Web browser. These standards are set down by the W3C, and include HTML, CSS1, CSS2, and XML. One of the primary reasons for the excitement over Mozilla is that it promises to support these standards properly.

Anything on the Web which restricts itself to one browser makes the Web less useful. This is because it increases the cost of Web page production (time spent building in workarounds or parallel versions of Web pages), the cost of finding information (from the fact that many people will just not bother to put up such pages, so the Web will be smaller), and the cost of navigation (time and bandwidth spent finding and navigating to the correct version of a Web page for your browser, or even bandwidth spent loading browser-sniffing code).

The sole point of including MZS in Mozilla *is* to restrict parts of the Web to one browser. You noted this in your original proposal, when you said that use of MZS would `piss all over Microsoft'. There can be no other reason for MZS because, as I have noted previously, everything that MZS does can be achieved with existing HTML -- the only difference being the position of the interface element (which I discuss below).

Now you say that `some people are responsible designers and some aren't; and that the responsible [designers] will know to include non-MZS content, just like they would include clean browser sniffers or ALT tags or NOFRAMES content or anything else'. But will they bother to use MZS at all? I don't think so. Non-MZS content, and browser sniffers, and NOFRAMES content, are examples of the sort of duplication which increases the cost of the Web. But, and this is the crucial point, everything MZS does can be done -- just as easily -- using a standard, non-MZS method. So instead of including non-MZS content, responsible designers will just use the non-MZS method, to decrease the cost of Web production. I am therefore forced to the inescapable conclusion: only irresponsible designers will use MZS.

`So I don't know what you're talking about, but my browser sure doesn't do anything to encourage good design.. the best it can do is allow it.' Oh really? Not supporting BLINK would be one obvious example of encouraging good design. Not allowing designers to specify whether a frame has scrollbars would be another. And not supporting ActiveX in Web pages (because of its horrendous security, and platform-dependence) would be yet another. If a feature will only be used by irresponsible designers, it makes sense not to include it in Mozilla.

`The difference between those methods and MZS is simply that MZS is always available and uses up otherwise wasted space on the toolbar, while putting the links directly on the page would either require frames (possibly wasting genuinely useful screenspace) or scrolling to find the link.' Otherwise wasted space? Surely you jest! Screen space is precious, and very few sites would use MZS, so the MZS button would have no function most of the time -- it would largely be a waste of space. Putting a permanent MZS button on the toolbar makes as much sense as, say, a `search this site' form on the toolbar to cater for those sites with a search facility, or a `sign my guestbook' button on the toolbar to cater for those sites which have a guestbook, or anything else which is only ever going to be activated by a few sites. I'd rather use that toolbar space for something more useful.

`Incidentally, I never said that MZS *has* to be integrated into Moz by default. I simply feel that without that integration to give it exposure (both to designers and to the general public), it'll end up being ignored, and any benefits it might have provided will be lost.' Well, I think that the costs MZS would cause overwhelmingly outweigh any benefits it might provide, so it's my duty to discourage its integration.

I see Mozilla as a tool for making the Web more useful. You, on the other hand, appear to see the Web as a tool for making parts of Mozilla more useful (namely, the MZS button). So I guess our disagreement isn't going to be resolved any time soon.

Have a nice day

-- mpt