Salon: The Browser as Middleware and Microsoft's Missteps
Friday November 12th, 1999
Thanks to James Keller for the news.
#1 Excellently Put
Friday November 12th, 1999 7:51 AM
I totally agree that Mozilla will have the same impact of change that the first "non-text" browsers had.
At first people couldn't stand Mosaic. Because they couldn't understand why you would want to use it. Then several years later after many companies built and enhanced the spec and idea. We can't imagine the Internet as text based anymore.
Mozilla is bringing applications to the browser/internet in an EASY manner CROSS platform. A lot of people do not see how this is an advantage or why you would want to. Even people currently supporting Mozilla.
However as the spec gets changed and it evolves over a few years, it will change the Internet as we know it. Even if it means I.E. replicating the functionality.
My 2 Cents.
This guy is right. If you dig deep on sites like slashdot you'll still find guys who think they can do anything with armed with emacs and links but the rest of the world moved on. Just as four years ago there are people who see no point in having web based applications. When you ask for reasons they will give you two fixable causes: internet is to slow and HTML is too limited. Both can be fixed and will be fixed. Mozilla deals with the second argument (to some extent) and broadband internet will do the rest.
This article hints on an interesting topic. Operating systems have become a commodity that is not worth very much on it self. What is an OS, when you look at windows you see a small, buggy, not so advanced kernel with whole lot of stuff on top of it. When you think about it, what exactly are the technical reasons for creating a strong dependency between those two? Answer: there isn't a technical reason.
From this it follows that crossplatform development is possible.
Of course Microsoft would be the last to stimulate this since their whole business is based on the model that you need their buggy, not so advanced kernel to run all their other stuff.
I agree. I could not see why I would write up an html page when gopher could do the same thing. A list of documents, and images.
Then came inline images, and more importantly, image maps. Only then did I see why you would use html. Image maps and put via get, the killer web server function.
#3 Mozilla Middleware?
Friday November 12th, 1999 11:17 AM
After I finished reading the article, I began ruminating on the idea of the browser as middleware. And I got to thinking, why not get right into it, have Mozilla MiddleWare. Web applications are great, sure. But sometimes you want to write a client-side application.
Well what if you could easily write a complete application that relied on much of the mozilla framework. Some of the easy-networking and especially the XML skins would be of great interest. If I could write an application that could already be skinned with next to zero effort on my part. Well.. I think that would be cool. Plus it would be cross-platform.
I'm not involved in Mozilla development, so It's not like I really know what I'm talking about. But here's where maybe someone can take this idea and run with it. I don't know what would be required to create some type of mozilla framework that others could build upon (to make non-browser/plug in type applications. Say.. a word processor, or a cross platform winamp). But I see the potential just in the browser, and in what I hear from any developer I talk to.
Good Idea? Bad Idea?
Friday November 12th, 1999 11:25 AM
I thought I'd also mention my agreement with Mark Gimein's assertion that it's Microsoft Office (not MSWindows) which has tied people so completely to the Windows platform. I've been using Office since.. well.. since I first started really using windows, and every company I've worked at has used Word/Excell/Outlook/etc. Now I know there are some companies that don't, but still..
Recently I've started using staroffice (<http://www.sun.com/staroffice>), and it's quirky, but it's cross-platform-ness, free-distribution and open-source-ish licensing is definately one up on microsoft. The biggest plus, of course, is that it reads MSOffice files, so the upgrade was relatively painless (well, ok, I encountered this weird "missing soffice.ini" error, but I found the answer on some newsgroups).
I realize there are other alternatives than StarOffice, but I just thought I'd relate my experience.
Taken together, the above two posts are very interesting.
The biggest complaint I hear about StarOffice is that it imposes its own user interface, which can be quite different from the UI of the underlying OS.
If StarOffice was reworked to make use of Mozilla's reprogrammable user interface, it could create some amazing synergy.
I think the Sun Community Source Code License would keep that from ever happening.
Argh, you may be right. KOffice anyone?
Sun is a parthner of AOL which owns netscape which created mozilla, so why not?
Wouldn't the Mozilla Public License allow Sun to incorporate the necessary code into StarOffice?
> 3.7. Larger Works. > > You may create a Larger Work by combining Covered Code with other > code not governed by the terms of this License and distribute the > Larger Work as a single product. In such a case, You must make sure > the requirements of this License are fulfilled for the Covered Code.
#14 StarOffice has it's own reality
Friday November 12th, 1999 11:37 PM
I'll agree with that one. As a win95 user, I'm used to my desktop and things behaving in a certain way. StarOffice's default behavior is to make itself the desktop (which it does not do 100% well) and it begins changing some of the common metaphors that I'm used to. Now perhaps in another OS this is more normal, but it all combines into a slightly unfriendly first impression. It's trying to be more than *just* an application.
Mozilla has it beat hands down. Mozilla is exactly what I expect + more. So you could be onto something with the whole synergy angle. I appreciate what Sun's trying to do. And maybe in time I'll love StarDesktop, but if I weren't a bit of a power user I'm sure I would have given up by now. <shrug> lessons to learn from I guess.
#21 Require good java support in Mozilla
Monday November 15th, 1999 11:38 PM
Thanks, Brad GNUberg
#8 Mozilla Middleware?
Friday November 12th, 1999 1:51 PM
Actually, Mozilla as MiddleWare is already happening. People have used Mozilla to develop things like IRC clients, text editors, even a termal emulator, I believe.
When Mozilla is released I believe we'lll see an explosion of applications built on Mozilla.
#10 Mozilla Middleware?
Friday November 12th, 1999 3:13 PM
I'm the one developing the "terminal emulator" called XMLterm. Actually, with the power of Mozilla one can do much more than just emulate a dumb terminal--one can considerably enhance the command line interface using graphics and hypertext. Therefore, I like to think of my program as a "terminal enhancer" ;)
#15 Mozilla Middleware?
Friday November 12th, 1999 11:42 PM
Indeed, but maybe it's just packaging I'm thinking of. Some sort of middleware API targetted at fellow developers interested in creating application that depend on Mozilla, but are not, in themselves, that related to mozilla.
Kindof the way Borland Delphi and Microsoft MFC [sorry I don't yet have experience outside of win95] are generic frameworks to base your own app off of. Mozilla has that potential, except it could be a category killer if it's cross-platform-ness can be maintained.
#9 Slighty offtopic but still Mozilla
by gerbilpower <email@example.com>
Friday November 12th, 1999 3:12 PM
This has nothing to do with the Salon article but it is Mozilla. And speaking as a guy who's only contribution to Mozilla is downloading the builds everyday and look for bugs, I noticed that the mozilla-win32.zip has increased by over 200k in the past week or so. Why is Mozilla getting a lil fatter? Thanx
#16 Slighty offtopic but still Mozilla
Sunday November 14th, 1999 11:58 AM
Usually its cause by adding features and making bug fixes. when they're first added they really don't give too much thought to size. However, when a team notcies their component is getting too big they start optimizing it.
by gerbilpower <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sunday November 14th, 1999 12:21 PM
Well that's good. For the past couple weeks Mozilla's weight has been stable and a sudden increase in a short period of time got me a lil worried, hehe
Should I be worried?