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Mozilla'new way, what about that?

Discussion of general topics about Seamonkey
pronik

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Post Posted December 8th, 2002, 8:36 am

Well, first a disclaimer: I am not a mozilla developer, but I might become one in the future. Therefore the following is only speculation - if I could do it, I would! It might become mozilla 2.0 stuff as well.

I am using Mozilla on my Debian Linux box, have been using it since M16-days (when nobody believed it could become a mainstream browser even though I told them that) and have been fully satisfied with it for the whole way. But in the last month or so, I do get a bad feeling about the project.

I feel that the way mozilla goes won't lead to success in the nearest future. The underlying model is perfect for cross-platform development, all the components models are also good designed. But there is this little "but": the Phoenix Project.

Phoenix showed me, how much bloated and uneffective mozilla actually is. I have understood, how much I hated Composer, how much I wanted to have Debian Packages for all the extensions of MozDev.org, how much I hated the impossibility of installing PrefBar in my local profile. I was astonished about the idea that all the components - Bookmarks, Download Manager, Printing, History, Venkman, DOM-Inspector, even small things like View Source - it all could have been a separate component built on the top of Gecko (and XUL for that matter).

And then I started looking onto the bugs, bug reports and their fixes. It became obvious, that far too many bugs come just from the Communicator-structure of Mozilla. Some kind of Mozilla-DIY-Lego-Browser suite would have been much nicer - install Gecko and then everything you might need onto it. Perfect configurability. More comfort than ever. Less bloat. Phoenix, Minotaur, Thunderbird - they show us the direction. It's UNIX philosophy - let small parts do their small job perfect - then the system will work.

It might just show you another example of such "bloated all-inside" project: DOS-Navigator by RitLabs - http://www.ritlabs.com. It has been a success in the DOS environment. But nobody ever wanted to port this stuff (now OpenSourced) to Linux - because nobody wanted a bloated programm, which could be perfectly replaced by a combination of flawlessly working GNU programms. I <em>do</em> see a parallel to Mozilla. Please tell whether you see it too, or am I just paranoid?

Thank you.

Ploum

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Post Posted December 8th, 2002, 9:18 am

I'm not a developper, but I agree with you for some points.

When I was under windows, I use Phoenix, because I have another mail reader and I only need a fast and customizable browser.
Now, I'm under Debian and I switch to Mozilla for some reasons :

1. I'm very lazy : apt-get install mozilla is very easy ! ;)
2. I need a light (thus not evolution) mail client : why not mozilla mail ? (if you have another idea, please say it !) and I'm currently happy with it !

It seems that mozilla is faster under linux but slower than phoenix. But I'm very angry because I lost a lot of phoenix futures !
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johann_p

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Post Posted December 8th, 2002, 12:27 pm

This discussion about "bloat" is a bit academic IMO. I much prefer Mozilla, simply because
it has many features I want and need and Phoenix does not. I prefer Mozilla because it integrates
to some extend mail, browsing, and calendar - and i do believe that a lot of additional, much needed
functionality could be gained by a more tightly functional integration of these components.
Whether this is done technically by monolithic software or by clearly structured components is
rather irrelevant for the user. If the phoenix + separate mail + separate calendar + separate
composer project ever
delivers something with the features and the integration of mozilla that can be maintained more
easily, fine. Until then I and many of my colleages prefer Mozilla.

You are free to not like what you consider a "bloated" program, but other people might not
want to use a "restricted, stripped down" program when the can have the complete thing.

So it is good to have both alternatives, but to say that Mozilla will fail or is inherently bad
because of its size and complexity is simply not true until somebody comes up with a collection
of cleanly designed programs that let me do the same as or more than Mozilla does now.

Finally, while I love the UNIX approach of splitting up everything in basic atomic tasks and just
provide tools and ways to combine everything from these atomic tasks, I also like to have
programs that let me do things without having to think what to use, how to combine etc.

In a nutshell, it is good to have both ed and emacs and it is good to have Mozilla and Phoenix.

It would be bad just to have MS-Word though, and that is what we all should really worry about.

Sander
 
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Post Posted December 8th, 2002, 1:02 pm

hear, hear!

Kommet

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Post Posted December 9th, 2002, 12:50 pm

I feel compelled to point out that Mozilla is supposed to be a technology, not a browser per se.

The original idea was that Mozilla would do the heavy lifting and Netscape (and others) would grab what they want, compile, add features, and produce new (Mozilla-based) applications. Phoenix is a great example of this "take Mozilla and build something cool" philosophy.

Mozilla is heavily browser-based and -biased thanks to its heritage (Netscape 4.7) and the fact that AOL/Time-Warner/Netscape wanted a browser. It is available as an all+kitchen-sink browser suite for testing and use because that is the easy way to get the code out the door so that fixes and features can be suggested. The fact that it makes a great browser is almost an unintended benefit of this testing process for the platform.

Mozilla.org have repeated stated that they aren't interested in making a web browser for users. They want the Netscape, Beonex, K-Meleon, Galeon, Phoenix, and Chimera teams (and everybody I forgot to mention) to build the browsers, and other groups to build IDEs, office suites, games, and whatever else suits them.

Mozilla shouldn't become a set of small, separate apps. Mozilla should continue as is, especially with regard to the MRE and GRE (Mozilla/Gecko Runtime Environment) projects which REALLY make Mozilla into a platform to be easily built upon.

What I can and will say "Hear, hear!" to is anyone who comes along and says "Great! Now we are going to build a small, cool, to-purpose tool from this platform.", like the Phoenix team did.

Ploum

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Post Posted December 9th, 2002, 1:57 pm

I'm probably stupid, but I never see a calenda in Mozilla ! That's interresting, how can I launch it ?
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doron
 
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Post Posted December 9th, 2002, 2:00 pm

If you see a marquee, clap your hands!

johann_p

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Post Posted December 9th, 2002, 3:03 pm

Excuse me, but this is kind of funny to say the least. When I look at web logs I often see
that Mozilla has about twice the user base of Netscape, and other browsers are very close
to the detection limit. And not surprisingly so - there are good reasons for users
to use Mozilla and not Netscape as a browser and there are even better reasons NOT to
use Netscape and prefer Mozilla. But whatever you think about this somewhat curious
distinction, fact is that Netscape and Mozilla are 97% equal except for added preconfigured
bookmarks spam, spellchecker, and IM, and cut-away popup manager.
The Netscape guys, instead of trying to figure out what might be behind this situation and
what might attract users to prefer Mozilla over NS, experiment with popup ads on their web pages.

Hint to the Netscape business bigheads: ever thought of the fact that there are sites like
MozillaZine, MozillaNews, Planet Mozilla, and dozens others, but not a single NS fan site?
How come? Ever thought of the fact that asking the "support" for NS will be equal to sending
email to /dev/null while asking a question e.g. at MozillaZine will get you good information by
nice and informed people? Ever thought oft the fact that despite some opposition of Netscape-related
people, contributors put those features into Mozilla people actually want, while NS seems to
be eager to take them out again? Ever thought of the fact that Mozilla binary distributions are available
for nearly all platforms and OS, while NS is only easily available for Win, linux und mac and forces
you to go to all kinds of struggle for the other platforms? Ever thought of the fact that the current
NS release is based on stone old technology compared with current (stable) Mozilla builds?

Alex Bishop
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Post Posted December 9th, 2002, 6:23 pm

Johann_P wrote:Hint to the Netscape business bigheads: ever thought of the fact that there are sites like MozillaZine, MozillaNews, Planet Mozilla, and dozens others, but not a single NS fan site?


There's plenty of Netscape fan sites: the <a href="http://ufaq.org/">Netscape Unofficial FAQ</a>, <a href="http://sillydog.org/">Silly Dog 701</a>, <a href="http://www.hmetzger.de/net6e.html">Holger Metzger's site</a> etc. Can't think of any IE fan sites though.

I think the reason that sites such as MozillaZine are popular is because Mozilla has such an open development process. This means that news is readily available and all the sites you mention focus on news as the core of their operations. The open development process also encouraged a community to grow around Mozilla and, despite what anyone says about content being king, it's the community aspect of these sites that keeps people coming back.

It could have all been so different: MozillaZine was originally going to be a guitar website.

Johann_P wrote:How come? Ever thought of the fact that asking the "support" for NS will be equal to sending email to /dev/null while asking a question e.g. at MozillaZine will get you good information by nice and informed people?


I've got to agree with you that open source peer support is usually extremely effective. Netscape do utilise this to some extent with their newsgroups on secnews.netscape.com.

Johann_P wrote:Ever thought oft the fact that despite some opposition of Netscape-related people, contributors put those features into Mozilla people actually want, while NS seems to be eager to take them out again?


Although Netscape have objected to some checkins in the past, they don't make a policy of trying to get every non-Netscape checkin removed from their product. And anyway, Netscape has contributed many of the most popular features to Mozilla. Go look at the <a href="http://www.mozillazine.org/poll_results.html?id=2683">current poll</a>: every one of those features was implemented primarily by Netscape engineers.

Johann_P wrote:Ever thought of the fact that Mozilla binary distributions are availablefor nearly all platforms and OS, while NS is only easily available for Win, linux und mac and forces you to go to all kinds of struggle for the other platforms?


mozilla.org compiles binaries for Windows, Linux, Mac OS 9 and Mac OS X. All other binaries are contributed by volunteers. And as Mozilla is a technology demonstration, of course they're going to want to have it running on as many platforms as possible. They don't have to support them all; Netscape does.

Johann_P wrote:Ever thought of the fact that the current NS release is based on stone old technology compared with current (stable) Mozilla builds?


Again, this is because Mozilla's development is open. You can access the latest improvements as they're checked in. Netscape have their own internal builds of Netscape 7.x that include all the recent Mozilla checkins. They're technology is fully up to date. And anyway, I would hardly call August "stone old". Not that it will be relevant for much longer: builds of the 1.0.2-based Netscape 7.01 have been ready to go since around November 20th and will be released as soon as they sort out a couple of installer bugs. And they're already working on Buffy, their next trunk-based release.
Alex

johann_p

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Post Posted December 10th, 2002, 6:58 am

I agree with all your replies - these are good reasons why NS has the drawbacks it has.
My argument went more in the direction that one should just accept the fact that a lot
of people simply prefer Mozilla - instead of calling it a "technology demonstration" why not
simply accept it as an unsupported browser for the end user - similar to scores of other
open development programs where the user gets what he gets?
I just dont like to hear this strange story of "Mozilla not a browser" - and I have no other
explanation for that story except for it to be a lame attempt to make less people use Mozilla
and more Netscape :)
My original motivation to post this was not to point out weaknesses of NS but to reply to the
myth "...Mozilla is supposed to be a technology, not a browser per se" (Kommet).

nicubunu

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Post Posted December 10th, 2002, 7:14 am

Mozilla is a browser, used by end users. If not, why are we here ?
nicu
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Alex Bishop
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Post Posted December 10th, 2002, 8:33 am

Johann_P wrote:My argument went more in the direction that one should just accept the fact that a lot
of people simply prefer Mozilla - instead of calling it a "technology demonstration" why not
simply accept it as an unsupported browser for the end user - similar to scores of other
open development programs where the user gets what he gets?


Some people do use Mozilla as an end-user browser and mozilla.org isn't going to try and stop them. These users just have to be aware that the browser is unsupported, not every release is going to work right and that they're going to have to figure some things out for themselves. Of course, most people who use Mozilla in this way are more advanced users who can cope with these things.

Johann_P wrote:I just dont like to hear this strange story of "Mozilla not a browser" - and I have no other explanation for that story except for it to be a lame attempt to make less people use Mozilla
and more Netscape :)


Well, Mozilla is a browser, just not a browser that's aimed directly at end-users.

Johann_P wrote:My original motivation to post this was not to point out weaknesses of NS but to reply to the myth "...Mozilla is supposed to be a technology, not a browser per se" (Kommet).


I think it's best to think of Mozilla as a technology and a browser.
Alex

Alex Bishop
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Post Posted December 10th, 2002, 8:38 am

nicubunu wrote:Mozilla is a browser, used by end users. If not, why are we here ?


You're here because you're testing it! Mozilla builds are released so that people can develop and test it. In the process of testing, you may use it like an end-user browser but you're not a conventional end-user. Most end-users wouldn't expect to file bugs or spend time talking about their browser in a forum. To the majority of end-users, their browser is just a means to an end. To us, it's more of an interest or a toy to play with. That's why we're here.
Alex

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