Annotation of books/www/articles/bloom.html, revision 1.17

1.7       david       1: <h1>Let a Hundred Browsers Bloom</h1>
1.8       david       3: 
1.16      david       4: <p>The recently released <a href="">Netscape 7</a> may be the most well known
                      5: browser built with Mozilla, but it certainly is not the only one.  Mozilla is being used as a framework to create many different types of
                      6: applications including OEone's <a href="">HomeBase DESKTOP</a>, ActiveState's <a
                      7: href="">Komodo IDE</a>, and <a href="">all of the projects</a>
                      8: hosted on  People are also using Mozilla to create their own custom browsers <i>[link to brian's article]</i>.  This article
                      9: provides a survey of most currently available Mozilla browsers, so you can try them out and find the one that works best for you.
1.1       david      10: 
1.9       david      11: 
                     12: <h2>Why Do We Need More Than One?</h2>
1.16      david      14: <p>One of the benefits of Open Source development is that it prevents someone from having to reinvent the wheel whenever they are working
                     15: on developing something that has been done before.  Since the Mozilla community is already working on a browser, wouldn't it be better if
                     16: everyone just focused on making that browser as good as it can be?
                     18: <p>Instead of being a bad thing, the several different browser development projects that are currently underway are one of the Mozilla
                     19: community's greatest assets.  The simple reason for this is that one browser can not be all things to all people.  Each new type of
                     20: browser that gets built is filling a need that is not being met by any other existing option.  Each new browser that is built also has
                     21: the potential to appeal to a whole new audience that will help expand Mozilla's adoption.
                     23: <p>Another positive benefit of having multiple browsers is that it helps avoid compromises that don't make anyone happy.  AOL is
1.17    ! david      24: interested in using Mozilla to create a browser that appeals to novice Internet users, but the Mozilla developers who contribute their
        !            25: time to the project want to create a powerful browser with a collection of advanced features.  If the community is locked into working on
        !            26: only one browser, then the end result of this development process will be a browser that has a bewildering array of features that don't
1.16      david      27: appeal to either intended audience.
                     29: <p>If one browser can't possibly appeal to beginning users and power users at the same time, why not create two different browsers?  For
                     30: that matter, why not create as many different browsers as there are different types of users?  Since all of these browsers are built
                     31: using Mozilla, web developers can create sites using standards such as HTML, CSS and DOM that work well with all of these browsers and
                     32: users can browse the web with whatever tool suits them best.  Everyone wins.
1.1       david      33: 
1.8       david      34: 
1.7       david      35: <h2>Gecko Based Browsers</h2>
1.1       david      36: 
1.16      david      37: <p>There are two main types of browsers that are built using Mozilla.  Some developers choose to create their application using XUL,
                     38: Mozilla's cross-platform XML-based User Interface language.  Other developers prefer to use just Gecko, Mozilla's rendering engine, and
                     39: then create the interface of their browser using one of the toolkits native to a specific platform.  There are Gecko based browsers for
                     40: each of the major operating systems in use today, including Windows, Linux and Mac OS X.
                     42: <p>The goal of the <a href="">Chimera</a> project is to create a best-of-breed browser for the Mac OS X platform
                     43: with a user-interface that is as simple and as clean as possible.  Chimera uses <a
                     44: href="">Cocoazilla</a>, a variant of <a
                     45: href="">Fizzilla</a> that consists of a UNIX back end connected to a Cocoa front end.  Since
                     46: Chimera uses a native toolkit to create it's GUI it can't run on any platform other than OS X, but since it doesn't use XUL it is faster
                     47: than the default Mozilla browser on the same computer (applications written with XUL will always be slightly slower than applications
                     48: written with native toolkits because *** need explanation here, ask brian ***).  The most recent stable release, <a
                     49: href="">version 0.4</a>, is available for download along with <a
                     50: href="">nightly development builds</a>.
                     52: <p><img src=""><br> <font size="-1">Chimera with sidebar open</font>
                     54: <p><a href="">Galeon</a> and <a href="">K-Meleon</a> are projects that also
                     55: have the goal of creating a simple standards-compliant browser using Mozilla's rendering engine.  Galeon uses Gecko to create a browser
                     56: for the <a href="">GNOME</a> desktop and K-Meleon uses Gecko to create a Windows only browser.  The latest stable
                     57: version of Galeon can be <a href="">downloaded</a> for a variety of Linux distributions.  There
                     58: are also alpha versions available for <a href="">Galeon2</a>, which is a new major version of the
                     59: browser that takes advantage of the huge changes in architecture in the new GNOME 2 desktop.  The latest version of K-Meleon can be <a
                     60: href="">downloaded</a> for Windows and it includes a number of stability and configuration
                     61: changes over earlier versions.  Other Gecko based browsers include <a href="">SkipStone</a> and <a
                     62: href="">Q.Bati</a>.
1.8       david      63: 
1.7       david      65: <h2>XUL Based Browsers</h2>
1.16      david      67: <p>The other main category of Mozilla browsers include the projects building their applications using XUL.  In many ways, these projects
                     68: are similar to <a href="">themes</a>, but they take the idea of customizing the browser one step
                     69: further.  These custom browsers use XUL, CSS, and JavaScript to change the browser interface and not just the look of the browser.  For
                     70: instance, a theme developer can create new images for the buttons in the main toolbar, but a developer can edit the toolbar to add or
                     71: remove buttons in their own browser.
                     73: <p>One of the first custom browsers, <a href="">Aphrodite</a> was created as an alternative to the default
                     74: interface that ships with Mozilla.  Aphrodite includes a number of it's own themes, including FruityGum, Inferno and two flavors of the
                     75: Sullivan skin.  The crash recovery system <a href="">Total Recall</a> is also integrated
                     76: into the browser.  Development work continues on Aphrodite, although currently there isn't a new release that works with the latest
                     77: version of Mozilla.
                     79: <p><img src=""><br> <font size="-1">Aphrodite with the Sullivan grape theme</font>
                     81: <p><a href="">Beonex Communicator</a> is another XUL based browser that is a user-focused browsing suite
                     82: that also comes bundled with a mail client and a web page editor.  The latest stable version, Communicator 0.8, is available for <a
                     83: href="">download</a> for Windows and Linux.  Some other XUL based custom browsers include
                     84: <a href="">Project Piglet</a>, <a href="">MercurySpider</a>, and <a
                     85: href="">Dino</a>.
1.5       david      86: 
1.8       david      87: 
1.12      david      88: <p><h2>The Future of Mozilla Browsers</h2>
1.5       david      89: 
1.16      david      90: <p>The browsers that are currently under development using Mozilla are just the tip of the iceberg.  One of the most interesting
                     91: possibilities for future browser development comes from AOL, the same company that owns Netscape and that is the main sponsor of the
                     92: Mozilla community.  Currently the Windows version of the AOL client software uses Internet Explorer as the core of it's browser, but
                     93: there are indications that this may soon change.  If AOL were to switch and use Mozilla in a new version of their software, tens of
                     94: millions of people would be exposed to Mozilla.
                     96: <p>AOL has already made some moves in this direction.  The latest version of the <a
                     97: href="">AOL client for Mac OS X</a> uses Gecko as it's rendering engine.  Gecko has also
                     98: replaced Internet Explorer in <a href="">CompuServe 7.0</a>, the latest version of AOL's other
                     99: online service.  The decision to use Gecko in these two offerings are seen by many as ways for AOL to iron out any rough spots before
                    100: they move forward with releasing a Mozilla based version of their AOL client for Windows.
                    102: <p>Another interesting project to keep on eye on is <a href="">Phoenix</a>.  There isn't much known
                    103: about this yet, but there are some pages in bugzilla and on the site that have some information.  It looks like Phoenix is
                    104: based off of an earlier project called m/b (short for mozilla/browser) and has a goal to create a user-friendly stand-alone browser that
                    105: is free from most of the constraits placed on the default Mozilla browser.  Builds of Phoenix aren't available right now, but it is
                    106: possible to grab the source from Mozilla's CVS tree and build it yourself right now.  There are instructions about how to do this in the
                    107: project's <a href="">README</a> file.
                    109: <p><img src=""><br> <font size="-1">Phoenix with the Customize Toolbar dialog</font>
                    111: <p>If none of these browsers look like they are right for you, remember that you can always create your own browser with Mozilla <i>[link
1.17    ! david     112: to brian's article]</i>.  Each of the projects listed here could use help with testing and development, so you can also contribute by
        !           113: adding features or fixing bugs to make these browsers even better.  This wealth of browser options is a great strength, so let's hope
        !           114: that each of these projects continue to mature and innovate.  Let 100 browsers bloom so that we can all use the browser that is right for
        !           115: us.

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