Annotation of books/www/articles/bloom.html, revision 1.20

1.7       david       1: <h1>Let a Hundred Browsers Bloom</h1>
                      2: 
1.8       david       3: 
1.16      david       4: <p>The recently released <a href="http://wp.netscape.com/eng/mozilla/ns7/relnotes/7.html">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="http://oeone.com/products/desktop.html">HomeBase DESKTOP</a>, ActiveState's <a
                      7: href="http://activestate.com/Products/Komodo/">Komodo IDE</a>, and <a href="http://www.mozdev.org/projects.html">all of the projects</a>
                      8: hosted on mozdev.org.  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>
                     13: 
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?
                     17: 
                     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.
                     22: 
                     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.
                     28: 
                     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.
                     41: 
                     42: <p>The goal of the <a href="http://chimera.mozdev.org">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="http://www.mozilla.org/ports/fizzilla/Cocoazilla.html">Cocoazilla</a>, a variant of <a
                     45: href="http://www.mozilla.org/ports/fizzilla/">Fizzilla</a> that consists of a UNIX back end connected to a Cocoa front end.  Since
1.19      david      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
1.20    ! david      47: slightly faster than the regular Mozilla browser on the same computer.  The most recent stable release, <a
1.16      david      48: href="ftp://ftp.mozilla.org/pub/chimera/releases/chimera-0.4.dmg.gz">version 0.4</a>, is available for download along with <a
                     49: href="ftp://ftp.mozilla.org/pub/chimera/nightly/latest-trunk/">nightly development builds</a>.
                     50: 
                     51: <p><img src="http://idisk.mac.com/mozilladave/Public/chimera.jpg"><br> <font size="-1">Chimera with sidebar open</font>
                     52: 
                     53: <p><a href="http://galeon.sourceforge.net">Galeon</a> and <a href="http://kmeleon.sourceforge.net">K-Meleon</a> are projects that also
                     54: have the goal of creating a simple standards-compliant browser using Mozilla's rendering engine.  Galeon uses Gecko to create a browser
                     55: for the <a href="http://www.gnome.org/">GNOME</a> desktop and K-Meleon uses Gecko to create a Windows only browser.  The latest stable
                     56: version of Galeon can be <a href="http://galeon.sourceforge.net/download/">downloaded</a> for a variety of Linux distributions.  There
                     57: are also alpha versions available for <a href="http://galeon.sourceforge.net/galeon2/">Galeon2</a>, which is a new major version of the
                     58: 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
                     59: href="http://kmeleon.sourceforge.net/download.php">downloaded</a> for Windows and it includes a number of stability and configuration
                     60: changes over earlier versions.  Other Gecko based browsers include <a href="http://www.muhri.net/skipstone">SkipStone</a> and <a
                     61: href="http://qbati2.sourceforge.net">Q.Bati</a>.
1.8       david      62: 
                     63: 
1.7       david      64: <h2>XUL Based Browsers</h2>
                     65: 
1.16      david      66: <p>The other main category of Mozilla browsers include the projects building their applications using XUL.  In many ways, these projects
                     67: are similar to <a href="http://mozilla.org/themes/download/">themes</a>, but they take the idea of customizing the browser one step
                     68: further.  These custom browsers use XUL, CSS, and JavaScript to change the browser interface and not just the look of the browser.  For
                     69: 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
                     70: remove buttons in their own browser.
                     71: 
                     72: <p>One of the first custom browsers, <a href="http://aphrodite.mozdev.org">Aphrodite</a> was created as an alternative to the default
                     73: interface that ships with Mozilla.  Aphrodite includes a number of it's own themes, including FruityGum, Inferno and two flavors of the
                     74: Sullivan skin.  The crash recovery system <a href="http://aphrodite.mozdev.org/total_recall.html">Total Recall</a> is also integrated
                     75: into the browser.  Development work continues on Aphrodite, although currently there isn't a new release that works with the latest
                     76: version of Mozilla.
                     77: 
                     78: <p><img src="http://www.mozdev.org/sharedimages/sullivan_grape.gif"><br> <font size="-1">Aphrodite with the Sullivan grape theme</font>
                     79: 
                     80: <p><a href="http://beonex.com/communicator/">Beonex Communicator</a> is another XUL based browser that is a user-focused browsing suite
                     81: that also comes bundled with a mail client and a web page editor.  The latest stable version, Communicator 0.8, is available for <a
                     82: href="http://www.beonex.com/communicator/version/0.8/">download</a> for Windows and Linux.  Some other XUL based custom browsers include
                     83: <a href="http://mb.mozdev.org">Project Piglet</a>, <a href="http://mercuryspider.mozdev.org/">MercurySpider</a>, and <a
                     84: href="http://dino.mozdev.org">Dino</a>.
1.5       david      85: 
1.8       david      86: 
1.20    ! david      87: <p><h2>What's Coming Next?</h2>
1.5       david      88: 
1.16      david      89: <p>The browsers that are currently under development using Mozilla are just the tip of the iceberg.  One of the most interesting
                     90: possibilities for future browser development comes from AOL, the same company that owns Netscape and that is the main sponsor of the
                     91: Mozilla community.  Currently the Windows version of the AOL client software uses Internet Explorer as the core of it's browser, but
                     92: 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
                     93: millions of people would be exposed to Mozilla.
                     94: 
                     95: <p>AOL has already made some moves in this direction.  The latest version of the <a
                     96: href="http://www.apple.com/macosx/applications/aol/">AOL client for Mac OS X</a> uses Gecko as it's rendering engine.  Gecko has also
                     97: replaced Internet Explorer in <a href="http://news.com.com/2100-1023-883808.html">CompuServe 7.0</a>, the latest version of AOL's other
                     98: 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
                     99: they move forward with releasing a Mozilla based version of their AOL client for Windows.
                    100: 
                    101: <p>Another interesting project to keep on eye on is <a href="http://mozilla.org/projects/phoenix/">Phoenix</a>.  There isn't much known
                    102: about this yet, but there are some pages in bugzilla and on the mozilla.org site that have some information.  It looks like Phoenix is
                    103: 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
                    104: is free from most of the constraits placed on the default Mozilla browser.  Builds of Phoenix aren't available right now, but it is
                    105: 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
                    106: project's <a href="http://lxr.mozilla.org/mozilla/source/browser/README.html">README</a> file.
                    107: 
                    108: <p><img src="http://www.mozillazine.org/weblogs/asa/cust3.png"><br> <font size="-1">Phoenix with the Customize Toolbar dialog</font>
                    109: 
                    110: <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     111: to brian's article]</i>.  Each of the projects listed here could use help with testing and development, so you can also contribute by
                    112: adding features or fixing bugs to make these browsers even better.  This wealth of browser options is a great strength, so let's hope
1.18      david     113: that each of these projects continue to mature and innovate.  Let a hundred browsers bloom so that we can all use the browser that is
                    114: right for us.

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