Mozilla Lacks Nothing Except Extra Baggage

 
 
By Jim Rapoza  |  Posted 2002-06-10 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Finally, Mozilla 1.0 is ready. The much-anticipated open-source browser has left the long road of beta testing and is finally ready for regular use, providing not only an easy-to-use and powerful browser but also a highly extensible Web platform.

Finally, Mozilla 1.0 is ready. The much-anticipated open-source browser has left the long road of beta testing and is finally ready for regular use, providing not only an easy-to-use and powerful browser but also a highly extensible Web platform.

In eWeek Labs tests of Mozilla 1.0, which was released last week and is available free at www.mozilla.org, we were impressed with almost all aspects of the browser, from its user configuration options to its usability features to its excellent mail client. We also appreciated the absence of the AOL product and link overhead that weigh down current Netscape browsers. Short of users who love IM (instant messaging) integration, we cant think of any reason to recommend Netscape over Mozilla.

The most impressive thing about the browser is its code, which makes fantastic use of XML and other standard technologies to create the most extensible browser weve seen.

The technologies that make Mozilla so customizable range from the well-known, such as JavaScript and Cascading Style Sheets, to the less well-known, such as XUL (XML User Interface Language) and XPCOM (Cross Platform Component Object Model).

XUL is the technology behind Mozillas interface. Its use of XML and other standard Web technologies not only makes it simple to customize the Mozilla interface and to build new themes but also makes it easy for developers to integrate applications into Mozilla. The object model engine for Mozilla is XPCOM, which is based on C and C++ and uses standard development code such as JavaScript and Perl.

Both technologies are major factors in the easy portability of Mozilla and in why it runs identically on all platforms (Mozilla runs on Windows, Mac OS, Linux, OS/2 and many Unix variants).

Most of Mozillas features are the same as those in Netscape 7.0 Preview Release. (For eWeek Labs May 22 review of Netscape 7.0 Preview Release 1, go to www.eweek.com/links.) The tabbed interface, improved search, Quick Launch and improved mail client are all there. And, of course, Mozilla has excellent support for Web standards.

Mozilla has none of the integrated IM features that Netscape 7.0 Preview Release 1 has; we could choose not to have any IM client. We could opt to install the Chatzilla Internet Relay Chat client during installation, and those looking for more can try the beta of the Jabberzilla universal IM client available at www.mozdev.org.

In many areas of the preference menus, features were disabled that were turned on in Netscape. It was easy enough to activate any features we wanted, and we appreciated the opt-in model of Mozilla, which obviates having to turn off unwanted features.

When we installed the browser, it was easy to tell that Mozilla is geared toward developers. Most options in the custom installation are debuggers and script testers, rather than the plug-ins and media players that are available during the Netscape installation. However, the start page that launches after installation directs users to a page on www.mozdev.org that provides links to standard browser plug-ins.

East Coast Technical Director Jim Rapoza can be reached at jim_rapoza@ziffdavis.com.

 
 
 
 
Jim Rapoza, Chief Technology Analyst, eWEEK.For nearly fifteen years, Jim Rapoza has evaluated products and technologies in almost every technology category for eWEEK. Mr Rapoza's current technology focus is on all categories of emerging information technology though he continues to focus on core technology areas that include: content management systems, portal applications, Web publishing tools and security. Mr. Rapoza has coordinated several evaluations at enterprise organizations, including USA Today and The Prudential, to measure the capability of products and services under real-world conditions and against real-world criteria. Jim Rapoza's award-winning weekly column, Tech Directions, delves into all areas of technologies and the challenges of managing and deploying technology today.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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