Beyond Firefox

By Matthew Hicks  |  Posted 2004-11-09 Print this article Print

Beyond Firefox then, you still have the suite, Thunderbird and some other applications. How has the plan for the [Mozilla] suite itself changed? Where is that going at this point with the route of Firefox now coming out with 1.0? The suite will remain, and the degree of activity and future development on the suite depends in part on those that are using and distributing it. For example, the suite is up til what major distributors have distributed to customers—the Suns and Red Hats and IBMs and so on. There are millions of people who continue to use the suite and are happy using the suite and like the way it works, and we intend to continue to make that possibility real.
Our own development will focus on Firefox and Thunderbird. ... Then we expect that theres a set of major customers, distributors and users who would want to see some work on the suite, and we will make those tools available for that to continue. Our own innovative work will be on the new products, but the suite will remain.
Read more here about Thunderbirds last pre-1.0 release. Will features cross over as there are new releases of Firefox or Thunderbird beyond 1.0? Is the plan then to take some of those features and put them into the suite? Obviously, it is the same core engine. There are some changes, so its not exactly the same. That depends a bit. It really depends on what the interest in the suite is. We do not plan to develop for Firefox and Thunderbird and then port all these things to the suite, meaning the foundation and our planning going forward. Now other people may do that, but its not in our plans. And as code bases get farther and farther apart, that gets harder. So we expect some set of things will be ported back to the suite and some set of things are still landing there. … There may be some crossover, but our real focus is going to be [on] the new products. … In addition to that, something that there hasnt been much press about … is that we are actually going forward with our platform development plans and how to take the Mozilla platform itself to the next phase. I suspect after the 1.0 launch well be talking about that more. When you talk about the platform development plans, youre talking about a platform on which other software developers can develop for doing [their] own branded versions of the Mozilla suite? By platform, I mean the core functionality on which one builds applications. For example, the Gecko layout engine and another is … your ability to do graphics and thats a platform sort-of piece. We consider XUL (XML User Interface Language), our user-interface application-building language, to be a platform piece. So when we talk about getting to the next version of the platform, we mean all these elements which both we use to make our own applications … and which other people can use and do use to make applications. So what are some examples of that? What are some other applications that use elements of the platform, say Gecko or XUL? These are what some of these spinoff developing groups of Mozilla do? On XUL applications, I can point you to a set of them available at Theres a whole range of private, enterprise in-house applications that people are building with XUL, are looking at XUL for or are asking us about how [to] use XUL to do this. It turns out if you want to be able to build an application, especially if you want it cross-platform but also if its a Web-enabled application and it needs to interoperate with Web technologies, then XUL is really excellent. Next Page: Building on Mozillas strategy.

Matthew Hicks As an online reporter for, Matt Hicks covers the fast-changing developments in Internet technologies. His coverage includes the growing field of Web conferencing software and services. With eight years as a business and technology journalist, Matt has gained insight into the market strategies of IT vendors as well as the needs of enterprise IT managers. He joined Ziff Davis in 1999 as a staff writer for the former Strategies section of eWEEK, where he wrote in-depth features about corporate strategies for e-business and enterprise software. In 2002, he moved to the News department at the magazine as a senior writer specializing in coverage of database software and enterprise networking. Later that year Matt started a yearlong fellowship in Washington, DC, after being awarded an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellowship for Journalist. As a fellow, he spent nine months working on policy issues, including technology policy, in for a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He rejoined Ziff Davis in August 2003 as a reporter dedicated to online coverage for Along with Web conferencing, he follows search engines, Web browsers, speech technology and the Internet domain-naming system.

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