Mozilla Plan Sticks to Basics

By Jim Rapoza  |  Posted 2003-04-28 Print this article Print

Browser, mail client separation is good move.

During the last few years, the Mozilla Organization created the blueprint for taking a commercial product and making it open source, converting the old Netscape browser—which had been vanquished by Microsoft Corp. and Internet Explorer—into the open-source Mozilla (arguably the best browser on the market today).

With this mission accomplished, The Mozilla Organization earlier this month began planning the next phase of Mozilla development.

In many ways, its a big departure from the past. The Mozilla development road map, points to a new direction for Mozilla—one that is more modular and has tighter controls over development.

Probably the biggest change for most users will be the move away from the all-encompassing browser suite to individual components that can be easily integrated if a user so chooses.

In eWEEK Labs opinion, this is an excellent move because the massive browser suite that started with the old Netscape Communicator never made much sense to us and was emblematic of the browser wars bloat.


These are the key elements in the future development of Mozilla
  • Firebird A cross-platform stand-alone Web browser (
  • Thunderbird A cross-platform stand-alone mail client (
  • XUL The common development language for Mozilla applications (
  • Gecko The underlying HTML engine of all Mozilla-based browsers (
  • Rather than Mozilla, the focus of browser development will now be the stand-alone Firebird (formerly Phoenix) browser. Like Mozilla, Firebird is a cross-platform browser, but it is much leaner and quicker because it is basically just a browser. (The name of this component could change in the very near future because Firebird is already the name of an open-source database.)

    Firebird does have an add-on model that makes it simple to bring in additional features and capabilities. Under Firebird, development of the browser will also change: Firebird features a new iteration of the XUL (XML User Interface Language) tool kit.

    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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