April 2004 Entries
I'm one of the guys to wrote "Creating Applications with Mozilla" for O'Reilly, and I have been very interested in the discussions lately about Mozilla's future as a web application platform. After thinking about it for a while, I have something to say, so here it is. It's nice to see Mozilla talking with GNOME on how to work together. One reason of wanting to talk to GNOME is Mono, and how Mono could fit into Mozilla and GNOME. Mono has the goal of cloning Avalon, so this correlates with Mozilla's future for web applications. However, I don't think Mozilla + GTK + Mono = Avalon clone is a good idea.
If you like a cool Mozilla Firefox wallpaper here are some options:
Hvis din organisation eller firma gerne vil høre om Mozilla og hvordan et open source projekt fungerer er i meget velkomne til at kontakte mig.
Så holder jeg foredrag! Og der er GRATIS adgang!
Mozilla tager kampen op mod Internet Explorer
Mozilla er en open-source web browser. Open-source betyder at al kildekode er frit tilgængelig. Mozilla browseren har bl.a. dannet grundlag for Netscape 7 browseren. Vi ser på hvad Mozilla egentligt er for en. Hvordan er den opbygget, hvem laver hvad, og hvordan koordineres det hele? Alt lige fra C++ kode til organisationen. Henrik Gemal kalder sig Mozilla Evangelist og arbejder til dagligt hos TDC som udvikler af web-mail, web-news og foto og er i sin fritid med til at udvikle Mozilla projektet, bl.a. som kvalitetsansvarlig for installationsprogrammet.
Office 2003 vs. OpenOffice.Org
In recent years, open-source alternatives to Office have matured to the point where IT managers are beginning to investigate the viability of moving from the Microsoft Corp. suite to a license-free alternative. So when eWEEK Corporate Partner Ed Benincasa shared his desire to perform a user-based comparison between the OpenOffice.org project's OpenOffice.org suite and Microsoft's Office 2003, we saw a perfect opportunity to compare the suites under real-world conditions.
Open Source a Better Fit in Small Shops
eWEEK Labs often hears IT managers express a desire to loosen Microsoft Corp.'s grip on the office productivity market by deploying alternative office suites. The continuing maturation of open-source office applications, along with the fact that these applications have no licensing fees, makes such a move increasingly attractive-but not for all companies.
Exploits of our time
Just in case you don't know, Internet Explorer and Windows need frequent patching, a software term for kind of fixing things, an awful lot. Secunia said that there is a highly critical problem with IE and Windows, due to a boundary error which can be exploited by others. It warns that the hole affects Windows 95, 98, ME and NT 4.0, as well as 2000 and Windows XP. This is a serious problem and Secunia reckons one way round it is to disable Client for Microsoft Networks for NICs. This is a bit of a problem if you're trying to share files.
See the exploit info
IRC log: How open source projects can improve their PR
Saturday, NewsForge editor Robin "Roblimo" Miller hosted an IRC chat aimed at helping open source projects do better and more effective PR. This is the (lightly edited) log of that chat.
Loading XML into Gecko-based browsers
Mention client-side XML to a group of Web developers and the majority of them will think of Microsoft Internet Explorer and either MSXML2 or MSXML3. But when it comes to client-side XML support there is an alternate to MSXML, namely Gecko. Just because nobody is in your face touting the XML support features of Mozilla and Netscape doesn't mean that the support doesn't exist. In fact, Gecko supports XML, XSLT, XPath, XMLHTTP, SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) and MathML. The only real lack in Gecko's XML support is how few people know about it, but I intend to remedy that with my big mouth.
The OpenOffice.orgSchools Project has a new mascot, drawn by sixteen-year old Andrea Maggioni of Italy. Playing on our logo's seagulls and the shorthand of OpenOffice.org, OOo, the picture shows a happy seagull holding a fish. Of the dozens submitted, Andrea's cheerful picture perfectly captures the fun and optimism of OpenOffice.org. Congratulations, Andrea!
Why Windows Won't Always Dominate
Microsoft's domination of the client operating systems market will fade over the next few years, according to Avneesh Saxena, vice-president for Asia-Pacific computing systems research at IDC. Microsoft currently has around 90 percent share of the client operating system market with Windows but this will fall to 58 percent by 2007 as new devices increasingly appear, Saxena said at the IDC Directions conference in Singapore this week. "Operating systems are not going away and we're not going to one single platform," he says. "Different workloads require different operating systems and the range of new devices will cause Microsoft's market share to fall."
XML Encryption Added to Apache Project
The Apache Foundation has announced the addition of a beta implementation of XML Encryption to its XML Security Project, another small step towards full implementation of security standards in the pared-down markup language. The XML Security Project, a volunteer unit of the Apache Foundation, focuses on W3C standards for XML security implementation. With the beta for XML Encryption, the Project has added support for the encrypting and decrypting of XML-based digital content.
The GNU project and the GCC developers are pleased to announce the release of GCC 3.4.0. The GCC 3.4 release series includes numerous new features, improvements, bug fixes, and other changes, thanks to an amazing group of volunteers.
RealNetworks announced today that the Google Toolbar is being distributed with RealPlayer 10. By making the Google Toolbar available to the very large number of consumers who install the new RealPlayer 10 every day, RealNetworks and Google are bringing the best media playback and search capabilities to millions of users around the world.
Back in the days RealPlayer was a nice player but then they started bundling it with all kind of weird stuff. It's one of the most bloated apps available. If you try to remove it from the systray it's back the next time you restart. Argh! I use BSPlayer, WinAmp and QuickTime Alternative and Real Alternative. Great compo!
Objects Search has launched clustering search engine based on open source technology nutch. Clustering Engine is a system for clustering textual data.This engine automatically categorizes search results on-the-fly into hierarchical clusters. Search results clustering attempts to overcome the problem of information overload.The user interface of most search engines are based on keyword-based queries and endless lists of matching documents.Unfortunately, even when exceptional ranking algorithms are used, relevance sorting inevitably promotes quality based on some notion of popularity of what can be found on the Web.
I first wrote about this around a month ago. winhooks, which had the getRegistryEntry function, had been replaced by the new shell service. The result was that my extension Launchy didn't work on nightly builds of Mozilla Firefox.
So I asked the Mozilla Community for help to reintroduce getRegistryEntry into Mozilla Firefox. And it didn't take that much time before a lot of people were sending in tips on how to implement it. I tried to make a patch but since I'm not a C++ coder I had problems. I then asked the community for C++ help.
Now someone provided a patch, that I then tried to get reviewed. This is the amazing about the Mozilla community. You ask for help for a pretty specific issue and someone is willing to spend time to help you. Big thanks goes out to the entire Mozilla community.
After spending some time trying to review I finally managed to get Ben to review it. Now all I needed was that for someone to check it in. This is not easy. I asked around but no one answered by checkin cried. I finally manage to get Bryner to do the checkin.
Since the patch that was checked in isn't perfect I've opened a new bug report on improving the getRegistryEntry function.
I was surprised by the large number of postings that the report of my conversion to Mozilla Firefox invoked. I guess I should thank everyone, whether "for" or "against", for taking the time to comment. I am obliged to thank those who recommended that I experiment with Firefox's tabbed browsing. It isn't just a good idea, it's a brilliant idea. All I wanted to do was stop the damn pop-ups, which had been proliferating on the web like MyDoom. I didn't feel the need for a better browser, until I found myself using one. Now I even feel grateful. I can also tell the same story about Mozilla Thunderbird. I've converted. It is better than Outlook - for my purposes at least. It has all the features that matter, you can convert data (address book and mail) from Outlook in about 1 hour and it stops spam. (Not all of it so far, but most of it.)
News.com.com is reporting that AOL's e-mail service, long accessible only via AOL's proprietary, monolithic app, will be available via IMAP starting Thursday. The story notes that this is part of a series of initiatvies from AOL to move content beyond its walled garden and into standards-based formats such as HTML and IMAP that any Internet app can access. Supposedly a "a dramatically different direction" for Netscape is in the works, too."
Perhaps in the end we'll see the propriotary IMAP extension, that allowed Netscape browsers to access Netscape Webmail and AOL Mail, into Mozilla?
It took me a whole five minutes to decide to ditch Internet Explorer and switch to Firefox. Why? The learning curve is about 5 minutes - at most. FireFox is simpler to use. Configuring it is easy and would probably be easy for just about any PC user. You are not faced with the typical Microsoft feature-bloat. Mozilla Firefox has a better layout and a larger web page area. It loads all your Internet Explorer 'favorites' when you install it on MS Windows and blocks pop-ups completely (there is an option to allow them on specific sites).
Will Mozilla Fly?
In an attempt to revitalize its mostly gutted Netscape division, America Online is seeking to hire product management and business development professionals. On Monday, Jeremy Liew, general manager of Netscape.com, posted a message on a jobs mailing list calling for candidates to apply to work for the organization, which played a key role in the development of the Web but has since faded from glory. "Netscape is aggressively hiring right now," Jeremy Liew said in the posting. "We are treating Netscape as a 'restart,' with a mandate and a budget to take Netscape in a dramatically different direction, although still focusing on its current businesses as the No. 2 Web browser and No. 3 general audience portal." Liew said the company had multiple positions in product management, with "experience in search, browsers, consumer-facing Web sites, consumer software, authentication/personalization, or Web publishing all valuable."
Following on from the branding of Firefox, comes the new logo for Mozilla's email client, Thunderbird. When Stephen Desroches sketched out the orginal idea for Firefox back in December, he had in mind how this affects the other applications, and Thunderbird was sketched out too:
Just a quick follow up to my XUL# entry. There's also a XBL#. XBL# is a utility library for using XBL in .NET applications. XBL is a technology developed by the Mozilla development team. XBL is an XML binding language that allows you to add "logic" to a newly created XUL tags or modify the "logic" on an existing XUL tag. XBL# goals are to produce a library that: (1) allows you to parse XBL files into a format which is easily used by .NET applications, (2) allows you to "compile" and "run" XBL files, and (3) allows you to use .NET classes as XBL "logic".
XUL# is a rendering library for XUL, written for the .NET environment. XUL#, is written in C#, and currently only renders XUL to the GTK+ and GNOME widget sets. But it provides an programmers' API to allow other widget sets as rendering targets. XUL# has been tested on Mono, but should work on Microsoft's .NET implementation and Portable.NET.
Michelle Levesque, who has released an article titled Fundamental issues with open source software development, writes in the article For example, I believe that relatively few complaints listed here apply to the Open Source browser Firefox which continues to surpass my expectations.
Despite the growing success of the Open Source movement, most of the general public continues to feel that Open Source software is inaccessible to them. This paper discusses five fundamental problems with the current Open Source software development trend, explores why these issues are holding the movement back, and offers solutions that might help overcome these problems. The lack of focus on user interface design causes users to prefer proprietary software's more intuitive interface. Open Source software tends to lack the complete and accessible documentation that retains users. Developers focus on features in their software, rather than ensuring that they have a solid core. Open Source programmers also tend to program with themselves as an intended audience, rather than the general public. Lastly, there is a widely known stubbornness by Open Source programmers in refusing to learn from what lessons proprietary software has to offer. If Open Source software wishes to become widely used and embraced by the general public, all five of these issues will have to be overcome.
I'm not a C++ coder. So in my effort trying to reintroduce getRegistryEntry into Mozilla Firefox I could need some help. It should be pretty simple.
I need some help in adding a function to the nsWindowsShellService.cpp file.
I think I need something like this:
nsWindowsShellService::GetRegistryEntry(const char *aKeyName, const char *aValueName)
DWORD len = sizeof buf;
DWORD result = ::RegQueryValueEx(aKeyName, aValueName, NULL, NULL, (LPBYTE)buf, &len);
But I'm not a C++ coder and this wont compile and I dont think it's doing what it's supposed to do.
You can see how it's implemented in Mozilla 1.x here. But we dont want it that way. Here's what ben said in his review of my first patch:
There's no need for a new file, nor a need to add back any of the old excessively complex code. No structs, no classes, no byzantine object structure, just some good ol' fashioned Windows C code. Simply add a method to nsIWindowsShellService called getRegistryEntry that takes a string key name and a value name, so you can call: var val = wss.getRegistryEntry("HKEY_CURRENT_USER\\blah\\blah\\blah\\", "val");
This article is intended to introduce Mozilla software to those who are unfamiliar with it. Many non-Geeks (and some Geeks) are either afraid to try programs such as these or are so used to what they have that they don't see much point in switching. It is my hope that by the end of this article I may have changed a few minds, or, at least get a few people to give these programs a shot. We'll skip all the "about Mozilla" stuff and get straight into the software. The applications we'll be looking at is the Windows versions of Mozilla 1.7 beta, Firefox 0.8, and Thunderbird 0.5.
Asa Dotzler writes:
Thanks to Jay's hard work, we now have a publically available talkback look-up tool. The new tool is located at http://talkback-public.mozilla.org. From this page you can look up individual talkback reports . The reports contain the stack signature, product and build IDs, the time of the crash, the platform and OS, the code module, the user-entered URL and user comments, the trigger reason, trigger line number, and stack trace for the crash. The stack lines in the stack trace are each linked to a bugzilla query for existing bug reports with that class and function in the comments. This makes it easy to discover if your crasher is already reported. Just look up your talkback ID, click the top line of the stack trace and have a look at the resulting bug list to see if one of those reports matches your crasher. In addition to the individual incident ID look-ups, you can also view our talkback "smart analysis" reports from that same page. These reports give some aggregate information and include our current list of topcrashes. With the good news of this long-awaited triage tool comes some bad news that we lost a large number of previous crash reports because of some database problems we were having. So if you go to look up your incident from a week or two ago and don't get a report, that's the reason. Try crashing again and get a newer incident :-)
Launchy version 2.3.0 has been released.
The two major things in this release is the support of FTP clients and Download clients. This means that the list of supported applications is now up to 37. Among these are GetRight, Mass Downloader, BitTorrent, FlashGet, UltraFXP, WS_FTP Pro. See Screenshots.
- Avant Browser support added
- Crazy Browser support added
- Download clients support added
- FTP clients support added
- Much much much more!
Launchy is an Mozilla, Mozilla Firefox, Mozilla Thunderbird extension (Windows only) and will enable you to open links and mailto's with external applications like Internet Explorer, Opera, Mozilla, Mozilla Firefox, Netscape, Outlook, BSPlayer, Windows Media Player and others. Launchy will auto detect all applications. For at full list of supported applications please read the Launchy page.
My extension Launchy doesn't work with the latest builds of Mozilla Firefox. I've written about this before. This is because the function I use to detect the installed applications, getRegistryEntry, was removed from Mozilla Firefox when Ben killed of winhooks.
First of all the review UI is really weird. Having to choose between "", "+", "-", "?" is just plain strange! Then you gotta find a Requestee. I looked around and found the main Mozilla Firefox developer Ben Goodger. So I entered his email as a Requestee. Then I waited.
How long you gotta wait for a review I dont know but after 2 days of no review and no reply I started think if this is the correct way of getting a review? I've heard that some developers dont read their bugmail so perhaps this was also true for requests. I dont know. But having made a patch and not getting any response is disappointing and discouraging. Am I too impatient?
So now I tried to change Requestee. I really hope that I get an response this time.
This is not the first time I've experienced this problem. Sadly enough. I some areas you get an response super fast. I'd like to give special thanks for David Bienvenu who is quite amazing with response time on review and super reviews.
Not getting any response to a contribution you made for Mozilla is really bad. I know that all contributers thinks that their patch is the most important patch in the world, but I like to get some kind of response. Just something like "Yeah I'm looking at it i 2 days".
I really hope the entire review process will get better and easier.
Gervase Markham writes:
I took a task a few weeks ago to investigate the Sleepycat license to see if it was compatible with the MPL/LGPL and GPL in a way that would allow code released under it to be used by Mozilla. As far as I can see, I'm afraid it's not. The problematic section is the following: "Redistributions in any form must be accompanied by information on how to obtain complete source code for the DB software and any accompanying software that uses the DB software." If a distributor of Mozilla, e.g. (for simplicity) Netscape, is using code under this license, they would have to make available the source code for their entire product. This is far more than the MPL requires - the MPL is only a file-level copyleft. Therefore, I'm afraid, software under this license cannot be used in Mozilla. If this clause were modified, it might be possible - that would depend on the modification.
XUL is the user interface language used in the Mozilla project. There are other implementations, but Mozilla is the only realistic game in town. XUL was around doing what XAML does before XAML ever existed. So why the heck aren't we using it? Problems include:
- XUL has a steep learning curve. Docs have been slow to come, especially at the beginning.
- Dealing with Mozilla is painful. Very painful. Experience with embedding Mozilla in programs like Epiphany shows it to be a moving target, and it's difficult to get bugs fixed back in the core. Up until now the Mozilla project had very little resource devoted to embedding uses.
- Mozilla XUL is not native UI. This is the big stinker with cross platform UI. It just won't look as nice or interoperate as well as programs written in the native UI toolkit.
The book I'm currently reading is 1421: The Year China Discovered America.
Scattered evidence that Chinese explorers "discovered" America 71 years before Christopher Columbus and circumnavigated the earth 60 years before Ferdinand Magellan was born has been brought into convincing focus by a book published Tuesday that is expected to rewrite history. British author Gavin Menzies first aired his theory of pre-Columbian visits by the Chinese to both North and South America in a lecture before the Royal Geographic Society in London last March, resulting in a bidding war for the book he spent 15 years writing to back up his claim. Publishing rights sold for $780,000, a phenomenal sum for a non-fiction book by an unknown author.
Doing a little bit of searching reveals that there's quite some discussion wheather it's a big lie or not. Fx this site that claims that The author changed a map to fit his theory. A comments at Amazon says Gavin claims he has real, tangible evidence. Not true. Just check out for yourself some of the sources he cites. His own sources do not support the claims he makes.
On Monday, Microsoft released some of its code under an open-source license, and posted it on SourceForge, the open-source code repository. To date, Microsoft has made its source code available under a variety of licensing mechanisms, all under its "shared source" umbrella. But until today, the company had not released code under what is commonly considered a true open-source license. Microsoft made available an internally developed product called the Windows Installer XML (WiX) to SourceForge. The code is downloadable here. WiX is a toolset for building Windows installation packages from XML source code. It runs on Windows NT and Windows 2000. "We've been learning from open source about the importance of sharing code with developers," said Jason Matusow, manager of Microsoft's shared source initiative. "We know it's important to have a full-spectrum approach" to licensing software under shared source, he added.
Read more and more.
I am a firm believer that web applications need to be tuned to the platform and context that they are being developed for. A website selling inflatable sheep needs to be accessible in all browsers and for all platforms; it is a public resource and should handle the different platforms that the public use. With regards to custom applications for specific clients/environments however, we can focus on a single browser platform; this is common within intranet application development. This is where Mozilla is pushing the potential for Mozilla dependent web applications with its XML User Interface Language (XUL) framework. The Mozilla project is proving to be capable of not only creating a strong and impressive suite of applications, but is also using the combined intellect of the development community to harness the potential for not only Mozilla based development, but development in general.
Read the article
A funny comment went in the Mozilla source code with bug 238654:
// and should be ignored. This is a comma-separated list of server
// names, with no spaces before or after the commas. If the server
// name you want to add here contains a comma, use a period instead.
pref("network.http.content-location.bogus-servers", "Microsoft-IIS/4.0, Microsoft-IIS/5.0, Microsoft-IIS/6.0, Oracle9iAS/9.0.2, Oracle9iAS (188.8.131.52.1)");
Patrick M. Kolla wrote Spybot Search & Destroy, a free download that is one of PC World's most recommended programs. Spybot is an anti-spyware scanner that finds and cleans out adware on your PC so your private information can't be transmitted. The software is so popular worldwide that user donations support Kolla's company, Safer Networking Limited, which he runs with part-time help from his father, Dr. Michael Kolla, and a group of computer science students called Team Spybot. Kolla, 26, lives in Germany 300 steps from the Safer Networking office that takes up a floor in his parents' home. An edited transcript of the February 23, 2004, conversation follows.
Whilst we've always been a fan of the GroupWise server components for their speed, reliability and security. The nicest thing we can think of to say about the GroupWise 32bit Windows Client is it's "the fat kid that fell out of the ugly tree, and hit every branch on the way down". It is an unfortunate fact, that the biggest reason end users migrate (read downgrade) to Microsoft Exchange is because of the GroupWise 32 Bit client. Mozilla for GroupWise is designed to rectify that.
This is not an exciting story: I happened to be browsing aimlessly through case studies and other publications released by Microsoft as a part of their "Get the facts" initiative. At one point, I stumbled upon a Word file I wanted to read - and as soon as I ran it through wvWare, I noticed there is a good deal of amusing change tracking information still recorded within the document. Naturally, publishing documents with "collaboration" data is not unheard of in the corporate world, but the fact Microsoft had became a victim of their own technology, and had failed to run their own tools against these publications makes it more entertaining. On a more serious note, it serves as a good warning it is really difficult to manage this, and that inline filtering tools on SMTP gateways and in web publishing systems may be necessary in some corporate environments.
What has been proven is that Microsoft
dominatesleads in TPC price/performance benchmarks, owning currently holding the top ten slots.
Asa Dotzler writes:
It's been just about a year since we cut the 1.4 branch. In addition to the normal Mozilla application suite milestone release, Firefox and Thunderbird will be doing releases off of this branch -- including Firefox 1.0 (!) and there are also major vendors planning releases to coincide with with Mozilla 1.7. All of this lines up well for making 1.7 our next long-lived branch. To make these releases successful, we need to focus on stability and data integrity bugs. To give ourselves the time to make further improvements to our stability, drivers are making some changes to the milestone plan.
We're going to delay branching 1 week (to April 9). We'll be scheduling three release candidates from the 1.7 branch, each 2 weeks apart, with room for more if needed (first on or around April 14, second on April 28th, and final on April 12th). This means moving the 1.7 final release date out 1 month from mid-April to mid-May.
Delaying the branching for 1.7 by about a week will give us some more time to gather and respond to TalkBack data, helping to identify and fix crash bugs on the trunk where we have most of our QA and testing resources. The QA community has been working to get the crash buglist cleaned up as much as possible. To make 1.7 the most stable release ever, we'll be looking for engineering help to knock off as many of the reproducible, high-profile crashers as QA and TalkBack resources can identify. Shortly after branching (days) we will do the first of a series of 1.7 pre-releases to validate the much of stability work that's been underway since 1.7 beta (we've already knocked off a significant number of the 1.7 beta topcrashers). Because we tend to have somewhat fewer QA and testing resources on branches, we'll be doing these release candidates to keep the download, bug reporting, and Talkback volume high. Previous long-lived branches have had three of these release candidates and that seems like a reasonable approach for this branch.
Just in!: According to press releases by Google and Mozilla the two companies are going to merge. The merger will create a strong competitor for Microsoft Internet Explorer. The first result of the merger will be a Google themed Mozilla browser. Google will also distribute Mozilla from their pages, making the Mozilla browser the most accessible in the world.
The press releases also promised that the browser, currently known as Mozilla Firefox, will get a new name. A name in more harmony with the Google brands. Moozgle or perhaps Googzilla could be the result.
Read the press releases