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Mozdev.org: These Aren't Your Father's Browsers - page 2

We chat with David Boswell and Pete Collins

  • February 6, 2001
  • By Brian Proffitt

Mozdev got its start back in April 2000, when a meeting of Mozilla developers was called to honor the third anniversary of the release of the Mozilla code. The meeting was organized by Alphanumerica, Inc. developers, who were committed to offering Mozilla-based projects and services and it was a big success.

The Mozdev.org site got its start when Alphanumerica was bought by CollabNet four months later. CollabNet, a company who's SourceCast software product provides Web-based online collaborative environments, was a perfect fit for Alphanumerica's goals. Soon after, Mozdev.org was formed.

Last week, just prior to the LWE, was the group's third meeting, and the first on the East Coast. The format of the meeting was loose, with participants presenting information about their projects and then breaking up into smaller groups and discussing more specific matters.

"The main goal of the meeting was community bonding," Boswell explained.

Mozdev.org lists over 25 projects that have come out of the Mozilla code, not all of them browsers. It is this distinction that separates Mozdev from the Mozilla Project. And, indeed, what separates Mozilla from its parent, the Netscape browser.

When Netscape 4.0 was released, much of the talk around Netscape's offices was about creating an entirely new platform from which developers could create and run new applications. This idea, sadly, never really came into fruition, as the competition with Microsoft's Internet Explorer plunged a battered and bruised Netscape into other directions.

Interestingly, Boswell and Collins noted, it was the Mozilla Project that brought this unrealized dream about. Outside developers began adding functionality to the Mozilla code, such as the Document Object Model (DOM) specification.

DOM, along with the XML language, allows developers to tap into code on the user's PC and anywhere on the Internet, taking the pieces of the program from any location needed to build one complete application on the user's PC.

Because of this DOM, XML, and Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) support, programmers can now use the elements they need from Mozilla to build their own unique applications.

"The open source developers are tapping into all this great technology," Boswell said.

The legacy of Netscape has contributed one more advantage to Mozilla.

"Now," Collins said, "Mozilla is more cross-platform than Java."

This is a bold statement, but one anyone on a Mozilla development team can make, since Mozilla itself has been ported to so many platforms.

Both developers from Mozdev.org foresee a time in the very near future when platforms, be they PCs, hand-held devices, or Internet appliances, will be loaded with a very small version of Mozilla and then partial application code sets will be downloaded to the client, integreated with Mozilla, and turned into a full-fledged application.

"We will soon be using Web technologies to build applications," Boswell said.

It's been a just a few short years, but developers are about to show us all that a browser can do a lot more then view a simple Web page.

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