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Inside RIA: Mozilla Series Part 3

March 6th, 2008 by enefekt

Heads up. The last part to the series I’ve written, entitled “Why Mozilla Deserves Our Attention”, is up on InsideRIA now.

In case you missed the first two, here they are.

Filed under Firefox, IDA, Mozilla, Mozpad, XULRunner having Comments Off

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Some Mozilla RIA Love

February 22nd, 2008 by enefekt

powered_by_mozilla.jpg

Just a heads up, I’m writing a series of articles dealing with Mozilla and RIAs over on InsideRIA entitled “Why Mozilla Deserves Our Attention”.
Go check it out!

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Qtrax on Mozilla: Open For Closed

January 28th, 2008 by enefekt

[Update]…and they’re gone, Matt in the comments was right. Didn’t quite have their game together.

Caught this news this morning. A service called Qtrax that allows unlimited, permanently free music downloads that apparently has the support of all the major record labels.

What I see as interesting is the client technology they are using and requiring for use. ReadWriteWeb mentions that it’s built on Songbird.

On the Qtrax site as well, they highlight in multiple spots it’s “A Mozilla Web Browser”, and a “Mozilla Based Browser”.

This is cool as it’s another use of Mozilla technology. Too bad it has so much press and is associating together Songbird, Mozilla, DRM, and Windows-only support not even including iPods. This is in direct opposition of some of the strongest aspects of Mozilla technology.

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Prism, no competition for AIR

November 2nd, 2007 by enefekt

Just read the NYTimes write-up on Prism.

Interesting comments by Mark Finkle:

if the Web can’t do it, Prism can’t do it

and

We’re not asking Web apps to change at all.

So thats the big thing really. It’s an incremental nicety to classic web browsing. This is really not in competition to Adobe AIR at all.

It’s more in line with something like Mac OS X’s new Safari Web Clips. Yank an app out of the browser and run it by itself.

As a real-world example, imagine Google Analytics without browser chrome, and then look at the Google Analytics AIR app. Designing an experience more with the user in mind, than browser limitations. And this is using Open Internet protocols and APIs. Maybe that’s not as good as the Open Web though, not sure?

Filed under AIR, Adobe, IDA, Mozilla, Mozpad, Prism having Comments Off

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Prism: Install Story?

October 29th, 2007 by enefekt

Wow, a lot of writing and discussion over Prism lately! And to think, all from a new name, logo, and a Labs post. (And I guess some weight from being an officially sanctioned experiment too.)

Of course, I’ll follow suit. Partly because I am interested in the technology, and partly because I am interested in how this relates to Adobe AIR, and Mozilla’s own technologies, like XUL. How is it integrated? How can some important features and functionality be integrated with HTML/JavaScript only?

I thought I would start by comparing the installation story with Adobe AIR. A lot has been made of how easy it is (or will be?) to make a web app into a desktop app. (A simple menu command from Firefox, and voila!) But that’s not the whole story. How does Prism get installed in the first place?

With Adobe AIR (which runs web apps as well on the desktop, built with HTML/CSS and JavaScript), there is a really cool installation story. You can create a special badge that a user can install your app (with permission of course) from a web page. The cool part though, is if they don’t have the Adobe AIR runtime, it will be installed auto-magically (with permission of course) along with your app! No need to direct them to a different website, instruct them to download something, then come back and get your app.

So how will Prism get installed? Sure, after it’s installed it’s somewhat smooth sailing. But getting software installed is a hurdle which should not be ignored. Adobe has excellent experience with this. Heck, installs of Firefox are dwarfed by Flash Player. So what’s Prism’s installation story?

Filed under AIR, Adobe, IDA, Mozilla, Mozpad, Prism having Comments Off

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First Flex Prism App

October 28th, 2007 by enefekt

I was waiting for this to happen. Didn’t think it would happen this soon though.
The very first Prism app built with Flex.

Speaks to the pervasiveness of the Flash Player, since in the first batch of Prism apps out of the gate, one is built with Flex. It also speaks to the flexibility and strength of the Prism idea, especially since it’s already wooing prime Adobe AIR candidates: Flex developers.

A Flex app as a Prism app?! This doesn’t fall in lock step with the shining goal of the “open web” as defined by some folks.

But, man wouldn’t that be cool if Mozilla had their own user interface markup language? Oh, wait they do, XUL. Does something like this, and that Mozilla doesn’t even mention XUL with Prism mean that it’s pretty much lost the fight to Flex/MXML?

Filed under AIR, Adobe, IDA, Mozilla, Mozpad, Prism having 2 Comments »

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Glazman’s Deep Sadness

October 25th, 2007 by enefekt

Daniel has posted his unpleasant surprise about eBay using Adobe AIR for their internet desktop application instead of XULRunner.

Here are two lists attempting to document the application landscapes with each technology:
Mozpad’s Mozilla App List
AIRApps Adobe AIR App List

Filed under AIR, Adobe, IDA, Mozilla, Mozpad, XULRunner having Comments Off

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XAPGen for Xcode

September 10th, 2007 by enefekt

I’ve put together an Xcode project template for XAPGen. So if you have the Xcode development tools, just download, unzip, and drop the files packaged up below in the right spot, and you’re ready to rock.

After setup, in Xcode just go to File->New Project, and choose XUL->XAPGen. You have an instant XULRunner project directory ready to build. Just choose the build-and-run target, click “Build”, and you’ll see the default Hello World app get packaged up and launched all automatically.

And of course, the build-all target will build Windows and Linux distributions as well!

When naming your new project name, remember to use all lowercase.

XAPGen for Xcode

Filed under IDA, Mac, Mozpad, XAPGen, XULRunner having 2 Comments »

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XSLT Support in Next AIR Release

August 31st, 2007 by enefekt

I make use of XSLTProcessor quite a bit in XULRunner, so I was hoping to see this happen. Looks like Mike Chambers spilled the beans in the comment thread on this post. (Thanks Mike!)

Dave Johnson had been chafing over this too.

BTW, here is info on the different XSLT engines used in Mozilla and WebKit browsers:
Mozilla: TransforMiiX
WebKit: libxslt

Filed under AIR, Adobe, IDA having Comments Off

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WebRunner:Instant AIR Competitor

August 29th, 2007 by enefekt

I’ve been trying my best to try and figure out the current landscape of technology offerings for RIA and IDA development. So forgive me for this rant-ish post, and correct me or help me where I’m just dead wrong.

I believe in choosing the right technology for a project’s or product’s requirements. Some of the projects I work on are obviously web applications, so I target the browser and either use HTML/JavaScript for simple interfaces, or Flex/ActionScript for advanced interfaces or rich media integration.

But we’ve frequently found ourselves in the position of needing to create relatively light-weight desktop applications with advanced UI requirements, that can easily work with web technologies.

Building these IDAs with client technologies like Flash/Flex/XUL/ECMAScript has been awesome in developing fast and good, and not having to code Swing layouts. This idea has pretty much been hackish at best in the past until XULRunner came along. But now AIR is here, and I’m trying to evaluate both. So this is the type of target I’m referring to with this post, Internet Desktop Applications with advanced interface requirements.

This post and chat transcript posted by Matt of AllPeers really kind of set off some alarm bells. Not gonna summarize it, so you may have to read it. But I’m replying to some thoughts presented in it.

HTML? Hyper-text Markup Language: Formatting text documents.

XUL? XML User Interface Language: Creating user interfaces

Merge XUL into HTML, gradually over time? Why? Use the best tool for the job! Leave HTML for what it does best, for documents. And talking about some future idea that may be cool (or the worst thing ever done), is not NOW. There are excellent tools and technologies available NOW that do these things (Flex, ActionScript 3, AIR)

What is WebRunner’s or Firefox 3’s interface developed in? XUL, not HTML. Maybe once we see Firefox shipping with an all HTML interface then I’ll be able to see HTML as some sort of capable user interface language.

If Mozilla’s own evangelists are encouraging HTML over XUL, then it would be downright foolish to champion it, and makes me uneasy choosing it to develop with.

So who is putting their weight behind a modern, advanced, rich, and internet friendly programming language and user interface markup language? Adobe, with Flex and ActionScript 3.

In more than one spot I have seen this evangelism of using HTML over XUL for developing rich applications, and wonder what is at it’s core. Maybe it is because the Mozilla Foundation/Corporation is unsure of the future API or compatibility and stability of using XUL and its companions. And they figure HTML is the safe way to go for the “masses”.

Again, who has the awesome history of distributing a runtime far and fast, proven backwards compatibility in a runtime, and is at the same time making great advancements with innovation for rich media, RIA, and internet desktop application developers? Adobe. With the Flash Player, and no doubt soon to come AIR.

I’m trying my best to find something to keep me hackin’ on XUL and JavaScript, but I keep seeing these confusing mixed signals as to the future of a capable RIA/IDA platform or runtime using Mozilla technologies. (Or no signals at all)

Don’t get me wrong, I love working with XUL, JavaScript, and XULRunner, and I have a number of projects using the technology. So I’ll be continuing to develop with it. But for new and future projects I’m gonna have give it some serious thought.

Filed under AIR, Adobe, IDA, Mozilla, Mozpad having 5 Comments »

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