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DevX: Longhorn and Mozilla: Birds of a Feather

Jan 13, 2004, 04:00 (2 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Nigel McFarlane)

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"Software technology goes forward in fits and starts. Bigger advances can cause plenty of information indigestion for technologists. At each leap, a new understanding gap opens up. Such a gap takes learning effort to close. Windows Longhorn is a big advancement for Microsoft, and the understanding gap created is proportionally large. Take heart, there's little that's truly new under the sun. A look at Mozilla technology shows that this road is already laid out. Don't believe me? Read on.

"Mozilla is the technology behind the Netscape Navigator 6.x and 7.x Web browser. Although Microsoft beat Netscape to a pulp in the 'browser wars,' the Mozilla technology underneath didn't quite die. Instead, it mutated into an application platform. Mozilla applications such as the Mozilla browser are built on top of this new Mozilla Platform. The browser application is not important for this discussion, but what lies underneath it is.

"This platform is a fairly generic group of technologies implemented as a single executable and a set of dynamic link libraries. You can use the executable as a starting point for a wide range of software applications. For example, you can easily create a set of interpreted files that display a window just like any Visual Basic, Java or Tcl/Tk program. Sometimes the resemblance is perfect. Companies are already building on and using the Mozilla platform for commercial applications—some of which run outside the Mozilla browser itself. Examples are tools such as ActiveState's Komodo IDE, Pearson Education's Longman dictionary-on-CD software, and Crocodile Clips' e-learning tools..."

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