O’Reilly Network: Mozilla as an Application Virtual Machine

“In his keynote address given at Computers, Freedom and Privacy
in Toronto, Canada, on April 6, 2000, Tim O’Reilly talked about
Open Source software and how the vision of Open Source projects
tends to change over time. “Many of the greatest successes,” he
said, “come not from the vision of the original designer, but the
uses to which newcomers put the original tool.” … Along those
same lines, we’re seeing Mozilla break ground in new areas not
previously expected, such as Zope (a web content management
platform) and Eazel (a next-generation Linux desktop).”

“Web designers are discovering that their skills can now be used
to customize Mozilla in such a way that they are able to create
their own applications. One of the greatest innovations in Mozilla
has been the creation of a cross-platform front end (called XPFE)
that has turned the user interface of Mozilla into a Web page. The
look and feel, as well as the functionality, of the interface is
created entirely out of standards that are used to created Web
pages — JavaScript, Cascading Style Sheets, and XML. The XML
component is embodied in a new language called XUL, the XML-based
User Interface Language.”

“These tools have enabled new levels of customization

  • Skins: You can change the look and feel of a
    Mozilla application by creating new skins for it. Examples of these
    include the Aphrodite and Sullivan skins.
  • Incorporating JavaScript: Beyond its
    changeable appearance, new functionality can be added to Mozilla
    apps with JavaScript. (See the Crash Recovery project for an
    example of this.)

By combining both of these features, it’s possible to change
the way Mozilla looks and feels to such a degree that it can be
turned into anything: a spreadsheet, a word processor, or even a
different type of browser. And the kicker is that these
applications can run on virtually any platform.”

Complete Story

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