Stephen’s Statements A little bit of everything from Stephen Duncan Jr, a Software Developer in Portland, Oregon

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Eclipse and XULRunner/Firefox

Over at Peer Pressure there's a post on asking for an Eclipse-like IDE for XUL apps to be written on top of Firefox (or XULRunner to be technical). I agree with Alex's post, however, that it would be better to do Eclipse plug-ins for XUL.

However, this leads to the idea of the competition between XUL and Eclipse as platforms for writing cross-platform rich-applications, which interests me. Let's compare them as fair as my limited knowledge (not having written any apps in XUL or for Eclipse) can allow. Basically, in terms of flexibility and power of the widgets provided, Eclipse wins, hands-down. Especially useful to me, as a user, is the flexibility of the tabs and layout in Eclipse. However in terms of footprint, Firefox is the clear winner. The difference is simply enormous. An Eclipse-based web-browser, for isntance, would almost certainly be an unacceptable download size for your average user, and the memory usage would be killer too, most likely.

Going back to the tabs in Eclipse though: man, what I wouldn't give to have that ability in Firefox. I could essentially open the tabs and sidebars any way I like, and see as much stuff at once as desired. Sure would be handy some times. Oh well, just random musings...

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Official Yahoo! Toolbar for Firefox

I've written before about the unofficial toolbar before. Now Yahoo! has released an official Firefox toolbar. Gervase Markham points out some interesting notes.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Instapundit Firefox Visitors at 19%

19% of Instapundit Readers Use Firefox

An impressive example of a non-techy site receiving a very large amount of Firefox visitors. While there's something to the argument that those who get their political news from a Weblog are likely to be more tech-saavy; I think that the more tech-saavy are reading Instapundit via RSS, which is unlikely to be counted in his stats. For instance, I read Instapundit using Firefox, but through Bloglines.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Brendan Eich: OpenLaszlo and Eclipse

Brendan's Roadmap Updates: OpenLaszlo and Eclipse

Brendan notes that Laszlo has released an IDE for LZX based on Eclipse. Noting the similarity of LZX and XUL, he asks for takers on patching it to support XUL. I hope we do find a taker, as that will be a huge step in allowing for people to adopt XUL. Not that yesterday's thoughts don't still apply.

Update: Brendan says they (Mozilla folks) are talking with the Laszlo people.

Stephen: we are already talking to Laszlo folks, and we'll see what can be done quickly. It may not pay to converge and standardize, instead of harmonize. Laszlo would love to target native support in Firefox, of course, but that's another Gecko extension to be written. If LZX evolves to use CSS and the full DOM and ECMA-262 Edition 3, then it's a better match to a future Gecko (+ extension) target.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Open Source/Standard XML User Interface Language

I've posted on this topic before.

From an interview with CTO of Laszlo Systems:

But now that the source code is open and available, we're working on establishing alliances to get this platform, especially the LZX language, to be a standard. That benefits us and the industry because this is the open Web. It's open source. It runs everywhere and runs in any browser.

Competition with Longhorn's XAML platform from Microsoft is mentioned, but Mozilla's XUL is not. What does this mean for the future of XUL? Will the split of competitor's between XUL, Laszlo, and the proprietary Macromedia Flex allow Microsoft to win?

The primary incompatibility between XUL and Laszlo is that XUL requires some portion of the Mozilla runtime environment to run, whereas Laszlo uses Flash. With Flash having a much larger install base, people look at Laszlo as being essentially zero-install on the client.

What I would like to see is Mozilla and Laszlo work together to come to a standard on the XML UI language. Then Laszlo could continue to produce a Flash-based implementation, while Mozilla continued to produce it's current implementation. Both implementations have pros and cons. Flash is cross browser; Mozilla is themeable, and has more native-like widgets.

I don't know what the currently techincal differences are in the languages, so I don't know how far away this concept would be to achieve. But I really think that it's got to be started now, if open-source is to compete in this field with Microsoft. Any ideas on how to get this ball rolling?

Sunday, November 14, 2004

WinNoia 1.3

I've put the new version of WinNoia up. I did it quickly, so let me know if there's anything wrong. This update uses the latest version of Winstripe, so all the new icons are there, and makes the theme compatible with 1.0+.

Tuesday, October 5, 2004

How to play with XUL

I just stumbled across this. It seems like a great way to start playing with XUL. It lets you type XUL in the top frame area, and then shows the results as you type in the bottom frame area.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Spread Firefox Blog

I've decided to some content on my Spread Firefox Blog. Basically, I'm just going to put links to posts here about Mozilla in the blog. I'm not much of a marketing guy, so I doubt I'll have much to say directly about how to succesfully Spread Firefox. If I do, though, I'll probably post the full content there, and a link here.

Join Spread Firefox

As a web developer, and as a web surfer, I want the web to do more. But I want don't want that to come at the cost of locking people into an browser or operating system choice. That's why supporting a browser like Firefox is so important. Firefox is cross-platform, so you're not locked into an OS. Firefox has support for new web standards and technologies. It's doing things like increasing the visibility of syndication feeds, supporting CSS standards, and working on new extensions to HTML. Firefox helps make the web better.

To succeed, it needs market share. This creates an incentive to make web-sites standards-compliant and cross-browser compatible. So, if you agree that this is an important cause, how can you help? Join to find out about new initiatives to spread the usage of Firefox.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Yahoo Companion for Firefox Update for 1.0 PR

The Yahoo! Companion Toolbar for Firefox has been updated to work with Firefox 1.0 Preview Release. Plus, several bugs have been fixed, so it should be much more usable. Go download it! (That means you, Chris!).

Note, only the installation page is updated. The front page hasn't changed to show the new version. I edited the link to go straight to the installation page.

Winstripe + Noia

I've hacked together a theme. Basically, I just put Noia 2.0 eXtreme's tabs and scrollbars onto the default theme. I've gone through a few iterations, and am pretty happy with the decision not to style the tab bar, but just the tabs.

What I don't have is any artistic talent myself. For now, the icon for this theme is simply a cropped piece of a selected tab. The preview is a screen shot of the theme. Both of these could use some work to fit with what most themes do. Anybody want to help?

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

My Extensions as of 9/21/2004

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Blog Popular

The release of Firefox 1.0 Preview Release yesterday managed to make several Mozilla sites more popular, according to Bloglines. Check it out, the top 4, and 6 of the top 10. And 9 of the top 15 gaining links too.

Let's hope we can manage even better for the Firefox 1.0 Release.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Spread Firefox

Mozilla Firefox 1.0 Preview Release is out! Go get it, test it out, and report your problems so that Firefox 1.0 can be the best browser release ever!.

Also, for those who are already fans of Firefox, spread the good word. Check out Spread Firefox! for ways to help the Firefox community.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Mozilla Feeds Update

Improving the feed discovery for Firefox is being tracked at Bug 257247

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Mozilla and Feeds

As I've mentioned, the new "Live Bookmarks" feature coming up in Firefox is not super useful. As in, it's not going to have the features to replace an aggregator. Which is fine. As I understand it, the purpose of adding it was to be able to get bookmarks from a remote location, even if it's only read-only for now. The idea, I guess, was to use RSS stuff, as it's an already widely-deployed format. So, in that light, it's at least pointing out to cool stuff in the future, though where the practical benefit will lie is still to be seen.

However, the RSS integration in Mozilla Thunderbird is ready to replace your favorite e-mail client style aggregator. Well, ok, not quite. It's in the nightly builds, and I'm sure there are bugs to be worked on. But it does support the standard concept: feeds as folders in your mail client, with posts as messages. Those wanting a full client aggregator that works on multiple platforms, Thunderbird may be your answer.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

WeatherFox Update

There's a new homepage for WeatherFox. Improvements are still coming quickly, which is nice.

By the way, "LiveMarks" or "Live Bookmarks" or whatever the current name for RSS in Firefox as bookmarks currently is, doesn't seem to be all that useful. Which, in a way, is good. People using tools like Bloglines cuts down on the hits to people's feeds.

Sunday, August 8, 2004

Firefox Extensions

Here's a couple of extensions for Firefox that have me excited:

Bloglines Toolkit. This one has been out a while, and I've been using it constantly. It greatly simplifies subscribing to feeds, by adding a context menu that lets you choose to subscribe to the current page (or link if you right-clicked on a link). For the current page, it uses feed autodiscovery to list the feeds available for that site. Even better is that it also provides a notifier. It places a small icon in the bottom right corner of the browser, and adds a red dot to indicate when new posts are added to any of your subscribed feeds. Simply click on the icon to open up your Bloglines feeds list (you can configure it to open in new tabs, active or inactive, same page, etc.) This has made the process of surfing the web and keeping up to date on my favorite sites so much easier. It wouldn't be hyperbole to say that it's revolutionized my browsing experience.

WeatherFox. This was just created yesterday, and has been updated several times. Look for more improvements as time goes. Basically, it adds icons in the status bar indicating the weather for a zip code you supply. You can hover over an icon for more details, and you can also set how many days of icons to show. A handy way to always see up-to-date weather info without having to open up a website.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Firefox Features Update

On the new find feature: there is a preference currently called "Enable Find As You Type" that enables the old behavior of being able to just start typing, and have the find features start working. That makes me happy.

Each feed that you've bookmarked you can manage options on: you can set the schedule for updating (it defaults to never updating right now), as well as set what kind of notification(s) you want when new posts have been added.

Edit: Updating/refreshing seems to be broken in this build. I'll play with the new features some more as bugs are fixed.

New Features for Firefox 1.0

I'm not sure about the wisdom of adding new features before the 1.0 release of Firefox, but I have to say that the two new features being added right now are pretty awesome.

The first new feature isn't technically new; it's just an improved UI for an old, beloved feature. The Find-As-You-Type (FAYT) feature has gotten a new toolbar that pops up. This gives a nice UI that will make what's going on more clear to new users. It also features the ability to choose to "highlight" the search term wherever it appears in the current document. This is a feature I've wanted for a long time, so I'm very happy to see it.

The default way to trigger this functionality has also changed. Prior to 1.0, FAYT worked on links only by default, and was triggered by simply typing (with the '/' character used to do full-text searching). I always switched it over to full-text searching when I started my profile anew. The new functionality is to do full-text searching by default, but require either the '/' character to trigger it, or Ctrl+f.

The other new functionality is being called "LiveMarks" right now. It's basically a way to integrate RSS into the browser. Special bookmark folder for RSS feeds can be created when you go to a page. I assume that it relies on tags on the page that allow feed auto-discovery. You use the Feed bookmark creation tool at that appears in the status-bar, and bookmark the feed. A folder is made for the feed you are bookmarking. Then, when going to the that folder in your bookmarks, all the posts from the feed are shown as bookmarks. I'm writing this post partially to check out how it indicates new posts in the feed.

My description of these features may not do them justice. So check out some screen-shots, or try out the features by using a recent build. Be prepared for bugginess, as these changes were checked-in recently, and are rapidly being worked on and cleaned up.

Saturday, September 6, 2003


Download all the best internet tools here. I've ceased use of Microsoft's programs, and now use Firebird for internet browsing, and Thunderbird as my e-mail/news client.