Tuesday, April 22, 2008

What is Mozilla?

Some people now know what Firefox is - some - but nobody knows what Mozilla is. Even if you asked me, my answer would be something like:

uhhh, it's some kind of foundation-type thing, it's kind of like the remnants/leftovers of what Netscape was, but now it's kind of different, they release all this software - like mail and whatever - and some of it is half decent. or, actually, Mozilla actually is Netscape, and vice-versa, but not really. Mozilla's best-known software is Firefox, the browser, which you may have heard of. and they release all of this other software, a lot of which is kind of a duplicate of each other, and none of it is very good. it's kind of a meandering, direction-less organization. they did force Microsoft to support tabs, which is good. but the foundation itself - mozilla or whatever - it's kind of a nothing. It exists mainly because the only other game in town is Internet Explorer, and everyone is forced to use IE, so people resent it, and try to use something else - anything else. That's where Firefox comes in. Nobody really knows what Mozilla is, or who controls it, or where it gets its money. They get some money from Google, so they're kinda like a subsidiary of Google, but not really. they're kind of like these hangers-on - way past their prime. They need to just hang it up. Every time they gain a touch of market share from IE - a horrendous browser - they congratulate themselves and convince themselves it has something to do with Firefox being a good browser, when in fact is it because it is the only other browser.

Branding matters.

Now, all the rage is RIA - rich internet apps. Flash-based desktop apps. Because people like to install and maintain buggy desktop software, apparently.

But we have to have someone to blame. And that someone is Firefox/Mozilla/whatever-it-or-they-are-called. If they bothered to actually provide a real API for Firefox, then Firefox addons would have taken off, people would have started using Firefox, Opera would have been left in the dust, RIA would have been dead in the water, and we would have a real chance at using some decent software for a change - software called 'Firefox'. Instead, we're left with a mish-mash of non-standard technologies that lead to the current situation - a plethora of non-standard addons that are not good enough because they take forever to develop and maintain. No amount of creativity and determination can overcome the incredible technological roadblocks that the Firefox team have put in place.

It's a very high profile example of how free software has failed us yet again.

Tentative recommendation for this blog, which is generally more intelligent than most other tech blogs in the web2.0 world.

And here's a good presentation on free software from the Ruby dude - also a good blog, in general, and one that may very well piss you off.

...unsurprisingly, Maxthon is still terrible. With so much bad software out there, it makes you wonder why there aren't more millionaire software engineers. Well, in any case, I have found some software recently that appears to be decent. It's not perfect, but it does a lot of things competently. Wild Apricot. I'm not actually using it commercially yet, but I woudln't doubt if that happens soon.

So, now there are exactly three entities in the world which produce software that does not completely suck:
  1. Google.com
  2. Highrise (37Signals)
  3. Wild Apricot

You're welcome. :)

p.s. The list above is correct. It is not a popularity contest between droves of developers who love to install and fix plugins in their spare time. The list above can be counted on. It is reliable. The choices - legitimate. They will help you, not hinder you. They will make you a more productive, healthier, happier, better person and lover.


Anonymous said...

Haha we may agree frequently on politics but I don't think we agree on technology very often :-)

Sasha Chedygov said...

I love how Google is number one on the list of software that doesn't suck. Google Docs doesn't suck? Gears doesn't suck? What? I'd actually argue that most of their latest software sucks.

But anyway, I completely disagree with the article. First of all, Adobe AIR apps are NOT rich internet apps. RIAs run in the browser, AIR apps do not. Second of all, RIAs are a good thing. It means desktop-like applications run in the browser. How is that bad? Third, I don't understand what you're blaming Mozilla for. Just because you don't know what it is doesn't mean it's nothing. Firefox is a perfectly good browser. People are using it, and it has left Opera in the dust (with 1% market share or something).

Peter said...

By 'Google.com', I meant...Google.com - the search engine. :)

Google has lots of good and lots of bad products, but Google.com - the search engine - rocks.

As for whether or not AIR apps are rich internet apps or not - we might disagree. I thought there was general consensus that AIR apps were RIA apps - thus the acronym with the same three letters.

The adobe website certainly suggested AIR apps are RIA apps:

Adobe AIR is a cross-operating system runtime that lets developers combine HTML, Ajax, Adobe Flash®, and Flex technologies to deploy rich Internet applications (RIAs) on the desktop.

So, RIAs have traditionally been strictly web-based apps, but we were just waiting for the new tools and runtimes to come out - we now have Adobe AIR, Microsoft Silverlight, and more. They're definitely desktop apps in some cases, requiring various different runtime engines to be installed on the desktop.

I'm all for RIA apps when they are browser-based, but I hate the idea of desktop software for several reasons. And I do understand that Javascript is so atrociously slow that lots of folks have decided we needed a solution. I can't blame them - I just don't want to be a cheerleader for the path that many of them chose - desktop apps. This disaster that is unfolding before us is devolution to the bad old days. Multiple desktop installs, various versions and incompatibilities, various vendors, security holes, etc. I'll stick with my browser and actually remain productive. :)