Firefox, the Browser of the Future? | 2 | WebReference

Firefox, the Browser of the Future? | 2

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Firefox, the Browser of the Future?

Firefox and Developers

When the subject of developers came up, Chris described some of the tools and features that are currently available. "Take advantage of the great add-on content development tools that can assist in developing web content and applications! Henrik Gemal has written an excellent article [about] using Mozilla in testing and debugging web sites which details many of the features available in Mozilla which can help you find and correct errors in your web pages. Henrik focuses upon the interactive features such as the JavaScript(tm) Debugger and DOM Inspector which are available in official Mozilla releases and Mozilla nightly builds. Svend Tofte has also written an excellent tutorial, Learning the JavaScript Debugger Venkman."

Firefox as a Testing Tool

"Mozilla technology can also provide batch-oriented automated testing of web sites to detect problems with CSS errors and other problems that lead to browser incompatibility," Chris added. "Bob Clary, a longtime Mozilla Contributor, is working on a variety of systems that can help in the testing and quality assurance of sites, to make sure they are compatible and work with Firefox, and all browsers."

Chris continued, "Building and testing your site with Firefox, then spot checking with IE is a very effective way to make sure your content and applications work in all browsers. We are setting up a site that will be a good resource for content and web app developers in the coming months."

An Open Source Browser?

It's been said that Firefox wouldn't be here without the Open Source movement. We wondered aloud about the effects of being open source?

"The list is long here. The Mozilla Open Source Project has over 80 full-time contributors that work at the Mozilla Foundation, IBM, Sun, Redhat, Novell, Google, and many other companies. We have academic researchers and interns putting in full-time effort helping to improve the code. There really is a collaborative effort among all these participants to make great software. It's a scientific approach to developing code that involves lots of peer review and open discussion about every change. This helps not only in the area of security, but the quality of all feature and bug fixing work."

"There is a long trailing edge of part-time contributors. 884 Contributors provided over 17,000 patches for features and bug fixes during 2004. The part-time contributors help to grind off the rough edges and improve quality. These are things that a commercial software company would not find it economical to do."

"Firefox 1.0 is now shipping in 35 languages. The translation of Firefox into all these languages is entirely a volunteer effort. In some cases the translators in these countries become national heroes that bring the web to their people. Mozilla Technology has been translated for use in over 100 languages. The scope of this effort is far beyond anything that could be provided by a single commercial vendor."

"There are about 10,000 testers of our 'nightly development releases' that help continually assess quality and keep the development effort on track as incremental changes are made to the browser."

"There is a passionate community of browser users and promoters at that helps spread the word about Firefox and amazingly raised $250,000 for the Firefox 1.0 marketing effort which included a two page ad in the New York Times. There is a large community of system administrators and mirror sites that provide the hosting and bandwidth needed to distribute over 66 million downloads."

"There is a very active community of extension developers that are providing hundreds of small innovative ideas for the next generation of browser features, and are building on top of the Mozilla and Firefox platform."

"That is just the start of a long list that describes a very active and passionate community that helps to develop, test, extend, and promote Firefox."


We want to thank Chris for taking the time to answer our questions in this informative interview, and encourage you to give Firefox a try yourself if you haven't already done so. An Open Source, secure, developer-friendly browser is definitely a valuable recource in the developer's toolbox.

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Created: March 27, 2003
Revised: July 05, 2005