Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 2nd Jan 2010 17:04 UTC
In the News NetApplications has released its latest browser market share figures, and these figures show that Chrome has overtaken Safari as the number three browser worldwide, behind Internet Explorer and Firefox. IE, by the way, continues to lose popularity rather fast.
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Member since:

Am I the only one who detected a certain amount of snark in Google's name choice for their browser? Anyone who knows Mozilla/FF development knows that 'Chrome' is the name of the UI-rendering subsystem in Firefox, and in any Mozilla project. Look through your Firefox installation directory and you will find it. Mozilla has had this convention from the beginning, and I'm sure the Google people knew this. Anyone doing development work with XUL for Firefox extensions or any other aspect of the Mozilla application framework uses this word often. I just found it a little, hmm... maybe passive-agressive for Google to use the name.

Anyway yes, Chrome has superficially bested Firefox in terms of raw speed, and perhaps in certain UI aspects, but I'm not so sure that Google has bested Mozilla in the long run. From the beginning, the Mozilla developers have taken a verrrry long view to how application can work in a connected world, and no one else has anything quite like what they have developed. And they have definitely been improving Firefox's speed recently.

Firefox is just a single manifestation of the underlying framework, and it is very easy to re-chrome it a million different ways, even make it unrecognizable, and yet still have the same features (OR even change the features without breaking the core features). That the Mozilla team succeeded in making a truly re-chromable application when Google really has not is interesting irony. I know Chrome has an extension API, but here are a few things Chrome does not have:

- Javascript 1.8 (and soon Javascript 2.0 -- which will be ground-breaking)
- XUL + the collection of extra Javascript classes and libraries that allow a Mozilla extension to do far more than simple HTML/Javascript.
- absolute unity of user experience on just about any OS in use nowadays. I can run Firefox on Windows, Mac, FreeBSD, Linux, NetBSD, Solaris, just about anything with a GUI, and the behavior is identical. NO other browser has accomplished this.

Either way, I hope the Google and Mozilla teams continue to inspire each other to give us the best. It's going to be interesting to see how this plays out.

Reply Score: 4

wooptoo Member since:

I think XUL is both the strength and weakness of Firefox. Its strength because it makes Firefox so flexible, it's almost like a platform on which you can develop things like Songbird and Miro. And its weakness because it slows down Firefox a lot. The Firefox interface is entirely made in XUL and rendered by Gecko. Now that's a bit of overhead.

Reply Parent Score: 3

rycamor Member since:

I think XUL is both the strength and weakness of Firefox.
The Firefox interface is entirely made in XUL and rendered by Gecko. Now that's a bit of overhead.

Yes (although it is only one factor out of many), but it is a very useful abstraction, and I think history shows that in the long run, victory goes to the one with the more useful abstraction. Thus, web applications are winning over client-server network apps, scripting languages over compiled ones, declarative database queries over complex array manipulation, etc... And, history also shows that the perceived weakness of the abstraction can be more quickly optimized away than the converse weakness of the non-abstracted approach. There are all sorts of possibilities for optimizing or caching XUL rendering, just like with any other technology.

Also, there's no reason XUL need be only for Mozilla. Personally, I would love it if XUL could be rendered by any browser, not for the existing UI, but for the ability to create rich internet applications. XUL allows you to deliver far more functionality with far less code than Javascript/HTML. The difference is almost ridiculous. HTML should be kept for document/communication purposes, as was originally intended, but it is a horrible technology for serious user interface work.

Reply Parent Score: 1

FishB8 Member since:

XUL is an interesting development framework. It makes quick and easy work to prototype new ideas.

Here's something I found interesting:

Enter the following URL:


And you get a browser inside of a tab. (Sub-tabs if you will)

Reply Parent Score: 2