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Summary:

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=4752576&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=1&show_portrait=0&color=&fullscreen=1 I remember hearing the scoffs when Palm announced their webOS for the Pre. There was plenty of negative commentary around the fact that all software for the Pre would be based on existing web technologies like HTML, CSS and JavaScript. There’s some merit to that, […]

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=4752576&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=1&show_portrait=0&color=&fullscreen=1
I remember hearing the scoffs when Palm announced their webOS for the Pre. There was plenty of negative commentary around the fact that all software for the Pre would be based on existing web technologies like HTML, CSS and JavaScript. There’s some merit to that, because these frameworks can be more limiting than current programming languages. But my first thought was: “Clever! Palm just tapped the multitude of web developers with this move,” as people don’t need to learn a new or device-specific programming method.

You can love or hate the idea of building software on these technologies, but Mozilla is latching onto it. They’ve just announced a new project called Jetpack and it leverages the exact same concept. Jetpack will support browser add-ons, one of the best features of Mozilla’s Firefox browser, but won’t require them to be written in XUL. That’s good for a number of reasons.

First, just saying XUL out loud scares the bejeezus out of me. Zuul (which is how XUL is pronounced) was the evil minion of Gozer in “Ghostbusters,” if I recall correctly. Secondly, Jetpack leverages the vast web developer community for browser add-on creation using the Jetpack API and common structure. And perhaps the most noticeable changes: add-ins through Jetpack won’t require a restart of the browser nor will there be compatibility issues between browser versions. That’s a time-saver and a better user experience for evil minions everywhere. Although Mozilla doesn’t mention Fennec, their mobile browser, in the context of Jetpack, I have to wonder: Will this open up the mobile browser space to add-on compatibility?

  1. Great piece of information – thanks. And I also think that you have managed to identify the game changer here. If Fennec is included then its a whole new ball game.
    That said even if this is just a Firefox thingy, its a new try to make the browser into the desktop. Maybe this time it will work for desktops, as the webOS does it for the Palm.

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    1. Moreover, this is like making Firefox an OS + desktop for some usages, doesn’t it?!
      Take a smartphone like Palm and base everything on firefox … I wonder …

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  2. Another feedback – went and read the notes on their site. Apparently people were complaining about this being a competitor to Greasemonkey. Could be. The dev said that its supposed to be much more and then hinted that the whole thing came as a competitive answer to Goggle’s Chrom’s extension framework that is underway …
    http://www.osnews.com/story/21494/Chrome_Extension_Framework_Coming_Together
    http://groups.google.com/group/chromium-dev/browse_thread/thread/c0fb0d94ef24a41a

    Tal

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  3. All I can say is “It’s about time”.

    Restart-free development and a simple, comfortable API are long overdue (can you tell I’m a Python programmer?), but what really seals the deal for me is the promise of API stability.

    I’ve specifically abstained from developing Firefox extensions because I don’t feel like dancing to their beat on my upgrades just because they’ve been too lazy to develop a proper extension API.

    A stable API would also finally make it feasible for browsers like Konqueror to add extension compatibility. (Not that far-fetched, considering that KDE 4’s Plasma desktop supports MacOS Dashboard widgets and Google Gadgets in addition to its native Plasmoids and KDE 3’s SuperKaramba widgets)

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  4. Peter Norman Friday, May 22, 2009

    “First, just saying XUL out loud scares the bejeezus out of me.”

    That deserves to be repeated!!!

    You rock, Kevin. Hard!

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