Mozilla Follows Palm’s Lead- Jetpack Web Add-Ons Use Web Standards

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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?

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