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XULRunner, Mozpad, and SeaMonkey

Our Planet lately has been full of XULRunner talk.
And this is good, as it clearly tells that there's wide support of that technology, and things are moving on in that area. While we unfortunately have not yet reached a point where we can magically deploy a common, shared runtime and this vision will not get a reality in the Gecko 1.9 timeframe, the XULRunner platform is growing, and lots of work is being put into it, by MoCo and lots of outside volunteers. This is a cool, open, cross-platform base to builds applications upon, it will get way better even in the Gecko 1.9 cycle, and it will continue to improve in the future. I'm sure of that.

What we need though, is a stronger community around it - not that we lack people working on it or using it, or knowing its internals and deployment, we just can improve a lot in their communication. This helps "users" of the platform (those building apps based on it) in getting better info about how to achieve what they want to do, it helps people working on the platform in knowing what those "users" need to make working with it even easier - and it helps the platform itself by getting patches into it through this collaboration (hopefully also patches contributed back by the platform users).
Mozpad ("Mozilla Platform Adherents and Developers") is a good idea, and we build upon that idea to get such a community started. I hope though that we will leverage existing Mozilla community infrastructure as much as possible there so that it's as easy as possible for people already in the Mozilla communities to participate there.
Daniel Glazman insists in recent blog articles that we need a real name for this runtime, a logo, images "Built with Xulrunner", more visibility on the web sites, and articles in the press. I must admit that I'm with him on that - though I believe, despite I also have heard of other plans - that we should not pick any new name for that runtime/platform. The current, originally temporary, name of "XULRunner" describes exactly what it is - it runs XUL applications, it consists of everything building up the XUL platform - it basically markets the core technology of our platform, which is probably XUL. The majority of XULRunner builds around what is needed to provide XUL with everything it needs to works as expected, so that name serves very well to tell the message that "if you want to use XUL, you need XULRunner". And then, I think the package already got spread widely enough under that name that we should just stick to it, as changing it would probably trash all publicity it already has in developer communities (which are the target audience of this technology, right?). We really need a logo, and "built with XULRunner" images based on it, though. Maybe a good point for starting off the new community.

The SeaMonkey project got some really positive attribution in that recent platform/XULRunner discussion, by the way: John Lilly counts SeaMonkey among XULRunner/Mozilla-platform apps that are doing amazingly well, Mike Shaver is calling our project an excellent example of contributing to the platform, and talks of our success as a volunteer project: SeaMonkey is a great example of a group within the Mozilla community that has shown leadership and motivation in developing, supporting and marketing a piece of software that doesn’t have any Mozilla Foundation employees tasked directly to help it — though some Employees do indeed work primarily in the context of that product as a personal choice, and that’s a fine thing.
It's really good to hear people talk about SeaMonkey this way, it has been hard work to get here, and lots of people didn't believe we could ever get here when we started off this effort.

Oh, and we surely won't stop to work hard on getting even further along. As you might know, though we are using big pieces of the platform building up XULRunner, we still have major steps ahead to get a "real XULRunner app", the efforts for which we have code-named "suiterunner". The major step in that direction, killing xpfe in favor of toolkit should happen really soon now, and we will continue to adopt new technologies present in XULRunner, replacing old, often badly or non-maintained code in current SeaMonkey - without killing the feel of the suite our users have grown to love.
We will continue to be a good example of a XULRunner user, improving this where we can, as this helps both sides: SeaMonkey is a good testcase of an extensive, non-browser-only app building upon XUL technologies, which helps to improve XULRunner as a platform for such products, while we can get out a platform that serves our suite better.
Because of that, the SeaMonkey project will be proud and glad to be a member and supporter of a stronger XULRunner community, helping to make this Mozilla platform the best comparable product on the market.

Entry written by KaiRo and posted on May 16th, 2007 16:23 | Tags: Mozilla, Mozpad, platform, SeaMonkey, XULRunner | no comments

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