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[P]
Web developers joyfully weep

By ttfkam in Op-Ed
Sun Mar 02, 2003 at 09:48:46 AM EST
Tags: Software (all tags)
Software

Have you ever been working on a site and wanted to know that XPath function name without flipping through that book on the far end of the shelf? Ever wanted to know the path of that nested table -- how many levels deep it is?

What every web developer needs...


Mozilla. You've heard of it. Some love it. Some hate it. I submit that folks who deride it lack some fundamental information about it.

For example, I'm sure many a web developer out there has heard of zvon.org. What you may not have known is that if you go to zvon.org's sidebar page, you can put a quick reference to DOM2, CSS2, XSLT, XSL-FO, SVG, MathML, etc. right into your browser. I have to admit, even though I found the default search sidebar and "what's related" somewhat interesting back in the early days of Mozilla 1.0, I browsed with the sidebar disabled 100% of the time. It just didn't warrant day-to-day usage and lacked any feature I couldn't live without.

I'm sure that individuals will point out the links on the page that add Opera hotlinks. Still others will note that bookmarks serve much the same purpose. The zvon.org resource merely opened the floodgates. While flipping through all of my new-found treasures in the sidebar, I noticed the DOM Inspector tab. For those of you unfamiliar with the DOM Inspector, you are in for a treat.

    With it you can:
  • Highlight the current node
  • Find an element by id
  • Find an element by attribute
  • View the style of an element
  • Right click on an element an choose "inspect in new window"
  • ...and on it goes

This only adds to the value of the browser (development environment?) when you also consider the JavaScript console and, more impressive, the integrated JavaScript debugger. Just viewing the the JavaScript console has found innumerable errors and instances of sloppy coding (that may not generate an error). If you have ever wished that JavaScript had an equivalent of Perl's "use strict" or "-w", I strongly encourage you to select "Tools"->"Web Development"->"JavaScript Console" from the menu.

I can personally attest to the value of tabs for comparing what a page looks like now as compared to five minutes ago or the live version to a development version. Drop in Composer, which gives WYSIWYG editing with FTP and WebDAV publishing support, and you have a formidable web development swiss army knife.

Is it all roses? Of course not. Mozilla still uses a non-trivial amount of RAM and browsers like Safari beat it hands down on raw rendering speed. However, while this may be very compelling for your typical web surfer, developers are not "typical web surfers" by any stretch. If your box has less than 128MB of RAM, may I ask why? As of the writing of this article, pricewatch.com shows 256MB DIMMS of PC2700 DDR RAM for about US$20. With regard to rendering speed, are there really developers out there who would rather take one second off the page load time than have the DOM Inspector, the JavaScript console, the JavaScript debugger, Composer, customizable sidebar tabs, etc.?

And was it noted that Mozilla renders the same on every platform? Don't get me wrong. When folks who aren't web developers ask which browser to use, I point them to Safari, IE, Opera, Phoenix, and their ilk. But I'm talking to the web developers out there: the ones who bounce back and forth between multiple browsers during testing, the ones moving that logo over three pixels on the page, the ones who know what the W3C stands for.

Now instead of asking why you should use Mozilla, ask yourself what your reasons were for not using Mozilla?

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Poll
What browser do you use for primary development
o Mozilla 57%
o Safari 4%
o Konqueror 3%
o Opera 9%
o IE 15%
o Lynx/Links 3%
o I don't view pages before I publish them 4%
o I can't even spell HTML 3%

Votes: 198
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o XPath
o Mozilla
o zvon.org
o zvon.org's sidebar page
o DOM2
o CSS2
o XSLT
o XSL-FO
o SVG
o MathML
o Composer
o WebDAV
o pricewatch .com
o you should use Mozilla
o Also by ttfkam


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Web developers joyfully weep | 57 comments (44 topical, 13 editorial, 1 hidden)
oooo (5.00 / 7) (#2)
by phlyingpenguin on Fri Feb 28, 2003 at 09:14:53 PM EST

Fairly interesting, I'll vote up. I haven't gotten to explore the Mozilla sidebar much but I use about every other piece of Mozilla possible. Don't be so hard on Mozilla and ram, explorer is always open and both mozilla AND explorer are using 23MB ram each on my machine, not to count that if I open IE then 14mb ram is used up for a seperate process to explorer. Mozilla is certinly my first choice as a browser hands down.

Don't get me wrong... (5.00 / 1) (#5)
by ttfkam on Fri Feb 28, 2003 at 09:39:57 PM EST

I'm still advocating its use.  However its memory consumption and single-process fragility are negative issues.

My point was that its positives far outweighed its negatives.

If I'm made in God's image then God needs to lay off the corn chips and onion dip. Get some exercise, God! - Tatarigami
[ Parent ]

Phoenix (4.50 / 2) (#3)
by CanSpice on Fri Feb 28, 2003 at 09:16:02 PM EST

So other than having the bloatware that is Composer, why would I go with Mozilla over Phoenix?

No Mac version (4.50 / 2) (#4)
by ttfkam on Fri Feb 28, 2003 at 09:36:59 PM EST

and no DOM Inspector or JavaScript debugger.  The extensions mechanism shows promise, but it doesn't match Mozilla's functionality yet.  If/when it does, I'll switch with you.

If I'm made in God's image then God needs to lay off the corn chips and onion dip. Get some exercise, God! - Tatarigami
[ Parent ]
correction (4.00 / 1) (#6)
by phlyingpenguin on Fri Feb 28, 2003 at 09:40:51 PM EST

There IS a mac version that somebody keeps up. It's slow and isn't an official build.
Download Phoenix for OS X

[ Parent ]
Fair enough (none / 0) (#7)
by ttfkam on Fri Feb 28, 2003 at 09:43:20 PM EST

but isn't the raison d'etre of Phoenix to be fast?  A slow Phoenix: what's the point?

If I'm made in God's image then God needs to lay off the corn chips and onion dip. Get some exercise, God! - Tatarigami
[ Parent ]
zvon sidebars in mozilla are great (5.00 / 5) (#11)
by R343L on Fri Feb 28, 2003 at 10:50:26 PM EST

I use them everyday (mostly XML Schema and XSLT). It is also fairly trivial to alter the zvon documentation downloads so you can have a mozilla sidebar that points to a network local copy rather than zvon.org's copy (save bandwidth).

But mozilla is a hog. Works well on my work 1.5Ghz/.5GB RAM but blows a lot at home on 500Mhz/184MB RAM. Not having the sidebar on at home is necessary.

Rachael
"Like cheese spread over too much cantelope, the people I spoke with liked their shoes." Ctrl-Alt-Del

Try Phoenix, the small Moz (5.00 / 2) (#13)
by Pac on Sat Mar 01, 2003 at 02:45:20 AM EST

On the other hand, have you tested it home recently? This "minimun" machine spec for Moz has been going down for a while. It has been great for months in a PIII 800Mhz/256MB RAM.

A sidebar at home may not be necessary, but can you live without your tabs and the popup killer? I can't...

Evolution doesn't take prisoners


[ Parent ]
I'm pretty current (5.00 / 1) (#23)
by R343L on Sat Mar 01, 2003 at 10:43:26 AM EST

I don't build my own (see next comment), but I stay current with whatever build they have pre-built (1.3b right now).

And no I couldn't live w/o tabs or the popup killer. :) I even have went and changed the popup menu for a tab to get rid of the "Close other tabs" and "Refresh all tabs" which I have never used. (I'm not an obsessive /. or k5 page reloader :) ).

Rachael
"Like cheese spread over too much cantelope, the people I spoke with liked their shoes." Ctrl-Alt-Del
[ Parent ]

Built from source, or precompiled? (3.00 / 1) (#15)
by gordonjcp on Sat Mar 01, 2003 at 04:41:33 AM EST

Because plain ordinary i386 Mozilla is hellish on my girlfriend's PII/350, but a PII build of it is much, much faster.

Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll bore you rigid with fishing stories for the rest of your life.


[ Parent ]
hmmm built from source (none / 0) (#24)
by R343L on Sat Mar 01, 2003 at 10:46:33 AM EST

I don't build from source...just get the latest up on the releases page (1.3b right now). It helps that much? What compilers will build it and run on Win98 (don't laugh, that's what I have on my win partition at home since that's what my husband uses most of the time.) Maybe I'll rebuild from sources to see how it runs under my linux.

Rachael
"Like cheese spread over too much cantelope, the people I spoke with liked their shoes." Ctrl-Alt-Del
[ Parent ]

The Mozilla.org site has instructions (5.00 / 1) (#28)
by ttfkam on Sat Mar 01, 2003 at 12:29:13 PM EST

Mozilla.org's Win32 build page.

It's not for the faint of heart, but once you get your build environment set up the first time, you should be fine from then on.


If I'm made in God's image then God needs to lay off the corn chips and onion dip. Get some exercise, God! - Tatarigami
[ Parent ]
I'd rather spend $1,079 on a hardware upgrade (5.00 / 2) (#45)
by pin0cchio on Sun Mar 02, 2003 at 11:16:35 PM EST

From the Mozilla build instructions:

Microsoft Visual C++ must be obtained from Microsoft.

From Choose Your Edition of Microsoft Visual C++:

Visual C++ .NET Standard ... [contains a] Non-optimizing C++ Compiler

I assume that the performance of code generated by the non-optimizing C++ compiler will be worse than the performance of i386 code generated by the optimizing C++ compiler.

From Microsoft Visual Studio .NET Pricing (Microsoft no longer sells an optimizing Visual C++ compiler separately from the rest of Visual Studio):

Full Packaged Product: $1,079 US

For comparison, let's see what else I can get for that price. Dell.com is advertising Inspiron laptop computers that are faster than my current desktop computer:

$1,169 ... Mobile Pentium®4 processor,1.8 GHz ... 256MB,SDRAM ... 2e10 byte Ultra ATA Hard Drive ... 24X CD-RW ... 3 Year Limited Warranty

In other words, it'd probably be cheaper to buy a new machine than to recompile the Windows version of Mozilla for your current computer.


lj65
[ Parent ]
Unless you already have that compiler. -nt- (none / 0) (#53)
by mold on Mon Mar 03, 2003 at 02:12:29 PM EST



---
Beware of peanuts! There's a 0.00001% peanut fatality rate in the USA alone! You could be next!
[ Parent ]
IE is falling behind... (4.83 / 6) (#14)
by skim123 on Sat Mar 01, 2003 at 03:04:09 AM EST

During the "browser war" years I was a big fan of IE. Putting aside the performance benefits which were due in large part to IE's "closeness" to the OS, IE, IMHO, just looked a hell of a lot better and displayed Web pages in a more visually appealing manner than Netscape ever did.

And I've been using IE for quite a while, until recently. Six months ago or so I started using Mozilla and have not looked back. While things like tabbed browsing and themes are nice and all, what really makes Mozilla the browser for me over IE is the popup blocking.

I think Microsoft needs to become more aggressive with their releases of IE. They need to add the cool features Mozilla and its ilk have been adding. IE 6 feels old to the constant updates that Mozilla provides.

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


my past.... (4.42 / 7) (#16)
by antispamist on Sat Mar 01, 2003 at 06:03:47 AM EST

I entered the world using IE... I learned IE came from evil Micro$oft... I tried Netscape... I returned quickly to IE, pledging my soul to the devil... I started college, began programming/web pages, began hating both equally... I tried Opera, etc., etc...returned to IE... Still in college...hating both...found Mozilla... Getting married in June to Mozilla...happily ever after. :)

A useless endevor that will certainly leave u wanting less but getting more.
You went back to IE after Opera? (none / 0) (#43)
by Kaki Nix Sain on Sun Mar 02, 2003 at 07:23:17 PM EST

Why? Are you a masochist or something?



[ Parent ]

It happens. (none / 0) (#44)
by static on Sun Mar 02, 2003 at 09:44:49 PM EST

It's a shame, but it happens. It's something to do with "familiarity" (wrt IE) and "strangeness" (wrt Opera)...

Wade.


[ Parent ]

exactly... (none / 0) (#46)
by antispamist on Mon Mar 03, 2003 at 12:28:01 AM EST

I new it was evil/wrong/shameful but Opera felt like two left gloves. Don't mind it as much now but still wouldn't leave Mozilla. :)


A useless endevor that will certainly leave u wanting less but getting more.
[ Parent ]
Don't know about the windows version (3.00 / 1) (#47)
by xL on Mon Mar 03, 2003 at 03:39:21 AM EST

But I find the Mac and Linux versions of Opera to be horrible beasts. A cumbersome interface at best. Its rendering may be standards-compliant and fast, but boy do web pages look ugly in it. People's blind praise for opera due to its W3C fetish sort of reminds me of how people praise Java because of its OO; Features that are well-appreciated even by me but not a goal on their own.

Admittedly I don't have a lot of experience with IE (I seldomly use Windows), but in terms of usability I think I would prefer it over Opera if those were my only two choices. It's certainly not a monument to coding beauty, but at least it's not actively in your way when you want to read a document instead of gawking at how standards-compliant styleshets were parsed to clumsily render it in sub-microsecond speed.

[ Parent ]

Opera. Nastiness incarnate. (4.00 / 1) (#54)
by mold on Mon Mar 03, 2003 at 02:17:23 PM EST

Opera just doesn't render everything properly, and it bugs me. I keep my code written using HTML strict, and whereas Mozilla gets all of my code perfect, and IE can usually get all of it right, Opera always seems to have some glaringly obvious problem with the pages I write (and this is validated code).

Of course, I've not tried Opera 7 yet, so those problems might be fixed now.

---
Beware of peanuts! There's a 0.00001% peanut fatality rate in the USA alone! You could be next!
[ Parent ]

Galeon!!!! Why does no one ever mention Galeon!? (4.71 / 7) (#18)
by criquet on Sat Mar 01, 2003 at 07:16:17 AM EST

For a day-to-day browser it is superior to any i've ever used and i've used most/all (Mozilla, Netscape, Safari, IE, Opera, Pheonix, OmniWeb, Chimera, Konqueror, and probably several more).

Smart bookmarks, ctrl-enter/middle-click tabbed browsing not just for links/anchors but for bookmarks and menus too, bookmarklets, autoreload pages, and it's based on Mozilla to boot. If other browsers support any of these features, Galeon does it better. I'm serious. It's designed for optimum browsing efficiency. For example, you can middle-click a bookmarked menu that contains several bookmarks and, with tabbed browsing enabled, it'll open all the pages in the menu in different tabs. Enter text into a smart bookmark on the toolbar and ctrl-enter to open the page in a new tab (optionally loaded in the background).

It's a pure browser that is rarely obtrusive. You can browse without thinking about the browser.

Hmm (4.00 / 1) (#19)
by MrLarch on Sat Mar 01, 2003 at 08:41:59 AM EST

If other browsers support any of these features, Galeon does it better. I'm serious. It's designed for optimum browsing efficiency. For example, you can middle-click a bookmarked menu that contains several bookmarks and, with tabbed browsing enabled, it'll open all the pages in the menu in different tabs. Enter text into a smart bookmark on the toolbar and ctrl-enter to open the page in a new tab (optionally loaded in the background).

I do believe Mozilla does that part, at least. Not being familiar with Galeon, though, I'd think that the biggest benefits are actually those that it's closest counterpart are trying to acheive; namely, configurability.

[ Parent ]

Maybe but (5.00 / 1) (#21)
by criquet on Sat Mar 01, 2003 at 09:01:45 AM EST

it is my understanding that Mozilla is mostly just used for the rendering engine, networking, cookies, stored passwords and such. All/most menuing and other UI features are browser specific, i.e. not obtained from Mozilla, although I could be wrong.

For example, although Mozilla supports tabbed windows and opening tabs via middle-click, it does not support it to the extend that Galeon does. For example, in Mozilla, you can't click on a bookmark folder to open all the bookmarks in that folder. Also, I think Mozilla's "smart bookmarks" were implemented after Galeon implemented it and, again, Galeon did it better. You can add smart bookmarks to the toolbar and there'll be a resizable/hideable text field next to the bookmark.

I completely forgot about k-meleon. Nice browser although development seemed to have a significant lag. I used it all the time though when I was still using Windows. I've since made the switch to OSX and Linux (and am much more productive as a result, your mileage may vary).

The one feature I wish any browser supported, preferably Galeon because of it's smart bookmarks, is to create smart bookmarks from form fields. That is, I'd like to be able to right click in a form field and select "Smart Bookmark Field" so that it'd create a smart bookmark like "http://the-form-action.com/path/to/page?field=%s".


[ Parent ]

Because... (3.00 / 1) (#32)
by Canar on Sat Mar 01, 2003 at 08:39:10 PM EST

...it's for Linux, and it's probably mentioned about as often as Linux is used overall.

[ Parent ]
missing poll option (4.50 / 2) (#30)
by nodsmasher on Sat Mar 01, 2003 at 02:40:49 PM EST

phoenix
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Most people don't realise just how funny cannibalism can actually be.
-Tatarigami
Not to mention galeon (n/t) (4.50 / 2) (#31)
by Cloaked User on Sat Mar 01, 2003 at 06:52:37 PM EST


--
"What the fuck do you mean 'Are you inspired to come to work'? Of course I'm not 'inspired'. It's a job for God's sake! The money's enough and the work's not so crap that I leave."
[ Parent ]
This shouldn't be news (4.33 / 3) (#33)
by 90X Double Side on Sat Mar 01, 2003 at 09:06:29 PM EST

Is there anyone who doesn't know that Mozilla was designed for developers? I think it's silly to say, "folks who deride it lack some fundamental information about it"; the folks who deride Mozilla are those who simply think it's silly to use a browser with all that bloat to view web pages that you aren't the author of. Mozilla will always be the program of choice for testing.

“Reality is just a convenient measure of complexity”
—Alvy Ray Smith
All that bloat (5.00 / 2) (#35)
by enterfornone on Sun Mar 02, 2003 at 03:08:29 AM EST

Mozilla is significantly less bloated than IE, as well as obviously being less bloated than the Netscape verions that are based on it. Are you a lynx user?

--
efn 26/m/syd
Will sponsor new accounts for porn.
[ Parent ]
No (none / 0) (#39)
by 90X Double Side on Sun Mar 02, 2003 at 03:42:40 PM EST

I use Safari or Chimera for actually browsing other people's pages. Mozilla is not less bloated than IE for Macintosh by a long shot, and to say that a program is less bloated than IE for Windows is to damn it with faint praise.

But as I said, Moz will always be the best testing tool made by developers, for developers. The reason people trash the project is because when the project started out, there were a lot of people onboard who were interested in creating a web browser, so that average people could have a quality standards-compliant, open source, MS-free web browser. The crisis in the project came when the developers were split into one camp that believed the project should be a web-based development suite and application environment (the camp that continues to develop Mozilla), and the camp that believed that the project should be a web browser (the camp that develops Phoenix and Chimera). There's nothing wrong with the group that's creating Mozilla, it's just that you can't change the world by making a product for 1% of the users (i.e. the other developers), and when the Mozilla project started, it had the potential and the ambition to change the world.

“Reality is just a convenient measure of complexity”
—Alvy Ray Smith
[ Parent ]

My reason (3.00 / 2) (#36)
by NotZen on Sun Mar 02, 2003 at 11:26:40 AM EST

I'm not switching to Mozilla until they fix this. I've tried the last few versions, to no avail.

My reason (3.00 / 2) (#37)
by NotZen on Sun Mar 02, 2003 at 11:28:27 AM EST

I'm not switching until they fix this. I've tried the last few versions, to no avail.

PLEASE IGNORE - Faulty link in comment n/t (5.00 / 2) (#38)
by NotZen on Sun Mar 02, 2003 at 11:28:56 AM EST



[ Parent ]
My Mozilla experience (2.33 / 6) (#40)
by tetragon on Sun Mar 02, 2003 at 03:59:58 PM EST

I installed Mozilla, and tried it, once. I entered mozilla in my xterm, waited a minute, left for lunch (15 min), came back, and it still hadn't finished loading up. After it finally finished loading, it took 2 minutes to open a menu on it. I ran out of memory when trying to get to quit on the menu. I think that I'll hold off using Mozilla until they reduce its memory requirements, and that I'll continue my web development with elinks as my primary browser with occasional checks in lynx, w3m, skipstone, amaya, and galeon (even though the last three, especially galeon, take a while to start up).

I know that many people have systems with a bit more RAM than I, but 16MiB should be enough for everything, provided you have a massive (100MiB) swap partition and patience.

Ceci n'est pas une sig

Get more freaking memory. [n/t] (5.00 / 1) (#55)
by andfarm on Mon Mar 03, 2003 at 02:42:52 PM EST



[ Parent ]
More memory (none / 0) (#56)
by tetragon on Mon Mar 03, 2003 at 05:11:09 PM EST

I haven't been able to find a pair of 72-pin 16MiB EDO RAM sticks when I went looking. Those would maximize the amount of memory that my system can take (according to the manual), a whole 40MiB. I'll wait a few years until I can afford something that takes less than 6 hours to compile a kernel. My system is fine, but a little slow on the compile.

Ceci n'est pas une sig
[ Parent ]
My reason for not using Mozilla... (3.00 / 1) (#41)
by Silent Chris on Sun Mar 02, 2003 at 04:31:23 PM EST

IE's not broke, so it doesn't need to be fixed.  It's not as broke now as it used to be (no software will ever be perfect), it's stable, deceptively fast, and tied in with the OS in some (my mind) nice ways (I like being able to put an embedded weather web page on my desktop).

When I use Windows, I use IE.  When I use Linux or other *nix, I used Konqueror if available.

IE is broke (2.66 / 3) (#42)
by vwX on Sun Mar 02, 2003 at 05:44:55 PM EST

It still has security issues http://marc.theaimsgroup.com/?l=ntbugtraq&m=104621079902499&w=2 and it only runs on one platform.  What more can I say other than much prefer Mozilla even on Windows.  Interactive weather web page?  Look out the window.

[ Parent ]
If you're gonna spread FUD (none / 0) (#48)
by curien on Mon Mar 03, 2003 at 06:55:11 AM EST

At least spread believable FUD. I went to that site (in Opera, my primary browser) and read about the bug. I then tried to trigger it in IE... didn't work. So much for security issues.

Second, IE's been available for more than one platform for a very, very long time.

--
Murder your babies. -- R Mutt
[ Parent ]

"[IE] only runs on one platform" (none / 0) (#50)
by codemonkey_uk on Mon Mar 03, 2003 at 08:13:47 AM EST

How odd. I'm using it here at work on my WinXP system, and I also have it installed at home on my girlfriend's Mac-OS/X box. FUD boy.
---
Thad
"The most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way." - Bertrand Russell
[ Parent ]
Pretty sure there was a Solaris port for a while (none / 0) (#52)
by Canthros on Mon Mar 03, 2003 at 09:54:12 AM EST

I think Microsoft stopped messing with it, though. It was apparently pretty hellish.

--
It's now obvious you are either A) Gay or B) Female, or possibly both.
RyoCokey
[ Parent ]
Would I ever love this for... (4.00 / 1) (#49)
by LukeyBoy on Mon Mar 03, 2003 at 07:51:48 AM EST

All the various JavaDocs out there I use - the standard API, Log4J, Xerces, Xalan, etc. Cool article. The DOM/CSS stuff is invaluable.

* > internet exploiter (none / 0) (#57)
by ibbie on Tue Mar 04, 2003 at 11:24:54 AM EST

i like mozilla. it's pretty. it doesn't run that slow on my machine, and frankly if i need a *fast* browser, i can just use phoenix. or opera. or links / lynx.

ie is an exploit waiting to happen. and that's assuming you've patched all of it's previous holes.



--
george washington not only chopped down his father's cherry tree, but he also admitted doing it. now, do you know why his father didn't punish him? because george still had the axe in his hand.
Web developers joyfully weep | 57 comments (44 topical, 13 editorial, 1 hidden)
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