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July 8, 2002
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Mozilla 1.0 Not Ready for Prime Time -- Close but No Cigar and No Brass Ring!

Mozilla 1.0 Browser Quick Look

Mike Angelo -- 8 July 2002 (c)

Article Index

The Mozilla Web browser is the primary component of the Mozilla 1 browser suite. The focus in this part of MozillaQuest Magazine's comprehensive Mozilla 1.0 coverage is on the browser (navigator) component of the Mozilla 1.0 browser suite.

The Mozilla 1.0 browser suite includes four main modules -- (1) the browser or navigator, (2) an e-mail and news client, (3) composer (a WYSIWG, HTML word processor and Web page authoring tool), and (4) ChatZilla an IRC (Internet Relay Chat) client.

The cross-platform (XP) Mozilla browser-suite software is designed to run on several operating system platforms including, inter alia, the BSD, Linux, Macintosh, Microsoft Windows, OS/2, Sun, and several UNIX platforms.

The Mozilla 1.0 browser-suite was released to the public on 5 June 2002. It was in the works for more than four calendar-years and for more than 1,000 person-years. Nevertheless, the Mozilla 1.0 browser suite overall is premature, lacks 1.0 quality and polish, and is not ready for prime time. Our conclusion that Mozilla 1.0 is immature and not ready for prime time comes about primarily because of the many bugs, annoyances, and other issues in Mozilla 1.0 and its many performance problems, which are covered in more detail elsewhere in MozillaQuest Magazine's comprehensive Mozilla 1.0 browser-suite coverage.

AOL-Netscape's Mozilla Organization and Mozilla Project produce the Mozilla browser-suite. The Mozilla browser-suite is built on top of the multi-platform Mozilla Application Programming Framework (APF). This review focuses on the Mozilla browser. The Mozilla Application Programming Framework and other Mozilla browser-suite components are covered elsewhere.

Mozilla 1.0 Browser Features

Overall, the Mozilla 1.0 browser-suite has a robust and useful feature set, and on the surface it is an attractive product. The Mozilla 1.0 browser suite has lots of potential and is impressive in many ways. Unfortunately, there are lots of problems with Mozilla 1.0 and AOL-Netscape's Mozilla Organization's release of its Mozilla browser suite as a 1.0 offering on 5 June 2002 was premature.

Figure 1 is a screen shot of the Mozilla 1.0 browser showing, inter alia, the sidebar panel (opened to the Tinderbox tab) and the Web-page window tabs above the displayed Web page. Please notice the shortcut icons (favicons) on the Web-page window-tabs and the very good quality of the page display. (This screen shot was made while using Mozilla 1.0-RC1.)

Figure 1. Screen shot of the Mozilla Browser with six page-display tabs opened. Please note the tabs are just above the displayed Web page. (1.0-RC1 browser module -- 13 April 2002 branch build)

Among the most notable features of the Mozilla browser are its (a) custom skins or themes, (b) customizable sidebar panel, (c) browser-window tabs, (d) ad/image blocking capability, (e) Gecko, a nice rendering/layout engine, and (f) Web-page display standards compliance.

  • Tabbed-Browsing and Sidebar

Note: The Mozilla Sidebar folders come to your browser via the Open Directory Project, another AOL-Netscape alter ego. The Mozilla Organization and Mozilla Project also are controlled by, and are alter egos of, AOL-Netscape.

Netscape Communications Corporation hosts and administers the Open Directory Project (ODP), and has discretion over its content, use, and operation as described in the ODP's Terms of Use. (DMOZ Social Contract with the Web Community 5 June 01)

If the Mozilla Organization were truly independent of AOL-Netscape, it would not push you to AOL-Netscape controlled servers in order for you to fully use your Mozilla browser. Pushing you to the AOL-Netscape controlled ODP servers in order to customize your sidebar is just another example of AOL-Netscape's control of the Mozilla Organization and Project! Incidentally, The Mozilla browser pushes you to AOL-Netscape for plugins by default too.

Perhaps the most noticeable and useful features of the Mozilla 1.0 browser are its Tabbed Browsing and customizable SideBar. Neither of these features are original or unique Mozilla browser features. Stilesoft's NetCaptor browser had tabbed-browsing and a sidebar before Mozilla had them. Microsoft's Internet Explorer had a sidebar before Mozilla had one. However, neither the NetCaptor nor Internet Explorer sidebars have sidebars that are as customizable as is the Mozilla sidebar.

Figure 2 shows the Microsoft Internet Explorer sidebar and Figure 3 shows the Mozilla 1.0 sidebar. Please notice that the IE sidebar is cleaner than the Mozilla sidebar and the IE sidebar has more real-estate available for sidebar tab-contents than does the Mozilla sidebar. This comes about because the Internet Explorer sidebar-tab choices are on the toolbar rather than in the sidebar panel. The Mozilla browser unfortunately clutters its sidebar panel by putting the installed sidebar-tab choices within the Mozilla sidebar panel.

The Internet Explorer sidebar provides only three sidebar-tab choices, Favorites, Search, and History (selectable from the toolbar). On the other hand the Mozilla sidebar provides a wide variety of sidebar-tab folder selections. In addition to the default array of sidebar folders, you can add sidebar folders from a robust list of additional sidebar folders by opening the sidebar, focusing on the Sidebar top tab, and clicking on Tabs > Customize Sidebar.

Figure 2, Microsoft Internet Explorer 5. Please notice that when the mouse is hovering over a bookmark in the side panel, there is a popup panel which shows the full name of the book-marked item and the entire URL
Figure 3, Mozilla 1.0 browser. Please notice that when the mouse is hovering over a bookmark in the side panel, there is NO popup panel to show the full name of the book-marked item and the entire URL.

Figures 4 and 5, below, show the Mozilla and NetCaptor browsers. Each browser screen-shot shows two, open, page-display tabs. Both screen shots are the same size.

Please notice the much more efficient use of browser-window desktop real-estate by NetCaptor. Although both screen shots are the same pixel size, there is one more line of Headline text in the NetCaptor page-display window than there is in the Mozilla 1.0 page-display window.

Also, please notice the cleaner look of the NetCaptor sidebar. Almost the entire NetCaptor sidebar space is available for sidebar content. The NetCaptor sidebar (Figure 5) has room for eleven bookmark (Favorites) items whereas the Mozilla 1.0 sidebar (Figure 4) has room for only three bookmark items.

Sidebar tabs rather than tab content consume most of the Mozilla 1.0 sidebar in Figure 4. NetCaptor achieves its efficient and tremendous sidebar real-estate advantage over the Mozilla sidebar by placing the folder tabs along the left edge of the sidebar contents (Figure 5).

The Mozilla sidebar in Figure 4 has five tab-folders whereas the NetCaptor sidebar in Figure 5 has four tab-folders. However, it is easy to see that even with only four tab-folders, the Mozilla 1.0 sidebar still would be cluttered and contain more tab-headers real-estate-wise than content.

Figure 4, Screen shot of the Mozilla 1.0 browser with two page-display tabs opened. Please note the Browser Tabs are just above the displayed Web page.

Figure 5, Screen shot of the Netcaptor Browser with two page-display tabs opened. Please note the Browser Tabs are just below the displayed Web page's horizontal scroll-bar.

The sidebar is narrower in Figure 1 than in Figure 4. This was done to provide more room to demonstrate the Web-page tabs above the Web-page display panel in Figure 1.
Please keep in mind that Figures 4 and 5, above are 384 pixels high -- half the height of a 1024x768 pixel display-screen area. Notice how the Mozilla Sidebar folder content is not as crowded out by the tab-folder headers in Figure 1, above as it is in Figure 4. The Figure 1 Mozilla desktop is 598-pixels high.

The Opera browser has a feature similar to tabbed-browsing. The KDE Konqueror browser has a sidebar feature but no sidebar at this time. However, a tabbed-browsing feature is in the works for the Konqueror browser and likely will be included as part of the KDE 3.2 release -- probably in mid-October 2002.

KDE's Konqueror browser is a Linux only product. Opera runs on both the Linux and Microsoft Windows platforms. Microsoft Internet Explorer and Stilesoft NetCaptor require the Microsoft Windows operating system and are not available for the Linux platform.

It appears that the Mozilla Organization based its Tabbed-Browsing feature on MultiZilla. MultiZilla is a Mozilla add-on created by Henk-Johan van Rantwijk and a few others well before the Mozilla Organization decided to adopt a tabbed-browsing feature for the Mozilla browser. However, MultiZilla has lots more neat, tabbed-browsing related features than does the Mozilla tabbed-browsing. (Link in Resources section on Page 3.)

  • See The Oingo History-Tab Bug Fiasco on Page 2 ----->
  • Related Articles

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