December 28, 2000


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Article Index

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Introduction & Overview

Brief Recap of Part I of MozillaQuest the Series.

Getting the Lizard Ready for Some Skin Surgery

Skinning Tools

Optional Homework

Branding Your Mozilla-Based Browser

To Jar or Not to Jar the Lizard

Changing the Browser Title

Finding the Branding Iron

Branding the Lizard -- Changing Its Name

More Branding -- Changing the Application Logo

Side Effects


Resources & Links

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Getting the Lizard Ready for Some Skin Surgery

Skinning Tools

To work along with us, if you already have not done so please install the 17 November 2000 Mtrunk Mozilla daily build. Mozilla 0.6 is the latest release and is the Mozilla version upon which NS 6.0 is based. However, the 17 November Mtrunk build is lots better than either Mozilla 0.6 or NS 6.0 so we use that Mtrunk build for our Mozilla-skinning tour and tutorial.

Unfortunately, the Mozilla people have deleted that very nice 17 November Mtrunk build. So if you do not already have that 17 November build you will not be able to download it now.

However, the branding tutorial in this article also works OK with the 24 December 2000 Mtrunk build. So, if you already do not have the 17 November Mtrunk build downloaded and installed, Please download and install the 24 December Mtrunk build for your Operating System (OS). There are download links for this stuff in the Resources Section at the end of this article.

There are variations in the way different Mozilla builds are laid out too. Some do not have the chrome and skin directories expanded, some do. In Netscape 6, the chrome and skin files are not un-jarred (expanded). To follow along here with the tutorial, you will need to have Mozilla builds that have the chrome and skin directories expanded.

So please use the build file in Windows and the mozilla-i686-pc-linux-gnu_tar.gz build file in Linux. Otherwise, you might have to un-jar the jarred chrome and skin files. That's fine if you know how to do that. But if you are not familiar with JAR files, please use the or mozilla-i686-pc-linux-gnu_tar.gz build files.

Please use the 17 November 2000 or the 24 December 2000 Mtrunk Mozilla daily build when you work along with this tutorial. There are bugs in some other builds that will not let you do the skinning done in this tutorial. Mozilla Milestone 0.7 is expected to be released soon. We will let you know after Mozilla 0.7 is released if you can use that build instead of the 17 November 2000 Mtrunk build. Stay tuned.

All you need to modify the text files is a simple text editor such as Windows Notepad or *NIX's vi or pico. If you have an HTML editor such as ViaPage, HomeSite, or GoLive that can handle JavaScript and/or XML, you can use that too.

You can work at several levels when building your own Mozilla-based applications or creating Mozilla skins. The easier way to do this stuff is to work with the outer skin of an already constructed Mozilla-based browser or other application. It's simply a matter of adapting or customizing another browser or application. That's lot's less work than building a browser or other application from the ground up.

If you are a more advanced reader, you can get down, way-under, the outer skin and build Mozilla-based applications from the ground up. Or, you can get somewhere in between. The deeper down you dig, the more you have to know about scripting and programming, the more work there is to do, and the harder it will be to do that work. The closer to the surface you stay, the more you can fake it and the less you need to know.

Today you will be guided through some easy to do modifications of the Mozilla browser that require little, if any CSS, JS, or XML skills. That's because at the easiest level of Mozilla manipulation, all you need do is to open a few chrome and skin files. Then simply make a few obvious changes. And voila', you have a customized Mozilla browser. We will get deeper into, and under, Mozilla's skin in upcoming segments of this Mozilla-skinning series.

Optional Homework

Nevertheless, it helps to have at least a minimum idea of what CSS, JavaScript and XML (Extensible Markup Language) are and know how to at least read simple JavaScript (JS) and XML code. If you are not familiar with JS or XML, or you need to brush up on or improve your JS and XML skills, we suggest you go through Teach Yourself JavaScript in 24 Hours, 2nd ed. or Teach Yourself XML in 21 Days from Sams Publishing. For CSS, please refer to Cascading Style Sheets: the Definitive Guide, from O'Reilly. There is more information about these and other related books plus links to some on-line JavaScript and XML resources in the Resources Section at the end of this article.

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