Different people have different temperaments, of course, not to mention different temperates. What is the ideal weather for one person - blue skies, mid-80s, no humidity or rain in the forecast anywhere - can be downright depressing for those who like gray skies with a light rain and the temperature cool enough to wear a sweater. The former, the Summer People, are outgoing and gregarious, the kind that keep LL Bean in business. The latter, the Autumn People, seem to make up the bulk of programmers and writers, people who would far rather sit in a coffeeshop, typing away and watching the rain.
I am an Autumn Person. The rains have begun here in Seattle, and I am in my element.
I've been spending more time coding an XML editor within Firefox. I covered the application in some detail a few blogs back (The Contender) but wanted to add a couple quick comments in light of Mozilla's 1.0 Release Candidate for Firefox. It's going to be really, really hard for me to go back to Internet Explorer.
The extensions for Firefox, written in XUL, XBL and XHTML (what I'll call X*L for brevity's sake) are typically third party tools, produced by the development community, that significantly expend the browser while still maintaining a secure architecture. The difference between these tools and ActiveX controls comes down to the degree to which the browser itself exposes its functionality. Firefox is essentially made up of XUL components, and the extensions have a much deeper layer of access into the inner workings of the browser as a consequence. However, there has been a very conscientious decision to set security restrictions at all levels, sometimes annoying as a developer but comforting from an end-user's standpoint.
I made the jump to Firefox to provide an alternative browser support for Mac users of the Content Management System I'm developing, yet I've found that internally there is a growing enthusiasm for the browser. One Mac user, a die-hard Safari fan, was blown away at how much she liked Firefox, and how it extended what she had become used to with the native Safari browser. The other IE-based users are becoming just as enthusiastic; they like the degree of functional customization that can be done with it, and the fact that it is faster than Explorer, and those of us who are Linux afficianados at the company are jazzed that we can develop for Firefox on a Linux platform and know that it will work regardless of platform; this means that for the first time, the Linux users don't have to keep an extra PC around just to use the CMS, something that WAS the case with the older version.
Microsoft may have made a serious miscalculation ignoring the browser market. Until recently, they had a lock on robust clients for intranet applications, and I suspect they were hoping to squeeze those clients back into the WinForms space and away from the loss leader browsers. Given the sophistication of Firefox even now, as well as what's slated for it in the near future, what may happen instead is a migration away from Microsoft-dependent solutions in general to support a more diverse pool of operating systems, with Firefox as one of the key tools in supporting enterprise wide applications. Far from watching the browser market collapse, the program managers at Microsoft may find very soon that their solutions are considered too restrictive in a world where the non-IE browser is becoming more robust. They ignore this at their peril.
I hope to have more to say on an alternative thread, about the future of e-mail, in my next post.
-- Kurt Cagle