James Governor's Monkchips

On “Firefox Only”…. Will XUL’s Emerging Apps be Killer?

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Something new? We’re all used to being told IE only. Its a mantra at banks, B2C sites and all over the damn place.

So it struck me when i was looking at Moshe’s XUL examples, and those put foward by GeorgeNava how the balance of power is subtly shifting. Firefox Only…

Don’t bother checking out the links if you’re an IE user – they won’t work properly. where is the clock? How come the buttons don’t work? This is like looking at MSN Spaces with Firefox…

Just as Intel now has to track AMD for 64-bitness, so MS may end up tracking Firefox and not the other way around. This is happening in terms of function already (tabbed browsing is a good example of a function MS needs for IE7) but MS would be far more concerned if it had to track APIs defined by someone else.

Its nice to see the boot on the other foot from a user perspective. Pesky IE users… 😉 Could this movement turn into a rout? That is, XML User Interface Language is a means to build rich enough, cross platform Web based UIs. It seems like many developers of cool stuff are using Firefox, and what if they start to take advantage of underlying functions and hooks (just like happened with IE)? Then what?

Google will likely be a kingmaker here. Does anyone know of any flickr XUL stuff? What this guy said. Its very early days and there are very few of these apps out there at the moment. I don’t mean to get carried away. IE is massively dominant, and many developers target that platform only. But its part of my job to identify trends and inflexion points.

Firefox Only is a meme worth noting.


  1. Oh yeah i forgot to say Intel REQUIRES firefox support for applications it buys. If a vendor tries to sell an app that is IE only theyd likely get bounced.

  2. So What? James, if people start building pages FF only, it’s almost has bad has the IE only.
    The internet is all about interoperability, independency between client and server and leveradging ALL the clients. Having an Web page browser specific is has smart has having a store that only sells to people dressed in Blue, the Store owner has the right to do that but, he is a stupid person. I don’t like to do business with stupid people.
    Those who don’t understand history, are bound to repeat it’s mistakes. there was a time when Netscape dominated the browser, developers wrote Netscape Specific pages and, had to migrate when IE became dominant. IE Developers repeated the same stupid actions and, now, for some reason, some people just assume FF will be dominant forever. That’s just stupid or a fraud (to sell upgrades in the future).
    I think EVERY “web developer” should be forced to check this two sites:

  3. IF you build enterprise business applications in a controlled environment
    If you develop remote applications for personal use, like monitoring your databases or servers
    you have all the rights to develop on whatever platform you wish.

    XUL is a great tool for those two specific scenarios.

  4. XUL (http://www.the325project.org/blogs/2005/02/tick-tock-for-remote-xul.html) good but it needs improving. It works (I’ve used it a good bit at this stage) but it has rough edges. They’re being worked on but there are alternatives coming (XAML) so that work needs fruition.

  5. Although XUL is great, cross-browser DHTML ala gmail and so on seems better placed to hit the sweetspot. At least, that’s where I’m focusing my energies.

  6. Trying to explain myself a bit better. Yes, you can build an app that is browser specific. But, all you’re saving is the effort to write your own client.
    I believe the internet is a lot more than that and, a web based application HAS TO be browser independent. Someday, there wil be a beter browser than FF and, I want to be free to change to that.
    BTW, I’m discussing the concept but, I too apreciate the irony 🙂

  7. I’m with Jaime. Develop to standards; validate and test cross browser, cross platform. “Firefox only” is interesting insofar as anything which challenges the status quo is interesting, but anyone who seriously advocates “Firefox only” is seriously shortsighted.

    George argues that if (and only if) you control which browser is used, then you need only develop for that browser.

    Which is well and good until you decide you want to change the browser across the enterprise. Enterprises which want to migrate to Firefox face a real problem if they have an intranet which needs to be substantially rebuilt, because of its reliance on IE (Sidenote: are IE-only intranets and other internal applications slowing the migration to Firefox in the enterprise?)

    And that’s a simple IT change. What if you want to change your business model – more web-based collaboration with your clients or suppliers. What was a controlled environment can quickly get messy.

    So, for flexibility in the future, the application, even in a controlled browser environment, should be standards compliant now.

  8. I’m leaning towards Jaime as well. I have blogged on my customers challenges with being locked into one browser (IE). It causes them some serious headaches and TONS of money in hardware/software and managing complexity. ISVs pushing one browser over another is my biggest concern, even with FireFox’s cross-platform support.

    I must admit, though, that your comment “This is like looking at MSN Spaces with Firefox…” put a smile on my face.

  9. The only way to get the majority of people and Companies to make truly browser independent stuff is to make sure that a meaningful percentage of people use that browser. MS will always attempt to add features that can only be used in IE. FF should do the same to lure people back.

  10. WPF/e will compete with XUL. Since XUL is from an open source app it’s tantamount to a working demo of an implementation of a standard. Otherwise it’s freely available, and could become a de facto standard.

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