today released a beta version of its latest browser, version 1.1
. Work still continues on Mozilla 1.0 with 1.0.1 in the works, but the new version includes some handy enhancements and ever-increasing stability.
Among the new improvements: full screen mode for Linux users, significant improvements to its impressive Venkman
The Lizard Grows Up
The Mozilla organization has evolved into a very efficient application development community. Its QA (quality assurance) staff oversees its production and assures a quality product. Users are listened to. Not only is the project open to anyone willing to help by filing bug reports and providing feedback but with Mozilla the line between developer and user becomes a blurry one. Its one thing to impress a naive customer with a flashy computer program but to impress the rest of the IT industry is another thing and Mozilla has done this through quality assurance and web standards compliance.
The 'Web Browser' Cliche
The idea of a 'standards-based browser' may not appeal to everyone but it certainly should. Are we, as an industry whole, failing to see the importance of the 'Web Browser?' Certainly those of us who spend our days developing web sites for different versions of different web browsers understand the importance of cross-browser compatibility but do we really see the significance that this gateway holds in regard to the Internet? The Internet has changed our economy and changed our nation's business strategies. It has become the link by which businesses communicate and, therefore, do business. This huge, interconnected network of computers passes data through fiber optics, radio waves, protocols, servers, databases and the works, and it does most of it out of our sight, behind curtains of computer systems. When this heap of information spits out a cross-section of its knowledge it is (hopefully) in an orderly manner; readable and understandable by its human audience. It does this, the large majority of the time, through an application called the 'web browser.' This keyhole is the end-user's access point to a seemingly endless collection of data. Therefore this application should adhere to well-specified guidelines so as to provide developers with a sure way of organizing data, giving them and their audience the assurity that the data they receive is being presented in the way it was meant to be. It should also be very capable and powerful, not restricting the user or developer to any particular technology or approach.
The Internet technologies that we use to make web pages attractive, interactive and intelligent normally come from one of two sources: Microsoft or open source. This is certainly an over-simplification and an exaggeration but these two software entities, though structured very differently, hold a very large majority of our web development tools. Both provide very capable means of creating web applications for almost any circumstance. But when sharing information between colleagues and clients a standard must be decided upon. Though no right-thinking IT professional should ever discredit Microsoft in the name of open source (or visa-versa), it is nonetheless advantageous for him/her to realize the what and why behind the standards that he/she chooses to govern the connections within and without his/her company.
The Mozilla organization joins a respectable list of open source communities who are breathing life into the almost forgotten virtue that Internet standards can and should come from defined 'standards', not just similarities brought about by industry monopolization. As the Internet grows exponentially it begins to fall into countless, connected pieces which need to be strictly defined in order to be usable. Organizations like the W3C
are our friends. To be in touch with their standards and guidlines is to understand where the Internet is and where it is going, providing the knowledge needed to capitalize on the power of a world-wide network.