Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Using Firefox client, server side Java for a standard platform

I do get tired of supporting multiple browsers when writing interactive web applications. Life would be simpler, especially when trying to write "sort of fat client applications" (e.g., Javascript+HTML like GMail) to have a single platform for client and server: only support Mozilla Firefox on the client side and tailor a development environment with appropriate tag libraries, etc. for dealing with Firefox (e.g., dynamic tree displays, standard Javascript utilities for verifying form input, etc.)

Now, while I consider myself to be an excellent Java, Common Lisp, Python, and Prolog programmer, I am admitedly a little weak using Javascript. For Javascript gurus, my desire for a single standard web browser client probably seems a little lazy :-)

There is a lot of push-back in industry for not supporting the Microsoft Internet Explorer browser, but I would argue that installing Mozilla Firefox is a fairly light weight requirement for using a specific web application.

I often look for commercially available software components to reduce development costs. Most of the systems that I write for customers run on a single server and have a modest number of users so reasonable licensing costs can be a lot cheaper than extra labor costs for devlopment. I have a wish-list for Firefox extensions for form input, inline rich text editors, spreadsheet components, etc. If developers of useful Firefox extensions had a larger market (i.e., lots of web sites and web applications standardized on Firefox) then the cost per component would go down, and everyone but Microsoft wins.

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