Pick a Free OS

Interview with Mozilla engineering director Chris Hofmann

Q: Tabbed browsing, pop-up blocking, and integrated search are some of the distinguishing features of Mozilla. What's coming next?

A: We are working on developing Mozilla as a platform and Web services are where we are putting the bulk of our efforts.

One of the key strengths of Firebird is that it empowers users everywhere to customize their browser through the use of extensions. Extensions are browser add-ons that are written using our flexible and easy to use XUL toolkit. They enhance the browser functionality in many ways; there are already well over 150 such enhancements at http://extensionroom.mozdev.org with more in development. About four or five seem to show up every week. We're constantly looking at these offerings for new innovations which we can integrate.

I have a few favorites out of these extensions, but the real value of the extension architecture is that everyone can customize their version of Mozilla in ways that specifically meet their own needs.

I'm amazed that the Google toolbar has so much functionality and is one-quarter the download size of the IE Google toolbar (110k v. 400+k). The highlighting of search terms text in the page makes it easy to scan pages and find stuff. One-button auto detection of language and translation of pages to English is pretty valuable working on a worldwide project such as Mozilla. I frequently use the "translate to English" button to do things like keep tabs on what Daniel Glazman is doing in France with composer work to whatever degree that is possible.

I like the RSSReader Panel's simplicity of setting the feeds up in bookmarks. Drag an XML feed tag link in your bookmarks, and bang! -- you've got a new feed. Starting from scratch with a few feeds that I really like also seems better than trying to slog though a bewildering list of feeds that XULchannel and other RSS readers seem to fall into over time. I like the fact that it doesn't take over my browser to create a different application and gets out of the way when I want to go back to general browsing.