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   Browsers, XUL, weblets [was Re: In praise of SVG]

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  • From: Peter Murray-Rust <peter@ursus.demon.co.uk>
  • To: <xml-dev@xml.org>
  • Date: Sun, 05 Mar 2000 17:17:50 +0000

At 08:57 26/02/00 -0800, Ashvil wrote:
>> Didier replies:
>> right on Peter, the actual weakness of SVG is the lack of forms component
>> like text input, radio button, buttons, etc... Add forms to SVG and bye
>> HTML :-))
>This is why we need an XHTML browser, that can integrate HTML, Forms, SVG,
>SMIL, X3D, etc. Any Software out there that can do this now or can be easily
>adapted to do this ?

There were two very exciting approaches at Xtech2000 [about which meeting I
hope to write more if I have time]. Mozilla presented XUL which is a
declarative XML approach to widgets and provides exactly what Didier was
mentioning. Thus you layout your screen and provide the interactivity
through XML itself [1]. Unfortunately XUL doesn't support SVG at present -
they are open to offers.

The other was Weblets from IBM, where the weblets take screen estate and
allow you to write your own SVG and integrate it into the larger platform.
Again early days, but well worth looking at. I was very pleased to see that
they could include Adobe's SVG plugin, so we are really seeing true
interoperability - well done.

I think we now have enough generic components that we can build our own
browser-editors. The main purpose of this would be to provide true
browser-editor functionality (emphasised by Dave Winer's talk - people what
to edit *what they read*). This was the intent of my JUMBO which actually
provides an embryonic browser-editor implementation but depended on Swing
at a very early adopter level and therefore had an unacceptable work/sleep
ratio for me.

Now we have Adobe's plugin (which Didier knows how to hack), XUL and
weblets. I - and others - desperately need a browser/editor for developing
our DTDs and schemas. It doesn't have to be all-purpose - I can do without
animated pictures in my wordprocessor (yes - it was suggested). But I doubt
we are going to get it from the manufacturers who will either make
browser/non_editors or editor/non_browsers. What I need is:
	- to be able to write JUST my own plugin/widget/weblet - i.e. only
chemistry [or whatver]
	- have a robust way of reading from and poking to a generic DOM
	- know how to subclass my stuff from this DOM
	- know how to deal with DOM events and my events
	- bargaining for my screen estate
	- and of course the generic DOM/SAX/screen browser/editor platform.

I would guess this is mainly a question of glue, rather than lots of
abstract design. JUMBO and tools of that generation start to fall to bits
because the glue wasn't good. The glue is better now.

David Megginson said at Xtech2000; "I had a problem - Peter Murray-Rust".
This (appreciative, I think) statement was because I harangued this list
incessantly (almost a year) about needing an API for XML1.0. David decided
to hack it himself - with the results we see in SAX and SAX2. I have
started haranguing about browser. There are lots of us who would like it.
We need a focal person/group/mailinglist to catalyse the possible ways
forward (which might simply be adopting something already out there). Is
anyone foolish enough to respond? :-) 


[1] I don't claim originality; JUMBO2 had some of this built-in deep down
so you could control the menus through XML. 

[2] If it helps, you are welcome to mine JUMBO2 for ideas (the code is
probably pass&eacute;)

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