Monday, September 06, 2004

MSHTML Hosting - Mozilla

Before moving ahead with the MSHTML hosting posts, I wanted to take a moment to talk about alternatives to WebBrowser. I am sure you are familiar with the Mozilla webbrowser. Started as an open source project by Netscape, Mozilla and its suite of companion projects are quite an achievement. One of the Mozilla projects is an ActiveX wrapper around the rendering engine which conforms to the IWebBrowser2 and DWebBrowserEvents2 COM interfaces. Created and maintained by Adam Lock the project has come along way. There is even minimal support for the IHTMLDocument DOM interfaces.

Everything we have covered in previous posts regarding WebBrowser functionality can be implemented using the Mozilla control as well. With no code changes! Just embed the Mozilla control and your application will not be dependent on Microsoft. Some of us like having choices.

My biggest problem with the Mozilla control is that the project is not moving fast enough to implement more functionality. Honestly, if Mozilla wants to grab more market share, it should be putting more resources on the project. One or two guys is not enough. I know that some people would tell me to just use the native Mozilla C++ classes and interfaces to embed the rendering engine. I am sorry, but there is too much to learn. A very large number of people know, and are comfortable using, ActiveX controls and COM data types. Frameworks have been built to make it easy to use such controls. Why would I want to learn a niche framework? That's the main reason I have not been able to contribute to the project myself. Its a large investment.

That said, I still love the idea of having choices. The Mozilla control is a great start and if I was writing an application that only need basic features, I would seriously consider using it. I hope very much that the project keeps progressing.

More...

Nick Bradury (author of FeedDemon and TopStyle) on Mozilla control.
Joel Spolsky (of Joel On Software) on why Mozilla should be actively building an ActiveX wrapper.

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