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Inside the Lizard: A Look at the Mozilla Technology and Architecture

Mike Shaver <shaver@mozilla.org>, Mozilla.org
Michael Ang>, Mozilla.org

In October of 1998, the Mozilla project changed direction in a dramatic fashion. Spurred by cries for no-excuses standards compliance and improved architecture, the new roadmap focusses on the ``NGLayout'' or ``Gecko'' layout engine, cross-platform front end code and scriptable components.

This talk will discuss important aspects of the new architecture, including information on developing your own applications atop the Mozilla platform, writing custom components and porting to new platforms. Specifically:

XPCOM
The basic building block of the Mozilla architecture, XPCOM is a minimal subset of COM for cross-platform and cross-language use. XPCOM topics include interface description, use of QueryInterface and nsCOMPtr, refcounting and aggregation. In addition, component registration and ``service'' use will be covered.

XPFE and XUL
Mozilla's UI infrastructure is centred around XUL, an XML dialect used for describing menus, toolbars, window layout and dialogs alike.

RDF
RDF is the core of Mozilla's data management strategy. Providing merging, searching and sorting across multiple data sources, RDF is used to represent everything from bookmarks and browser preferences to mail folders and site maps. Local/remote merging provides a powerful base for shared resources, local annotation and personalization. We'll look at how to work with RDF data sources and how to implement your own.

XPConnect and scriptability
XPConnect is the technology that allows JavaScript to manipulate and even implement XPCOM interfaces. With much application logic written as JavaScript poking at XPCOM components, XPConnect is a critical part of the Mozilla architecture.

Porting issues
So, you want Mozilla on a new platform. Isn't that special? We'll look at porting NSPR, widget/gfx and XPConnect.

Miscellany
If time permits, a whirlwind tour of adding things like new image formats, network protocols and the like will close out the talk. (Except for the mandatory, and always entertaining, question and answer.)


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