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i-Technology Viewpoint: Firefox Lessons for the Java Community

i-Technology Viewpoint: Firefox Lessons for the Java Community

A long time ago Internet Explorer had a competitor. However over the past few years, it has been IE all the way. Netscape's share dropped sharply and although Opera is a very good browser it never became a serious IE competitor. Mozilla Firefox hopes to compete with the IE giant and win!

The Firefox browser is growing at a rapid pace and is consistently pulling market share from IE

The community support for Firefox is exceptional. Obscure sites are flashing Spread Firefox banners and blogs across sections have only good things to say about Firefox. To know how you can support Firefox, check SpreadFireFox.com

On noticing this widespread Firefox support across the open source community, my initial reaction was "Ok. Almost everybody who loves open source hates Microsoft and so Firefox is just serving as a medium to get back at Microsoft. Supporting Firefox just seems to be the cool thing to do". I did not really believe that Firefox was so good that it could kill IE.

That's why I was a little slow to check out Firefox. But once I got it going, I was really impressed. Firefox has all that you need. Like the Java IDE platforms Eclipse and NetBeans, Firefox also has this concept of extensions. Check https://update.mozilla.org/extensions/. This means that new functionality will get added at a pace that Microsoft cannot match. Firefox is fast, the interface is clean and actually I can't think of any significant negatives. Unlike many open source s/w, the installation is also very simple. What more can you ask for?

I have converted. I still use IE and Opera but Firefox is now my preferred browser. I feel a little sorry for Opera because if Opera had become totally free (no ads) and had the community support that Firefox is getting today it could have been as big as Firefox long time back. Opera is an awesome browser (if only the free version was ad free) and I hope it becomes completely free very soon. Anyway, who is going to buy Opera if they have a free open source and cross platform alternative to IE.

After my good experience with Firefox, I also tried out Thunderbird and Sunbird. http://www.mozilla.org/products/. Thunderbird is a mail client while Sunbird is a calendar application. Outlook Express and Outlook better watch out. Sunbird is still in an experimental stage but once it get ready for production and integrates well with Thunderbird, Sunbird and Thunderbird together should be a super combination that can not only match Outlook Express but also give Outlook a run for its money.

So what does this mean for the Java developer community? Browser compatibility is of course a bigger concern now as your app will have to work at least on IE, Netscape and Firefox. But not just that because it also shows the Java community that it is possible to compete with Microsoft even without a big company name behind the product or a big marketing budget. The users have to relate with the product and promote it as if it was their own creation. Linux already did that in the OS space and Firefox is now doing it in the browser space.

Its true that Java has survived and competed well with Microsoft for many years now but for it to continue to thrive and compete, it also needs to learn from success stories like the Firefox one. Can Java do a Firefox and grab even more market share from Microsoft in the application development space?

More Stories By Harshad Oak

Harshad Oak is is the creator of the J2EE portal IndicThreads.com , the author of the books Pro Jakarta Commons , Oracle JDeveloper 10g: Empowering J2EE Development  and the coauthor of J2EE 1.4 Bible. He is also the founder of Rightrix Solutions and can be reached at [email protected]

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