Mozilla Foundation Announces Scriptable Plugins

Posted by dave on Jun 30, 2004 5:19 AM EDT
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Apple, Macromedia, Opera and Sun Microsystems join in push to modernize plugins and create a richer web experience

June 30, 2004, (Mountain View, CA). The Mozilla Foundation, in partnership with Apple, Macromedia, Opera and Sun Microsystems today announced a series of changes to web browser plugins that will allow web developers to offer richer web browsing experiences, helping to maintain innovation and standards on the Net. The new plugin technologies will be implemented in, among others, upcoming versions of the next generation Mozilla Firefox web browser and the Mozilla 1.x Internet suite and in plugins and browsers developed by the other companies that are supporting this initiative.

In response to demand by users, plugin vendors and web developers for web browser support for an open, secure and scriptable plugin model, the Mozilla Foundation, in collaboration with Apple, Macromedia, Opera, and Sun Microsystems are working to extend the Netscape Plugin Application Program Interface (NPAPI) in a manner that allows greater interactivity with plugins such as Flash, Shockwave, QuickTime and Java, resulting in a richer, more interactive web.

Plugins are small programs that web browsers use to display multimedia content that the browsers themselves don't know how to display, such as audio and video. Scriptability of plugins is essential for building an interactive user experience on web pages that use plugins. For example, a user shopping for clothing on a web site that takes advantage of the new plugin capabilities could mix and match different styles and colors for shirts and pants using an interactive Flash movie, and pricing and other information in an associated web page would be updated as a result.

"This initiative will significantly improve the web experience for users of Firefox, the Mozilla 1.x Internet suite, Safari, and Opera browsers and will ultimately benefit the overall health of the web," commented Mitchell Baker, President of the Mozilla Foundation. "Plugins are a critical component of the web experience and require ongoing enhancements and improvements in the way they integrate with world-class browsers. Without these improvements, enhanced interactivity could remain tied to a single, proprietary browser solution, which reduces choice and leads to monoculture on the web. This new initiative makes enhanced interactivity available without locking users in to a specific computing platform or web browser. This will allow users to choose among a range of browsers without sacrificing interactivity. The Mozilla Foundation is proud to provide leadership in this collaborative improvement of the web experience."

"In order to foster a richer experience on the web, we need to enable more dynamic and deep interaction between the browser, the plugin, and web content. This is the first step in that direction; it will give web content developers new, portable options for creating innovative experiences and applications. The Mozilla Foundation and our partners are looking at ways to improve the tools available to content developers, and to provide a better user experience. We are also looking at architectural improvements and performance optimizations that will make plugin updating faster and more reliable," said Brendan Eich, Chief Architect of the Mozilla project.

The new plugin API effort taps into a long standing, deeply rooted desire by plugin vendors to have their plugins work more seamlessly for all browsers and on all computing platforms, including Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X. The enhanced plugin API has been collaboratively developed to promote adoption by a broad set of browser and plugin vendors, and will be made available under an open source license.

"Apple is happy to have made a significant contribution to this next generation plugin technology," said Philip Schiller, Apple's Senior Vice President of Worldwide Product Marketing. "Apple is a strong advocate for web standards and will ensure that Mac OS X Safari users have access to the latest standards-based web technology."

"Macromedia Flash Player is the leading rich client on the Internet, and as a company we are committed to improving the end user experience," said David Mendels, General Manager, Macromedia. "Macromedia has always supported the Netscape Plugin API, and these improvements will enable developers to deliver rich Internet applications that integrate more holistically with the browser to greatly benefit end users."

"Plugins are a part of the web and it is critical that they interact with browsers and other web content securely and efficiently. Expanding the legacy plugin model from Netscape is a step in the right direction with regard to functionality, interaction and security," said Christen Krogh, VP Engineering, Opera Software. "Opera embraces this initiative in its commitment to innovation and to always deliver the latest technologies for an enjoyable web experience."

LEARNING MORE ABOUT THE NEW PLUGIN MODEL In the near future, the Mozilla Foundation will release test versions of its next generation Firefox browser and of Mozilla 1.7 that include the new plugin APIs, allowing plugin vendors to start creating new versions of their plugins that take full advantage of the enhanced plugin capabilities. Details on test builds with these new capabilities, plugin SDKs, and web page scripting examples can be found at [] as they become available.

Web browsers capable of supporting the new plugin enhancements, and plugins that take advantage of the new capabilities are expected to ship this Fall. The plugin enhancements will be included, among others, in future versions of Mozilla Firefox, the innovative new web browser from the Mozilla Foundation. Even before its 1.0 release, Firefox has been received to rave reviews by the press and end users alike. The user base of Firefox is doubling every few months and Firefox 0.9 has been downloaded more than 1 million times since its release two weeks ago.

ABOUT THE MOZILLA FOUNDATION Established in July 2003 with start-up support from America Online's Netscape division, the Mozilla Foundation exists to provide organizational, legal, and financial support for the Mozilla open source software project. The Foundation is based in Mountain View, California and is the heir to the great legacy and tradition of the Internet's first widely used browser, Netscape. Mozilla and the Mozilla logo are registered trademarks of the Mozilla Foundation.

SUPPORTING MOZILLA Individuals and companies from around the world support the Mozilla Foundation through voluntary contributions of time, money and resources. To discover how you or your company can join in and help support Mozilla, please send mail to [].


* Mozilla Foundation: Bart Decrem, 650-387-0625, [] * Apple: Stefan Offermann, [] * Macromedia: Sandra Nakama, PR Manager, 415-832-4053 * Opera Software: Michelle Valdivia, PR Specialiast, +47-24-16-42-14, [] * Sun Microsystems: Laura Ramsey, []

For the latest Mozilla-related news and commentary, support and discussion, please visit MozillaZine, [,] the largest independent Mozilla news and support site on the web. This press release was written with assistance from Sean Michael Kerner / Results Overhead Inc.

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