Mozilla Links Newsletter - 23 - October 11, 2004
Issue # 23 - October 11, 2004
In this issue:
PollIn our last issue, we asked if you have participated in any of the marketing initiatives, these are the results:
This issue poll: Are you using Live Bookmarks?
Note: If your vote is not recorded please go here.
Firefox 1.0 PR (pre-release version) is here. It sports some previously
announced new features like Live Bookmarks, the information bar (borrowed
from Internet Explorer SP2), the Find Bar, which provides a better
non-intrusive interface for searching within a web page, whitelists to
mark trusted sites you want to allow to install extensions and minor
tweaks to the default Winstripe theme. Among other enhancements, it
includes four more default search engines: Amazon, Dictionary.com, eBay,
Yahoo! join to Google in the search bar.
Another addition is the Master Password that will protect all your saved passwords for web forms. Firefox will ask for it the first time in a session (when you startup Firefox) you access a saved web form. Enter your master password and it will auto-fill log-in pages and dialogs as usual. To set a master password, in the Tools menu, select Options. Open the Privacy page, expand Saved Passwords and press the Change Master Password... button. You will have to type a password twice for confirmation and you are done.
Also, the location bar is now present in any window regardless of what a web page asks for to prevent site spoofing (websites mimicking popular ones like eBay, Amazon or PayPal to obtain personal information of the victim).
Thanks for reading and please let us know your comments and suggestions.
Percy Cabello - Mozilla Links
Review: deskCut 0.4.1
If you miss Internet Explorer's feature that let you right click in a web page and add a shortcut to it to your desktop, miss no more.
deskCut is a small extensions that adds a Create Shortcut item to the context menu that that will just do that in Mozilla Firefox.
In Linux, deskCut may fail to identify your desktop location, so the author added an option for manually setting the special folder your system identifies as your desktop. Just go to the Extension Manager ( Options menu, Extensions), select deskCut and click on the Options button. You can also ask not to be notified on the shortcut creation with a checkbox in the same window.
Review: Menu Editor 1.0
Tired of seeing too many options in the context menu that you never use? Edit it!
Menu Editor allows you to hide any menu item you may not want to see in the context menu. Once installed, go to the Menu Editor options window (Option menu, Extensions, select Menu Editor and click on Options). To include/exclude a menu item click, select it from the list, and press the Hide/Show accordingly. You can also rearrange the items with the Move Up/Move Down buttons. If you have installed other extensions since installing Menu Editor, that may have added items to the context menu, press Find New to have these new items added to the list. To restore your context menu to its original configuration, press the Reset button.
Coming versions will add drag-and-drop capabilities and the ability to edit additional menus.
Tip: How to Create a Live Bookmark
Firefox 1.0 PR brings Live Bookmarks, a new feature for discovering,
bookmarking and displaying web feeds in either
So, what about the other feeds available all over the web but not properly declared? If you get to a web page and you notice an or , it's most likely pointing to an RSS or Atom feed. To add it as a Live Bookmark:
You have manually created a live bookmark, and like any other, it will expand in the Bookmarks menu and sidebar with the contents of the feed.
Another way is downloading and installing LiveBookmarkThis, a new extension that greatly eases the creation of live bookmarks. Once installed, forget the steps above and just right click on the RSS or XML icons and select Add Live Bookmark to create it.
PowerTip: Tweak Mozilla Accessibility
Firefox and Mozilla Application Suite offer several preferences that may be helpful specially for people with disabilities. To edit any of these, type "about:config" in the Location Bar and doubleclick on the desired preference to edit it. Thanks to the Preferential Project Home for the documentation on these preferences.
Community: Aaron Leventhal on Mozilla Accessibility
How does a visually impaired person or an amputee efficiently browse the web? How does someone with a cognitive disability handle a complex task such as email? For most users of great products like Firefox, Thunderbird or the Mozilla Suite, these are questions they'll never need to ask. But these are precisely the kind of questions asked within the Mozilla Accessibility project every day.
As defined by United Nations' enable Project: "Accessibility means providing flexibility to accommodate each user’s needs and preferences. In an Internet context, accessibility is making computer technology and Internet resources useful to more people than would otherwise be the case." In short, let's just everybody access and use the Internet.
Aaron Leventhal, leader of Mozilla Accessibility provides us an insight of what Mozilla has to offer to people with disabilities and where Mozilla as a project is heading. Following is an excerpt of the interview. You can get the full article at Mozilla Links' website.
ML: What's your background? How did you get involved in accessibility?
AL: Back in 1989, while I was an undergrad at the University of Madison - Wisconsin, I became dissatisfied with the Computer Science approach. I was more interested in finding interesting new problems to solve with computers -especially ideas that help society. I was idealistic, and I wasn't interested in a career as a code jockey for products that I didn't care about. That's when I saw this sign on an old house on campus which read Computers To Help People . I wandered in and found a deaf-blind man named John, sitting at his computer, ready to converse with me. How did he do that? Well, he had two computers side by side. As I typed on one, the text showed up on his Braille display. He read quickly, occasionally pressing a button to get the next 40 characters of text. As I listened carefully he answered my questions about the fascinating world of accessibility. I was amazed that technology had changed this one person's life so dramatically, and wondered how many more lives it could change so powerfully. Without technology, John would be completely dependent on other people to translate everything for him. With it, he could have privacy, make money as a software engineer, run a nonprofit and retain employees. Later I found that John was a very good C++ engineer -he wrote an engine that I later needed for turning advanced mathematics into Braille and vice-versa, which is a difficult challenge.
As fate would have it, I was soon offered a job on the other side of Madison at an unconventional business called Raised Dot Computing. Everyone was extremely excited about providing Braille software that could change the world. Although we were not paid well by software engineering standards, it didn't matter. For us it was an issue that blind people have an equal right to the same information as everyone else. It was a great opportunity for me. Because the company was so small, I got involved in almost everything... sales, marketing, documentation, support, planning, public appearances, negotiation and more. It was also great to learn from the company founders about the technology and culture of the accessibility field. The customer base was really enthusiastic about our product, MegaDots, for which I wrote most of the code. If you think Braille is just about 6 dots, think again. There are a lot of difficult computational problems to solve in the area of Braille publishing.
Basically, I think I got into accessibility for the same reason a lot of people are attracted to open source -- I was young, idealistic and full of energy.
ML: What projects are you involved with and what's your role?
AL: First of all, I evangelize accessibility and help educate anyone interested. For example, I maintain the website which I get positive feedback about. I provide a lot guidelines and information to other engineers (like the Accessible XUL Authoring Guidelines which all XUL authors should read). My job is a challenge is that accessibility is not taught in school and people don't see users with disabilities active in Mozilla (chicken and egg problem), so most developers don't bother to know about accessibility and write accessible UI's. Also, there is a slight stigma to accessibility because people think of it as a limitation to what they can do, and that it's typical government over-regulation. In reality, accessible web pages are not less attractive. You can still use color and images, but you can't rely on color or forget to add ALT text. Accessible technology tends to be more usable for everyone. For example, Find As You Type wouldn't have been implemented without the accessibility project. Remote controls designed with intuitively shaped buttons are easier for everyone to use, especially in the dark. Numerous important inventions have happened because of accessibility work such as, the typewriter (invented so that a blind countess could write private love letters), condenser microphone, tape recorder, email, OCR, speech synthesis, speech recognition, closed captioning, pager ... and the list goes on and on.
>From the technical side, I'm involved in almost everything related to Mozilla accessibility, and am the module owner for accessibility API support, keyboard navigation and Find As You Type. I architect and code most things related to accessibility in Mozilla. However, since there is too much to do for one person, I've had to set priorities. In the past this meant making Mozilla's core widgets keyboard accessible and accessible to assistive technologies. The other key piece was the Seamonkey browser designed by Netscape. So far I've had to ignore a lot of interesting things such as MathML, SVG, mail and plug-ins.
After 3 years of work, now that we've finally done most of the accessibility work on the Mozilla browser's front end, it has become clear that we need to redo a lot of the same work for Firefox, which has new sets of problems. The good news is that not everything needs to be redone -- mostly just stuff in Mozilla Browser.
ML: What's the role of IBM in Mozilla accessibility?
AL: First, I should mention that IBM has a rich history of innovation in the field of accessibility. They hired their first employee with a disability in 1920, and have been doing so ever since. Technology-wise they have always been on the leading edge. They developed a talking typewriter as far back as 1960. Today IBM has a consistent commitment to maintain high accessibility standards across the company.
IBM is keen to see Mozilla be accessible on both Linux and Windows. In the short term we're still concentrating on Windows and Seamonkey (code name for the Mozilla suite), but over the next year we'll be busy working on Mozilla Firefox on both platforms. This means we need to work on front-end bugs, as well as accessibility API bugs that prevent Mozilla from properly working with assistive technologies like Window-Eyes, ZoomText and GOK (Gnome Onscreen Keyboard).
On Windows, we have to focus on the Mozilla codebase and hope that assistive technology vendors will do their part. However, it's difficult for them to justify unless they can sell a lot more product because of Mozilla support. It's not an extremely large market, and all of the vendors already support a browser -- Internet Explorer. So, if someone is impatient for Mozilla to work better with their favorite screen reader or other assistive technology, please do contact the vendor. It's fine to contact us as well. I keep the Access Mozilla pages updated with the latest compatibility information.
Linux is a different story. Assistive technology vendors do not want to go there because they can't see supporting a business model in open source. Sun Microsystems has done a lot of important work on both the apps end and seeding various assistive technology projects, but there is still plenty to be done, especially with respect to Mozilla accessibility. Volunteers are definitely appreciated in all areas of open source accessibility. Perhaps some entrepreneur will even find a way to sell hardware with pre-configured accessible Linux desktops.
There are also a lot of interesting things happening at Apple. However, no one is likely to work on OS X accessibility in Mozilla. For one thing, Mozilla uses Cocoa when it would ideally use Carbon. Apple is currently working to make Safari the accessible browser of choice on OS X, yet there isn't anyone really pushing for Mozilla accessibility on OS X. It would be fairly expensive to implement.
From reading the accessibility project website, it seems
current focus is on the suite rather than the stand alone apps. Is this
because of an IBM agenda?
AL: In the past everyone was using the Seamonkey suite. The popularity of Firefox is a relatively new phenomenon. IBM has seen that this is the industry trend and is planning to move its engineering efforts in that direction as well.
ML: What's the outlook for accessibility in other projects/products like Thunderbird, Firefox, Camino, Sunbird and Chatzilla?
AL: Firefox is on the agenda, as I mentioned. Nothing else has any engineers working on it. File bugs on individual problems. Patches also welcome :)
ML: Has accessibility of the stand alone applications (Firefox, Thunderbird, Sunbird) been assessed? Could you provide some measure on how accessible they are now?
For now, we just need to fix our biggest flaws and get real support from assistive technologies before we can brag about our solutions. For example, the lack of keyboard accessibility to plug-ins is a major issue that needs to be addressed both in our code, as well as by vendors. This should be cleared up as the new plug-in architecture is implemented. Flash has another problem. The Mozilla Flash plug-in doesn't support MSAA, even though the ActiveX version does.
ML: Any additional comments?
AL: First I just want to say thanks for the interview and the interest.
Sometimes people ask me how they can help. There are a lot of interesting areas to work on, and it only takes a little poking around. >From my view, one of the best ways is to get involved in open source accessibility projects outside of Mozilla, especially for Linux desktops. For example, there's an experimental screen reader project being written for the Linux desktop in Python, called Orca. It's still a small project so it would still be fairly easy to get involved. KDE accessibility is also an interesting new area that needs a lot of support from volunteers.
Finally, if anyone wants to get specifically involved in Mozilla accessibility, you can check out http://www.mozilla.org/access/ and email me . There's also an interesting project on mozdev.org called MozBraille, which could use some interested hackers.
Thanks to Aaron for his time for this interview and dedication to software accessibility matters. We also recommend this slideshow a brief but detailed overview of what accessibility is about.
Month In Review
Mitchell Baker Sessions
This month Mitchell Baker, president of the Mozilla Foundation, made several appearances on technology radio shows. First, on September 11, she participated in the Web Talk Radio Show with hosts Rob and Dana Greenlee. You can read a full transcript of the interview or listen it in MP3 or WMA audio formats.
Steven Garrity Sessions, Too
Steven Garrity also had an active month and was required
by several media outlets to speak about his contribution and the Firefox
project in general. Here and watch him at:
Thunderbird 0.8 Released
On September 14, Thunderbird 0.8 was released. Last release includes some new features like Global Inbox, which allows to have all e-mail received to all your accounts merged in a single inbox, import support from Eudora, Mozilla Mail, Outlook and Outlook Express; a built in RSS feed reader, blocks for remote images from unknown senders, a master password for all saved e-mail accounts passwords and several bug fixes.
mozdev.org Donation Pledge
mozdev.org, host provider for most of Mozilla related projects (including Mozilla Links) is calling for donations to support hosting fees and its current application for becoming a non-profit organization. mozdev.org has been a main actor since the inception of the Mozilla project as a supporter for Mozilla technologies and helping the community support the project through extensions, themes, documentation, localization and other sort of projects.
You can send your donation via PayPal, Kagi or personal check to:
Mozdev Community Organization
You Can Help to SpreadFirefox.com
Together with the launch of Firefox 1.0 PR, a new website devoted to community driven Firefox marketing was launched. Spread Firefox, is a website where all individuals supporting Firefox can register as affiliates and start directing potential switcher to Firefox website. Users also get a blog that can be voted by other users and visitors and may get featured in the front page. A "10 days, 1 million downloads" campaign was started on launch and was achieved after just four days. After 10 days, the set deadline, the mark was already doubled.
Another successful initiative is the GMail e-mail accounts giveaway. Led by Robin Monks, this project collects Google's Beta GMail service invites from community member and give them away to other members who are collaborating to spread the word on Firefox in some way.
The initial pledge for 500 GMail account donations, again, was
surpassed largely by more than 2000 donations.
First Mozilla Bounty Hunters
On September 14, the Mozilla Foundation announced that the first Mozilla Security Bounties were awarded to Marcel Boesch, Gael Delalleau, Georgi Guninski, and Mats Palmgren who found and reported qualifying vulnerabilities. The fixes for all of these are already available in Firefox 1.0 PR.
Check the Mozilla Foundation press release.
ChatZilla 0.9.65 Released
On September 16, the ChatZilla project announced the availability of ChatZilla 0.9.65 (Mozilla's IRC client). It fixes 32 bugs and among other improvements it adds "away-status coloration in the user list, SSL support, new user commands, and a revitalized assortment of emoticons", said Justin Turner. Also, DCC support has been improved, as well as Unicode characters (for international languages support) now work in nicknames, channel names, and IRC URLs. ChatZilla 0.9.65 will be included in Mozilla 1.8 application suite. It is also available as an extension (XPI)for both Firefox and Mozilla Application Suite. Yu can instal it from the official ChatZilla website.
Also, the ChatZilla Plugins Project was announced. It will maintain and distribute ChatZilla plugin scripts.
Firefox 0.10.1 Released
On October 1, an update for Firefox 1.0 PR was released. This fixes a security flaw that may cause the deletion of files in the download folder.
The reporter of this bug, Alex Vincent, provides an unusual insight on the process of discovering and fixing a security flaw in the Mozilla project.
The independent status reports include news and updates from Mozilla application and extension projects hosted on mozdev.org and elsewhere in the Mozilla community.
New extensions are popping up all the time, both on mozdev.org and in other places. The variety is enormous, with everything from developer tools to ftp clients to weather and time add-ons. There is almost something for everyone. However, if you have a great idea that has not been implemented yet, there are plenty of resources to get you on your way.
A good place to start is Jed Brown's Converting Firefox 0.8 Extensions to the new 0.9/0.10 API. Here you will find a breakdown of all files needed to package up your extension, from the install.rdf packaged with the XPI, to the update.rdf file that lives on the server for the Extension Manager to check for a later version of your extension. It is also worth reading through the Application Extensions pages for Firefox at mozilla.org. There is vital information there on extension versioning, update and compatibility. These documents take away the mystery from Mozilla extension writing. And don't forget to head over to Mozilla Update to grab the latest and greatest for your daily needs!
The Community Built Editor that Anyone Can Use.
Platform: Windows, Linux, MacOS X
v0.7.0 is the first Gnusto point release in a while, so lots of new content has gone in.
Platform: Windows, Linux, Mac OSX
Web version in French is now available. This is a very well done version using CSS. The revised web version (English) under development.
Platform: Windows, Linux, MacOS X
PurgeControl is an extension for TB which allows to control Shift-Delete shortcut behaviour. A minor bug is fixed and version v0.2b can now be downloaded.
We delivered Camino 0.8.1 multilanguage, the first release made with a tentative QA routine. We are also trying to get more l10n teams in: we have Portuguese and Polish in the works. Also, Spanish/Castellano, which was missing from the 0.8.1 release, has recovered and is now distributed as standalone installer. Notable Highlights
Platform: Windows, Linux
Now mostly component service based. MHT Handling 99.99% standards compatible and more locales are included by default.
Platform: Windows, Linux
The initial release of OutSidebar is out!
For: Mozilla Firefox
Platform: Windows, Linux, Mac OSX
Updated the extensions to make them compatible with Firefox 1.0PR.
For: Thunderbird, Mozilla Mail
MailRedirect tries to squash bug 12916. Under Mozilla Mail, MailRedirect looks as nice as under Thunderbird now. There are added toolbar buttons (for classic and modern theme), and improved CSS.
Read more about each of these projects in the full report.
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