Mozilla woos programmers with a special webdev browser

The Mozilla Foundation will release a browser that could help pave the way for the Open Web Platform

Nudging developers towards the open Web, the Mozilla Foundation is customizing a version of its popular Firefox browser that can be used to build Web pages and applications, potentially reducing the number of different tools now required for the job.

Although it didn't provide many details on what features will be in the new browser, the organization plans to release the as-yet-unnamed software on Nov. 10, according to a blog item posted Monday.

Founded in 2003, the Mozilla Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to maintaining free and open-source software that can be used to access the Internet. Mozilla's flagship Firefox browser, a project that began in 1998 from the open-sourced Netscape Navigator code base, is currently used for about a quarter of all the browsing done on the Web.

A simple Web page can be easily created using only a text editor. As the pages get more complicated and rely on CSS (Cascading Style Sheets), JavaScript and other supporting languages, a developer is better served by individual tools geared toward the specific language being used. As a result, a developer must often use a number of separate tools and then test the resulting patchwork of code in the browser.

Mozilla wants to simplify this process by packing all the necessary development tools into the browser itself, so a programmer can write the code and then check to see if it works immediately.

Mozilla is not alone in its enthusiasm for embedding development tools within the browser. Google's Developer Tools , Opera's Dragonfly, and Microsoft's F12 all offer full set of development tools that are included within each company's respective browser.

Firefox, however, will be the first major browser customized specifically for the developer.

Firefox includes a number of embedded developer tools as well, which presumably will become part of the developer edition. One is the Firefox Tools Adapter debugger. Another is the WebIDE (Web Integrated Development Environment), which can be used for building Web applications for the browser and for the Firefox OS (operating system) for mobile devices.

By championing the use of open standards over proprietary and vendor-specific tools and platforms, Mozilla's effort dovetails nicely with the goals of the the World Wide Web Consortium. The W3C recently completed the HTML5 standard that will serve as the basis for the Web going forward and is now looking to build out a set of standards to use the Web as a platform for running full-fledged applications in an effort called the Open Web Platform.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com

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