RealTime IT News

Response to Netscape's Source Code Release Varies

Reaction from the programming public to Netscape's release of its Communicator 5.0 source code on Mozilla.org yesterday has ranged from admiration to admonishment.

Overall however, if the Usenet newsgroups are anything to go by, it appears programmers are generally slow to respond.

Most of the newsgroup discussion is focused on whether or not releasing the code will actually benefit anyone, and many are speculating about future developments resulting from the release.

Some are of the opinion that Netscape simply released the source code so the many programmers on the Web could clean it up, while others herald the release as an exciting moment for developers and, eventually, end users.

One Mozilla.org document called "why mozilla matters" seems to capture a common public perception about the move: "Although there are those of us who understand why the source release makes sense, the perception among the masses that the source code is the keys to the store makes this move risky, doubly so for a public company with thousands of investors and constant media attention."

The author of the article, Paul Phillips, goes on to state that the move is great for developers, and will eventually be beneficial to Netscape and the industry in general. He sees this as a great example for other software companies to follow, and believes that as long as the developer community stands behind the move, it will succeed.

Netscape released the code in two parts: XP (cross platform) and FE (front end). The majority is XP code, the code that compiles and runs on all platforms, while the FE code is the platform-specific GUI stuff. Since only the XP portion of the code is the same for each OS, Netscape packaged the source into three separate versions: Window, Mac, and Unix.

Developers are encouraged to read through the available documentation before downloading the source.

With this release, Netscape hopes to encourage the developer community to actively participate in the creation and evolution of the industry.

For additional information about the Netscape Communicator 5.0 source code, visit the Mozilla.org Web site.