Screaming Monkeys, Mozilla And Microsoft

What do Mozilla, Microsoft and monkeys have in common? A bit more than you might think.

Here’s the rundown: Mozilla may be taking advantage of Microsoft Shared Source Licensed materials to help build out its next-generation JavaScript platform. Among the components of the new platform are efforts code-named ActionMonkey, IronMonkey and ScreamingMonkey.

And not all of those efforts will benefit only Firefox users; there may be an opportunity for Microsoft IE users to enjoy some bananas from the monkey business, as well.

JavaScript has become increasingly important in the modern world of AJAX development. It’s also the root cause of some of AJAX’s shortcomings and security issues.

Mozilla’s CTO Brendan Eich, (who, not coincidentally, is the man who created JavaScript while working at Netscape in the late 90’s) has a plan to fix a lot of what ails JavaScript. The new JavaScript version would appear as part of the Mozilla/Gecko 2.0 code base, which may not be in the Firefox browser until version 4 sometime in 2008.

Now for the monkeys.

Mozilla’s C implementation of JavaScript has the code-name SpiderMonkey and is already in use. An effort called ActionMonkey was announced this week by Eich as a new JavaScript engine for Mozilla. ActionMonkey will meld SpiderMonkey with the JavaScript engine that Adobe donated to Mozilla last November, code-named Tamarin.

More monkeys.

While JavaScript itself is a language, Mozilla wants to enable more
languages to work with it, including Python and Ruby. The IronMonkey effort is a Mozilla effort to bring the Microsoft-led IronPython and IronRuby implementations to Tamarin (and eventually ActionMonkey). IronPython is a Microsoft .NET implementation of the popular Python open source dynamic language created by Guido van Rossum, who is currently employed by Google.

IronRuby is a similar kind of effort for .NET, bringing Ruby to the Microsoft platform.

“The idea is to make use of the MsPL-licensed open source that Microsoft has kindly given the world, and tend necessary changes or additional code in downstream truly-open repositories that can accept patches from non-MS employees,” Eich wrote in a blog post.

Last but not least, Mozilla’s new JavaScript effort could well bring the monkeys to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, too.

The ScreamingMonkey project at Mozilla is going to attempt to make Tamarin able to run inside of other Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and other browser.

Depending on how it is actually developed, at some point in the future IE developers could call on Tamarin with a simple “script” tag much the way browsers call native JavaScript today.

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