Local developers eager to look at Netscape code

Local developers are waiting for Netscape to post its Communicator source code so that they can explore possibilities for adding their own content to it. Netscape's decision to put the source code for Communicator 5.0 on the Internet (beginning with the developer release at the end of the current quarter) is a solution to address two issues it believes are critical - distribution and development. By allowing others to customise and redistribute it, Netscape has a creative method for both accelerating development and obtaining free distribution of Communicator.

Local developers are waiting for Netscape to post its Communicator source code so that they can explore possibilities for adding their own content to it.

Netscape's decision to put the source code for Communicator 5.0 on the Internet (beginning with the developer release at the end of the current quarter) is a solution to address two issues it believes are critical - distribution and development.

By allowing others to customise and redistribute it, Netscape has a creative method for both accelerating development and obtaining free distribution of Communicator.

Effectively it will have thousands of developers helping with its next Communicator release.

Scott Wilson, MD of ISP Netbyte says his company will look at it. He says the real advantage for developers is if they had a specific application to develop for, they could easily modify the browser to meet their requirements.

"But until we actually have a play with it and figure out what it is you can do with it, we won't really know what the limits are."

He believes there are a lot of potential for intranet developments, where corporates want to develop a sophisticated browser-based application to run across their internal LAN.

They may look to partner closer with their suppliers, clients or customers in an intranet-style application that just happens to run over the Internet.

"Because the browser's now free they can quite easily modify it for their own specific requirements and then give it away to their clients."

From an Internet viewpoint, he says the big problem developers will still face is coding sites that work on as many browsers as possible.

He says security is an issue but he believes there will be more people with good intentions, looking for ways to plug any holes, than hackers looking for ways to exploit the browser.

Multimedia consultant Stephen Judd, of Campus Media, says he will be looking at it as a learning exercise.

"If nothing else, it represents an amazing opportunity to look at real working code for a large, complex, modern GUI app. That's not something you ever normally get to do. In itself, that should kick-start a lot of amateur development."

He says there are some interesting development possibilities such as developing an XML browser, or adding support for .PNG graphics files.

However, he says until he sees the code and how it's constructed, he can't tell what it can be recycled for or how it can best be improved.

While everyone is talking about it he says, he believes firm plans will appear once it is actually posted. He says a site at www.openscape.org is the home of the first project group to be set up which contains a wish-list of potential improvements and features.

US-based Netscape international marketing manager Linda Lawrence says that by giving away the source code Netscape can ignite the creative energies of the entire Net community, and fuel unprecedented levels of innovations in the browser market.

The source code distribution will be handled with a licence that allows source code modification and re-distribution. Developers can use their own logo in the final product.

Netscape will create a special Web site service where people can download the source code, post their enhancements, take part in newsgroup discussions and obtain communicator-related information.

Netscape will review the enhancements, and decide which to include in its products.

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