DAMON SICORE, Director of Engineering, Mozilla: Interpreters have come a long way, and there are real-world applications...Even if you look at the Java world, Eclipse -- which is an IDE that developers use day in and day out, and it's very, very snappy -- it's the same type of concept that we use within Firefox. The language has really reached a level of maturity of implementation...it's snappy enough that we can build some exciting Internet applications with it.
SCOTT FULTON, BetaNews: Mike, you said it was a fundamental belief of the Mozilla Organization that a Web application can be as functional as any desktop application. There's a lot of people who would agree with you there. One of them would be Adobe. As you know, Adobe is building their own functional application platform based on AIR and Flash. If they have things their way, they'd be able to sidestep the browser [to] develop a Web application [framework] that functions and communicates on its own without the overarching framework of a Web browser. If Web applications evolve in that direction, as time goes on, what do you gentlemen think is going to be the justification for maintaining that "File|Edit|View|History|Bookmarks|Options" framework of the Firefox Web browser?
MIKE BELTZNER: This is where we think the future of the Internet is going --you can start to see these applications breaking out of the confines of the browser space, and try to move onto the desktop. There's already a couple of players that have released their own proprietary, closed technology stacks to help people do this, and they require that the user download a runtime [framework]. Really, you can almost think of that runtime as another version of the browser; it's just that you never see the frame, it doesn't come with bookmarks, it doesn't come with history, and it's also not based on standard Web technologies that millions of developers are already trained on, and that millions of people can actually help improve and iterate on.
That's something that we're experimenting with to a project that's available on Mozilla Labs, called Prism. What Prism does -- it's available as a stand-alone [component] or as an add-on to Firefox -- is allow you, when you get to any one of these applications on the Web, to just click a button and say, "I want to make this an application on my desktop." You'll get an icon on your desktop, and you'll be able to interact with it through Alt-Tab like anything else, but it will actually just be this Web site.
Now, there's a little way to go with Web technologies. You need offline support, you need to be able to use that application when you're connected or when you're not connected. So one of the things that we've done in Firefox 3 is, we've built in support for a new HTML standard for offline applications.