Monday, February 04, 2008

Firefox 3 Beta 2, EXSLT, Microformats and Jaxer

I have two instances on Firefox 3 on my machine already. A Mozilla Firefox, Portable Edition 3 Beta 2 (hereafter referred to as FF3B2) and the version that lurks inside Aptana Jaxer.

Looking at FF3B2, you might be forgiven for thinking that very little appears to have changed between versions 2 and 3 (okay, it is beta). The bookmarks facility has been changed but everything else appears much the same. I'm sure I would notice the performance and stability differences if I started using FF3B2 on a daily basis.

The native support for Microformats is not yet there. I expect to see some Microformats detection icons appear in the almighty location bar once all the hard work is complete. That said the Microformats JavaScript code module is in position (the same code that the Operator toolbar uses) and is available for use by extension writers and Jaxer developers.

IMHO (as a bit of an XML head), the best new thing about FF3B2 is the support for EXSLT (warning: I have raved about E4X previously and nobody uses that although I do think the lack of simple documentation let E4X down.). Incidentally, the new support for Cross-site XMLHttpRequest looks interesting also.

So what is so good about EXSLT you ask? Well it makes grouping much easier - so you no longer need to resort to Steve Muench's method (Muenchian Method). Muenchian Method is great but a little scary to use for us ordinary folk.

I have written an example of using the new EXSLT features (you'll need FF3B2 installed to see it working properly; I would suggest you use the portable version).

Aptana Jaxer

Aptana Jaxer is yet more proof that Server Side JavaScript (SSJS) is back with avengence. I have spoken many times about the return of SSJS and more stuff keeps materialising (LAJAX, POW, Google Gears etc.). Jaxer is an application server that positions the Firefox 3 browser behind an Apache front end - with thread management and a neat JavaScript library that makes writing Firefox flavoured SSJS easy. It also includes built in backend provision of SQLite and MySQL databases.

The big advantage of Jaxer is that you can now re-use your existing JavaScript/HTML skills to write server side applications. This makes it really easy to get going, I have already written two simple Jaxer applications using the Microformats module and creating tag clouds using EXSLT. The benefit of the JavaScript being executed on the server rather than the client is that the resulting page will work in less capable clients (Firefox 2, IE6, IE7 etc).

So here for once is something fun to play with that Google didn't make! I look forward to watching how Firefox 3 and Aptana Jaxer progress...