Asa and Paul Ellis have been having an exchange; Paul started by asking why it is we don’t bother users at first run with a “Before you go any further, you must choose a search engine from this list of every possible engine we can find, none of whom have ever given us any money” dialog, arguing that therefore we aren’t “open to choice”. Asa replied, pointing out the difference between our governance model and a standard corporation. He also said, further down in the same comment thread:
It’s really hard for me to believe that either of those companies have the free and open Web at heart when they’re actively subverting it with closed technologies like Flash and Silverlight.
In a follow-up, Paul picks up on this and asks why it is that Flash and Silverlight are stealing a march on open web technologies. He claims it’s the slow standards process, but he also writes:
The real weak spot is in the development tools for “free and open” technologies. There are no AJAX development environments that can compare to the tools available for Flash and Silverlight, and the latter has only been out for one year. It is so bad that people made a big deal over a framework to make AJAX development a little easier.
The recent discussions about the future work of the Mozilla Foundation are leading me to think that we need to get back into this space. I wrote this comment giving one way I think we can distinguish what the Foundation should be doing from what it shouldn’t; as you can see, authoring tools falls into the IN category. In writing that comment, it did strike me that this was a ball we used to be running with, at least in some way (with Composer) and which we’ve now dropped.
Of course, there’s history in this space, just like any other. For whatever reason, Gecko-based development in this area has taken a different path from browser or mail client development. But is it time that the Mozilla project looked actively again at how it can better support the open web with authoring tools?