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Moz/NC6 Milestone Preview

The best thing about Mozilla and Netscape 6 are the splash screens. And that's where it ends. Both these programs are a horrible mess.

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Any shareware author who would have come out with a product that performed like this would be burned at the stake; but this is Netscape, and for companies such as Microsoft and Netscape, the normal rules don't apply. People go into a 'weird mode' when it comes to their stuff, their caution and school of hard knocks common sense go flying dipsy-doodle out the window. Steve Case is one of the richest men in the world, running one of the most powerful companies in the world; the bugs in Mozilla and Netscape are so apparent, so immediately obvious and embarrassing; and yet Steve Case is going to get up on stage and demonstrate this program to an assembled elite. How does that work? How does it work every time Billg wants to show off a new bleeding edge technology and the fuse blows? When shareware authors work until their fingertips bleed, until their brain cells themselves start to bleed, to get all the bugs out of their programs, so that their programs start to look as good as the programs written by 'the big boys', how come these 'big boys', with their uncounted millions and billions in resources, can't turn out a product that works as good, can only turn out a product that even a newbie amateur Visual Basic programmer would be ashamed of?

More important still - what have the Mozilla developers been doing for the past two years anyway?

If ever there were a crying out to end this reign of Bjarne OO terror, this is it. If ever the proof positive be there splattered on the wall, this is it. If ever there be a sure sign that all this OO junk is just that and nothing else, this is it. And how many times are we going to hear these lofty and well paid self-acclaimed OO gurus tell us it's not the concept of OO itself, it's not even the program design, but it's the implementation? How many times are we going to listen to these demagogues blame someone else for their follies? How many times? Surely after this we shouldn't ever have to listen to them at all ever again.

Systems development has gone off the deep end. Developers get brought up with a pabulum of C++ and learn about classes and objects and not a twat about programming. We have so-called gurus out there who teach real big and important corporations that programming is an infinitesimal part of the work - that what they themselves do is the real cruncher.

We have [expletive]s out there who teach that designers should never worry about hardware limitations (this is true: it's one of the cornerstones of the true faith of object oriented design). We have systems analysts out there who are being paid twice and three times what the developers are being paid and loudly proclaim that they have never written a computer program in their lives, that they don't even know how to, and that they are proud of it.

We have developers who know how to 'survive'. When the systems analysts and OO high priests come marching down the corridor with the tips of their noses scraping the ceiling, these developers hide in the woodwork, and when the analysts and high priests come a-calling on them, they defer, they lower their gazes, they pretend to listen attentively and watch dutifully when their superiors scribble meaningless and worthless diagrams, boxes, cloud patterns, arrows, and who knows what on scraps of paper. And when the visitors leave the room, the developers gather all this priceless information and drop it right into the nearest wastebasket. And anyone who doesn't know this is true has never been near a systems development department or only been there on the wrong side of the fence.

It's time this stopped. Mozilla and Netscape 6 are so bad they make Internet Explorer look good. Netscape was the company that started the World Wide Web. It wouldn't be there today and explosively expansive if it weren't for them. But what's happening now has to cast suspicion on Steve Case: does he have a secret deal with Billg? Is this the nature of the secret clauses? That not only will Steve support Billg's IE through thick and thin, but he will also buy up Netscape and come out with updates to Netscape's browser that are so bad that everyone will be forced to use Internet Explorer anyway?

It sure looks like that. And for all that talk you hear about how Moz and NC6 leave the bloat of NC4 behind - forget it. NC6 is just as big as NC4 on disk, and that's without the complete list of components NC4 has too. A minimal install of NC6 will run you 28MB on disk - that's the plain truth of the matter. Things expand to the nauseating when the install finally starts in. That the total download can be as little as 5MB is fine - but Netscape 3 Gold was no more either, and Netscape 3 Gold was a good browser.

The bugs: there are so many you have to suspect Case is trying to make the product look bad, even though that makes no sense. For it surely makes no sense letting people see such shoddy software engineering. radsoft.net has been inside the Moz code before, and it was not fun. Had radsoft.net had a team of 100 hot shot programmers, the size of Moz would be down by 60% today, and that is not a sign of how good radsoft.net works, but a sign of how bad Moz works. For all the copying and pasting Microsoft does to add bloat to their code, they're head and shoulders above Moz for the same thing, where sketches of snippets end up passing for the real thing. It's pretentious to cite real gurus in this context, but the image is too compelling: the likes of Brian W. Kernighan would wince in pain if they'd seen what had been going on here.

Here's an incomplete list from a two hour test session of Netscape 6:

  • Several times the program started a CPU race for no apparent reason and had to be shut down. One time it had to be 'killed'.
  • On attempting to open the local mailbox, the entire (Netscape) system crashed.
  • Viewing images launches a new browser instance instead of moving to the new URL. Flipping between the new instance and the last one at random can result in a crash.
  • Almost everything is component based, meaning it's more sluggish than Microsoft Developer Studio. Merely re-sizing the window will race the CPU. OO at its best.
  • Image rendering leaves big black blotches on your client area.
  • Merely clicking in the location field can make the text of the current URL there change font (yes this is true).
  • Merely clicking on hyperlinked text can jostle an entire page (it starts shaking up and down).
  • Moz had managed the impossible, namely stopping the edit control which is the location entry field from having its own built-in context menu as provided by Microsoft.
  • The location field does not keep up with the current URL, and the sequence of URLs accessed gets corrupted. If you hit Forward or Back you're likely to end up anywhere but where you should be.
  • The longer you surf, the more you try in vain to get the thing to render fonts right (this is hopeless), the bigger the actual size of the location entry field gets, and the bigger the text there too, even if you keep reducing the size of the font you want to use. This is actually nothing less than incredible.
  • There is no drag-drop at all. Read that again: the program has no drag-drop at all. None.

To Uninstall

Neither program comes with an uninstall, so the safest thing is to have backed up your Registry first and then restore it after testing. But neither program will bloat your Registry much anyway.

On disk you'll find all the files in your setup directory and in your system's 'Common Files' directory (they use 'Netscape Shared' - just delete it) and in your system(32) you'll find two 'DAT' files.

Get rid of all this and you'll be all right.

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