Published on: Sunday 10th January 1999 By: Martin Webb
Netscape has announced (December the 7th 1998) that "All major future client products from Netscape will include Gecko". Gecko, Netscape's Next Generation client technology, is a pre-compiled binary version of the NGLayout developed by Netscape's mozilla.org group using the Open Source methodology.
Netscape has taken an early step in introducing the pre-compiled binary version of the NGLayout source-code for Windows internet developers named Gecko, possibly as an attempt to deflect some of the interest in Microsoft's recent release of Internet Explorer version 5 beta 2.
Netscape will distribute and licence Gecko as a pre-compiled binary, whilst mozila.org will continue to develop and make available the NGLayout source code.
Whereas Microsoft has developed Internet Explorer 5 as a binary deliverable, mozila.org are following the Open Source methodology, i.e. the source code is available to all for free to edit, maintain and develop further. Software developers have free access to the source code, enabling them to customize it.
The NGLayout and Gecko engine is being developed using integrated/modular components. This makes it easy for those applications to be then integrated into your own or 3rd pary applications, bringing internet browsing capability to almost anything. This modular component approach enables what Netscape highlight as "Any Application... Any Operating System... Any Device... Any Developer..."
The developer preview release has support for the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) specifications for HTML 4.0, Cascading Style Sheets (CSS 1 and CSS 2), the Document Objective Model (DOM Level 1), Resource Description Framework (RDF working draft), and Extensible Markup Language (XML 1.0). It includes support for ECMAScript Language Specification Standard ECMA-262 compliance, transfer protocols (HTTP, FTP, Gopher File, Resource), SSL, Unicode and Open Java Interface (OJI).
The developer preview release is an Alpha release, and as such should be treated with caution -- it is liable to cause problems when run. To find out more on General Issues, Features Not Yet Implemented, Limited Support Features and Known Issues then refer to the NGT Developer Preview Release Notes. The Gecko/NGLayout source code is being developed by volunteers at mozilla.org as an Open Source model using public and open standards and recommendations. If you wish to become involved in any way (developing, testing, documentation) then you are welcome to join in. The final version of Netscape Gecko is expected to be available during the first half of 1999. The developer preview release expires on February 1st, 1999 at 00:01 am
The developer preview release of Gecko is available from ftp://ftp.netscape.com/pub/ngt_developer_release/devprev.zip
Although it is only currently available in its binary form for Windows 95/98/NT, the NGLayout source code is available for download from http://www.mozilla.org, which can then be compiled for Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows NT 4, Windows NT 5, Linux, Irix and Mac PPC, with ported versions being worked on for OS/2, Rhapsody and Be.
Once you have downloaded and unzipped and started Gecko -- to see what it can do, select File and then Samples, and select each of the samples in turn to demonstrate how Gecko copes with basic HTML text styles, Cascading Style Sheets, images, tables, forms (buttons, fieldsets, labels, disabled and readonly) frames and floating frames. There are also some online demo pages, referenced from the mozila.org demo page.
The most amazing aspect about Gecko is its speed -- especially when re-rendering a page as a result of the browser being resized.