What is Mozilla's Project: Screaming Monkey?


King of de Jungle
Mar 17, 2005

"An article on Ars Technica reveals Mozilla's intention to create and release a plugin for Internet Explorer that would allow the often-criticized IE to utilize some of the cooler rendering code developed for Firefox. The current WIP focuses on rendering using HTML5 standards, but the plans seem to be more ambitious than just fixing this one small piece of IE. The article covers some of the plans, hurdles, and potential benefits. It also spills the beans on the code name for the project: Screaming Monkey."

Most browser implementors are quick to adopt emerging Internet technologies, but Microsoft can't or won't make Internet Explorer a modern web browser. Despite some positive steps in the right direction, Internet Explorer still lacks many important features. Its mediocrity has arguably hampered the evolution of the web and forced many site designers to depend on suboptimal proprietary solutions.
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IE's shortcomings won't hold back the Internet for much longer, however, because Mozilla plans to drag IE into the next generation of open web technologies without Microsoft's help. One of the first steps towards achieving this goal is a new experimental plugin that adapts Mozilla's implementation of the HTML5 Canvas element so that it can be used in Internet Explorer.

The Canvas element allows web developers to programmatically render interactive bitmap images in HTML content. It was invented by Apple to bring richer graphical capabilities to the company's WebKit renderer. The Canvas functionality eventually became part of the HTML5 standard and has been implemented in both Gecko and Presto. Canvas is used extensively in several popular web applications, including Google Maps, but it hasn't gained widespread acceptance because it isn't available in Internet Explorer.
Taking advantage of ActiveX

In order to make Google Maps work in IE, Google had to develop ExCanvas—a complex library that implements many of the Canvas element's features with VML, Microsoft's proprietary alternative to SVG. Unfortunately, scripted manipulation of VML is too slow to be used for highly interactive web applications. Mozilla's solution is to bake its own native Canvas implementation into an ActiveX plugin that can be integrated directly into Internet Explorer.

Mozilla's Vladimir Vukićević has developed a working prototype which demonstrates the viability of the plugin approach. His Internet Explorer component is built with Firefox code and implements much of the HTML5 Canvas specification. There are still some missing pieces, however, including support for several drawing functions. It's still largely a work in progress, and development is still at a somewhat early stage.... [Article Continues...]
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