For a while now, I’ve been trying to get more into the whole “Mozilla as a platform” way of life. The problem is that there are no really good all-around references for building an application from start to finish and distributing it as a standalone executable. Yes, there are various pieces of good information scattered about the Internet, but there is no definitive source from which you can learn everything you need to build a Mozilla-based application.

Even the books that are out there are complete disappointments. Most are over a year old, which renders them completely useless since XUL hasn’t stopped changing since it was first introduced, rendering all of the examples in these books completely non-functional and useless.

This has been one of my biggest complaints about the Mozilla project for a long time: not enough documentation. I know everyone (well, mostly everyone) is a volunteer, but you can’t expect the platform to take off without proper documentation. Eclipse suffers from the exact same problem, as do many open source initiatives…but come on guys, why can’t someone just write a book that explains how Firefox is built from start to finish? I’ve had enough of examples that tell you to load the XUL file into Mozilla and lovingly look at your creation. How do I compile it into a standalone application? Could someone please write a useful book?

Disclaimer: Any viewpoints and opinions expressed in this article are those of Nicholas C. Zakas and do not, in any way, reflect those of my employer, my colleagues, Wrox Publishing, O'Reilly Publishing, or anyone else. I speak only for myself, not for them.

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