One for One

I noted with some interest Daniel Glazman’s weblog entry about a contract to develop an XML editor possibly based on Mozilla code. I think it’s a great idea, and I have an idea which (at least to me) makes sense for it.
Every XML language is different. XHTML, MathML, SVG, RDF, XUL, XBL… the only thing they have in common is that they are XML languages. Mozilla Composer has a XUL interface for editing HTML. I’m developing a XUL interface for editing MathML. Several people have attempted, with apparently limited acclaim, to develop XUL interfaces for editing XUL.
There’s a trend here: one XUL interface for editing one XML language.
I think this trend is a very good one. My approach of using a dialog to edit MathML may not work out all that well in a multi-language editor, but my point is we should probably separate the language-specific user interfaces (Table, Anchor, Link, Image, etc.) from the language-independent UI (New, Open, Save, Spell check, etc.). This would allow such a project to utterly shed the dependence on (X)HTML that we currently have.
I have big problems with the HTML bias in Composer. The HTML Tags view needs a face lift if it’s going to work in this new project. It uses images to place the yellow HTML tags before elements. That’s all well and good, when you have a limited set of tags to deal with. When you include a larger set of elements, it becomes a burden on the developer writing the language UI to come up with appropriate tags. (For Abacus, I’m not even going to bother; I’m going to have it add one image, probably in green, for math elements, and have it wipe out all descendant images for tags.)
I’ve already griped earlier about other weaknesses for Composer’s extensibility. I hope the Disruptive Innovations team takes me seriously…
(Though I suspect that until I release Abacus 0.1, no one in Mozilla development will take me seriously… and with good reason…)

One thought on “One for One”

  1. I haven’t yet to have time to take a look at Abacus, but I have to followed this with great interest.
    For professional as well as personal reasons there’s a need for me to find/develop a special purpose xml-editor (for couple of xml dialects we are using), and mozilla
    looks like it could form a basis for one.
    Only it doesn’t look to be too easy, having followed your and Danial Glazmans writings on the subject.
    So if it were someday (soon..) possible to borrow from common code of “editor” functions/widgets etc. to build ones own xml-editor, it would fulfill few dreams of mine…
    (From Alex: I know Daniel Glazman has intended to start work on a generic XML editor, but you’ll have to ask him for progress reports. I very much want to be part of the project, myself.)

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