Introducing Motherhen: Gecko-based applications from scratch

Mozilla‘s more than just Firefox. There’s Thunderbird for e-mail, BlueGriffon for creating web pages, and ye olde SeaMonkey Application Suite. Once upon a time, there was the ability to create custom front-ends on top of Firefox using the -app option. (It’s still there but not really supported.) Mozilla’s source code provides a rich ecosystem to build atop of.

With all that said, creating new Gecko-based applications has always been a challenge at best. There’s a surprising amount of high-quality software using a Chromium-based framework, Electron – and yes, I use some of them. (Visual Studio Code, in particular.) There should be a similar framework for Mozilla code.

Now there is: Motherhen, which I am releasing under the MPL 2 license. This is a GitHub template repository, meaning you can create a complete copy of the repository and start your own projects with it.

Motherhen is at release version 1.0, beta 2: it supports creating, building, running and packaging Mozilla applications only on Linux. On MacOS, the mach package command doesn’t work. No one’s tried this on Windows yet. I need help with both of those, if someone’s willing.

Speaking of help, a big shout-out to TrickyPR from Pulse Browser for his contributions, especially with patches to Mozilla’s code to get this working and for developer tools support in progress!

Motherhen screenshot