XULRunner For Mozilla Based Development

Mozilla Platform is a sturdy and proven platform for application development. XULRunner is a command-line application that is used to run XUL applications. As mentioned in the Sunbird article, XUL is a markup language for creating user interfaces. It is designed to be portable and is available on all versions of Windows, Macintosh, Linux and other Unix flavors.

XULRunner is a Mozilla runtime package that can be used to bootstrap XUL+XPCOM applications that are as rich as Firefox and Thunderbird. It will provide mechanisms for installing, upgrading, and uninstalling these applications. XULRunner will also provide libxul, a solution which allows the embedding of Mozilla technologies in other projects and products.

Mozilla has developed the XUL technology to develop the Graphical User Interfaces (GUI) to all the Mozilla applications. It is available as part of the Gecko engine and is coupled with Cross Platform Component Object Model (XPCOM) to create fully developed applications like Firefox and Thunderbird. XPCOM components are written using C/C++ and Javascript and can be used from C/C++ and Javascript with extensions for Perl and Python. Together, XUL and XPCOM speed up component-based development of applications based on Gecko – Mozilla Layout Engine.

What XULRunner does

XULRunner deploys XUL applications and also provides a solution for embedding it through libxul. Technically, it provides an instance of Gecko, which was earlier being provided by likes of Firefox. This will enable developers to create applications independent of Firefox or Thunderbird.

XULRunner runs in its own space, and so is unaffected by crashes of other XUL applications. There is already a tutorial for running ChatZilla using XULRunner. Otherwise it always run as a Firefox extension or as part of SeaMonkey suite. Here is another article on running XULMine with XULRunner.

XULRunner needs the application initialization file – application.ini to start an application. Here is a nice tutorial of setting up applications to run using XULRunner.

XULRunner 1.8.0.1 is still a stable developer preview, but keep a tab on XULRunner wiki and XULRunner Communityfor updates on its development. XULRunner will promote more development on Mozilla Platform.

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Copyright Abhijit Nadgouda
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