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mardi 29 janvier 2013

Firefox OS App Days in Paris

Photo by André Reinald, used under CC-BY licence

Over the week-end, More than 150 people gathered in an engineering school classroom to learn, hack and celebrate:

  • Learn about HTML5 and Web applications.
  • Hack such applications for Firefox OS (and Firefox for Android) with the assistance of Mozilla hackers.
  • Celebrate that we're changing the world with what could become a universal mobile application platform.

FirefoxOSappDays Paris: demo time!

FirefoxOSappDays Paris: demo time![1]

Mozillians (paid staff and volunteers) gave talks about mobile development with HTML5 on Firefox OS, then the hacking session started, with Mozillians helping those who wanted. In the meantime, updates on Twitter connected us with the 25 or so other App Days events taking place around the world.

At the end of the day, 36 applications were ready to be demoed, and the authors of the best demos have received a voucher for the upcoming and very cool Firefox OS developer preview phones. Of course, everyone has been handed a T-shirt!

I would like to thank all the people who helped making this amazing event possible. I won't name names because I would surely forget someone, but you know who you are. The event was a blast and it demonstrated the hunger for an Open Web mobile platform like Firefox OS!

Photo by André Reinald, used under CC-BY licence

Note

[1] More photos.

mardi 23 octobre 2012

Blue Griffon EPUB Edition

BlueGriffon Epub Edition (bgee) logo

Tristan - So Daniel, you're launching BlueGriffon EPUB Edition

Daniel Glazman: Hi Tristan. Yes, it has been made available earlier today. The end of a long road!

Tristan - What problem is it trying to solve?

Daniel: People authoring and/or publishing EPUB ebooks today use a too complex and too expensive editorial chain. BlueGriffon EPUB Edition aims at drastically easing that pain.

BlueGriffon EPUB Edition implements all of EPUB2 and almost all of EPUB3, offering full UI-based control on metadata, table of contents, guide, spine, NCX and other exotic species of the EPUB world. And it's of course based on our popular Web editor BlueGriffon, so powered by Gecko, the rendering engine of Firefox. The application is not based on a proprietary format, it only knows IDPF standards (EPUB2 and 3) and W3C standards (HTML, CSS, SVG, etc.) and it's then easy to integrate it into the previously mentioned editorial chain to simplify it, replacing existing and complex other software or even manual hacks!

And the price is rather cheap, and that's quite disruptive in that space given the often very expensive price of everything tagged «EPUB» in the authoring space...

Tristan - How much does it cost?

Daniel: A license for a single user on a single computer will cost 195.00€. Software in the ebooks' world are usually (much) more expensive but we have decided to keep the price relatively low to allow individual authors to buy it. Please keep in mind BlueGriffon EPUB Edition is the result of two years of extremely hard work...

We will of course offer OEM licensing and discounts for multiple licenses (>10).

Blue Griffon Epub Edition's main window

Blue Griffon Epub Edition's main window

Tristan - Who would be interested in using it?

Daniel: If I look at the many inquiries about BlueGriffon EPUB Editor we have received during the last twelve months, many different people: individual book authors, publishing companies, software companies working in that space, translators, Academia, private companies using EPUB in their Knowledge Management, etc.

As far as I know, it's the only real EPUB3 Wysiwyg editor on the market. With vertical writing about to hit a Gecko engine near us, it will be perfect for the Asian market and in particular the Japanese one where EPUB3 is already a hit.

Tristan - What are the alternatives for them?

Daniel: If you except the free Sigil that is restricted to EPUB2, offers less metadata control, has no CSS SVG or MathML editor, there is no alternative at this time. All existing solutions implement only part of what authors or publishers need. It implies they have to rely on manual cleanup based on deep technical knowledge, permanent switches between almost incompatible tools or tools based on proprietary formats and only exporting to EPUB but unable to open it...

Tristan - What does BlueGriffon EPUB Edition do that other solutions don't do?

Daniel: In two words: many things! I just can't list them all but here's a sample: real conformance to EPUB2 and EPUB3 specifications, conformance to XHTML1.1 (EPUB2) and HTML5 (EPUB3), one of the best CSS editors on the market, builtin SVG editor, builtin MathML editor, UI for epub:type, and much more. And since it's based on Gecko, it's truly Wysiwyg and also extensible through add-ons just like BlueGriffon, Firefox or Thunderbird.

Editing Japanese text in BlueGriffon Epub Edition

Editing Japanese text in BlueGriffon Epub Edition

Tristan - What makes users choose BlueGriffon EPUB Edition instead of alternatives?

Daniel: Certainly three things:

  1. simplification of their editorial chain
  2. the long features list offering them a UI-based manipulation of their ebooks requiring less technical knowledge
  3. the low price

Tristan - Under which license is it? I understand that your work is based on the Mozilla codebase

Daniel: The codebase uses two licenses: since it's based on the Web editor BlueGriffon and then Mozilla, that part is MPL. The source is already available through the bluegriffon.org web site and our SVN. The extra code specific to EPUB is proprietary and won't be open-sourced.

Tristan - Are there options for customers, like add-ons for example?

Daniel: Not at this time since we already integrated our best BlueGriffon add-ons into the EPUB Edition bundle. But we have plans for EPUB-centric add-ons that we will release later this year, yes.

Tristan - What are the features that come with it that the "normal" version of BlueGriffon does not have?

Daniel: Of course, all the EPUB2 and EPUB3 management. On the HTML/CSS front, the EPUB Edition comes with our CSS Pro Editor, Table Layouts, Word Count, MathML Editor, Active View and Eye Dropper commercial add-ons built-in. We also tweaked a bit the theme, mostly changing the icon set, to make it look different from the Web editor version.

Tristan - how did you manage to release 4 binaries on 6 platforms? (Win XP, Win 7, Win 8, Mac OSX, GNU/Linux 32 bits & 64 bits)

Daniel: In 3 words : working a lot :-) More seriously, that's a benefit we (Mozilla contributors) all get from the Mozilla platform: one codebase, many builds. So all I have to do is to set up multiple build environments, launch builds, and collect final packages. Works like a charm. All praise Moz! Like I said on my blog, and I do mean it: "On the Mozilla side, this is quite good news I must say. Most current EPUB readers and authoring tools are based on WebKit or the rendering engine inside Apple Pages. BlueGriffon EPUB Edition shows that Gecko is a 100% viable solution as a rendering engine for EPUB. It also shows that XUL is still a superb technology allowing very complex consumer- or business-oriented applications."''

Tristan - Thanks Daniel, and good luck with this new edition of BlueGriffon!

lundi 22 octobre 2012

The danger of closed marketplaces

Earlier this week, a very good article about closed app stores (aka marketplaces) was published by Seattle developer Casey Muratori: The Next Twenty Years: What Windows 8's Closed Distribution Means.

This is a long, thoughtful article focused on the new Windows 8 app store that clearly demonstrates the dangers of app stores monopolies, pioneered by Apple with the iPhone then the iPad, with now Microsoft taking a page from Apple's book and applying it to the tablet version of Windows 8.

Here is a part of Casey's conclusion, which I fully agree with:

Experimentation on open platforms is one of the primary sources of innovation in the computer industry. There are no two ways about that. Open software ecosystems are what gave us most of what we use today, whether it’s business software like the spreadsheet, entertainment software like the first-person shooter, or world-changing revolutionary paradigms like the World Wide Web. It will be a much better world for everyone if this kind of innovation continues.

Keep reading the article on Beyond the Code.

vendredi 12 octobre 2012

People and principles are beyond the code

This is how we, Mozilla, define what we do in our Manifesto:

We create communities of people involved in making the Internet experience better for all of us.

What’s interesting here is that — in this sentence — we don’t mention Firefox at all. The goal is to make the Internet better for all of us, and that’s why we make Firefox (along with the very promising Firefox OS project). But a big piece of what we do, even if it’s not very visible from the outside, is to create communities of people. These people — that we call Mozillians–, in turn, build the products that make the Internet better. What makes makes Mozillians — most of them are volunteers — contribute to Mozilla?

French-speaking communities in MozCamp EU in Warsaw

French-speaking communities in MozCamp EU in Warsaw, cc by Flore

Keep reading the article on Beyond the Code.

samedi 4 février 2012

Mozilla awards grants to six international non-profit organizations

Fosdem 2012, under the snow

Fosdem 2012, under the snow

Earlier today, in FOSDEM in Brussels, a series of grants by Mozilla to non-profit organizations and aimed at Europe have been announced. Here is the announcement:

Mozilla awards grants to six international non-profit organizations

We are pleased to announce that Mozilla awards six international non-profit organizations in Europe and the US with grants for projects that will further strengthen open web, free and open source technologies and user sovereignty on the Web in Europe. Grant recipients are:

  • April: April is the main French advocacy association devoted to promote and protect Free/Libre Software. It is a major player in spreading the word of free software and open standards to the general public, professionals and institutions in France. It also acts as a watchdog on digital freedoms, warning the public about the dangers of private interests keeping an exclusive stranglehold on information and knowledge.
  • FOSDEM: The Belgium-based FOSDEM team organizes the free and non-commercial Free and Open source Software Developers' European Meeting (FOSDEM) event to promote the widespread use of Free and Open Source software and provide FOSS projects with a platform to meet, exchange, and collaborate.
  • Framasoft: Framasoft is one of the most prominent voices of FLOSS (Free, Libre, Open Source Software) in France and other French-speaking countries. The organization’s aim is to educate users about the importance of open software.
  • Free Software Foundation Europe: Free Software Foundation Europe works across Europe for freedom in the information society by promoting Free Software and Open Standards in politics, business, law, education, and society at large.
  • Nowoczesna Polska: the Modern Poland Foundation consequently cares for modern education and development of information society in Poland.
  • Participatory Culture Foundation: The US-based organization is dedicated to creating open and decentralized video tools and services. The grant is earmarked for Universal Subtitles, a project of Participatory Culture Foundation that makes web video accessible through a collaborative platform for captioning and translation of video. Mozilla has collaborated on this open-source project since its creation.

Mozilla has a history of awarding grants to projects that are aligned with its mission. The funds for this round came from Mozilla Europe. Going forward all grant applications, including those for Europe, will go through the Mozilla foundation. Details can be found here: http://www.mozilla.org/grants/ (Once the page has been updated, that is ;-) )

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