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Browsers gang up against plugin hell

Jun 30, 2004 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

A group of web browser and plugin vendors today released an improved browser plugin API aimed at enabling web developers to make multimedia Web content more interactive. The new cross-browser API extends the Netscape Plugin API (NPAPI), and will appear in Linux, Windows, and MacOS browsers this fall.

According to documentation on the web site, the new plugin API will make browser plugins scriptable independently of Java, a capability lost when the Java Runtime Interface (JRI) API in Netscape 4.x was replaced by the Java Native Interface (JNI) used in subsequent Netscape and Mozilla browsers.

The new API will additionally enable plugins to access script objects in the browser, “and is thus a much stronger and more flexible API,” according to Mozilla.

For example, an online store that uses Flash to show product information could allow the user to select characteristics such as color and size from within the Flash environment, and have those choices reflected on an associated Web page such as a shopping cart page based on Javascript.

“This initiative will significantly improve the web experience for users of Firefox, the Mozilla 1.x Internet suite, Safari, and Opera browsers and will ultimately benefit the overall health of the web,” commented Mitchell Baker, president of the Mozilla Foundation.

“Plugins are a part of the web and it is critical that they interact with browsers and other web content securely and efficiently,” said Opera VP of Engineering Christen Krogh.

The new cross-browser API was developed jointly by Adobe, Apple, Macromedia, Opera, and Sun Microsystems. It is described in detail here, and is available under an open source license.

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