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- 06/04/03 - Alpha version (0.6) is now available.
- 05/19/03 - Posted new screenshots. Expect to release an alpha version within a week.
- 05/02/03 - Uploaded some early screenshots
- Mozilla Rising: Salon.com article on Mozilla from Sept. 2002
Der Tandem Browser, the browser built for two
Der Tandem Browser is an add-on for the Mozilla browser which provides features that facilitate synchronized or interactive browsing among two or more people. When installed, it embeds a collapsible chat area/control panel into the bottom of the browser, and inserts a corresponding menu item to hide or display this panel in Mozilla's View > Show/Hide menu. Users connect to one another via the internet in the typical server-client configuration, with one person running Der Tandem Browser as a host and everyone else as a client. Once connected, users can chat with one another just as with any standard chat application.
However, though DTB can be used merely as a simple chat client, it is developed specifically for one aspect of internet interaction: sharing links and viewing/discussing web pages in a group. Der Tandem Browser makes it easy to send and load links into a browser, minimizing the inconvenience of copying a URL from your chat client, pasting it into your browser, and vice versa. It has been laid out as a horizontal panel which sits at the bottom of the browser to maximize the web page display area and be compatible with the defacto convention of designing web pages to be vertically scrolled. In addition, it can be operated in a special 'tandem' mode in which one person acts as the lead and any URL (including local files) loaded into his browser will automatically be forwarded to and loaded in the browsers of all connected users. Some examples where this might be useful:
- Visiting a virtual museum with a friend
- Conducting a tour of a website for clients or users
- Browsing an online photo album with family members
- Viewing/presenting a web-based lecture
- Working an online puzzle with a friend
- An internet shopping expedition
The lead browser can designate another connected partner as the new 'driver' whenever such a change is desired, and all users are free to switch off tandem mode at any time.
An alpha version which has been tested with Mozilla 1.2.1 and 1.3.1 is now available. Work on implementing transparent file transfer and "slide show" support has begun, and I expect to release a beta version with these features in a few weeks.
Because Mozilla does not currently provide the ability to create server sockets, Der Tandem Browser uses a companion program, DTBServer, to allow it to act as a host. DTBServer is written in C using Unix network APIs and runs on 32-bit Windows systems with the Cygwin DLL. To operate Der Tandem Browser as a host on Linux systems, it will be necessary to recompile the server program to produce a Linux binary. Eventually the DTBServer program will be replaced with native Mozilla server sockets or a similarly functioning XPCOM component.
I've learned and borrowed from many other MozApp projects, but particularly from the following: Chatzilla , especially its network routines; MozBlog, from which the layout of DTB is descended; JsLib, which I've used as a source library and code example archive; and Calendar, which supplied my first examples of iconic menu items, preference handling, and overlays. Creating Applications with Mozilla and the XUL Tutorial are required reading, and XUL Planet's reference documents have been indispensable.