Mozilla Labs pursues Web development tools

New lab will center on research and development of developer tools for the "open" Web.

Dissatisfied with the Web development tools already available, researchers at the newly formed Developer Tools Lab at Mozilla Labs intend to find better options.

Announced Monday, the lab will be led by Dion Almaer and Ben Galbraith, who founded the Ajaxian Web site, which is focused on AJAX issues. The lab will center on research and development of developer tools for the "open" Web, according to the Mozilla Labs Web site.

"We've been talking to Mozilla for a while and thinking about how the Web has been lacking in tool support and how life has been too hard for developers," said Almaer, who until recently had worked at Google as a Web advocate. "We had a couple of ideas."

He acknowledged there are tools already on the market for Web development but said these have not changed drastically for a quite a while. Developers now build AJAX applications in a different fashion and are building complex systems on the Web. No tools really help developers with this, he said.

The labs' efforts will cover everything from services for developers to reference materials and a full-blown code editor, said Galbraith, who had worked as CIO at MediaBank before joining the lab. The tools will be free and offered by Mozilla; most likely, other vendors will participate as well, he said.

Issues like determining idiosyncrasies of different browsers will be addressed by the lab. A team of six to eight persons is being built up to staff the lab. Developers through the lab could have a service, such as a place to store code artifacts online.

Galbraith said the group's activities potentially could conflict with the Eclipse Foundation's Web Tools Platform Project activities, but it was still too early to tell.

Funding for the lab's activities will come from Mozilla and perhaps other vendors.

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Paul Krill

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