Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Project selected!

So I have finally settled on a project for my OSD600 course. My choice - the Plugin-Watcher will, I imagine, involve delving deep into the core of the browser code. This will be a C/C++ heavy project and I chose it for a number of reasons; but I would first like to describe its purpose.

The What
Firefox, as you know, is used by millions of people worldwide. Each of them depends on its continuous reliability and stability.The issues faced by complex software such as Firefox in this arena are immense, particularly so in the case of browsers, since besides having to render HTML and execute JavaScript and the like they are also increasingly used as a host platform for various plugins and third party add ons - some of which have been badly written and/or poorly tested.

As the name implies the Plugin-Watcher will track all installed plugins and make certain that non of them are impairing the browser itself. In the event that a plugin misbehaves by either slowing down or making Firefox unresponsive the Plugin-Watcher will notify the user that something has gone wrong with one of the installed plugins. Me and my partner Brandon are hoping that by the final release (at the end of OSD600) the watcher would also be able to identify to the user the actual plugin thats misbehaving and perhaps provide options such as disabling that plugin.

The Why
I chose this project because it meant that I would have to work with the actual guts of the browser. I'm really hoping that through this experience I will gain a greater understanding and a deeper appreciation for Firefox and open source software in general. This is also a C/C++ project which I have to admit I'm more comfortable with than say JavaScript - same goes for my partner Brandon.

The How
We decided to use Visual Studio 2005 as our development platform. An odd choice perhaps considering we are dealing with an open source project, but we are familiar with the IDE and will certainly require its debugging tools. I'm also considering installing Linux on a virtual machine for testing purposes. I already have VMWare workstation installed and I'm downloading the Fedora 7 DVD as these words are being typed.

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