Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008

Yahoo! BrowserPlus: Why wait for the news when you have strings?

Category: Gears, Yahoo!

After posting about Yahoo! BrowserPlus, we certainly have more questions than answers, and we could all wait a week or two to learn more.

But, where is the fun in that? Thanks to the fact that Open Source software often normally means that you will find a LICENSE.txt, and the binary itself will have information on what is used, you can sometimes glean information. Oh, and the UNIX strings command can help too ;)

So, armed with enough data to be dangerous (yet totally wrong) we see that:

  • The components seem to be called Corelets
  • There are distribution servers that can serve Corelets. The primary is set to browserplus.yahoo.com, but you could imagine anything.com too
  • There is the notion of “Dynamic Corelets” which leads you to believe that you can get new ones into the system, or that you can use dynamic languages to program the system.
  • OpenSSL is packaged and it appears that you use certificates to make sure the right code is run. It is unknown if you are given SSL primitives to work with, which would be fun
  • A native JSON implementation is bundled, which is probably just to parse the config file, and not exposed to developers
  • There is the notion of an “Upload Corelet” which could mean a way to upload new ones into the system, or a better file upload (please)

If you look in the installation directory, you also see the NSPR which tells us that the system uses the Netscape Portable Runtime:

The Netscape Portable Runtime, or NSPR, is a platform abstraction library that makes all operating systems it supports appear the same to Mozilla. NSPR provides platform independence for non-GUI operating system facilities. These facilities include threads, thread synchronization, normal file and network I/O, interval timing and calendar time, basic memory management (malloc and free) and shared library linking. A good portion of the library’s purpose, and perhaps the primary purpose in the Gromit environment, is to provide the underpinnings of the Java VM, more or less mapping the sys layer that Sun defines for the porting of the Java VM to various platforms. NSPR does go beyond that requirement in some areas and since it is also the platform independent layer for most of the servers produced by Netscape. It is expected and preferred that existing code be restructured and perhaps even rewritten in order to use the NSPR API. It is not a goal to provide a platform for the porting into Netscape of externally developed code.

Ok, not back to just waiting for the real information. Again, it is great to see Yahoo! apparently thinking about how to make browsers do new tricks, which is why I am excited about Gears.

Posted by Dion Almaer at 2:03 am

3.3 rating from 17 votes


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Great reverse engineering work!

I have my own ideas, but I’d like to hear from you more specifically Dion… What would better file upload look like? How would you interface it and what features would it provide?


Comment by lloydhilaiel — April 22, 2008

thanks for that

Comment by Aphrodisiac — August 11, 2008

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