We have heard from a lot of users and prospective users that there’s interest in getting Buzzword onto Linux. Rest assured that Linux, in at least some of its forms and browsers, is on our list of things to do. Not only are the ranks of Linux users swelling, the platform itself is consistent with everything Buzzword stands for – free, ubiquitous and high quality software for everyone.
More Browser Challenges
But, you’re thinking, since Buzzword runs in Firefox on Windows and Mac, it should just work automatically in Firefox/Linux, right? Unfortunately, the Linux version of Firefox isn’t an exact replica of other Firefox versions, so we’ll have to create a Linux/Firefox specific version of Buzzword.
We’ve posted a little on the blog about the tradeoffs of working on supporting additional browsers and operating systems, vs. getting core features up and running.
One of the challenges of delivering desktop-quality software inside a browser is, well, the browser itself. Browsers have clearly come a long way in the last 14 years, but they still fall short of the system level services required to deploy a desktop application.
Fortunately, the Flash Player alleviates some of these shortcomings. For one thing, Flash allows visual experiences far beyond a browser’s native capabilities. The Flash Player also handles some system level chores. We chose the Flash platform over AJAX because it allowed us to get much closer to desktop functionality than native browser and html capabilities.
We work a lot of sleight-of-hand tricks to allow Buzzword to act like a desktop application even though it’s running inside a browser. However, some things are beyond the scope of what current-day browsers permit, due to their architecture, and what Flash permits due to its security model.
So here are a couple browser-related challenges we’re either living with or trying to work around.
You may have noticed that when you go to request an invitation to try our Preview edition, we ask that you tell us a story about why you need a web-based word-processor. There are many reasons for this apparently gratuitous step; for one thing, it helps us understand how people want to use our product.
On the other hand, at Buzzword we’re all about writing, and ennobling the entire authoring process, so we like to encourage the muse in everyone.
Some people write their story based on the facts – e.g. “I am a Technical Publications Manager who works remotely some 1700 miles from the home office. I am still searching for the ultimate collaborative documentation environment to perform peer reviews etc.”