Archive for February, 2009

Finding the relevant part of the code

February 16, 2009

I noticed that the options menu that appear when we right click, differ depending on which area we are right-clicking on. When we right click on a text field (including password text field), the options that pop up are different with when we right click on other area, such as image. So, I think I’ll have to find the relevant part of code that handles the displaying of options according to the area.  I have been exploring the browser using DOMinspector.  Thanks to a clear and helpful guide from Gary.

I tried to inspect the options by right clicking on the password text field. Here is what I get:

Apparently, the part that is highlighted is an HTML element with ID: pass. I think this might be helpful in future, as I can use the element ID to check whether the right click is on a password field. Next, I will need to find the XUL element for the options. I noticed that whenever I right click on the password field, the right click options would not appear, instead the box is highlighted and the same HTML element is inspected. Tried several times, and finally I could get the options to appear. The correct way of doing is to left click on the content of the password field and then right click to display the options. Another left click will inspect the menu.

An interesting keyword that I have noticed is the ‘contentAreaContextMenu’. I searched for the documentation for this word in the Mozilla’s developer website and I found several articles related to what I need to do for my project. Have been reading on these documentations for the past few days. I will start on hooking the extra option this week. Hopefully, I can get it done by the end of this week or next week. Next, I will need to find, read and understand the part of code that handles the storing of password. Haven’t started on this one yet, so if anyone has any idea, please feel free to share with me.

Some thoughts on this course and open source

February 16, 2009

During the session last week, Gary asked us to write something on how we feel about open source. Well, the good thing about open source is that every successes and obstacles are shared by everyone in the community. The experience so far has been great, it was quite tough at the beginning (actually it is also quite tough now). I really learned a lot of new technical skills from the sessions that we’ve had so far.

Students don’t always get a chance to be involved in or exposed to big software engineering projects in school. But I am glad that I got this chance to understand the bigger picture of software development. It was made possible, simply because of ‘open source’. What do I want to achieve at the end of the course? My first priority is to be able to complete the project that I am working on by the end of the course. I hope the extension that I am working on can be useful to people who use it. Learning as many things as I can is also something that I wish to achieve.

Gary also showed us some videos on concept series labs. The Aurora concept shows that a browser can actually be expanded to do more things that simply browsing. Users can interact with each other by using the browser.  I think the Aurora concept is cool. There are more things that we can do with browsing. But the more it can do, there will be higher learning curve for the users in order to be able to make full use of them.

The bookmarking and history concept video provides an enhancement to the conventional functionality that a browser has. It enhances the interface of the browser and makes it more convenient for the user to do certain tasks. It definitely will facilitate users in searching for bookmarks and histories.

Compilation process and plans for the project

February 7, 2009

I had a tough time trying to compile the Firefox source code. My laptop is using Windows XP SP2 with Intel dual-core 1.83 GHz processor and 1 GB of RAM. Gary gave us a few prerequisite softwares that need to be installed for Windows. When I was trying to install the Microsoft Windows Vista SDK, the installation process stopped at a certain step and the progress meter did not proceed any further. I was thinking the cause could be that the step may take longer than other steps. But after half an hour, nothing changed and I closed the installation and tried to compile the source code. The compilation did not succeed. The error message was that it could not find a certain file wpcapi.h. A search on internet brought me to this page.I suspected the reason could be due to the halfway-terminated installation process of the Vista SDK. I tried uninstalling and reinstall again, but it just didn’t succeed.

I asked Gary about this, and he suggested me to put ‘ac_add_options –disable-vista-sdk-requirements’ into the .mozconfig file as a possible workaround. This time the compilation process went further but eventually stopped when it was ‘processing a certain .idl file’. Not sure what the file was, Gary and my fellow classmates suggested me of installing Ubuntu in my laptop instead of using Windows for the development. I went home and gave it a final attempt, uninstalled and installed all the prerequisite softwares (and making sure that the installation is in the order in which Gary told me). This time, I let the Vista SDK installation ran for about 45minute, the progress meter stucked halfway again (but at a different step with previous attempts), but finally a window appeared indicating that it was completed. I tried compiling the source code again after 45 minutes, it was successful. I was quite delighted with it, was on the verge of dropping the course, since I can’t do anything without compiling the code. It was a bit late (week 3 into the semester) and my classmates were all able to compile in week 2. Hopefully,  I can still make it in time before the final submission.

Meanwhile, I have also been doing some reading about extension development, XUL, and DOM  in the Mozilla developer website. Had some thoughts about the project. Just to share with you my plan for the upcoming weeks. I have allocated week 4 and week 5 for readings and familiarization with the Mozilla development technology. My target is to be able to complete the hooking of the extra  option (overlay) by the end of recess week (the week after week 6). The rest of the weeks will be spent on making the option functional and adding enhancements (if any).

Prof Humphrey gave me some links regarding firefox lab in Seneca, I will go through them during the weekend (today and tomorrow). On Thursday during the lesson, Abi (an ubiquity expert in Singapore) came to the class. He suggested me to look at the Ubiquity code to have an understanding about how to add an extra option. Gary also asked me do ‘dissect’ the ‘about’ extension that he developed. Would like to thank them for their input. =)

My Project Description

February 7, 2009

Let me start with a brief introduction of myself. I am Hendrik, a year 3 School of Computing student from National University of Singapore (NUS). I am currently taking a module (Independent work on Mozilla) in this semester under Gary Kwong. In order to fulfill the requirement of this module, we are required to complete a project that is related with Mozilla development and also must contain significant computing content.

This blog is created to track the progress of my work and also to share with fellow Mozilla developers regarding the project that I am working on. I will be describing my experience with Mozilla development and also challenges encountered in the process.  Comments and feedbacks are welcome.

Here is a brief description of what I will be doing during the course.  Special thanks to Prof. David Humphrey from Seneca and Mike Hoye for giving me a good topic for the project.

Project Topic: Building an extension for Mozilla Firefox browser.
Background: Current Firefox version requires users to go Tools -> Options -> Security -> Saved Passwords -> Remove/Remove All, in order to delete the password saved. The extension proposed here will be aimed at making the procedure of deleting password easier. A new menu option will be added whenever user ‘right clicks’ on the text fields that contain the password that had been previously saved. By selecting the new option, the password saved will be deleted. A bug has been filed on this, and here is the link for your reference.

Well, that was the description of what I will be doing for this module. I am still new in this community, your help and advice will be truly appreciated.