Windows 7 and the REALbasic HTMLviewer

I don’t venture into Windows-land very often but I ran across a couple of articles today that gave me cause for concern.

http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/press/2009/jul09/07-24statement.mspx is talking about how European users might get to choose which browser is used by their machine.

The second is http://www.aeroxp.org/2009/03/ie8-functionally-removable/ is about how Internet Explorer is functionally removable from Windows 7.  The article states that the procedure only removes the Internet Explorer executable and not all of the supporting libraries so it shouldn’t be much of a concern to RB developers.  Or is it?

During the ARBP chat last week, REAL Software president and CEO, Geoff Perlman stated that he was unaware of any Windows 7 incompatibilities.  No one asked specifically about what happens if the user uninstalls Internet Explorer in Windows 7 or a European users chooses FireFox, Safari, Chrome or Opera as their web browser rather than Internet Explorer.

Will the HTMLviewer still work?  I think it will because it’s dependent upon the supporting libraries but it’s a question that I’d like reassurance on from RS.  But perhaps the real question is whether the HTMLviewer.IsAvailable is an adequate check and it jumps into the libraries or if it’s simply a check on what version of Windows you’re running?  After all, if you’re using Windows XP or Vista you HAVE TO HAVE Internet Explorer.  But it seems like Windows 7 might be changing that rule.

I’ve been particular critical of the HTMLviewer control over the past several years.  Yes, RS has worked some of the bugs out but it’s still not as stable as I’d like to see it.  My biggest beef is that it’s not using the same supporting libraries on Windows, Linux and Mac OS X.  On Mac OS X it uses WebKit.  On Windows it uses Internet Explorer and on Linux it uses GTK.  This leads to platform incompatibilities, instabilities and downright bugs between the platforms.

If you didn’t read the release notes for RB 2009 R3 you’ll find that RS isn’t shipping REALbasic with the Language Reference for Linux because HTMLviewer has too many issues so Linux users have to rely upon a PDF version.  Ouch.

REALbasic’s strength is cross-platform so why not use a cross-platform web browser as the basis for HTMLviewer?  Use Gecko (Firefox) or Webkit (Safari and Google’s Chrome)!  We might need it for Windows 7 which is being released in October?

Thoughts?

3 thoughts on “Windows 7 and the REALbasic HTMLviewer

  1. As far as which rendering engine it uses, maybe the best solution would to have an option at design time: use platform-native engine or use Gecko/Webkit/Whatever. Just a thought…

  2. The platform native is a hard choice though. On Linux and now Windows, the platform may not HAVE a consistent default. Personally, a single html rendering engine solution would be acceptable even if it’s not native. HTML rendering isn’t like a lot of other user experience choices in that native vs non-native doesn’t affect the user. At least, not nearly as much as it would with controls such as buttons or listboxes.

  3. I received this note from Geoff Perlman via my FaceBook account:

    “Our ultimate goal is to use Webkit (if it’s installed) on all platforms and drop back to the platform default (GTK HMTL on Linux, the IE renderer on Windows) if WebKit is not installed. We could include WebKit, but it’s huge so I don’t think that’s a good option. When we reach this point, if someone really needs WebKit, they can make sure their own Windows Installer installs it.”

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