Musings From Mars 
by Leland Scott
Anyone Can Develop A Dashboard Widget (And They Probably Will)
Wow! This project really took me back a few years... 
and forward a few years as well.  
The "back a few years" part is a reflection of how long 
it s been since I worked on a major JavaScript/CSS 
(dynamic HTML) project. I had forgotten how 
frustrating it could be to debug JavaScript. When I was 
doing this nearly full time earlier in the century 
(doesn t that sound odd?), the frustration stemmed partly 
from trying to build to two totally different "document 
object models" (DOM)   Netscape s and Internet 
Explorer s. Because Microsoft trounced Netscape in the 
browser wars, the IE DOM won out, and today it s pretty 
much the standard, as defined by the W3C. Developers 
who remember trying to build dynamic HTML that would 
in both browsers are simply relieved that you no longer have to deal 
with the 
"Netscape 4 problem," though some  like me  mourn the good ideas that went down with that 
model. Now, with Firefox and Safari ascendant and IE waving from the sidelines (anybody 
remember the Tortoise and the Hare story?), even Microsoft s proprietary extensions to 
JavaScript will hopefully be abandoned by everyone who hasn t already done so. 
That s the good news. Today, the frustration I felt programming JavaScript stemmed mostly from 
the fact that I hadn t put together a good development toolkit for Safari. In other words, I needed 
some tools that could show the JavaScript errors clearly to help me debug them. Once I had 
these, I wasn t trying to code in total darkness anymore. 
The project took me forward a few years as well, since I got a clear glimpse of what life beyond 
browser based HTML will be like a few years from now. I was skeptical at first, but because of 
both the explosion of Dashboard widgets since May 1 and the amazing usefulness of many of 
  MPN, LLC 2005 macCompanion 
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August 2005, Volume 3 Issue 8 

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