XUL the “forgotten” RIA technology

I started building my first Firefox extension last night and as a result I had to dig into XUL (pronounced zool, al la Ghostbusters).

XUL is the “XML User Interface Language” and is technology of the cross-platform GUI used by Mozilla products such as Firefox and Thunderbird.

Now I have been aware of XUL for years but haven’t really thought about it much until I clicked on the XUL Periodic Table example  that I suddenly realized that XUL makes for a pretty swanky RIA platform (not too mention it was around years before the others).

Not only does it use common technologies (XML, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AJAX) but it “just works’ which I particularly love in a technology and as a bonus it is open source.

Of course if you clicked on that XUL Periodic table example above using Internet Explorer then of course it would not have worked since IE doesn’t support XUL which of course is a bit of a problem.

Having said that there is XULRunner which lets you run standalone XUL based applications (kinda like Adobe Air).

XUL use isn’t limited to Mozilla products check out Songbird (Media Player) , Miro (Internet TV) or Celtx (Script writing & preproduction tool), which all use XUL.

I wonder how hard it would be to get the XUL engine installed as an IE helper application for .xul files? Maybe something else for me to play with :)