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Haiku, Gmail, and Web Standards

Tech Life555 words3 minutes to read


Does anyone here know what “Haiku” is (…and no, I’m not talking about a 17 syllable Japanese poem)? Haiku is the brand-new name for an open source project that was formerly called “OpenBeOS”.

How many here know what OpenBeOS is? OpenBeOS is a project whose goal is to re-create, from scratch, an open source version of the late BeOS 5. BeOS was a very cool operating system that had many modern-OS features before Windows, Mac OS, or Linux did.

BeOS debuted in the late 90’s as an OS with a 64-bit file system, journaling, protected memory, pre-emptive multitasking, multithreading, and a whole slew of things that we take for granted these days. BeOS was super fast, and ran on both x86 and PowerPC processors.

After BeOS was looked at and passed up by Apple in favor of NeXTStep OS in 1997 (which was the core of Rhapsody, and later the current Mac OS X), Be delved into the “Internet Appliance” market with BeIA. The Internet Appliance market never quite made it into the mainstream consciousness, and in 2001 they sold the company to Palm. Many of the concepts that made BeOS so awesome have found their way into the upcoming Palm OS 6.0 (aka “Cobalt”).

Back to the point, OpenBeOS is trying to recreate the BeOS so it doesn’t die out. Due to trademark reasons (like those that have plagued the Mozilla Foundation), they recently changed their name to “Haiku”, which if you’re familiar with the BeOS (specifically the NetPositive web browser), the name makes sense. They just debuted their new website today.

When I saw it, I immediately thought that it would be awesome to submit to CSS Vault and CSS Beauty, as it’s a very attractive site. However, when I moused-over the image links in the upper right-hand corner, they flickered. “Hmmm… they’re not using Pixy’s Superfast Rollovers? That’s odd. Maybe I should look at their source code…”

I watched in horror as my screen filled up with table tags, invalid HTML 4.01, and more inline styles than I’d seen in quite a while. *sigh* How awful! It’s a perfect layout for web standards too. Grrr… What a waste!


I hadn’t noticed this before today because I use Firefox, and it’s never been an issue that’s come up. Today, I needed to fire up a standalone version of IE5/Win, and ended up checking out Gmail in it. Gmail told me I couldn’t log in with my current software. It then proceeded to tell me that I needed to use one of the following web browsers to use it:

  • Internet Explorer 5.5+ for Windows
  • Netscape 7.1+
  • Mozilla 1.4+
  • Mozilla Firefox 0.8+
  • Safari 1.2.1

I found that to be very interesting, and actually a very good thing. Since Gmail is a highly-coveted, status-symbol-like service, it may very well make Aunt Ruth upgrade her browser to use Gmail (which will be recommended by her web-savvy nephew). And not only are they modern browsers, but they’re brand-new browsers (kinda)… namely the browsers running the Gecko 1.4 codebase and Safari 1.2. This also means that Mac OS 9 users are out of luck. There are no new browser developments going on for OS9. The latest version of Mozilla for Mac OS 9 was v1.2.1.

Hopefully Google will help make the web world a better place afterall.

Ryan Parman

is an engineering manager with over 20 years of experience across software development, site reliability engineering, and security. He is the creator of SimplePie and AWS SDK for PHP, patented multifactor-authentication-as-a-service at WePay, defined much of the CI/CD and SRE disciplines at McGraw-Hill Education, and came up with the idea of “serverless, event-driven, responsive functions in the cloud” while at Amazon Web Services in 2010. Ryan's aptly-named blog, , is where he writes about ideas longer than . Ambivert. Curious. Not a coffee drinker.