Among the most frequent requests we receive from FeedDemon customers is to enable using Mozilla/Firefox as the embedded browser, and this is something I would love to offer. Unfortunately, I don’t see how this is possible.
Some history is required here.
Several years ago, Adam Lock created an ActiveX control wrapper for the Mozilla rendering engine (AKA: "Gecko"), and TopStyle was one of the first applications to use it. This enabled TopStyle customers to preview their web pages in Internet Explorer side-by-side with Mozilla – a very popular feature, despite its problems.
Unfortunately, the ActiveX project hasn’t been updated since 2005, and appears to have been discontinued entirely. Although TopStyle customers can still use this ActiveX control, it’s woefully outdated. This is a big problem because the ActiveX control doesn’t embed the version of Mozilla/Firefox that’s installed on the customer’s computer – instead, it relies on the version of the Mozilla engine that’s included with the control. This makes it practically useless, since customers want to know what their web pages look like in the most recent version of Firefox, not one from 2005.
Fast forward a couple of years, when the Mozilla team introduced a new way to embed the Mozilla engine. It’s great that this is available, but it’s far more complex than the easily-embedded ActiveX control (especially for applications that also embed Internet Explorer). And if I’m reading the docs correctly, it suffers from the same problem as that disbanded project: it requires third-party applications to bundle the rendering engine. Meaning, of course, that it won’t automatically be up-to-date with the version of the rendering engine the customer already has installed. So every time a new Firefox build is released, customers will want a new version of our software that includes the updated rendering engine. That’s not a sustainable path for popular third-party applications like FeedDemon and TopStyle.
Which brings me to my question: am I missing something? Is there actually a way to easily embed Mozilla in a Windows application, and can it be done in a way that uses the version of the rendering engine that’s already on the customer’s computer?