Launched today by Lindows, Nvu is a new project to develop a complete “web authoring system” (aka Dreamweaver/Frontpage style WYSIWYG editor) for the Linux platform. Reading around the marketing hyperbole, What it actually is is a standalone version of Mozilla’s Composer with a whole bunch of improvements and extra features, scheduled for release in early 2004.
The really good news is that Lindows have hired Daniel Glazman to work on the project full time. Daniel is the principle maintainer of Mozilla Composer and it’s great to see his work being funded in this way. Improvements to Composer made for Nvu seem certain to make it back in to the main Mozilla trunk.
The not-so-good news is that the Nvu site and FAQ make no mention of a Windows version of the software. Since development is being sponsored by Lindows this shouldn’t come as a surprise, but it is disappointing because the great strength of the Mozilla framework is that it supports cross-platform development.
It’s also going to be interesting to see how this pans out from a web standards point of view. On the one hand, Daniel is certainly on the side of web standards. On the other hand, the current Nvu site’s markup seems to come right out of 1998. I very much doubt it was created with the tool it promotes but it doesn’t give off a particularly reassuring message. A free WYSIWYG HTML editor with strong standards support out of the box would be a valuable tool in helping authors create standards compliant sites. As it is, Dreamweaver is getting close but Dreamweaver also costs nearly $400.
Wild conjecturing apart, the most interesting thing about Nvu (the name’s pretty terrible but at least they got a three letter domain name) may well be the features that are added to the current Composer code base. The screenshots already hint at intelligent FTP publishing support; what would be really interesting would be the integration of a simple templating system and/or client side CMS capabilities—something like a cross between Fog Creek’s CityDesk and Macromedia’s Contribute. Interested developers are invited to sign up for a mailing list for notification of when the first development builds are made available. This is going to be an interesting project to watch.