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Andreessen touts open source

At the Web.Builder conference, the Netscape cofounder plugs the Communicator code release.

SAN FRANCISCO--Netscape Communications' (NSCP) release of the source code for its Communicator suite will put new momentum behind the "open source" movement and change the way software developers work, cofounder Marc Andreessen said to a group of Web developers today.

"The open source model seems to be coming into its own," Andreessen told attendees at the Web.Builder conference, sponsored by CNET: The Computer Network (publisher of NEWS.COM).

Andreessen cited Netscape's Source code for the masses recent release of its Communicator source code on as well as the Internet technical community's love affair with Linux, a free version of the Unix operating system, and Apache, a freeware Web server that is widely used on the Net.

Free source code, he predicted, will create "another quantum leap in creativity on the Web." Other benefits could include faster technical advances, quicker adoption of technologies such as XML (extensible markup language), and earlier standardization of technologies.

Hear Marc Andreessen's entire keynote on CNET Radio
"The creative force on the Net will push open source faster than any software company can," Andreessen added. "It will be increasingly hard to function in this industry without taking advantage of the industry [resources]."

The Netscape executive also unveiled a new company program called Open Studio, a membership program and specialized part of its Web site for Web content providers and developers.

"We're trying to make a showcase for design examples to create the best of the Web," he said. The site includes links to content on CNET's BUILDER.COM and HotWired's Webmonkey.

The Open Studio site is built using XML and Resource Description Framework (RDF), two technologies that Netscape is championing at the show along with its own JavaScript. The two technologies, based on emerging standards from the World Wide Web Consortium, are designed to make the Web easier to use, in part by separating Web content from how it is presented and making it easier to search for and share relevant content.

"This will elevate content on the Web to a whole new level," Andreessen said. Users of the Open Studio site can restructure its appearance according to their own preferences by dragging and dropping individual elements.

Before Andreessen's speech, Apple fellow and Macintosh evangelist Guy Kawasaki, now chief executive of start-up, joked that Apple's Mac division in 1983 to 1987 had been "the biggest collection of egos in Silicon Valley until Netscape."

In a humorous talk titled "Rules for Revolutionaries," he offered attendees ten ways to change the world.

Calling Netscape's release of source code "brilliant," Kawasaki urged developers to "create like a god, command like a king, and work like a slave. You have a moral imperative to change the world."