Re: An introduction to XML User Interface Language (XUL)

  • From: Aaron Leventhal <aaronlev@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: programmingblind@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 24 Oct 2007 13:31:51 -0400


XUL is a type of XML used to develop user interfaces. It's used by Firefox, Thunderbird, Songbird and a growing number of apps. It supports both MSAA and ATK (and on developer builds we also have support for IAccessible2). It works extremely well with screen readers.

XUL is not just used to serialize the UI, but you get a live DOM to interact with. Basically it's like developing a web page, except that you have more powerful built-in widgets, such as <menubar>, <tabbox>, <progressmeter> etc. You also get a box model for layout. The boxes can be horizontal or vertical, and have any number of children. The children can expand or shrink depending on how much space there is.

XUL is usually used in combination with JavaScript and CSS. It is possible to use it with Python.

XUL can be used in a number of ways:
- to design Firefox/Thunderbird extensions
- as a standalone app packaged with Gecko
- as an app designed to run on top of XULRunner

The best thing to do is to read:

You're also free to ask questions on or (if you prefer to use the sign up mailing list versions go to

Finally we have IRC channels where developers hang out, and those can be quite useful: #accessibility or #xulrunner

- Aaron

Jamal Mazrui wrote:
I'm having trouble understanding what XUL is (after some web reading),
so hope someone can clarify.  Is it a programming language, an API, a
markup language?  If one develops an application with XUL, is that the
language used or something else?  If the latter, what other languages
work with it at present?

Is a XUL application browser based?  Does it only work with Firefox at

If anyone would be willing to contribute a fruit basket program using
XUL, that would help make it more concrete and able to be compared with
other development approaches.

On Wed, 24 Oct 2007 james.homme@xxxxxxxxxxxx

Date: Wed, 24 Oct 2007 08:02:01 -0400
From: james.homme@xxxxxxxxxxxx
Reply-To: programmingblind@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
To: programmingblind@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: An introduction to XML User Interface Language (XUL)

I don't know how useful this would be, but I got a link to it and thought
someone might want to read it.


James D Homme, , Usability Engineering, Highmark Inc.,
james.homme@xxxxxxxxxxxx, 412-544-1810

"It's more important for me to start to do the right thing than it is to
wait until I think I
can do it just right."

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