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July 21, 2005

upcoming firefox release to be 1.5

For the last several months, we've been discussing the versioning of the upcoming Firefox release.

One major consideration in this decision was that the sheer volume of changes in the Firefox core (Gecko) made a minor .1 increment seem misleading. While it may not be obvious by looking simply at release dates, today's Gecko core of Firefox has seen nearly 16 months worth of changes compared to what shipped in Firefox 1.0. This is because we created our Gecko 1.7 branch (the branch from which Firefox 1.0 shipped) back in April of 2004. At that time, Gecko development on the trunk continued and very little of that work was carried over to the 1.7 branch to be included in Firefox 1.0.

Another consideration was that we've made some major improvements to the Firefox application, especially in the update and extension systems that warrant more than a minor version bump. Calling it 1.1 would suggest to most users that this was a minor update when in fact it is quite major and all 1.0 users really should move forward for a much improved product.

update: it seems there is some confusion about the beta naming. The beta is going to be called "Firefox 1.5 Beta" not "1.4 [anything]". The beta's "1.4" versioning is necessary for our extension and update testing but will not be a part of the "common name" for release. It will be called "Firefox 1.5 Beta".

Posted by asa at July 21, 2005 07:39 AM
Comments

That's fine with me as long as you don't got ahead and call the next one Firefox X or Firefox 360 or some other crazy stunt name :p

BTW: Great work on the new update system, I'm getting a new nightly every day.

Posted by: testboy on July 21, 2005 08:17 AM

So why not call it version 2?

W.

Posted by: Wally on July 21, 2005 08:26 AM

Wally, that was considered but we haven't achieved the full set of application enhancements that we intend to have in a 2.0 version so we decided against it.

- A

Posted by: Asa Dotzler on July 21, 2005 08:28 AM

Just wondering, will that "Mozilla/5.0" in the UA string ever change?

Posted by: ant on July 21, 2005 08:30 AM

ant, I would guess they're keeping it there because so many websites test the user-agent string to determine functionality instead of doing it the "right" way (by either inspecting the implementation properties, using try...catch blocks, etc.)

Posted by: Toby Johnson on July 21, 2005 08:38 AM

I agree on the massive Gecko changes, but I'm not sure that the app changes are that significant for the end user. Whilst they are huge, they are mostly hidden from the user.

IMHO a leap like 1.0 to 1.5 should involve a significant 'wow' for the user soon after the upgrade. Deer Park still seems like a 'sync' release, rather than a 'feature' release to me.

0.7->0.8 had installer, download manager
0.8->0.9 had extension/theme manager
0.9->0.10 had Find Toolbar & Live Bookmarks

and these were just minor version bumps

1.0->1.5

1) New update mechanism - something that will hopefully be rarely used. Certainly not something you can play with immediately after upgrade.
2) Drag/Drop tabs - nice, but most users still aren't using tabs at all..
3) New pref window - most users never go into prefs
4) bfcache - unless pointed out, I don't think most people will notice
5) Sanitize - most people aren't that paranoid, although porn-hunting teenagers will probably appreciate it.

(I certainly appreciate all the new bits, and I know that an immense amount of work went into them. I'm not trying to minimise the efforts of ben, bryner, darin et al.)

Posted by: Doug Wright on July 21, 2005 08:39 AM

Why can't it just be the way it should be? Next version = next number. A few people jumped numbers to tell how great they are, but mostly it was a big disappointment(i.e. Nullsoft). Shouldn't it be like: "Hey that's a great progress for just one version". Or you have the problem later on: "Why should I update - it's just the next version". Although updating shouldn't be big trouble - nightlies work fine.

Posted by: Morty on July 21, 2005 08:40 AM

Doug Wright: The version on the way to 1.0 had necessarily only minor version bumps ... else the first real firefox release would have been 10.0, wouldnt it? :p

Posted by: testboy on July 21, 2005 08:42 AM

Since 1.0, Firefox is no longer just a *project*, it's a *product*. While each product sets its own expectations, it's rather common to make the increase in version numbers proportional to the degree of change in the product. For better or worse, it's what people expect.

I think a case could be made for calling it 1.2 instead but I don't think 1.5 is a stretch. I agree 1.1 is too conservative. If they're halfway to where they want to be for 2.0, then 1.5 makes perfect sense.

Posted by: Toby Johnson on July 21, 2005 08:52 AM

It's OK, but going fast in version numbering might not be a good thing in the future. I know it wouldn't, but if Firefox gets, say, "Firefox 9.0" version in a few years, this could make people think that Firefox is very old and awkward. Windows Media Player 10 and such softwares with "big" version number (7, 8, 9) makes me feel so.

However, trying to jump to 1.5 as new version isn't completely bad. Because it still makes feel it "young".

Posted by: asteko on July 21, 2005 08:53 AM

It is important that users upgrade to the new version when it is released and a major version just like to 1.5 with encourage this.

The reason I say that its important is many users wont upgrade from 1.03 to 1.05 so they are using a insecure product, once the user has updated to 1.5.0 we can going back to using 1.5.x for minor releases which the users will get due to the new update system ensuring the browser is secure.

Posted by: Buzz on July 21, 2005 09:17 AM

Doug Wright:
For me, upgrading from 1.0 to 1.5 means that even if the visible product changes (prefs, upgrade system, sanitize) are minor, I can expect my favourite web sites to be broken because of major Gecko engine changes. So as an ordinary user, I think that bumping from 1.1 to 1.5 is a way to tell people "think carefully before you upgrade !"

Posted by: Bernard on July 21, 2005 09:21 AM

Well as long as they don't hit Firefox 8 before MS hit IE 8 in 2018 :D

Posted by: Ian on July 21, 2005 09:22 AM

I don't like the change. If the development really was halfway to 2.0, it would be ok. But some of the 2.0 goals have been put back to 3.0. I agree with Doug, that, though there are some significant features under the hood, Mozilla should not start setting expectations that can't be fullfilled from the end users point of view. People will stop expecting great changes in new versions and will hesitate upgrading, even when there's a major version change.
Also, "Firefox 2.0" may sound great, but "Firefox 5" doesn't. Look at OS X, they went too fast with the version numbers and now can't make major increases even if there's something significantly new. Personally, I'd either have called this release 1.2 or would have made something like 1.8 on the way to 2.0. But getting a 3.0 at the time 2.0 should have been released is way too early and will make Firefox look older and less spectacular than it really is.

Posted by: Jan on July 21, 2005 09:33 AM

Just want to say that as a regular, albeit geeky, user watching from the sidelines, it makes sense to me. Going 1.0, 1.1, 1.5 seemed kind of strange anyways, especially with the features that are going into 1.1. And Whether or not the user would "see" the new features on their own is not really the point - that's the job of new release. By going to 1.5, you're telling the user how much better you've made the product, and that IS important. Anyways, whoever thinks the update system isn't going to make much of a difference to users because you "can't play with it right away" has gone and forgotten that most users don't want to play with anything. They want the product to work and be secure, and I have several friends who won't switch over to Firefox in large part due to the update mechanism (or lack thereof). It's an expected feature of almost all software nowadays. So Woohoo, go Firefox, go 1.5! But as asteko cautioned, don't rush away with version numbering too fast. :)

Posted by: Step on July 21, 2005 09:50 AM

asteko: It seems that marketing people agree with you. I've noticed a lot of long-running software products drop standard versioning before or just after they hit those dreaded double digits. Mac OS hit 9, then suddenly it became "Mac OS X" and now updates are advertised by their cat names instead of 10.3, 10.4, etc. Red Hat Linux hit 9, then renamed itself as Fedora Core and started over at 1. Mandrake and Conectiva each hit 10, merged, renamed themselves Mandriva, and switched to yearly vintages. Windows and Office are all about either yearly vintages or gimmicky names like XP. Macromedia declared everything to be "MX" a few years ago, and Adobe has sent Photoshop from 7.0 to "CS."

It really makes it hard to figure out what the newest version of a program is, especially when the same company uses different schemes for different products, or switches back and forth within the same product. What's newer, Office XP or Office 2003? Unless you know when Office XP was released, you can't tell.

You could look at the Netscape-Mozilla-Firefox progression in a similar way. Netscape is up at version 8 now, but all the real action from 6 on was with Mozilla and now Firefox, both of which started over at 1.0.

Posted by: Kelson on July 21, 2005 09:50 AM

Doug Wright:
> 2) Drag/Drop tabs - nice, but most users still aren't using tabs at all..

You seem to have forgotten that you were talking Firefox users. They most certainly use tabs. Extensively.

Posted by: Lonyl on July 21, 2005 09:53 AM

Seems like a wasted marketing opportunity. It would have been great to be able to tell my friends: "Look, this is Mozilla Firefox 2! Two years of work from Mozilla Firefox 1 and everything is better. If you did not switch already, NOW is the time!" Instead it is: "Well, this is The Next Big Thing, which has some new stuff in it. And The Next Next Big Thing will be out in half a year too, so you might as well wait trying that out. And version 4 is also due soon..."

Posted by: Diane on July 21, 2005 10:10 AM

Lonyl:
> You seem to have forgotten that you were talking Firefox users. They most certainly use tabs. Extensively.

I think Doug is right (cough) on this one. The more "tech-savy" among Firefox users (e.g. all of us) are certainly using tabs, but all of our "converts" probably aren't. It's simply too dificult to access tabs with the default settings - getting it really good actually requires using about:config, which virtually no one does.

I know Opera is a sensitive subject for some around here, but this is one area where I think there's a lot to be learned for Firefox devs.

Posted by: fyo on July 21, 2005 10:13 AM

I guess using version 1.5 is good, so as to get as many users as possible onto the new, sleek auto-update system.

I agree with people above thought that v3 sounds to be coming a little soon... Reminds me slightly of the Netscape release history.

Posted by: David Naylor on July 21, 2005 10:15 AM

Well, I think that droping version system and going into something more 'cool' would be even better decision:

Firefox M11 (v1.1)
Firefox M15 (v1.5)
Firefox M100 (v2.0)
Fireofx M200 (v3.0)
etc.

If you stay with version numbering, whatever you do will be wrong - if you don't change them quickly, you will have effect of low current number. If you change them quickly, you will have effect - 'they are changing versions like socks'

Imagine how it would be stupid if Apple labeled iPods with version numbers, or Logitech mices. It is as stupid in the case of Firefox, just a good history of version labeling in software industry may prevent you to feel that.

Posted by: Ivan Icin on July 21, 2005 10:32 AM

Further to my comments earlier.

According to the roadmap, 1.4 = 1.5beta. That's just a tad confusing, and needs to be changed ASAP. Ever since Firefox reached 1.0, there has been a lot of resistence to releasing 'Firefox' alphas and betas which has continued to puzzle me, since (a) Thunderbird is still Thunderbird (b) Every product undergoes alpha/beta on its way to a new version - even 'average joe' understands that a development version (especially with large warnings attached) doesn't represent what will ship as "final" (and that's if they even navigate past the large "Download Firefox" button on the mozilla.org). This whole 'Deer Park' thing just seems like lunacy to me.

Getting back on topic, since 1.5 seems set, I'll just beg for 1.5beta to be versioned as such, and for 2.5 to precede 3.

Posted by: Doug Wright on July 21, 2005 10:34 AM

>I think Doug is right (cough) on this one. The more "tech-savy" among Firefox users (e.g. all of us) are certainly using tabs, but all of our "converts" probably aren't. It's simply too dificult to access tabs with the default settings - getting it really good actually requires using about:config, which virtually no one does.

I use Tabs extensively. A lot even. Yet I've never changed a single thing in the about:config for them. At all.

It doesn't take any particular skill to using tabs (heck, my mom uses tabs... and she certainly qualifies as a non techie user... it was tough to get her to use FireFox, but she does now!), nor does it require any mucking around.

They work. Which is all most users want.

I think the problem may be how you perceive tabs should be accessed. Hence it is difficult from your perspective, being used to how tabs operate in (Opera?).

Posted by: Clayton Boucher on July 21, 2005 11:09 AM

I think they should take out the bfcache thing and take the most stable build they have and make it 1.1beta. Then do the fixes and make it 1.1 Final.

Then, get the bfcache working and call that 1.2.

Then, fix bookmarks code and call that 1.3.

With all the alpha and beta builds in between.

And so on.

Posted by: Sasquatch on July 21, 2005 11:37 AM

>"It doesn't take any particular skill to using tabs (heck, my mom uses tabs... and she certainly qualifies as a non techie user... it was tough to get her to use FireFox, but she does now!), nor does it require any mucking around."

I got my whole family onto Firefox, but I never see any of them using tabs. Whereas, I'm tab-happy and admit to it. I use Tab Mix religiously, and used Tabbed Browser Extentions before that. Which is fine, as using extentions to fit your needs is part of the point of Firefox.

But, I still think that people would learn to use and love tabs if the tab bar was always visible by default.

As for the versioning, I'm displeased with this decision, but I'm a more advanced user who sees point releases as an important milestone, and a jump in version numbers to be a major increase that is usually worked towards or involves a complete rewrite. I've looked at the development plans for Firefox 2.0, and was impressed and excited to see them, even knowing it would be a while off. It felt like a version increase. But from what I've seen of 1.1, it's nowhere near halfway to what was 2.0. And what was 1.5 isn't enough of an improvement, in my mind to warrent a new version number.

Then again, I'm not the target demographic, so what the numbers mean to me isn't what is important. But somehow, which is difficult to explain, I feel like the new roadmap kind of jips me a little. Makes me less excited for 2.0, because what I wanted, which is in 3.0, feels like a lifetime away.

Or maybe I just like point releases. :)

Posted by: Jeff Carlsen on July 21, 2005 11:49 AM

I have to admit the legitimacy of switching from 1.1 to 1.5 for the next milestone given the Gecko changes (and anyone who's using the trunk nightlies knows that 1.8 is going to be a huge improvement on 1.7), but I'm sad that Firefox 2.0 and Gecko 2.0 won't sync. I was really looking forward to that. ;-)

Posted by: Rishi on July 21, 2005 12:11 PM

> I use Tabs extensively. A lot even. Yet I've never changed a single thing in the about:config for them. At all.

> It doesn't take any particular skill to using tabs (heck, my mom uses tabs... and she certainly qualifies as a non techie user... it was tough to get her to use FireFox, but she does now!), nor does it require any mucking around.

I never said they didn't work. They just don't do it anywhere close to optimally. I realize there is some amount of personal preference involved, but I've tried asking otherwise clueless (and therefore unbiased) people how they want tabs to work in different cases and the way they want tabs to work is NOT how they do by default - and it isn't possible to get it close without "mucking around".

As for "taking any particular skill to" use tabs, I disagree. With the default setup, you NEVER notice tabs. EVER. Nothing opens in a tab by default. You have to either middle-click on a link (which is akward with wheel mice) or right click and select it in a menu. None of the people I have converted over the years (with the exception of my comp-sci studying brother) use tabs unless I'm standing behind them prodding them with a stick.

> I think the problem may be how you perceive tabs should be accessed. Hence it is difficult from your perspective, being used to how tabs operate in (Opera?).

I don't think any Opera bias is present, but then maybe it is. One is never totally unaffected by experience... but I don't like the way Opera does it. On Windows, I've gotten FF to behave *exactly* as I want a tabbed browser to behave (on my 'nix box, this is eluding me slightly, although I appear to have the same settings).

The way I use tabs is to open EVERYTHING in tabs. Let's say I'm reading a list of headlines or threads in a forum... I then proceed to open every link in a new tab using middle click.

As for how I want and expect tabs to function is that *I* want to be the only one who decides when a new window/tab is opened. I don't want pages arbitrarily deciding that THEIR link should open in a new window (target _blank isn't even visible to users, making the experience totally unpredictable - and therefore annoying). This requires setting "Force links that open new windows to open in..." - an option not available in the settings without "mucking about", much less the default behavior.

Posted by: fyo on July 21, 2005 12:13 PM

There needs to be less versioning and more releases.
There should be a .1 release for fixing acid2. And another .1 release to merge to the new Cairo backend. People don't like fancy numbers heck even I don't.
People like releases slashdot will go crazy when they here that another firefox with fixes is released. There has been a year silence a year no progress for the end user. That is bad.
And to be honest I don't think deer park has the touch to be a .5 the there are no significant changes to the end user. Under the hood some APIís changed some code was moved etc. but what do users see of it? You can say that the extension manager and the manager were completely recoded but the front end looks utterly familiar.
Besides changing your mind so often, damned you there is only two months before the planned release and you decide to rename the thing, makes MoFo not really look professional. So you need to do some real management here. Although you are no enterprise if you're shipping a product you should look like one. Just for the feeling of your customers. I know you are all Open Source hippies who feel nothing for cooperate development and working under a 'boss' but it should do the team some good if you put aside some of your 'feelings'.
One more thing: go out with the team sometime, to the woods or something, go team building. So that more communication lines grow. I've never been at you're office or spoken to the employees. But you don't look like a team to me, just a bunch of people who randomly like the same random thing.
Enough said. Stupid decision to name 1.1 to 1.5 that's my final word on this.

Posted by: JoŽl Kuiper on July 21, 2005 12:18 PM

"I know you are all Open Source hippies"

Which reminds me: Pass the patchouli, please.

Posted by: Chuck on July 21, 2005 12:37 PM

For users of 1.0.x- Will the update function download 1.5 when it comes out? Or will it have to be done manually? I know your supposed to (with the 'old' autoupdate) uninstall, then install the newer version. How's this going to work for the masses? Are we doing to have to go and say "Get Firefox 1.5!"

IMHO, I think that the security releases (1.0.x) should be something different like letters (1.0A, 1.0B, etc) because some of my friends see that 1.0.6 is out and just say, "Hey, whats new in 1.6?" And then I have to correct them and explain the numbers.

Posted by: Joey on July 21, 2005 12:55 PM

i think this is good move.
what is being released is surely more than +.1

joey, right now upgrading from 1.0.2 to 1.0.6 does not require uninstall and reinstall. upgrade does that automatically.

and autoupdate says security + stability update or blah blah for new version. so it is good.
saying 1.0.1 vs 1.0A makes no difference, what is new in 1.0A?

Posted by: ohman on July 21, 2005 02:24 PM

So, does this mean acid2 compliance is coming in 1.5? Or does this mean that it's been bumped back to 2.0?

Posted by: Mark El-Wakil on July 21, 2005 02:55 PM

oh...but one more thing.
calling Firefox 1.5 Beta - Firefox 1.4 is not right.
it should be called "Deer Park Beta", "Firefox 1.5 Beta", "Firefox 1.5 RC1" but NOT Firefox 1.4,

that is plain confusing? is end user suppose to go grab it?

Posted by: ohman on July 21, 2005 03:13 PM

Wow, Joel, way to win friends and influence people, there.

Mark, from what I've read, Acid2 compliance is going to be a goal of Gecko 1.9. Since they're about to branch Gecko 1.8 for FF 1.5, I wouldn't expect to see FF 1.5 pass Acid2. I guess it depends on whether FF 2 ends up using Gecko 1.8 or 1.9.

Also, I've got to add to the chorus of voices disagreeing with calling the 1.5 beta 1.4. Pre-1.0 numbering is one thing, but unless it's actually called "1.4 beta" people are going to assume it's a stable upgrade -- and even then they'll get confused about why 1.4 final never came out.

Posted by: Kelson on July 21, 2005 03:40 PM

@JoŽl Kuiper

I must tell you that you look like a "Open Source hippie", while MoFo looks like a professional corporation.

Can you tell me the name of the next Windows? The name of next Intel processor?

The official names are never known prior to launch and are subjet to last moment change.

Also, you seem to care for end user. Well, could you explain how fixing acid2 helps end user? Or why is relevant that people at slashdot likes releases, when they are geeks that represent 1% of total market?

Posted by: Ivan Icin on July 21, 2005 04:02 PM

ohman, it will not be "called" 1.4. It will be called "Firefox 1.5 Beta" and the version is just there to help us manage extension transitions. The version will not be a part of the product's name.

- A

Posted by: Asa Dotzler on July 21, 2005 04:06 PM

Hey Asa,

I've read previously that you have had contact with people at Novell and I just wanna know if you have information about the Firefox updates for Suse. I was able to update to 1.0.4 through Yast online update, do you know if that was a one time thing or if it is something they are going to continue because I want to update to 1.0.6. I ask this because it makes it easier if I can do it through Yast online update, so I wanna know if I should wait for a possible update from novell that may not come or if I should go ahead and update with the tar file from the mozilla site? Thanks

Adam

Posted by: AdamCo on July 21, 2005 06:38 PM

Let's just say what we are one-third of the way to Firefox 2.0, and call it Firefox 1.3333333(repeating). That won't be a marketing nightmare or anything.

--Wally

Posted by: Wally Hotvedt on July 21, 2005 07:01 PM

ASA, what does this mean for other Mozilla products. I was looking forward to Thunderbird 1.1, since 1.0 was rushed to release with some major bugs still prohibiting matriculation. Now with the release of an updated product pushed back 4 or more months, this becomes a major issue. Is there any push to unsync the trees for a time to push some of the major changes into a thunderbird client (specifically the issue with not downloading malformed pop-email, a major problem with the program).

Posted by: jjones on July 21, 2005 07:55 PM

I think the name change at this stage of the game was a bad idea. Especially considering all the farce with the product's name constantly changing last year. Joel's comments may have been harsh, but these kinds of decisions at the last minute convey a lack of direction. There was a lot of articles out there talking about the next release of Firefox being 1.1 and with stupid articles like the one on slashdot today it sends a bad message out there. It's a marketing mess.

Also, while I think the changes in the nightlies vs. 1.0 are significant especially considering SVG, the fact that MoFo was ONLY going to call it 1.1 gave the product some CLASS (in my opinion, anyway). In other words, "our product is so good we don't need big version numbers to introduce something major".

Think of how PURE-SOUNDING and WHOLESOME Firefox 1.0 sounds.

And as other people have stated, once a product's version number gets past 3-ish, they become a drag until they become very detrimental past 7-ish or so (marketing-wise, it reads as "bloated and old").

Anyway, I liked the idea of incrementing the version numbers VERY slowly and "at our own pace" and I don't think they would have been confusing to the average user.

Posted by: Jeff Schiller on July 21, 2005 08:14 PM

Is this bump to make up for having a version 0.10 before getting to 1.0?
Seriously though, I don't think we want to go all the way from 1.0 to 2.0 in two big releases, especially in the time frame we're talking here. It just causes confusion.

Posted by: Derek McCaw on July 21, 2005 09:20 PM

If u going the change the numbering system make the next firefox release v7 and call it quits...

There no need for 1.1 to be renamed, users will not see any diffence, its geako that been improved

1.0+ stops crash on http://bcheck.scanit.be/bcheck/mangle.php witch is excellect but that happened 9months ago
1.0+ still crashs and loads blank page or just completely stops loading any content.. Bug bugs bugs Make it secure and quick with better compatiablity
1.0+ doesn't load www.adsa.co.uk (walmart) or one of the large Uk cinema www.odeon.co.uk
1.0+ has no new features

Posted by: Mark M on July 21, 2005 11:18 PM

From the roadmap: "placing an item on this list does not mean it will not be complete until 2.0/3.0, rather we would like to be done by 2.0/3.0, it may be implemented by 1.5, 2.0 or 3.0"

From an old snapshot of the roadmap: "placing an item on this list does not mean it will not be complete until 2.0, rather we would like to be done by 2.0, it may be implemented by 1.1, 1.5 or 2.0"

So... what was 1.1 will now be 1.5, what was 1.5 will now be 2.0, and what was 2.0 will now be 3.0? Something like that? ^_-;

If that's the case though, why not call '3.0' 2.5 instead? (keep the jump to half a full version ;)

Posted by: Limulus on July 21, 2005 11:47 PM

Mark M: you mean http://www.asda.co.uk (not the Automatic Door Suppliers Association website http://www.adsa.org.uk/ ;) and I don't know why that doesn't work for you because it seems to load ok for me... though The Odeon site only loads the background on http://www.odeon.co.uk/Odeon/home.html but otherwise seems to work.

Posted by: Limulus on July 22, 2005 12:43 AM

If you have all these problems with version numbers, why not use the Linux kernel versioning system? Uneven numbers indicate unstable releases (alphas and betas), even numbers are stable and everybody should upgrade. The public sees that there's progress, because the third number can go up every now and then, but for the tech savy there is no confusion about which version is the beta and what the next final release will be.

Posted by: Phil on July 22, 2005 01:24 AM

While I dislike messing with numbering schemes for marketing purposes, I believe that the biggest problem is that the plan seems to keep changing.

How are large companies meant to plan for a deployment? The roadmap seems to cover the next 4 months (and even that isn't guaranteed - Mozilla 1.8 cancelled, Firefox 1.1 cancelled).

It isn't even clear what versions are going to be supported in a couple of months. So if Firefox 1.1 was released, does every one upgrade? Will you support 1.0? Until when? Should large companies go for a particular version that will be supported for longer?

On top of that 1.0.5 "broke an API". Why? Was this a security/bug fix or was it an unneccessary change. Is there a branch that only has security fixes? Is there a branch that only has security and bug fixes?

All of these questions need to be anwsered in some kind of multi-year roadmap. Technically, Mozilla is superb. Strategically and managerially, I think you need to have a head-scratch.

Posted by: jh on July 22, 2005 01:38 AM

@Jeff Schiller - though previous Firefox version number was officially announced, not more than 5% of Firefox users know it, so it doesn't make some kind of obligation to MoFo. Firefox won't lose any of this users, but even if it loses all of them, isn't it worthy if it gets in exchange 5% of IE users?

@Asa - I think that you can clearly see what I was talking about - version numbering has a problem that whatever you do it will be bad (yes, it will be bad even to switch to non-version labeling, but at least after that no one will care)

Posted by: Ivan Icin on July 22, 2005 01:48 AM

I don't understand why there is such a fuss over version numbers, want a simple solution, find the biggest number and look at the changelog and see if it's something worth downloading. If you like to keep up to date, find the biggest number and download it, simple as that. Where the confusion comes from I don't understand.

Posted by: AdamCo on July 22, 2005 01:52 AM

When 1.5 is released it has taken you about a year to update gecko, activate SVG and improve the update manager. If version nummbers represent the amount of improvements, how on earth can you still plan on going from 2.0 to 3.0 in half a year?

Therefore I think the roadmap should be silent about release dates for 2.0 and 3.0 and just plan them after, say, the first alpha for each comes out. That way you don't have this negative "it's delayed" press.

Furthermore, I think it's unwise to bump the user expectations by giving it the 1.5 number, but I hope it will help converting everybody to the newer release so more firefox releases will stay up to date with the new update mechanism.

Posted by: Bram! on July 22, 2005 02:46 AM

Asa,

to make it painless to upgrade, 1.0.7 (the next 1.0.x upgrade) should be profile compatible with 1.4beta. and vice-versa if possible, so if you find the 1.4beta isnt too your liking, you can downgrade without any side effects.

Posted by: mdew on July 22, 2005 02:52 AM

@Ivan Icin
There is a slight difference between MoFo and Intel/Windows.
And that is that Mozilla is open source which (eventually) means that the cooperation needs to be transparent to the world. so that people who feel like programming for the project don't step into the dark.
And Mozilla is doing a great job at informing people about what they're doing. Honestly I've seldom seen a product (/project) with so many active bloggers.
BUT there is a downside to this and has everything to do with marketing: when you have a transparent cooperation you need to keep things clear. Nobody cares if Intel changes the name of the new Pentium M for the 5th time because nobody, except the employees, will ever see. But people do care if they actually _see_ a 5th name change. How would you think of Intel if you saw every name change every tiny bit of frustration in the team? you'd think bad of it no matter the outcome of the eventual product. What does this mean for Firefox or Open Source in general? That or they should silence up things more (keeping things Apple-way secret) or they should be consisted. Like I said: just for the end user his feeling.

About Acid2: no not much people care about it.
In general people(end-users) do not care that much about anything.
But it's not _the amount_ of people but _who_ you reach that matters.
An example would be that if thousands of people say that Firefox is good a couple would be converted. But what if Bill Gates said it?
And you are reaching the Bill Gates' of Webdesign with Acid2. Most web developers have a big mouth about things so they'll tell all there friends, employee, family etc that firefox is better because of [random string of words containing Acid2].

@Kelson ďWow, Joel, way to win friends and influence people, there.Ē
I am guessing that was cynical. In my opinion the world wouldíve been a worst place if nobody ever said what they thought. Wars have been fought about it, and in the end we learned. Just trying to start some discussion here.

Posted by: JoŽl Kuiper on July 22, 2005 03:39 AM

The real question... since the finishing touches for Firefox 1.0 under OS X was put off to Firefox 1.1 and nearly two-thirds of those things are still missing... and well likely miss 1.5 might OS X user look at Firefox 2.0 as the first real Mac OS X Firefox release... OS intergration... look and feel... you know make it feel like a Mac app... and just work the way it should.

Some place along the line a Mac only release is needed... that is 1.5.1 or something like that will carry bug fixes for all but the main focus is to bring the Mac port up-to par.

Posted by: Samual Icky on July 22, 2005 07:29 AM

After reading Asa's comments I'm happy with the 1.5 decision now. As long as you keep your promise and don't do it again, but to get everyone on board the new auto-update system it will be worth it. 2.0 however better have some very noticible improvements to average user. As far as versioning goes, I'm particularly fond of Gentoo's Year.minor version system. Makes it easy for anyone to figure out just how new it is. Firefox 2005.0 ;) But the regular old scheme will be fine till you guys start hitting the bigger digits...

On tabs, almost no one I've converted has started using tabs much. I'll see 'em open 4 or 5 seperate windows and I'll take each one, copy the address and put them in a new tab and show them how it should be done. But it's tough for people to learn new ways of thinking... I've started putting the "new tab" button next to the regular 4 to make it easier for them ;)

And lastly, at Sam, Firefox on Mac is probably lagging behind because they development work is being stretched between two different teams (Firefox and Camino). Perhaps not moving their version numbers at the same pace though should be done to reflect this. It may not be the way the marketing guys think, but it'll make you look better to actual users down the road by not lieing to them on the quality being the same ;)

Posted by: Derick Eisenhardt on July 22, 2005 12:17 PM

Derick,


Basically that's my point/problem... orginally Firefox 1.0 for OS X was suppose held back till this summer in order to put the polish on... that idea was set aside and set as one of the main goals for 1.1... now 1.1 turns into 1.5 and still very little movement on that polishing... I've knowen many people get excited about Firefox for OS X only to become discruntal about some of the bigger problems and leave it behind... this has recently happend to one fairly large advocate this month and has moved to camino instead.

The problem needs to be addressed. We are sitting at 1.0 and we have these issues. We have a 1.1 alpha and the issues, and then some, exist.

Posted by: Samual Icky on July 22, 2005 12:57 PM

I think a lot of people saw this change coming - 1.1 was rapidly evolving into 1.5.

I think it's a shame though - the original rationale of 1.1 was simply to merge in the latest version of Gecko, and no more. That would've been great, and I wish the devs had kept to that.

Posted by: Dan100 on July 24, 2005 03:05 AM

i concur that 1.2 would have been a better choice but here it appears the techie types have tried to stick to the "rules" of version numbering. what they fail to realise is that the joe public IE user who we want to adopt FF knows not about versioning semantics. rendering such steps meaningless to everyone but geeks (myself included). all the rest of the populous care about is that it remains FF1 until FF2 comes out and FF2 is quickerbetterfaster. trying to shove "look it's .5 better" down their throats wont make any difference and will result in blank stares. this is a good thing. techies need to be less geeky-anal about this sort of thing (again, myself included) and not try to techie-wise-up the rest of the planet.

so to conclude: no one actually cares, except the people who do

Posted by: ricster on July 25, 2005 03:16 AM

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