With all the release activities sucking up my time, it took me a while to get to this installment of Ask Asa. If my answer didn't make sense, you think it's wrong (not unheard of) or you want more information, please let me know in the comments. I'll open up a new thread for the next installment of Ask Asa, so please don't as new questions here.
Without further ado:
i5mast asked, "Does bz work for mozilla?"
BZ works on Mozilla but I don't believe that he is a full-time employee of the Mozilla Foundation. update: told ya I'd be wrong on some of these :-) Like Josh Aas, Boris is working part-time for the Mozilla Foundation while he finishes up school. This is a recent development :)
Jason F asks, "Do you count Pluto as a planet?"
Jason, I haven't thought about this for a few years but last time I was thinking about this I remembered concluding that it just wasn't worth changing the classification. I'm all for adding more fine-grained classifications but the word "planet" is used loosely enough (think about all the talk of "extra-solar planets".) that I simply don't think it's worth making the Pluto re-classification.
John McDonald asked, "How can a company get a plugin added to Mozilla's plugin finder service?"
John, we don't have our policy on this issue finalized but we're working on it. In the mean time, I'd suggest emailing Chris Beard (email@example.com) and Johnny Stenbeck (firstname.lastname@example.org). Chris is working on the hosting policy and Johnny is the guy that implements the additions.
aasgier asked "What's the codename for Thunderbird 2.0?"
To tell you the truth, I don't think we have one yet. I can ask Scott. Perhaps that's a good question if I do an interview with him.
Dan Bodoh says, "I assume that given a bug, you can search for related Talkback data. But instead of starting from the bug, can you start from the Talkback data? Can the data store tell you the top five reasons for crashes? Can the data store initiate its own Bugzilla entries?"
Certainly, Dan. Most of our priority crash bug reports are the result of Talkback data. We have many great scripts, written by Jay Patel, that build reports out of the hundreds of thousands of pieces of data in the Talkback database. Right now it doesn't create the actual bugs, that's still done by a human, but the reports that Jay has created give us pretty much everything but the actual Bugzilla report.
Nils asks, "What do you think is broken with Mars Direct, and do you support it regardless?"
I've been reading stories about Mars Direct for a few years, and I've read or watched lots of interviews with Zubrin. I don't think there's anything wrong with that plan. Actually, I think many aspects of the program have already been adopted as reasonable tactics by NASA. I don't think it's going to happen, though, as a private project.
Stephen Smith asks about my perspective on Firefox/Thunderbird vs. Seamonkey. He goes on to ask about how many MoFo employees are involved in major decisions.
Stephen, if I answer this question directly, I'm likely to start a flame war. So, rather than give my personal opinion on your specific question, I'll just say that I firmly support the plan that's been in the Mozilla Roadmap for over two years to de-emphasise the Suite and focus our resources and community on the development and distribution of Firefox and Thunderbird. As far as how many people are involved in important decisions, "everyone who wants to be" is probably the best answer. Very few decisions are made by just one person. At the same time, most decisions are the result of some one person bringing up a problem or proposing a solution so it is definitely the case that it's often someone like "Ben taking a lead and seeking feedback."
modok says "XRE/GRE were planned to happen at some point. Is enough known about the details of these components/libraries/runtimes to have them in a schedule somewhere? I admit I am confused about their relationship to shipping projects (like does FF use GRE, but statically links it?)."
The GRE already happened and ships as part of the Seamonkey suite (I think since about 1.4). You might also be interested in reading about XUL Runner and libxul. Firefox and Thunderbird do not use the GRE.
Alex Bishop asks, "Why is there no list of all of the Mozilla Foundation employees?"
Alex, because we're all busy and no one has gotten around to it. It's being developed (with cute little titles and biographies) though, so hopefully will be posted soon.
Jo�l Kuiper asks "How much of the marketshare do you think firefox will have by the end of this year?"
That's a tough question. Would you consider it ducking the question if I said "as much as we can possibly get?" Probably :-) If I had to put a number on it -- and this is a total guess -- I'd say that the major reports like those from OneStat and WebSideStory will see us breaking 10%, others reports from major international websites will report as much as 20%, and some specific markets like Germany will see sites reporting upwards of 40%. So, it will really depend on how you define "marketshare".
David Tenser wonders about his cat, Tiger, who seems to spend an inordinate amount of time scratching in the litter box and telling him about it.
David, this is hard to judge from a distance. You know Tiger best and I always recommend that people living with animals trust their instincts if they feel like something is wrong. At the same time, remember that the litterbox is your cat's sandbox and sometimes the scratching is just play. Deanna says, "Some cats simply enjoy digging, and playing in the sandbox - just like little kids play, it's fun to kick up the dirt!" and recommends the article at Tidy Cats Health & Beauty.
About the screaming, it could be that your Tiger is having problems urinating and he's trying to get your attention to "show" you the problem. Our Siamese, Ptolemy, had urinary tract problems when she was young so we put her on a C/D prescription diet which controls struvite crystals and helps to manage Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease. You can read more about FLUT at ,a href="http://www.lbah.com/Feline/flutd.htm">this page. Do you see any blood in the urine on the floor of the litter box? Is he getting plenty of water? It's definitely worth a vet visit if you're worried.
Don't forget, though, that cats learned to meow as a direct result of their contact with humans. They've learned to speak to us (the only time a cat usually vocalizes in the wild is during fighting or sex) with the meow and other vocalizations. It may just be that your Tiger is getting more communicative with age. There's a nice article on getting to know your cat's vocabulary over at The CatSite.
Tell Tiger that I said "hi" and I hope that every thing's OK with him.
M1Th asks if I've read the Harry Potter books.
Nope, M1Th, I haven't read those. I've seen bits and pieces of the movies on cable.
James Napolitano asks "what's the future of the App Suite?"
James, we've committed to maintaining the Mozilla application suite on the 1.7 branch with stability and security fixes for at least another year.
Brian Polidoro says "In the past month or so significant bug fixes have been checked in for xul error pages. Is it possible that Firefox 1.1 will ship with xul error pages enabled?"
It's definitely possible. If all the major bugs are squashed, I don't see why this wouldn't happen. Whether or not that's in time for 1.1, I don't know yet. If you remember, this was one of the early changes we made in Firefox (back before it was called Firefox) but we ended up disabling them again because of several serious bugs.
themask asks "What book(s) would you recommend on the topic of software quality assurance/software testing? What are the best test methodologies in your opinion?"
I don't have any recommendations here, though I'd be happy to hear if you or any others do. I think that there are several keys to the ongoing success of the Mozilla community QA process. The first is that we deliver mostly working software daily to thousands of testers so that we get a great breadth of ad hoc testing on all of the different configurations that we support. I think it's also critical that we emphasis testing and bug reporting throughout the development cycle and not just as a sanity check at the end of the process. During the development cycle we've got ongoing ad-hoc testing from our community of thousands nightly build testers, we've got feature documentation and testcase development happening, and we spend a lot of time digesting all of the various feedback sources from Bugzilla to the forums/newsgroups/weblogs and our automation and talkback crash reporting system. Near the end of development cycles we spend a lot more time focused on organized manual functional testing that covers everything from usability, to spelling, to feature functions.
To wrap that all up and answer your question more directly, the test methodologies I think are best include widespread ad-hoc testing with multiple feedback mechanisms, organized manual functional testing, and where possible, automation and unit-level testing. It's this third area that I think we need to dramatically improve.
Gary van der Merwe asked "What will happen with existing Tech Evangelism bugs in bmo when we start using the "report a broken website" tool? Will there be a way to transfer new bugs that are loged on bmo, and that have been determined to be Tech Evangelism, to the "report a broken website" tool?"
This is a nice segue from the previous question. As you know, Robert Accetura and I (mostly Robert) have been working for some months to develop a "Report a broken website" tool (named "Reporter" at this point) that will ship with the Firefox client and assist testers/users in reporting websites which don't work. This will be handled similar to how we deal with Talkback data -- that is, we'll look at the results in aggregate and focus on the highest visibility issues first. I think that if this new approach is successful, it will replace the old approach of taking bugs on random sites into the Tech Evangelism component in Bugzilla. I don't think we'll see Bugzilla bugs being transfered to the tool, rather, we'll see reports in Bugzilla that are the result of aggregated data from the Reporter database.
Christian asked "How is the Lightning project coming along? How many developers are working on it? How far away is version 0.1?"
Ugh. Sorry, Christian. I've been so busy with other things that I haven't been able to follow this as closely as I'd like. I'll try to get more up to speed on this and either answer in a future Ask Asa, or maybe I'll be able to get an interview with someone from the Lightning team and see if they can answer directly.
michaell asked for a picture of my cat.
Well, michaell, you can find one of her baby pictures here.
Matt Sayler asks "Is it OK to let my cats chase and/or eat raw celery, broccoli, and asperagus?"
Matt, definitely! Our cat, Ptolemy, doesn't eat vegetables but she loves kitty grass (a combination of oat, rye and wheat grass) and even the regular backyard variety. There's nothing wrong with your cat supplementing her diet with vegetables where she'll get an extra helping of fiber and some good vitamins but it's important that she also get her regular diet which contains necessary protein and minerals that they simply won't get from vegetables.
There are many recipes for making tour own cat food and most of them call for between 20% and 25% vegetables. Deanna recommends looking over Dr Goodpet and Holisticat for a couple good ones.
Matt asks, "Will there be a Firefox for the Palm OS?"
Matt, I think that's unlikely. Minimo is our smallest full-functional browser and it runs pretty nice on 64MB devices but I don't think we'll see it on Palm devices any time soon.
alfons says "Suppose we found life on Mars, and it would have DNA, wouldn't that be a real shocker? Your personal opinion, any interesting rambling? (I have been rambling about it the last few days... :)"
alfons, I think that if we find life on Mars that it will probably be DNA based. It just doesn't make a lot of sense to me to find something radically different on such a similar and close neighbor as Mars. I'd be thrilled if we had concrete proof of native life on Mars.
Neil Paris asks "Has gerv's proposal on automatically closing old UNCO's been implemented? If not, are there still plans to do it?"
Neil, the proposal hasn't been implemented yet. I'm definitely still interested in doing this.
Max asks "Do you believe in astrology?"
Depends on what you mean by "believe in" :-) I've always found birth signs interesting, both the western and Chinese zodiacs. I guess I consider them "amusing" but I don't take any of it very seriously.
Mikhail Capone asks "So when will the slashdot rendering bug be fixed? :D"
Mikhail, it's been fixed for quite some time.
nick asks "Will Firefox support the .jpf (Jpeg2000) format?"
Nick, I don't know of any plans for this any time soon.
Ivan Icin asks, "Will www.getfirefox.com ever get new content?"
Ivan, Get Firefox is simply a redirect to the Firefox product page. I suspect it will stay that way for the foreseeable future. What do you find lacking in the Firefox products page? It's easy for people to download Firefox there as well as learn about Firefox.
chuck v. asks "the new 202 fwy that is headed south will it have an exit on Main/Apache Tr.???"
I have no idea :) The only thing I remember about the 202 was crossing the Deleware into New Hope in some really ugly weather about 10 years ago. Is that your 202 or are you talking about a different one. Maybe the one in Arizona (Arizona transportation shares my name and google rank for "adot" :-)
Kroc Camen asks "Will Mozilla publish any offical documentation on their site to help end users with protecting themselves against internet nasties?" and "What is Mozilla's stance on advocates blocking IE users from their site, will there be any offical response on this that web designers can refer to?"
Well, we do post "get Firefox" links everywhere. Does that count as official documentation ;-) I don't believe we have any official stance on what websites do. I personally don't like the idea of blocking any browser from site content unless it's absolutely necessary to protect the users (in the case that the content isn't secure in a particular browser or something like that.)
Mozilla 2.0? In the far future? Never?"
Lino, I know that this is something that the folks thinking about Mozilla 2.0 are interested in. Whether or not it happens for 2.0 will, I'm sure, largely depend on people stepping up to do the work. If you're interested in this, perhaps you can help out.
Example asks "Why doesn't Firefox have better tabbed browsing?"
I think that Firefox's tabbed browsing is pretty good. You're asking for a lot of additional features there that I think could end up doing more harm than good for most users. We can always improve, and I think that one or two additional tab features might be worthwhile, but I don't think that bundling every possible tab feature into Firefox is the right approach.
POPUP HATER says "Why oh why oh why oh why oh why oh why oh why do IE and Opera now have better popup blocking than Firefox?"
I disagree that their popup blocking is better. The one major case where they block pop-ups that we don't, the flash triggered windows, is done by just disabling a feature. I don't think that approach is correct and I hope we can find a more elegant solution by the time we get to 1.1.
Wolf says "I second Alex Bishop's question for a list of Foundation employees. and can we get a current list of mozilla staff? :-)"
I don't have a list in front of me so this is from memory. If I've left someone off, I'm sure that I'll be corrected. Mozilla Foundation employees: me, Chris Beard, David Bienvenu, Brendan Eich, Chris Hofmann, David Baron, Johnny Stenbeck, Mitchel Baker, Myk Melez, Scott McGregor, Doug Turner, Marcia Knous, Josh Aas, Boris Zbarsky, Dan Veditz, Chase Phillips, Sarah Lieberman, Dave Miller, and Deb Richardson (Josh Aas and Boris Zbarsky are both part-time employees.) The email@example.com list looks pretty up to date to me.
Pipe asks "Are there any plans to update www.spreadfirefox.com, specifically in regards to some of the recent grumblings?"
Yes, Pipe. We're workin' on it.
dolphining asked "How much of a relationship does Mozilla have with Opera and Safari? I know there are projects (e.g. WHATWG) we all support/collaborate on, and there are developers that have worked on both Mozilla and one of the others, but is the relationship only "when there's a reason for it" or is it constant?"
I don't play a big roll in that area so I can't speak with authority. I do know that we have regular contact with folks from the Opera and Safari teams.
puerto says "Why are you guys all doing PR and interviews, but not coding?"
Puerto, where did you get the idea that there isn't any coding going on? The 150,000 lines of code changed since the release of Firefox 1.0 doesn't count as coding?
Jordon asks "Will 1.5 be Firefox's next highly publicized release? Or will 1.1, 1.2, etc. be given equal treatment? Or will these such things be considered on a "when-the-time-comes" basis?"
Firefox 1.1 was originally intended to be little more than a Gecko update, since the Gecko that shipped in Firefox 1.0 is now almost a year old. It's taken on a bit more significance than that with some feature additions and major security updates so I suspect that it will be highly-publicized.
Cosmo asks "What do you think about Stephen Hawking's claims to have solved the black hole information paradox? Are you sceptical (as I am) that it has taken so long to publish the paper?"
Cosmo, I wasn't aware that there was an issue here with the publishing schedule. Where can I read more about this?
jimich wonders if we'll get a "Add this RSS to Thunderbird" item on the Firefox RSS menu.
Jimich, I think that might be a little odd if you weren't using Thunderbird. Perhaps a "Add to RSS reader" item would be better and it could hand off the feed to your default application rather than Thunderbird specifically.
Robert Kaiser asks "How much support would the Mozilla Foundation give an effort to make Sea-Monkey a long-living product line? Would you guys provide e.g. a community site (in parallel to sfx)? To what extent would you support marketing efforts? (I know that all would need a developer group leading and caring for Sea-Monkey, like mconnor recently blogged.)"
I don't believe that the Mozilla Foundation has the resources to support an ongoing Seamonkey "product" (beyond our commitment to the 1.7.x releases) but I'll bet (I'm just guessing here) that the cost of supporting a Seamonkey "project" with CVS, FTP, www.mozilla.org pages, etc, wouldn't be a problem. We already do this for several projects that we don't actively "productize".
Chris asks "How do I download all email attachments, in one unmonitored session to my hard drive with T-Bird?"
I don't think we have that as a feature, Chris. Have you checked to see if there's a feature request filed in Bugzilla?
I hope you enjoyed this installment of Ask Asa. I'll try to open up a new installment sometime next week. Also, it's worth noting that I'm just one guy, an employee in a growing foundation and while I have an official role in the Mozilla Organization, these are just my thoughts and don't necessarily represent any official Mozilla policies or positions. Oh, and I'm probably wrong on some of the answers. This is just my attempt to open up communication a bit and try to help people understand what's going on.