Question from Peter Kasting
Asa, after Mike Connors' recent Slashdotted comments about Firefox code reviews (and the various reactions and related stories around the web), we've seen a post from Ben Goodger and a followup from Mike Connors, but I've seen no explicit discussion of how Mike's particular comments will be addressed. Ben's post seemed to discuss future plans for Firefox (especially projects being worked on by the "inner circle") and delegation of work, while Mike sought to assure people that there were still more people than himself working on Firefox, but neither one seemed to explicitly mention how more code reviews were going to get done. From my (outsider's) perspective, it looks like a scarcity of people with both comprehensive knowledge of the codebase and the time (and monetary compensation) to review the code, leading to a perception among other "outsiders" that submitting patches is somewhat useless as no one will be able to get them reviewed. Is this particular piece of the Firefox picture of concern to the Mozilla Foundation? Are there plans to hire any additional staff for this kind of a focus, or in some way enable more code reviews to happen, so that contributions from people outside the 6 core Firefox hackers can get in more quickly? Is there anything we outsiders can do to help build the "community of hackers" Mike suggested Firefox may not have developed yet?
Peter, we have always had and probably will always have a scarcity of patch reviewers. One could rephrase to say that we've got more patch contributions than we can handle. Better tracking tools in Bugzilla would help the situation some, but it boils down to an abundance of patches, mostly non-critical and a small set of developers capable of understanding first, whether or not we even want the change, and then, assuming we do, that the code is correct. There are currently about 135 bugs with patches awaiting review. Over half of those are very minor or are feature requests. The "Core" product, which contains Gecko and other infrastructure for Firefox currently has about 310 bugs with pendant requests. Given the size of the two teams, the two products seem to me to have about the same shortage. As far as building the community of hackers, we're on the way. We have all of these people submitting patches and needing review from the senior developers so I'd wager that there's a pretty good group there to cultivate and grow.
Question from James Napolitano
Why are dogs *so* much better pets than cats?
(Wow, if that isn't flamebait, I don't know what is)
Just kidding :). My actual question is this: a while ago there was a big commotion about cooperation between the GNOME and Mozilla projects. The possibility was even raised of merging the two. We haven't heard anything about this since, so I ask, has anything happened along this front?
Oh, and what's up with all that dark energy? I mean, what is it and what causes it? I demand exact answers, in your own words!
I'm picking the first question to answer ;-) Dogs are so much better than cats because they like to roll in garbage, lick their privates right before they try to lick your mouth, and generally poop and pee whatever they are. Cat's are obviously inferior because they bathe themselves regularly, rarely come home smelling of the neighbor's garbage, make number 1 and 2 in a litter box and bury it well, and show affection in much more appropriate ways than a french kiss. ;-) On the Gnome question, we continue to work with those folks at an engineering level. On the dark energy question, my exact answer is "nobody knows" but I suspect we will have much better answers in the next decade. We may very well find that it's not necessary to add dark energy to the equation at all.
Question from zzigtu bukti
My question is: why is your name so funny, where does it come form, and what does it mean?
what irony. :D
Question from killermanjarro
What products and techniques do you use to groom your goatee?
I have found it almost impossible to tend to a goatee without it taking up too much time.
I have a flowbee and one pound bucket of lard ;-)
Question from xiao
When will we see new features for everyday folk in Firefox? Security fixes, rendering improvements and news Preferences dialogs are great but don't really get people excited like Tabbed Browsing or Find as you Type.
Saying 'extensions' is all well and good to people who are capable of installing them, but most people aren't. Also, extensions will never integrate or perform as well as base code.
So my question: What, if any, are the NEW killer features for Firefox, and will you please please PLEASE put them in 1.1 instead of 1.5? If not, how do you hope to keep competing with IE7?
Xiao, we've been hard at work on new features since the release of 1.0. The releases we've had since then have been specifically concerned with security so no new features are going to happen in those. I'd also disagree with your statement that no extension can integrate or perform as well as base code. That's simply not true. As far as competing with IE 7, I don't think that requires a lot of new features. If we continue to make the browser easier to deploy and use and more stable and secure, IE can't win :) Actually, we will have new features in 1.1 and 1.5 (and 2.0) that will make browsing easier and more safe and secure. We have to worry about our app, not what Microsoft is up to.
Question from Jure Repinc
I'm also interested into GNOME + Mozilla cooperation. But as I mostly use KDE for my desktop I would like to ask: What is the progress of native Firefox/Thunderbird interface for KDE?
Jure, I don't know the state of KDE's effort to port Firefox and Thunderbird to their toolkit. That would be a question better asked of the KDE folks.
Question from phil
Who is the artist that created the firefox logo?
It was a collaborative process that you can read about here.
Question from Bram
How should convince someone to switch to Firefox when the always-available Internet Explorer is updated to a version that is as secure as required by most users? (Or the people who already tell me: "But the one I have works fine for me! Why should switch to something that might occasionally display a page different than intended?")
Bram, you should dispute the validity of that statement. You can read about how IE was insecure for 98% of last year. See this and this. If you're talking to people who don't see a point in upgrading and the security story doesn't carry enough water, try selling them on features like tabbed browsing and type-ahead find.
Question from Chris G.
What extensions do you use with Firefox and/or Thunderbird? Why?
Also, do you have a screenshot of your copy of Firefox in action? Just curious how one of the Mozilla guys has customized his Firefox :)
I rarely use extensions but I do have a few installed. The first one I install is always BugMeNot because I'm an avid reader of tech news and so many sites require logins these days. I used to make up bogus logins but BugMeNot saves me that time. I also have LinkVisitor which helps me keep better track of where I left off in a buglist or a news site. Finally, I just started using Myk's new Nightcap extension for moving the download manager into a slim toolbar at the bottom of your browser windows. My customizations are really quite few and are more about content than chrome. Here's a screenshot.
Question from Tablet
I noticed new flags in bugzilla for blocking Firefox 1.0.2 and blocking Firefox 1.0.3. Is it because there is going to be Firefox 1.0.2 release soon? If so, why? Thanks
Well, I'm a bit late to getting to this so you probably already know that we've shipped Firefox 1.0.2, a security update. If and when we ship a Firefox 1.0.3 it will also be a security update.
Question from Foxtrot
When can we expect to see some progress on update.mozilla.org... Roadmaps? Policies?
After a long silence, there were some blog entries a month (?) or so ago that shed some light on what the problems had been (eg, security audit) and that progress was now being made. But since then it seems to be running in stealth mode.
For those of us who write extensions, it would be nice to know when (if?) the Developer Control Panel will return, and how the perpetual weeks-long backlog of submitted extensions will be addressed. I think there was also mention of working with other extension sites (like extensionsmirror.nl) that have become popular due to UMO's shortcomings -- any news on that front?
Now that Opportunity has reached Vostok crater, it looks to be boring and filled in (just ring-shaped flat circle of white rocks). What's your prediction for when we'll finally see some interesting terrain again? :-)
I'm really not in the loop on the state of Extension update services from UMO. I do know that they're in the process of hardware and software upgrades and security audits. There are also going to be new features that help everyone conform to the new extension hosting policy. I'll try to look into it more when I'm not so snowed over with other work. You could probably get more by asking those involved. As far as the Mars rovers go, I think we've seen most of what we're going to see as far as new terrain goes. I'm still hopeful, but we've seen so much more variety than I ever expected, that I'll be content even if the pretty pictures continue to look a lot like what we had over the past year.
Question from That Guy
I halfheartedly asked about this at the end of your last Ask Asa:
What will be the future uses of XTF? Will you use it to for example integrate the code-heavy SVG standard which isn't suitable for the "less than 5MB" download you want Firefox2 to be?
Also, what's your opinion on how to best learn coding and becoming involved in Firefox development?
Thanks for your time. :-)
Guy, I know next to nothing about XTF. Sorry. As far as learning coding and becoming involved, I always recommend that you start out in testing, reporting bugs, and triaging existing bugs. This will give you a good feel for the people involved as well as the process that patches go through in order to become part of Firefox. Watching discussions in the developer newsgroups and on IRC is also very useful. In then end, it boils down to finding a bug you'd like to fix and then figuring out how to fix it.
Question from Programmerman
The Firefox nighly Linux builds currently show "gcc version 3.3.2" in about:buildconfig. Are there plans to move to GCC 3.4.x or 4.0? The latest GCC status report says 3.4.4 is due May 1 and 4.0 is due April 15. I'm a tweaking addict and I build my own optimized versions from CVS. I think the users should have builds with the latest fixes and code optimizations added to newer GCC versions.
Also, is Pango support still planned for font rendering?
Programmerman, I'm simplifying the answer to your first question a little bit but basically we use that so that we can build binaries that are compatible with the widest variety of systems. As far as Pango goes, it's already there and being included in the Fedora Firefox updates. Mozilla Denudation's distribution doesn't have it yet but as soon as a couple more reviews are completed, we'll have that as an option for our builds.
Question from Likhat
I agree with xiao. Why isn't there more migration from the uber-popular and not-too-tech-only extensions to the main codebase, where new features should rightly belong?
Likhat, one of the things that makes Firefox so easy to use for so many people is that it doesn't try to do everything. We just shipped our first version a few months ago and are in the middle of working on our first non-security update (Firefox 1.1). I think it's a little too soon to suggest that we should have integrated extensions into the main codebase already. If and when we do integrate any extensions, it will be with significant evaluation not done lightly. We all have our pet feature requests, including myself, but if everyone got the feature they wanted, we'd be right back where we were with the Mozilla suite.
Question from Lino Mastrodomenico
The Web Forms 2.0 specification from the WHAT working group is almost ready.
AFAIK Firefox/Gecko/NGT already supports some small parts of it; when we can expect (almost) full support?
<p class="flamebait">Cats are much better than dogs, obviously.</p> ;-)
I've been so busy at the application layer that I haven't been tracking Gecko as closely. I probably couldn't give you a date for full support even if I was watching it closely. I can poke around and maybe have a better answer for next time.
Question from Tomm Eriksen
How much of the code in Firefox is just used in Firefox, and not part of some other Mozilla component (for instance Gecko). I rough estimate (in percent) would do nicely :)
I'm estimating here, but I'll bet that the Firefox application layer is no more than 5% of the total lines of code (Firefox + Gecko). Extremely powerful XUL apps are quite tiny compared to the Gecko platform on top of which they live.
Question from jimich
Hello Asa ... some little questions about some future fonctionality of FF and TB
* Will FF will get a profile manager? ok, i know it is there, but it is not easy for standard user to get it --> exemple: a link in the start menu (windows) will be cool, as for thunderbird
* Is TB'block image will be extended. Now, you can enable extern images in your mails from messages coming from adress in your adress book ... but some mailing lists change their email adress with each newsletters (the domain stay, the adresse stay also, but added with some numbers to identify the newsletter) --> for exemple email@example.com
A new setting to enable adress like firstname.lastname@example.org will be cool ... or a other filter like "subject contain ..."
Hello, jimich. Firefox will not get a profile manager and Thunderbird will probably get more fine-grained settings considering the needs of its RSS functionality.
Question from Bram
Which argument do you find most convincing to choose Firefox instead of Opera? And excuse me for my laziness, but I really don't know how much people get paid by the Mozilla Foundation.
Thanks in advance, I still enjoy reading your blog.
Bram, I find the out of the box usability argument to be the single best way to convince people to use Firefox instead of Opera. Firefox is simply way easier for way more people to use without messing around a lot. Full time employees of the Mozilla Foundation get paid competitive wages (at least I do) for this industry and location.
Question from forest
What is the status of the stand alone XRE (XUL Runtime). It would be great to have a prebuilt XRE for all the platforms that mozilla supports to make building cross-platform stand alone XUL applications easier. I have used XULRunner for proto-typing and testing out XUL, but this approach is not a viable option for a real application.
Thanks for your time.
XULRunner is rocketing forward with heroic efforts from Darin, Bsmedberg and probably others. XULRunner will become the most viable option for delivering real standalone XUL applications (as long as you consider applications like Firefox and Thunderbird to be "real applications".) You can read more about the plan over at the Mozilla wiki.
Question from qwerty
Asa, can you give us an update on the status of automated testing throughout all Mozilla products?
I would like to know about both automated functional and security tests. In particular, have you extended the mangleme 'fuzzy' testing tool to non-HTML stuff?
Is there anything in the way of autotests casual developers can cook up or help with which you busy MoFo's don't have time for?
Hi qwerty. Questions dear to my heart :-) We're still overloaded with current testing and release obligations but we're making some progress on automation. Tracy's working on a system for JS-based functional testing, Sarah's evaluating a couple of commercial tools for automation, Robert O'Callahan has squashed the last bug that was making layout automation painful, so things are progressing. We already use a couple of security automated testing tools, some home-baked and some commercial. If you're interested in contributing to automation, please email me at email@example.com and I'll try to get you hooked in to what's going on now.
Question from perko
I am the entirety of my school's new cycling team, and am looking for a modecum of sponsorship from companies that I feel good about, mostly just to buy the custom jersey with my school's logo on it. Would the Mozilla Foundation be interested in guying space for a two color Firefox logo for something in the $10 to $100 range? I have been a Firefox user since 0.9 and have converted a number of my friends at school over to the browser. I've also switched over to Linux (Suse) and want to represent OSS in doing what I love and what I'm good at.
Thanks so much,
Hey, Perko. I'm not the right person to answer that but you could email Rafael Ebron (rebron at meer dot net) and see if he can help you out.
Question from channeler
I'm "asking Asa" if he realizes that there is an entire nebula somewhat vying for the honor of representing FurFox in advertising and as an excellent wallpaper-- see the beautiful Fox Fur nebula at http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap050314.html
Channeler, yeah, I like it. Did you see my work on the "Firefox Nebula"?
If you'd like follow-up on one of the answers here, feel free to ask for it in the comments and I'll do what I can. If it's a new question, please hold off until the next installment of Ask Asa. Thanks.