Deanna and I are headed out of town for a few days to relax and enjoy some more of beautiful California. I'll be back online in about a week.
May 2005 Archives
Yesterday we took what was supposed to be the final change into Deer Park Alpha 1 - the change to the theme and extension version from what we had on the 1.0 branch. This caused some fallout and we're looking for additional testing to make sure there aren't any unknowns in the area of extension updating.
Please grab one of the builds below and give it a whirl. If you find any additional problems with extension or theme update or install, please let me know here. Thanks.
Hope that headline got your attention :-) I don't really think Stanford sucks -- Stanford is great -- but after reading Blake's Blog on the Stanford Daily's link spam, I've got a lot less respect for the Stanford newspaper and I think that the online "press", including blogs, should let them know that this kind of thing won't be tolerated.
Stats are stats, make what you want of them. I enjoy seeing usage stats from high-profile sites and sites I frequent. Today I got word that BNC's InsideGoogle blog has just seen Firefox take the lead in browser usage (and total Gecko browsers have taken a fairly commanding lead of more than 45%)
Stats are stats (yes, I felt the need to say it twice,) make what you want of them, but it's the trends that matter most to me and the trend I'm seeing across the blogosphere is still shooting up for Firefox.
My last poll of the sitemeter stats for the "top 100" blogs, (as rated by TTLB) showed that in December, Firefox usage was around 20% and other Gecko usage about 5%. I've just run that same basic tests (though the available stats list was slightly different) and came up with 34% Firefox and another 5% for other Gecko browsers. Not bad.
IE was still beating out Firefox by just about 10 points so we've still got work to do with the blogging world ;-) Behind Firefox (and other Gecko browsers) was Safari with a nice chunk of usage at 10% and Opera was behind Safari with only about 1%.
Stats are stats (yep, a third time) so make what you want of them, but this is a trend I like a lot. IE is falling rapidly with this audience, and it's Firefox (with some help from Safari) that's responsible.
If you've got a high-profile site and can post your stats here, please do. I'm always looking for more data :)
A recent article over at Wired.com opens with, "First they reinvented the browser, now they're rewriting the rules of advertising."
I must say that I take a great deal of personal and professional satisfaction from that lead.
It was just over three years ago, sitting in an IRC channel, that a few of us set out to reinvent Mozilla's browser. After six months of hacking and chopping with broad strokes, we had something cleaner, faster, and simply better than the Mozilla browser. Not only that, but we had something we knew could take on the market leader, IE.
Two years later, with a great browser in hand, Blake Ross and I started to focus on how to spread Firefox to the masses. We knew that our most valuable asset was the growing community of Firefox users and so we started to engage them, one at a time, and one on one. We began by asking people who were blogging about how great Firefox was if they'd be willing to put up a button or other permanent link. After about a week of emailing and dozens of successes, Blake and I realized that this had great potential, but that we weren't going to scale. So we reached out again, and asked our community for help building a web-based tool to manage this new buttons project. A guy named Andrew Cave stepped up and built the tool we needed. The Spread Firefox effort was born.
Since then, we've seen over 100,000 people sign up with Spread Firefox to help spread the word about the world's best browser. We've seen tens of thousands of enthusiastic users putting up Firefox buttons and link on websites, blogs, and in email signatures. We've seen thousands of volunteers contribute money to take out a two page ad in the New York Times. It's been nothing short of incredible.
There's no doubt that this community of volunteers has played a key role in helping Firefox achieve the nearly 60 million downloads it's had so far and there's no doubt that they all of us at Spread Firefox will continue to lead the way with fun and creative grassroots marketing.
Today, we are leading the way. Even other browsers are following our lead with spreading efforts of their own. But it doesn't stop at browsers, either. Creative Commons seems to be moving towards a Spread Firefox model, Open Office has a Spread Open Office site, Go Trillian has a set of tools and layout almost identical to SFX.
We're pretty much there and have a round of builds that are very, very close to what we will ship as Deer Park Alpha 1 (what will eventually ship as Firefox 1.1)
If you'd like to help us test these candidates, please grab one from the links below. Note that for our alpha releases, we know there are feature and polish issues that we haven't completely worked out but we want to get the core code out to our community so they can test out major Gecko and platform changes ASAP.
The Gecko included in this candidate build is about one year of development improved since the Gecko that shipped in Firefox 1.0. We've also made major changes to the extension system. XUL application developers, extension and theme developers, and web developers are the primary audience for the upcoming Alpha.
Oh, one other note, we've also added (thank, Robert) a new feature called "Reporter". This is a wizard for reporting broken websites. You can install this from the custom install and access it from the Help menu. Please report any broken websites you find in this candidate or the actual Alpha build using the new Reporter tool.
These are candidate builds, not the final Deer Park Alpha 1. If these candidates test out well, we'll be shipping Deer Park Alpha 1 real soon. Also note that the naming and the artwork/branding changes are intentional, not bugs.
There is a very interesting article over at Google Blogscoped which talks about the Google Translator and what it might mean in the years to come.
We live in interesting times.
Firefox finally hit the 25% mark in the usage measurements over at w3Schools.com. This site is heavily trafficked by web developers (who themselves are usually power-users and often appreciate sophisticated features) so I'd expect the more capable browsers to be doing the best there.
Opera and IE have been in a pretty steady decline there as Firefox share grows. Both Opera and IE have lost about 20% of their constituency at w3schools in the last year and Gecko has more than doubled its usage in that same period.
Firefox takes another victory at C|Net's six Web browser comparison. Firefox's rating of 8 puts it ahead of the 7.7 for both Netscape 8 and Safari RSS. There's a three-way tie for last place (with a 7 rating) between IE 6 (SP2 version,) Deepnet Explorer, and Opera 8.
I hear we're also gonna see Firefox on the cover of PC Magazine as the browser of choice. Nice!
(and on an unrelated but cool note, all you Tiger users out there can get a nifty Firefox downloads counter dashboard widget and follow along as we take the world by storm :-)
Robert's looking for help with a problem in our new Reporter tool. If you have any ideas about how to reliably get the product and version info out of Mozilla applications, please head over to his blog and comment. Thanks.
On my way to the Netscape.com page today with the latest Firefox nightly build, I was roadblocked with this:
Now, the image I actually hit was twice as large and twice as bright but I decided not to put you all through that :-)
Being the browser geek that I am, I of course downloaded and installed Netscape 8 right away. I've been playing with it for a little while but not enough to give any kind of review. Maybe later for that.
What I do want to say before I head out the door is that before Firefox, the browser space was pretty much dead. Now, with IE 7 beta on the horizon, a Netscape 8 released, Opera's CEO engaging in crazy press stunts, and Safari bringing Apple back from the brink, it's really hard to say that the browser space is dead.
I'm proud to be a part of Firefox and the amazing change in the landscape that it's bringing about. There's no doubt that the customer benefits from a healthy competition. Firefox, with it's simple but powerful features, has returned the focus to the user and in so doing has re-energized the web.
I just downloaded the app and while I haven't looked very closely, it's a XUL app and it's quite attractive. You can read about the birth of this application at the SimoHealth blog.
Blake alerted me that tonight's Jeopardy (the TV game show) had a question that mentioned Firefox so I TiVo'd it (actually, my wife did) and thought I'd share it with you all.
The "answer" (for those of you who don't know, on this game show, the host gives the answers and the contestants have to give the question) was "I'm now using the Firefox web browser that got its start from this Time Warner company's Netscape division." None of the contestants had the question. The correct response would have been "What is AOL?"
Yes, it's trivia. But, it's mainstream trivia, and Jeopardy probably has quite a large audience of somewhat smarter than average viewers so it's good publicity and shows that we're definitely entering the mainstream.
It's finally here (Shawn and Jeff ;-) I've been pretty busy lately but I finally got around to it.Etienne Juliot says,
2000 -> 2003 was the Mozilla Suite success for geeks community, with respect of W3C standard and a very good powered rendering engine. 2004 -> mi 2005 is the famous success of Firefox for every one with an easy to use GUI and new fillers features. With SVG, XForms, XULRunner, GRE, Gnome collaboration, ... does 2005 -> 2006 will be the return of the marketing for the engine of Mozilla ? Will the browser war continue on the number of standard formats supported ?
Etienne, we have never not been focused on the core technologies, especially the Gecko rendering engine. It is the core technology platform that made it possible for any of our applications to achieve the successes they have and we are always working to improve that platform, both for our applications (Firefox and Thunderbird) and for other applications, extensions, websites and web apps. I don't know about a war, but the Mozilla project is certainly committed to improving the web and a big piece of that will be adding features that our developer community cares about. You can read more about the Mozilla 2.0 platform at our developer wiki.Shawn asks,
Asa, What exactly is it that you do for MoFo? Meaning if you had to describe what your day to day activities are what are they?
Shawn, I do a lot of different things. I'd say that my big areas of focus are 1)community organizing, 2)release management, and 3)quality assurance and testing. I'm also involved in product planning, marketing work, policy issues, technical roadmap development, and I help out with office management stuff as well. I'm sure I'm leaving off a few things here, but that's a reasonable overview. As far as my day to day activities, again, that's a lot of things and it mostly depends on whether or not we're coming up on a release. Releases take a huge amount of effort from nearly everyone on the project. During release times, on a typical day I'm reading bugs, evaluating blocker nominations, approving and denying patch landing requests, taking in feedback from places like the Mozillazine forums, weblogs, and the newsgroups. I'm also working with the build team and the QA team to make sure we can test all of the important fixes as they land. I might also be meeting with the firstname.lastname@example.org or the Firefox product team to discuss schedules and requirements or I might be meeting with the localization teams on IRC and in the newsgroups to ensure we're all on the same page.poynting has several questions,
What are you doing to ensure that users of obsolete application versions upgrade? Don't you think that it would be better security if the upgrade mechanism was far more insistent, visible and annoying? You commonly post statistics showing Firefox browser share - are you aware of any mainstream ones showing how prevalent use of 1.0.3 is compared to older releases?
Poynting, we are hard at work to improve our application update mechanism and we will have some major improvements for the 1.1 release. I expect that you'll be able to see more of that work landing as we get closer to Beta. I do think that the upgrade notification needs to be more visible and I've recommended several times that we adopt the more familiar mechanism of using the Windows tray, a slide-up notification, and a persistent icon. This is something that I believe the majority of Windows users have come to expect now that Microsoft and most other regularly updated software (anti-virus, anti-spyware, etc.) have standardized on this. There is a balance we need to strike here, though. If you make something too annoying, the user may disable it permanently and that's something you really want to avoid. Your final question, about market share, I don't have a lot of information there. I have seen a couple of datasets including from top 25 websites and our own update download logs and that all suggests we need to do more to bring our users forward. I'm hopeful that a easier to use and more capable update system in 1.1 will help quite a bit.David Naylor asks,
David, there are no plans, that I'm aware of, to include Mouse Gestures in 1.1.Bram! says,
With the new Options UI and SVG going into 1.1, I'm surprised that 1.1 will be such a big improvement of 1.0. So, how do you personally look at the Firefox Roadmap? Isn't 1.1 becoming sort of halfway between 1.1 and 1.5 as described in the roadmap? As a slightly different question: How many new (Fx 2.0) features are being developed outside the trunk and what is there status (roughly)?  http://www.mozilla.org/projects/firefox/roadmap.html
Bram, it's certainly not the 1.1 we set out to build around the time of shipping Firefox 1.0. That original plan called for just getting Firefox on an updated Gecko foundation (the Firefox 1.0 Gecko was about 9 months old when it shipped.) What we're working on now is also not really very close to the Firefox 1.5 which is planned to be the half-way point, application feature-wise, to Firefox 2.0. What we are seeing with the current 1.1 is more of the Gecko 2.0 features (things like Cairo, XULRunner, SVG, etc.) and not a lot of the Firefox 1.5 or 2.0 features (improved bookmarks and history, per site controls, accessibility improvements, find and search improvements, etc.). We are, as you note, getting some browser improvements, including the preferences UI changes, the overhaul of the extension management system, and most importantly, a more functional Update system. So, yes, maybe this is something between 1.1 and 1.5, but it's mostly in the core Gecko area that we're plunging further ahead and not in the end-user browser features. About Firefox features being developed outside of the trunk, that's not really happening. I mean, I suspect that the developers all have some set of changes in their local trees, and that's compounded some by the development trunk being restricted to 1.1a1 changes, but right now we're laying the foundation for a lot of that user-visible feature work and it's mostly all happening on the trunk.OL asks,
Many people have been switching from eg IE to Firefox, do you see them switching from eg Eudora to Thunderbird in a near future? Also, could you post your browser's user agent? just curious ;)
OL, there are millions of users switching from other e-mail clients to Thunderbird. I don't have any solid information on whether they're switching from Eudora or from Outlook or some other client, but they're definitely downloading Thunderbird by the millions. It's not something I see happening in the future. It's something I see happening now. My browser's user agent today isAuss asks a number of questions,
Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-US; rv:1.8b2) Gecko/20050517 Firefox/1.0+
Asa, will MoFo be able to be held up by donations and cash grants only for a long term. Can we be afraid of splitting Firefox/Thunderbird into two separate branches: free one, and that one must pay for (as the creator of X-Chat did, or on the example of RedHat with its Fedora)? I mean paid version, which has "enhanced" features and is developed by paid specialists employed by MoFo and free one, which is developed and supported by community only?
Auss, Firefox and Thunderbird will always be open source and they will always be free of charge. Today, we have a Firefox official build and a Firefox community build without the trademarks and branding, but I don't see a time when there are two dramatically different Firefox products. On to your second question.larfnarf asks,
When posting this there were only 6 1.8B2 blockers... how is the release going to go? is there going to be test releases first before the official 1.8B2 comes out? Also.. Is there any further information about the split off of ownership of the suite? It was announced, and then sorta dropped off the news radar as to further developments. And.. what is the plans on testing the GRE when ownership of mozilla splits off? Will the GRE just be developed on Firefox instead? Ok, I have another question.. so it will be 3 total from me. Has there been any talk about making a page for the mozilla journals that says in big bold letters "THESE JOURNALS CONTAIN ANYTHING THE OWNERS FEEL LIKE" That way when people complain that you talk about cats and mars, you can just point them to a page that tells them you can post whatever you want.
Larfnarf, we're down to the final blocker for 1.8b2 and I hope to announce a candidate build any day now. If our testing and the feedback we get from the community is good, then we'll be shipping Deer Park 1.1 Alpha 1. As far as the suite goes, it's moving along quite well. They've created a group to manage the project and are actively developing with the goal of having releases roughly coincide with Firefox releases. The GRE has been superseded by XULRunner. As far as your suggestions for dealing with blogs and the press, I've thought of a number of approaches. I don't like any of them so I'll just deal with it as it comes until I can't anymore then I'll probably stop blogging.James Napolitano says,
Hey Asa, I asked you last time about what happened with the involvement with GNOME, and you gave some vague answer like, "We continue to work with those folks on an engineering level." Can you provide any specifics as to what is being worked on? Like are they merely making Mozilla look-and-feel like a native GNOME application on the GNOME desktop, sharing some code, merging parts of the projects, etc. ? Or would you prefer to keep that a secret for now? Some other questions: Can you give us some hints to any exciting developments or projects that will happen in the Mozilla community in the coming months (other than the next releases)? Will you please give my bookmarklets a quick try? (just tell me they're useful and that will encourage me to code some more). And how is the drive to increase automation/automated testing coming along? Do you still need more volunteers there?
James, I don't have any specifics on what's being worked on with Gnome folks but I do know that we're all interested in making the linux experience better for users. I'm not keeping any secrets, I just don't have any specifics there :-) Exciting developments or projects in the coming months; Hrm. Lightning is one, for sure. I also think that XULRunner is going to be huge. I still haven't had a chance to look over your bookmarklets. I've still got your email flagged and I'll get to it when I can. Yes, we still need more volunteers in automation development. Not a lot of progress to report, though. Tracy Walker, Bob Clary, and Sarah Liberman are working in that area. I'm sure they could use help.minghong asks a few questions,
With SVG suddenly included and enabled in 1.1, how much of the specification is actually finished? (All? :-P) The Mozilla SVG Status page was last modified at March 4, 2005 so it doesn't seem to be the most up-to-date. Giving partial support seems to be a bit rush. It is due to the pressure from Opera 8 which has SVG Tiny support? With the rendering pipeline moving to Cairo, will libpr0n be removed? The end of another legend? ;-) Will the Firefox profile location be fixed? e.g. C:\Documents and Settings\[username]\Application Data\Mozilla\Firefox to C:\Documents and Settings\[username]\Application Data\Firefox Or will the Thunderbird profile location be fixed? e.g. C:\Documents and Settings\[username]\Application Data\Thunderbird to C:\Documents and Settings\[username]\Application Data\Mozilla\Thunderbird Now they are not consistent with each other. Either one of them should be fixed.
Minghong, I really don't have good answers for any of your questions this time. I'm not very familiar with the SVG work. You may be able to find more information at the Mozilla developer wiki. Cairo is not a libpr0n replacement. It's a replacement for some or all of our GFX implementations. You can read more about this at the wiki. As for the location of the Firefox profile, I don't know when or if that's going to be changed. Right now I don't see a lot of value in making the change simply for consistency's sake. That's not my call, though. Maybe Ben or Mike Connor could tell you more.me asks,
asa, do you really think firefox progression will succeed not stopping by the arrival of IE7 ? And if so, if Firefox really survive, what will be the key success factors that will go drive firefox there?
me, Firefox is about making the web easier to use and empowering the user. I can't foresee a time when that won't be of value. I believe that Firefox is, simply put, a better browser than IE and that it will always be a better browser because we put the user first.Aronnax asks,
Hi, i have some Firefox themes based on the mac default theme. http://www.grapple.net.tf/ They are already announced for months at the mozilla update site. Unfortunately without a reaction or a reason of them. Surely it is because they cause serious problems under Windows and Linux. Enables the new update system it to create themes particularly for an operation system - or the target group to limit exactly? Or are other possibilities to be solved planned around the problem?
Aronnax, I'm not intimately involved in the that part of the Mozilla hosting services. You'll have to ask that question of someone who is. Sorry. I do know that the site was being worked on heavily and was not taking new submissions for a while. I believe they've made enough progress that they're again working on taking on new extensions and themes. Several of the UMO admins hang out on IRC so you might be able to get answers there.db wants to know,
Why was Quick Launch removed from Firefox? It takes about 10 seconds to load on my (WinXP, ~2gig) system, and the problem seems to be widespread and significant. My understanding is that part of Firefox's core philosophy is speed (and thus improved usability), this seems to contradict that? (nb. I have tried MinimizeToTray but the occasional side-effects caused me to uninstall.) On a related note, I am interested in the ramifications of XULRunner. My understanding is that XR will load when my OS boots and then if I open Firefox, Thunderbird or any of their friends it will be dramatically quicker to open. (Additionally, Fx and Tb could be much smaller downloads.) This sounds good! Is this accurate, and if so when will we see it?
db, Quicklaunch wasn't removed from Firefox. It was never a supported feature of Firefox. I'm surprised to hear it takes so long on your system. I have a winXP laptop with 2GB RAM and Firefox starts up in less than 1 second. I don't think XULRunner is really about application launch speed or loading at startup. XULRunner is more about providing the necessary functionality for developers to build rich internet applications. You can read more about XULRunner at the Mozilla wiki.Cameron wonders,
If you could spend 5 minutes with Bill Gates, what would you ask him to change about Microsoft?
Cameron, I don't think 5 minutes could possibly cover what I'd want him to change about Microsoft, nor do I think he's even capable of changing what I want changed about Microsoft. Those points aside, if I could effect one change at Microsoft, I think I'd push to have all of the Windows and Windows-related source code well documented and made public under a real open source license.pheloxi says,
I use larger fonts (maximum font size: 16), because I am visual impaired. I would like it if firefox creates a better why to switch from small fonts to larger fonts without harming the design of the website. is that possible?
Pheloxi, that depends. How do you define "harming the design of the website?" I adjust font sizes all of the time and don't believe it harms the design of websites. There are certainly some poorly designed websites out there, but their design is already broken so I don't think my font size changes harm them. You're visually impaired and you use a maximum font size of 16? Do you mean minimum font size? If you're using the minimum font size, it's doing what it was intended to do, display pages with a font size no lower than 16. It's not scaling all fonts. If you want to scale all of the fonts, you can use the Firefox zoom feature available from the View->Text Size menu or the keyboard with Ctrl+ and Ctrl-. If you want to persist those scaled fonts across sessions, you can probably get what you want from an extension like Textzoom or by making the adjustment in a user style sheet as documented at here.tim asks,
What is the reasoning behind releasing v1.1, v1.5, v2.0? Is that simply a marketing ploy? Are those just bookmarks in the roadmap with more releases to come?
Tim, Version 2.0 will be our next major release. Between now and then, we'll have a "half way point" release called 1.5. Before we do that, we're going to do a Gecko update called 1.1. I'm not sure what about that plan would be considered a "ploy".Christian says,
I haven't seen much Bugzilla activity by Ben Goodger and Blake Ross lately. Is it because I just haven't looked the right places, or are they buzy doing secret Google stuff or something else?
There's been quite a bit of activity from Ben on the road to 1.1. He's completely rearchitected the extension system, redesigned and implemented the Options/Preferences window, and fixed lots of other bugs. Blake isn't actively developing on Firefox right now. His involvement has been on the marketing side of things with me over at SpreadFirefox.com and he is also working on a project of his own with Joe Hewitt.Rob Harwood asks,
Asa, I'm curious if you've read any of these books (or if you have an interest in reading them). You seem to have very good instincts for marketing Firefox, so I was wondering. * Crossing the Chasm * Inside the Tornado * The Innovator's Dilemma * The Innovator's Solution
Rob, I haven't read those but several people have recommended at least a couple of them to me. Do you know if there are audio versions available for download? I don't have a lot of time these days but my commute offers some opportunity.M2Ys4U wants to know,
How is XULRunner progressing, and when do you think we'll see Fx, TB & SB running ontop of it?
M2Ys4U, XULRunner is progressing quite well. We hope to have a preview based on Gecko 1.8 and aligning with the Firefox 1.1 and Thunderbird 1.1 releases. I couldn't predict when we'll see Firefox and Thunderbird running on it.Doug Wright asks,
What's up with the alternate stylesheet stuff (status-bar icon, sticky selections)? The wiki says that the icon was supposed to be re-enabled after aviary-landing...
Doug, The wiki is a scratchpad, not necessarily a definitive plan for everything that will happen. I don't believe that we've done any work to improve the alt ss UI for 1.1.Cusser has a few questions,
Mozilla.org staff used to reply to issues raised on Mozillazine, but haven't done so in a long time - this makes it harder for us to give useful feedback on things that aren't bugs. I raise this issue since Bugzilla ends up being spammed with useless comments and advocacy when the topic is of community interest and blogs aren't really the correct medium through which to voice our concerns/questions/suggestions. I want to know if we're going to see community participation from members of Mozilla.org again in the future. The other two questions I want to ask are: 1) How is the review situation coming? I want to spend more of my programming time working on Firefox chrome patches (and maybe later some backend stuff when my C++ is up to scratch). So far, my one and only patch has been bitrotten which removes the incentive a bit. It's nobody's fault in particular, but how is the situation progressing? 2) How aware are "the team" of Peter(6)'s red list on the Firefox Builds forum and how likely are they to clear up the dozens of (very visible) regressions before Firefox 1.1?
Cusser, I'm one of mozilla.org staff and I post at Mozillazine fairly regularly. Others on staff do as well (Scott spends quite a bit of time at the forums.) We can all do a better job of participating in more of the Mozilla community. I for one, have been trying to get more closely connected to the localization community over the last seven or eight months. I'm also working a lot with the grass-roots marketing community (not to mention the developer and qa communities). I haven't been spending as much time in the Mozillazine forums but I do read there several times a week. I also haven't been spending a as much time as I'd like working with the extension and theme communities or working with the Seamonkey and Camino and Calendar communities, or the Bugzilla community. Mozilla is huge and we have many, many communities under the Mozilla roof. I'd love to be more deeply involved with a lot of different areas, but I don't have the time right now to, for example, read even half of the posts that come through the Mozillazine forums. Maybe you all can work to build summaries for the other forums the way Peter has for the build forums and then publish an RSS feed that I could subscribe to where I just got the highlights. Asa Dotzler doesn't scale well ;-) so I need some help from you all. The review situation is about what it's always been. We've got more patchers than reviewers and we're not going to stop doing reviews so there's a bottleneck. I don't see that bottleneck going away anytime soon. I'm on "the team" and I'm well aware of Peter's list in the build forums. Some of those are definitely going to be fixed for Firefox 1.1.AnotherGuest says,
I second the question about community participation from Cusser. Beyond that, I too spend a lot of time on the forums. Too much. Besides bookmarks, the thing we see again and again is Fx malfunctioning because of incorrectly installed extensions. I think it's the single biggest problem. Unfortunately, the methods for updating extensions are terribly inconsistent. Some cannot be uninstalled correctly, some MUST be uninstalled because they cannot be updated, and many must be updated before updating Fx. Worse yet, uninstalling extensions does not always work, so repairs may fail. As a result, we see hordes of people with a nonfunctioning or poorly functioning browser. What I would like to know is, what is being done about this, especially in the face of 1.1?
AnotherGuest, I third Cusser's question. It's one I hope to bring more attention to in the coming months and years. We are faced with a lot of challenges as we scale up the way we've been fortunate to with Firefox. One of those challenges is to grow our community leadership and build better communication mechanisms into the system. On to your second question, Ben has put a lot of effort into improving the extension system for 1.1. It's all of our hope that we have an easier time with this after 1.1 but software installation is always going to be tricky. If you think of Extensions as yet another application on the system, then there's really no way to avoid the difficulties that come with one more set of variables.MarbleheadMan asks,
With the creation of CaminoBrowser.org, a very attractive-looking Mozilla product homepage, are there any plans to expand this idea (self-contained per-product sites) to other Mozilla products, such as Firefox and Thunderbird?
MarbleheadMan, Firefox and Thunderbird are the premier applications from the Mozilla Foundation and as such have their product homepages at www.mozilla.org. I don't know of plans to change that.Simone Chiaretta asks,
Asa, on spreadfirefox there is a post about how you used the 250.000 dollars you raised from the NYT ad campaign, since the ad costed just 50k. Can you explain how u spent the rest?
Simone, the money was raised for the New York Times ad and for other launch related activities. What wasn't spent on the New York Times ad was spent on Firefox 1.0 launch activities.Gary van der Merwe asks,
Asa, How come you blog does not feed http://planet.mozilla.org/ ? Who decides who's blogs get feed to http://planet.mozilla.org/ ?
I used to be listed on Planet but was getting regular complaints about my non-Mozilla related blog posts (on Mars, or my cat, or whatever) and the Planet feed was being syndicated to the front page of www.mozilla.org so I decided to pull myself off. I think that was about 9 months ago. The feed is managed by tor, and I think he's willing to add blogs from any Mozilla regulars. You can subscribe to my feed with this link. Any decent newsreader (I recommend Forumzilla) can aggregate my feed in with others including Planet if that's how you like to read them.funtomas asks,
Any clear idea how Firefox installations will distinguish new, binary patches already installed? If that changed the build timestamp, that'd be limited for one patch a day. Could you disclose how it'll work?
Funtomas, I'm not sure how this will happen. I'll bet that Darin, Ben, or Dougt would know more. Also, I don't think we're necessarily limited to using the current build ID timestamp nor do I think that stamp couldn't include hours, minutes, and seconds if that was useful. You can track the Update development in the Update dependency listGlaurung says,
One incredibly useful feature of the latest version of Opera is the "fit web page to width of window" button. This one feature is the sole reason I continue to use Opera on a semi-regular basis. How soon do you think something like this could be implemented in Firefox? On a related matter: I find the "resize large images to fit" feature of Firefox more annoying than useful. For big "portrait" style images which are taller than they are wide, I can fit it in the window (and have it be way too tiny) or struggle with looking at it full size. What I would like is the ability to scale the image so that its *width* fits the window: like a lot of other people, I don't mind so much having to scroll vertically, what I really hate is scrolling horizontally. So, would it be possible to make the "resize image" feature a 3-way switch (fit entire thing, fit width, full size)?
Glaurung, I don't think that feature is currently on any list of planned work so it's hard to say if or when something like that would be implemented in Firefox. That's not to say that someone won't build it as an extension. I personally like your idea about image scaling but I suspect that it's not a very common use case and I don't know that it's worth adding the complexity. It'd be nice to have an extension, though, for those who did want it.Kroc Camen asks,
The Printing functionality on Firefox is severely broken (do print preview and then Press F5), I've crashed it on a number of occasions just with plain CSS. Has any work been done on this area for the 1.1 release?
Yes. We've fixed literally scores of bugs in printing since 1.0. There is ongoing work to make printing better. It's a common complaint and there seem to be some core issues in Gecko that need to be worked out before it's drastically improved. Bugzilla can probably tell you more.Tom asks,
What are your plans for Spread Firefox in terms of projects? Do you plan on a Spread Lightning whenever that project comes to fruition? Also, do you plan on posting an audio clip of you saying your own name on your Wikipedia Entry for Asa Dotzler?
Tom, we have a number of projects planned for Spread Firefox. We just celebrated 50,000,000 downloads (check out what these guys did in celebration,) a substantial number of which came through the Spread Firefox affiliates program. In looking that information over, it appears that only about 30 to 40 thousand of the Spread Firefox's 100 thousand users are participating in that so one project is to revamp the affiliates program and try to get more of our community participating. We're also planning on improving the site some - to focus more on activities and less on discussion. To that end, we're going to be cleaning up and reorganizing the site to raise the visibility of quick and easy tasks that everyone can do to help spread Firefox as well as to highlight some of the ongoing projects that could use focused and specific volunteer attention. I'll be posting more on this over at SpreadFirefox.com in the coming weeks. As far as spreading Lightning, right now we're focused on spreading Firefox. If we expand any time soon, I suspect it will be to Thunderbird first. And yes, I do plan on posting an audio clip of me saying my name (since so many people are interested in that ;-) and maybe you or someone else maintaining that wikipedia biography can add it.Thanks for all of the great questions. I know that some of you will have follow up questions and if they're substantial, it would be best to hold off and post them in the next Ask Asa segment where I'm more likely to respond.
Several years ago I dreamed up a tool that would do for layout and website problems what Talkback was doing for stability problems; allow us to identify and attack the worst problems first.
Thanks a million to Robert Accettura who made it a reality and to all of the others who helped us get this into the tree (hopefully) in time for Deer Park Alpha.
If you're on Windows, you can get a sneak peek tonight by downloadsing one of these builds.
The tool, called "Reporter", is accessible from the Help menu and launches a simple wizard that lets you send us feedback about broken websites. It's not yet a part of the default installer, but you can enable it by doing a custom installation and checking the box in the list of available additions (with DOM Inspector and Talkback.)
Starting tomorrow it should be a part of all of the trunk nightly Firefox builds (though still an install time option for now). Please give it a whirl, report some broken websites, and let me know if it works for you.
You all asked, and Mike Shaver responds. Answers are broken into topics.
Abdulkadir Topal asks, "When can we expect a usable version of Lightning?
We want to have a first "usable" version out this summer, in June or July. We've been calling this "0.8" lately, on the reasoning that it will have at least 80% of the feature we're going to expose in a 1.0, and that we'll mainly be working on responding to test feedback and polishing the experience at that point.
We're converging pretty quickly on a calendar extension that should be about as usable as iCal in terms of features, so well-selected nightlies could give you an interesting experience.
How long 1.0 is after 0.8 depends on a lot of independent variables, such as time availability, how bad the bugs our testers find are, and the Thunderbird schedule for 1.1 and beyond. I keep getting burned by making schedule predictions, so I think I'll leave it at that.
MC asks, "Is there a roadmap like this feature can be estimated mid 2005 etc, if yes, where is it published?"
The roadmap is, sadly, not really published anywhere right now. I don't have a very good excuse for that other than overbusy (see also the incredible lateness of these replies), but I've been working to get help on codifying the roadmap lately, so I hope to have something to accompany the 0.8 preview release.
Robert Accettura wonders "When will we start seeing nightly releases so it's easy to get involved in the process (testing, etc.)?"
[Steve] a rough estimate of when we can see some test builds?"
We're closer than we've ever been to nightlies and tinderbox coverage of all Calendar projects (Sunbird, Lightning, the Calendar extension), but because of the workload on our poor build engineer, it's not extremely likely that we'll be churning those out automatically before June.
Building Lightning is very easy, if you build Thunderbird on the trunk, so that's another route to preview goodness:
Add "calendar" to the MOZ_CO_PROJECT line, like so:
and add "lightning" to the extensions set, like so:
This will produce a file in dist/xpi-stage called "lightning.xpi", which you can install into your Thunderbird build and play with. If you have trouble with it, you should visit #calendar on irc.mozilla.org, where all manner of calendar developers can try to help answering your questions.
I'll try and get someone to put that up on our Wiki too, now that I think of it.
[Abdulkadir Topal], "When can we expect a usable version with palm support and has palm support a priority within the project?"
tom asks, "Do you happen to know of any broad support by mobile vendors? Any chance of BlueTooth support for synching?"
Muriel SHAN SEI FAN asks "Will it be possible to synchromize with Palm OS/Jpilot and other connections with the JPilot project?"
Merome asks several questions. First, "Will Lightning have built-in support for Pocket PC synchro?"
I don't think we'll see handheld sync in the 1.0 release of Lightning, simply because it's a pretty hard problem to solve well, especially for a lot of devices on different platforms. Michiel van Leeuwen (mvl) and Dan Mosedale (dmose) have been working hard on it, though, and have made sure that sync issues have been considered at all points in our architecture decisions, so I'm hopeful that we'll end up with a very good sync story when the time comes.
One element of sync that's important to us is how it interacts with "shared calendars", which is a feature that mvl has been working hard on, and is now able to demonstrate an initial success with. If we can treat all our non-local updates as sync operations, we can deal with data much more robustly, especially for users that are often offline, or are "intermittently connected". I think this will make for a pretty excellent user experience in Lightning, and I hope that we'll be able to provide the first pieces of it in 1.0.
Anonymous asks are very interesting question, "What is your relationship with brendan?"
Or, more concisely: "purely platonic."
Steve Mason asks, "What is your overall role within the foundation and what other projects have you been a large contributor to?"
I've also done work on the Linux kernel (mainly in networking and the Indy port) and Lustre, a high-performance open source clustered filesystem. (It's probably stretching to say I was a large contributor to the kernel, but I did a fair bit of work on Lustre.)
Another anonymous commenter asks, "On the wiki you mention that Lightning is an extension that tightly integrates the calendar experience into Thunderbird, and not a seperate product. This implies that to get lightning, a user would have to download Thunderbird and then install an XPI in order to get the Lightning functionality. I was wondering if you saw the installation of an extension to be a common / familiar / approachable enough user task for the average desktop user (ie: the Outlook Express user), and if not, would your team consider releasing Thunderbird + Lightning as a single installable package?"
Lately, I've been fond of saying that Lightning can only really be successful as a project, and not a product.
I think we really want to see Lightning shipped as part of Thunderbird in some way, in 2005 if possible. The Thunderbird team has committed to helping us become integrated more and more closely into their app, and I think they're as excited as we are about making that user experience great.
Robert's also interested in what you think makes the perfect omelette?
As with all egg dishes, an omelette's ultimate success is determined by texture, and to a lesser degree temperature. If you can nail that moist-but-not-runny texture and get it on the plate while it's still nice and hot, you really have a hard time making a _bad_ omelette. Do take care to not add too much filling -- the egg should have a starring role -- and pre-cook vegetables so that they don't release too much moisture and break the consistency.
timfry had a whole batch of questions. First, he asks, "What is the committment to linking to other formats such as PalmOS or internet calendaring sites and how would this be implemented?"
jorge says, "Can you elaborate on CalDav support for Lightning? Recently Novell introduced Hula, which will support CalDav, and together with a client like Lightning, could be a nice open source competitor to Exchange." and goes on to ask if you can "talk about GroupDav and some of the other, older open source groupware efforts? Does Lightning plan on supporting one, or the other, or both? What do you think will be the preferred "backend" for Lightning for integrated groupware?"
Sylvain: what are the differences between webdav and webcal and are the files standard ical files?
Christopher asks "What about Brutus, Outlook Project Connector and CALDAV integration?"
Lightning has CalDAV support today, on par with the support in Sunbird (where it debuted in December of last year). We're pretty committed to CalDAV as a primary "rich server calendar" capability, and we should be tracking the future drafts of CalDAV Access and Scheduling closely. We've been active in the CalDAV development process, and have a very good relationship with the Hula team at Novell, in addition to other CalDAV implementers like Oracle and Isamet.
We also have remote-ICS calendar support (often called "webcal"), including mvl's work to back those calendars with high-speed local cache for an improved user experience.
GroupDAV could be interesting, but I'm concerned that the restrictions of the protocol, and its potential incompatibilities with "standard" WebDAV and ICS make it hard to do well if you want to have good interaction between GroupDAV and other calendars. I'm not a GroupDAV expert, though, and I know that Stelian Pop has been working on a GroupDAV provider, so that might Just Happen. We'd certainly like to integrate well with OpenGroupware and other such projects.
One area of the new calendar architecture that we put a lot of thought into was the pluggable provider model. This should make it possible for people to add new calendar types as extensions, with a pretty seamless integration. I'm sure there are issues to resolve there -- we know of some integration points that we want to expose from different providers already, and Dan will be doing that work soon -- but the model itself seems solid, and should allow for new protocols and calendar formats to be added with a minimum of pain.
If we ever end up with support for Exchange, or the Brutus CORBA protocol, it'll likely be through extensions written to that provider interface. (That the Brutus IDL files are under GPL makes adding support directly into Lightning somewhat challenging, but it could work fine as an extension.)
I prefer Firefox's user interface, in that it's focused on exposing the most common user tasks effectively and cleanly, though I certainly don't think it's above reproach. Seamonkey didn't have the same UI goals, and so it's turned out somewhat differently.
The more interesting UI for reference is probably Thunderbird's. We've tried to give a similar experience in the calendar mode as in the mail mode, though we've not been afraid to make what we think are improvements, such as avoiding modal dialogs where possible, and trying to reduce the complexity of menus/etc.
[timfry] also wonders what the UI will look like
Tobu asks several questions. The first is, "Since this is an integration project, what will the UI look like?"
This is the part where I should be showing you screenshots, clearly, but I'm not really in a position to put them up right now. Today's Lightning UI is pretty modal: when you're working on your calendar, that's what you see in the "main" part of the Tbird interface, and when you're work on mail you see the usual view. We want to improve that mode switch before 1.0, but it'll still be present.
One piece of UI that's visible regardless of the mode is what we're calling the "Agenda", which shows a summary of the events upcoming on your calendar today, tomorrow, and for the rest of the week. I want to tune it some more, and figure out a good filtering/view story, but I'm pretty happy with how it's coming along.
Borja asks, "What can I do to be noticed of an event with out openning the extension? It will be nice to recieve a mail automatically. Not only If I open the Calendar."
Because of the way Lightning integrates into Thunderbird, you don't need to be in "calendar mode" to have your alarms trigger. You will need to have Thunderbird running, for the foreseeable future.
[Tobu] goes on to wonder "Also on the integration line, what do you think is to gain by combining messages with calendars?"
The biggest gain is simply from the fact that a lot of people spend their day in either their email client or their calendar, flipping back and forth. We'd like to reduce the cost of that flipping, at a minimum. There are other areas that are pretty ripe for exploration as well: being able to create tasks from email messages; threading meeting invitations in with the inevitable email replies and agenda notes;
performing unified search for all messages, tasks and events with a given person or on a given topic; viewing the agendas of people on an email thread; handling iTIP meeting invitations and updates seamlessly; using the calendar to "remind" about email messages.
James Napolitano asks whether you think any of his feature ideas are useful or likely to be implemented. He lists
- a display where Lightning shows, for any given day, items such as: tasks I completed or worked on, emails I received, emails I sent, and, assuming Firefox is installed, what webpages I browsed.
- The ability to make tasks periodic and repeating.
- A task hierarchy displayed as a kind of threaded/collapsable menu, like one at http://gemal.dk/util/.
- A priority or importance associated with each task.
- Ability to put tasks into customizable time schedules/time organizers and then be able to print them out. and
- The ability to make Gnatt charts for our tasks, like the ones shown in the middle of this page: http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newPPM_03.htm
These are certainly interesting ideas, and while some of them are a little out of scope for what I see as the main thrust of Lightning, I'd like to make sure that we can accomodate those sorts of "advanced task management" capabilities from within extensions. (Repeating tasks are something that I would like to see in 1.0, though.)
Merome: Second, "Will Lightning have a free/busy sight and shared calendars functionalities?"
I don't think we're going to do free/busy in the 1.0 plan, but I think it's an addition that makes a lot of sense for a follow-on release. That's an important part of group scheduling and calendar sharing, and it's an area in which a calendar program can really make a user's life easier.
Calendar sharing will be present to varying degrees. With a CalDAV server, you should be able to subscribe to shared calendars, subject to the constraints of the server itself. For single-writer/multiple-reader webcal, things just Just Work, as they do with Sunbird and iCal and other such ICS-over-HTTP calendar tools.
Multiple-writer ICS calendars require more cleverness to avoid losing updates and properly integrate local changes with remote ones. As luck would have it, mvl seems to have plenty of cleverness here, and his work on multiple-writer calendars looks very promising. I hope we can get it polished in time for a 1.0 release, but I obviously can't speak for his time.
Gijs asks "What areas of the code for lightning would make a [good first bug]? (Or, alternatively, where would one start if they wish to give you guys a hand?)" and "What things do you *want* help with?"
The best "first bug" to work on is one that you want to see fixed. That said, it's often hard to tell, especially with a new code base like Lightning's, whether a given change will be as easy as it looks. We're still moving quickly enough, and the project is still new enough, that we often end up just fixing little bugs as we find them based on discussions in IRC, rather than filing them in bugzilla.
One area that could really use some help is test code for timezone handling and time manipulation. It's been a significant source of pain for us over the course of the project -- and for the world of calendaring as a whole, truth be told -- and a solid test suite for it would make our lives much more comfortable.
We also need help with code to find out the current timezone on a given platform (OS X, Windows, Linux, etc.) and map it into our timezone database.
Sylvain also asks why are you not working on the Calendar project to improve those things, rather than making a new project?
In fact, that's almost exactly the path we took. The vast majority of the Lightning work has been in code shared with Sunbird and the calendar extensions. Where we've diverged, it has either been due to requirements which are very specific to the Thunderbird integration goals (such as iTIP handling), or development of a new capability with the goal of having that capability used by all the calendar-family apps. Refactoring calendar code for use in different "app hosts" has been a very large task for us, but I think it will pay off well for all of the apps.
Sylvain says that he's been deploying Mozilla Calendar XPIs at work with a webdav server and he's spent considerable time writing scripts to make different groups of calendars and is relying heavily on online ical files. His questions are whether or not he should stop this work and wait on Lightning
I don't think there's any need to wait for Lightning for this work. Lightning and Sunbird should be able to handle those ICS files equally well, so there won't be any wasted effort there.
[timfry] a "community" project or if it's getting active support from the Foundation ("is this like the new Seamonkey project or more like the current Firefox project?")
The Foundation has been supportive, but I wouldn't say we're on the level of Firefox yet! The Thunderbird folks seem quite interested in getting Lightning pulled more closely into their world, so we may see a realignment there, but for now I'd say we're more of a "community" project.
Steve also asks, "Who are some other notable Lightning contributors
All of our contributors are notable!
At the risk of a sin of omission, I should mention at least:
- Andrew Douglas, who knows more about datepickers and popups and date parsing than any human should have to;
- Dan Mosedale, provider-interface architect, CalDAV soldier, sync-thinker;
- Michiel van Leeuwen, who has done a lot of architecture work around sync and ICS calendars, and helps us make good decisions about how to share code between Sunbird and Lightning;
- Mike Beltzner, UI consultant and cheerleader;
- Mostafa Hosseini, the Mozilla calendar community's spiritual leader, and a never-ending source of good project advice;
- Simon Paquet, bug-triage trooper, cheerleader, and polite-reminder-of-overdue-Lightning-interviews.
- Stuart "pavlov" Parmenter, working in lots of pieces of Lightning, most recently alarm service goodness;
- Vladimir Vukicevic, another wide-ranging contributor, especially the sqlite-backed "storage" calendar provider and the new calendar view widgetry.
Thanks to everyone who asked questions. A big thanks to Mike Shaver for taking some time out to answer these questions. Also, thanks to Simon Paquet and his blog readers for helping to make this interview such a success. (Also, thanks to Simon for doing the formatting work that I shamelessly borrowed.)
Well, it's finally confirmed ... and then hedged quite well :-) IE 7 beta will have a very basic tabbed browsing feature with more tab features to come after beta. (I suspect that this announcement could be "translated" to "we decided late in the game that we needed tabs and they're nowhere near done so don't flame us when you see them.")
Why didn't they do tabs sooner in IE? Well, according to Dean, they thought about it (when? before IE 6 shipped, like in 2000? somehow I doubt that) but decided not to because it would be inconsistent with other Windows apps like WMP. As if there was any real consistency across those apps today. Ha!
I think a more likely story is that someone at Microsoft woke up and realized that having grown accustomed to such a "sticky" feature, those users who have upgraded to Firefox were unlikely to ever go back to IE.
See, I've got this sneaking suspicion that Microsoft doesn't care half as much about its users as they do about preserving their monopoly. I may be completely wrong here, but if you scrutinize their actions first assuming that they're "trying to make life better for IE users," and then you scrutinize their actions assuming they're just "trying to stem the bleeding and hold on to their monopoly," I think the end result will be that you come around to my conclusion.
Does this mean that the IE 7 user won't benefit? No, not at all. Just because their motivation is lame, doesn't mean that the resulting software will suck. But I do think that all software bears the mark of the motivation behind its creation. With Firefox, I think our motives are obvious to our users. People understand that we're working to make the web better for them. That comes across clearly in the ease of use and the empowerment that our browser offers to the user. With the upcoming IE release, I think the features will reflect quite well the motives and this will be clear to anyone who thinks about it.
Oh, and if you're one of the hundreds of millions of Windows users who didn't move to XP and you want tabs, Dean, over at the IE Blob says you can go download some third-party, IE-based browser. I've got a better idea. How about abandoning the vendor who abandoned you and moving over to a superior browser.
I don't use AIM very often. I'm mostly on IRC for chat, but sometimes the only quick way to reach some people is via AIM. Well, today I found aimfire, an AIM extension for Firefox. Simple, ad-free, and good enough for me. Check it out.
It's always that first really nice day that gets me. Today, while cleaning out the garage, and apparently spending a fair bit of time not in the garage, I burned myself to a crisp under the sun.
Not quite a crisp, but I'm lobster red and experiencing the pain that often acompanies a good first degree burning.
I have pretty good habits about using sunscreen but those habits don't often kick in until Sol's given me one good slap. Ouch.
The Mozilla Foundation is hiring. See our Career Opportunities page for more information.
Check out FoxiPod; "FoxiPod uses Greasemonkey to add special links next to any MP3 or other music file on every webpage....When you click on this icon: FoxiPod button, the music file is immediately downloaded and added to iTunes or to your iPod." Nifty.
Tim Beyers, over at The Motley Fool says about the IBM endorsement of Firefox
I've been in and around tech for near 15 years now, so I find IBM's commitment staggering. That's because IT managers, like mutual fund managers, tend to act as a group. This endorsement could very well start a chain reaction across corporate America.
Tim concludes with
Bottom line: Open source is a lot foxier today than it was yesterday. The discerning Fool will take heart and look for opportunities to profit as a result.
It's being reported by CNET News.com that IBM will be encouraging all of its employees to migrate to Firefox. According to the News.com article, there are already 30,000 IBM employees using Firefox but that's only 10% of their workforce and they intend to migrate the rest. The article goes on to say that IBM is training helpdesk staff and certifying all of their applications against Firefox.
This is great news and I should be able to comment more about this tomorrow.
I've been dreaming about this extension for years.
more: so this is great. I can remove, hide, and move elements around on a page. I can insert arbitrary HTML. I can change style rules. I can modify URLs on a page. Then I can save all those changes as a greasemonkey script that will run when next I load the page restoring it to my "improved" state.
I'm having a blast with this.
update: OK, this is awesome. Now all I need is some better UI. How about just putting the page in Composer's wysiwyg mode and let me manipulate it like that. Maybe even add a Composer toolbar when in this mode. This is awesome! Thanks Scott (assuming I've linked to the right Scott.)
We're still working to get the rest of the localizations ready and the update notifications live, but if you're in a hurry, the en-US build of Firefox 1.0.4 is now available for download
update and en-US update notification is up and functional.
New builds available at
We missed one small checkin last night so the security hole wasn't completely closed off. Now it should be. These builds are otherwise identical to those from last night but we could use your help making sure no little gremlins crept into the build machines and fiddled with our chips :-) If you see anything odd in these builds, please let me know ASAP. Thanks.
update: If you want to give direct feedback, I'll be on irc.mozilla.org #104qa
We've got another round of 1.0.4 candidate builds that could use testing. These builds contain the security fixes and the fix for a DHTML regression we shipped in 1.0.3. Please let me know if you run into any problems with these builds that don't exist in 1.0.3. Thanks.
We've confirmed that this solves the security issue so if you're looking for ways to help out, testing to make sure all your favorite websites still look and function correctly, plus if you've got time running through the Firefox basic functional tests as described here would be a great place to start.
SpreadFirefox.com has achieved some amazing successes in growing a massive grass roots advocacy group and in organizing that community to reach out to the world as the first successful open source outreach and marketing effort.
Others are taking notice - and taking action. The good folks over at Creative Commons are taking a look at building a Spread CC site and community. Open Office already has a SpreadOpenOffice.org site that's starting to stand up. Oh, and I shouldn't forget Brandon Philips, who is gonna put us all to shame with the undeniably bound for fame website, SpreadButter.com ;-)
The marketing landscape is changing. Real users are taking the stage once exclusively owned by actors with fake smiles and cheesy catch phrases. Mind-hooking jingles are being replaced by tens of thousands of personal testimonials. The grass roots are growing fast and they're lifting up quality products for the world to see. SpreadFirefox is just the beginning.
We've got 1.0.4 candidate builds. If you all can help us test these bits, and make sure we haven't regressed anything over 1.0.3, that'd be a big help. If you do encounter any new problems (issues you cannot reproduce in 1.0.3) please comment here ASAP. Thanks.
update 1:12 PM PDT oops, wrong links. corrected. newer builds were available than the one I linked to.
If you're looking for areas to test, navigating a lot of web content would be good, and going through the basic functional tests to check out various browser features would also be good.
In case you haven't contributed yet, head over to Mozillazine and help us define the categories for the 2005 Mozilla Community Awards. We don't want to miss your category so please let us know by posting in that Mozillazine talkback.
WebSideStory has released their April browser usage stats which show that Firefox usage continues to grow while IE falls yet another percentage point. Gecko browsers are now claiming about 9% of web browser usage with Firefox making up the bulk of that.
In the last year, according to WSS, IE's usage share has fallen from 95.48% to 88.86%. About 1% of that can be attributed to "Other" browsers, probably Safari and Opera. The rest of that deterioration is directly attributable to Firefox.
At the risk of giving him a lot more attention than he deserves, I just wanted to point out to you all that there's a troll trying to make trouble in the comments. Don't bother responding to him and if you see him impersonating you, please let me know in email. Thanks.
I've been working with Chris Beard to kick off the Mozilla Community Awards. We spent several weeks trying to figure out all the important categories and finally decided that we simply couldn't do it ourselves.
So, with this story at Mozillazine (linked above) we're opening the floor to category nominations. This part of the Mozilla Commmunity Awards will last for about a week and then Chris and I will sort through and publish the complete list of categories and we'll ask for individual nominations.
Don't miss your chance to be a part of the Mozilla Community Awards (and possibly help create that category that favors your contributions ;-)
Spirit has been capturing some amazing photographs of dust devils blowing across the Gusev plain. Visit the MER Press Release Images page to see some photos and animations created from photos. I'm fascinated by seeing weather, up close and personal, on another terrestrial planet.
We've known for quite a while that these dust devils existed on Mars, and there have been some great photos from orbit showing the devils (lower third of this MGS MOC image) and their trails (the lighter colored dust is carved away revealing the darker rock and soil below) marking up the landscape.
These Spirit images have given us a whole new vantage point and surely the science team's Martian weather folks are thrilled at the new data.
We've just landed a great new feature in Firefox, that significantly improves the speed of the Back and Forward buttons. You can read all about the feature, and how to enable it in your nightly build at mozillazine.
We're coming into the home stretch on the first alpha of 1.1 so now is the time for all you testers out there to get the latest trunk builds and report your feedback. We can't fix it if we don't know about it and we won't know about it unless you tell us.
Jesse Ruderman, one of Mozilla's very talented contributors, spends a few paragraphs over at his blog to talk about how he finds security holes.
Jesse's been contributing to Mozilla for years as a volunteer and an intern. He has proved his value all over the project but is probably best known for finding security vulnerabilities, maintaining the burning edge and pornzilla, as well as for his awesome collection of extremely useful bookmarklets.
One of the major improvements that Mozilla has invested in over the last year was to get Firefox localizations into our tree and being compiled right along with our en-US builds. For Firefox 1.0, we met that goal and it allowed us to ship simultaneous 1.0 releases in more than a dozen languages and we're up to about 30 languages now.
Today, it sounds like we're ready to start taking the Thunderbird localizations into Mozilla's cvs repository. This is very exciting news and a big thanks is owed to Ben, Gandalf, Axel, Chase, and others who made this happen. Having the Thunderbird localizations in the tree for the 1.1 release will help us get the localized builds out sooner and ensure they're of the quality we expect from our official releases. Thanks, again, to everyone that made this happen.
There is little doubt that Firefox is doing better with the tech savvy than it is with the general population, but it's still nice to see that growth and to see that we're taking even bigger chunks of the web savvy audience with every month (they make up a huge chunk of online purchases, so this audience is important to e-businesses.)
Matt McAlister posted some traffic logs from InfoWorld.com which shows that a third of their traffic (an IT related site) was coming from Gecko browsers (mostly Firefox) in March and that this number is up from just under a quarter Gecko traffic for November.
Is anyone else seeing this? The blog post is claiming that the upgrade to Tiger unsets Firefox as the default and replaces it with Safari. If you've seen that or reports of that, please let me know. Thanks.
update OK. I've got several people confirming it so it sounds like Tiger does disable Firefox as the default. If this is "a bug" and not a feature then I'm disappointed. If it comes to light that this was actually planned, then I'm doubly disappointed and my desire to think well of Apple and the Mac will have been diminished considerably.
Robert Scoble responds to my post below (the one where I criticize him for talking about the importance of transparency while requiring participants to sign NDAs) by posting this: "Hey, Asa, can you tell us all those secret features I keep hearing the Firefox team is working on?"
Well, Robert, yes, I can tell you about those secret features we're working on. You have to promise to keep them secret, though. They're so secret that they're restricted to the inner circle of 800 million internet users who can click on this link. Please make sure that you don't let anyone else in on our little secret. We can't afford to let just anyone know what we're up to. Thanks.
I just read over at The Register that Opera's CEO is claiming they got over 60 million downloads of Opera 7. Just a couple of weeks ago, I read over at Reuters that Opera was claiming 10 million active users and 1% market share (that user to marketshare math seems reasonable to me.)
So here's my question: how is it that Firefox's 50 million downloads in six months translates to something between 8.6% and 10.28% of the market and Opera's 60 million downloads in the last two years translates to about 1% (according to both OneStat and Opera itself)?
I'm all too aware that downloads don't mean users and that users don't mean usage, but this looks like an awful big discrepancy.
Putting aside the usage/market share issue, the other question worth asking, if you're Opera Software or an Opera supporter, is what happened to those other 50 million users? 60 million downloads of Opera 7 and only 10 million active users of all Opera versions doesn't sound so good.
I know the Opera fans will think I'm just bashing here, but I'm not. I've been a dedicated Opera user in the past and I continue to use it for testing and occasionally try to use it for regular browsing. I've also offered what I believe to be reasonable criticism and proposals for making Opera better. If it is the case that the Firefox approach (a powerful, but clean and easy to use browser) is capable of turning 50 million downloads into ~10% market share, and the Opera 7 approach (a powerful, but somewhat difficult to use suite of internet applications) only ekes out 1% with 60 million downloads -- according to Opera itself -- then perhaps the Opera 8 move to cleaning up and simplifying the most important features, a clear move in Firefox's direction, will help to grow the Opera base going forward.
I believe that there's still a good bit of work to do in terms of Opera feature clean-up. Burying the rest of the suite was a good first step and I hope that Opera 8 continues to see good update and validates this move toward simplification.
Robert Scoble has begun (or is about to begin) recruiting bloggers to be mouthpieces for Longhorn.
He opens his post on the subject noting the importance of making everything transparent (off to a good start, Robert) but then goes on to say that these bloggers would have to sign NDAs (wtf?)
I guess that means I won't be participating. Bummer.
Robert, "Make everything transparent. Transparency is good." Seriously.
update: I'm not criticizing Microsoft for being opaque, I'm criticizing Robert for hyping transparency in the same post explaining that signing an NDA is required. And, unfortunately, that means I won't be able to participate.
Thanks to Mark, who pointed out the Firefox Tweak Guide, a great introduction for those about to make or having just made the switch to Firefox.
It feels about that time again so I'm opening up the floor to questions. If there's something you're interested in and you think I might have useful answers, please post your questions here.