Three Monkeys, Three Typewriters, Two Days

February 27, 2012

The cost of adding preferences exposed in the UI

From a bug comment responding to someone saying that adding a preference the preference dialog for a web-facing behavior "would [not] require much programming effort":

It actually does. It requires programming effort, testing effort, QA effort, user-education effort. It permanently increases the amount of complexity in the preferences and the time it takes to build the browser and run tests. Some of these effects are not that big, but they're there. Worse yet, there are literally thousands of things people have asked for preferences for that we don't have preferences for right now. Adding any one of them is not fatal, but adding all of them certainly would be. So the folks responsible for the preference dialog tend to put a pretty high bar for adding new preferences exposed in it...
Posted by bzbarsky at 12:29 PM

February 7, 2012

Vendor interactions with the CSS working group and product secrecy

The minutes from yesterday's CSSWG face-to-face meeting are a very interesting read in all sorts of ways. I was somewhat struck by this part:

  tantek: I think if you're working on open standards, you should propose
          your features before you implement them and discuss that here.
  smfr: We can't do that.
  sylvaing: We can't do that either.

Those are the Apple and Microsoft representatives replying to Tantek.

Now I won't claim that Mozilla always does this, or that it's even always desirable; it's often better to have a prototype and then discuss the standard than discuss standardization in a completely theoretical way. But this is not about prototypes; this is about not being able to talk about a feature until there's a more or less complete implementation, which is when Microsoft and Apple tend to announce new features. I knew that both Microsoft and Apple had longstanding policies of refusing to discuss future plans, but hadn't really thought about the negative effect this blanket policy has on standardization efforts...

Posted by bzbarsky at 1:50 PM