Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Mozilla Dev Team On Firefox's Success

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the include-and-reveal dept.

Mozilla 184

Titus Germanicus writes "If you're thinking about open sourcing a project in the near future, Mozilla might be the perfect blueprint to follow. At last week's Mesh 2008 conference in Canada, Mike Shaver, chief technology evangelist and founding member at Mozilla, and John Resig, a JavaScript evangelist at Mozilla — two of the key figures behind the success of Mozilla's Firefox Web browser — listed inclusivity and transparency as two of the top cornerstones of any community-built project. Shaver said in this interview that because the Web is intended for everybody, the level same openness should be shared with Firefox's open source contributors."

cancel ×

184 comments

The prefect blueprint? (5, Informative)

Tacvek (948259) | more than 6 years ago | (#23540363)

The original Netscape code was abandoned in favor of a complete rewrite. Eventually the main product was considered so bloated that a lightweight version was needed. Eventually the main product was dropped in favor of the lightweight system, which had to have not one but two name changes, and is now fairly widely considered bloated, despite its original goal.

I'd say that while Mozilla has done quite well overall, it could hardly be considered a good blueprint to follow.

Re:The prefect blueprint? (5, Insightful)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 6 years ago | (#23540381)

It's a great blueprint to follow. The original scrapping of the Netscape code was a necessary first step in clearing out years of cruft, allowing the developers a clean slate to work from as they developed a great competing browser platform. They kept a lot of the good ideas from the Netscape era, with a focus on standards and community feedback.

A lot of products go through this cycle. The big deal isn't "oh my God, we have to do a rewrite"; this is expected every now and again and needs and technologies change. The important part is the process; how things like a major rewrite are managed. People make the difference, not code.

Re:The prefect blueprint? (5, Insightful)

Merusdraconis (730732) | more than 6 years ago | (#23540833)

I fail to see how scrapping bugfixes and a perfectly functional framework is considered 'cruft'. Sure, they got a lot of bugs, in the same sort of way that a nuclear explosion is bound to kill a few bad guys somewhere. They also killed a lot of stuff that was perfectly salvageable and they'd have to rewrite, and the only reason Firefox 'caught up' is because IE simply didn't going anywhere for five years.

The Netscape code was a perfect example of how to mismanage a rewrite operation.

Re:The prefect blueprint? (5, Informative)

Daengbo (523424) | more than 6 years ago | (#23540879)

Not to mention that they seem to be taking credit for what was originally a fork. FF wasn't even a Mozilla project. the use of the name Phoenix was implying that Mozilla was dead and there was a new browser rising from the ashes. For those of you that don't remember, Phoenix -> Firebird -> Firefox.

I agree that Mozilla's branding of FF and promotional deals were great for them, and that everyone is copying that, but let's not pretend it was all planned from the beginning.

Re:The prefect blueprint? (2, Insightful)

afabbro (33948) | more than 6 years ago | (#23541089)

This article [joelonsoftware.com] is usually referenced whenever the subject turns to complete rewrites. I agree - they're over-rated and done too often. As Joel in the article points out, it's easier and more fun to write code than to read it.

Re:The prefect blueprint? (5, Interesting)

hdparm (575302) | more than 6 years ago | (#23541199)

If shitty IE is the only reason, then why for instance Opera did not catch-up and replaced both, as you and some others imply, crap browsers?

Re:The prefect blueprint? (4, Insightful)

Merusdraconis (730732) | more than 6 years ago | (#23541269)

Probably because for most of its life it was not free. Opera dropped the pricetag when Firefox came along.

Re:The prefect blueprint? (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23541299)

Because Opera quite simply missed the boat. It's certainly not because of a lack of features or because it is closed source. They had a golden opportunity but failed to act and did such a piss poor job of marketing the browser that they just haven't had the uptake despite the feature set and innovations they have had.

Re:The prefect blueprint? (4, Insightful)

hdparm (575302) | more than 6 years ago | (#23541357)

But isn't this whole story about that - ALL the things that make any project successful?

Re:The prefect blueprint? (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 6 years ago | (#23541399)

1) Opera wasn't free during this period of time. Not being free, it's not really in the same "market."
2) Opera, historically, has had crappy usability. It's better now, but it still has a much worse interface than both IE and Firefox, and is generally more annoying to use. Back during the era we're talking about, Opera's interface was crap.

Re:The prefect blueprint? (2, Informative)

gaspyy (514539) | more than 6 years ago | (#23541255)

You probably don't know Netscape's history.
Netscape's engine couldn't scale -- it was such a horrific mess that probably very few things could be salvaged.

Netscape 3 was great for its days. Then Netscape 4 came and it was simply a pile of shit in terms of stability and bugs (I'm not even mentioning standards compliance - remember the layer and ilayer tags?). There were so many rendering bugs it woulld make IE6 seem immaculate. It's been 10 years since I've had the displeasure of developing for it, but I still remember how I needed to add an invisible border to a div in order for it to be positioned correctly.

So in this respect, they got it right by creating a new, modern rendering engine, one that can scale in the future.

Re:The prefect blueprint? (3, Informative)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 6 years ago | (#23541315)

It's kind of a weird feedback loop. The only reason Firefox is competitive now is because IE didn't get worked on for several years; the reason IE didn't get worked on is that it had no competitive browsers.

BTW, I'm not sure you're aware of this, but Joel Spolsky wrote an article about rewriting software from scratch, titled "Things You Should Never Do": http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/fog0000000069.html [joelonsoftware.com] Personally, I'm with you, I agree with every word he says.

(He also writes a later article, I can't find it at the moment, where he describes Netscape release schedule:
* Release whatever you have with no cleanup or testing, call it version x.0
* Whenever there's a bug severe enough to get covered in the New York Times, bump the version number up a point
Sadly, far too many open source projects use that same release philosophy.)

Re:The prefect blueprint? (2, Insightful)

chamont (25273) | more than 6 years ago | (#23541437)

Your comment makes me wonder if you're a professional software developer. Maybe you're a manager?

"Cruft" generally means shit code that is somewhere between incomprehensible and don't-touch-it-I-don't-know-what-the-hell-it-does. Code like this is always frail and impossible to maintain, so it tends to hold back any potential new feature that would rely on it. Normally, the author has long since moved on, so it makes sense in the LONG RUN to throw it out (the open source mentality).

Obviously, manager types can't see much past this quarter, so they saddle people with this garbage, and people eventually quit over such trivial things. Sometimes you just have to realize what you did wrong, press delete, and bang out something that you hope will last 3 years or so.

Re:The prefect blueprint? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23540867)

They kept a lot of the good ideas from the Netscape era...
I wish they'd kept the good idea of leaving a half-loaded image viewable when it's Stopped, instead of blanking it out (Bug 58880 [mozilla.org] ). If Firefox had the same boneheaded behavior for Stopped web pages, it never would've gotten anywhere.

Re:The prefect blueprint? (4, Insightful)

AaronLawrence (600990) | more than 6 years ago | (#23541377)

The original scrapping of the Netscape code was a big part of killing Netscape and allowing IE to take the whole market away. Most likely a strong refactoring would have produced results quicker; of course all the egos... I mean programmers involved wouldn't have been able to indulge their "this code is crap lets throw it away" attitude.

Firefox succeeded DESPITE throwing a huge set of functioning code away, not because of it.

All inexperienced developers think that it will be a "necessary first step in clearing out years of cruft", until they actually try it. Then they realise that the "years of cruft" often had good reasons for being there and solving the problems the "cruft" solved is actually extremely hard and not always elegant.

This is especially true if the people doing the rewrite are not the same people who wrote it the first time. In Netscapes case some of the originals were around but the majority seems to have been new.

Re:The prefect blueprint? (5, Insightful)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 6 years ago | (#23540405)

This is less about the code and more about properly handling the project.

Re:The prefect blueprint? (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 6 years ago | (#23540431)

maybe they meant: get bought out by large company (aol) that later realizes they fucked up big time and pays more money to get rid of you. Or maybe they mean: land lucrative paid deals with google, amazon, etc.

Re:The prefect blueprint? (3, Insightful)

man_of_mr_e (217855) | more than 6 years ago | (#23540515)

Not to mention, Losing half your workforce in the process, taking > 5 years before they even shipped a 1.0 version, changing organizational structures half a dozen times and moving around to different non-profits, and oh yeah.. convince everyone around you that you're "standards compliant" when you're not even close. You're just better than the bigger guy.

Re:The prefect blueprint? (4, Insightful)

urcreepyneighbor (1171755) | more than 6 years ago | (#23540693)

*cough*OLPC*cough*

Re:The prefect blueprint? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23540961)

> You're just better than the bigger guy.

I'm surprised you'd admit that anything was better than Microsoft, after I recognized your name from all those ODF threads...

Re:The prefect blueprint? (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 6 years ago | (#23541295)

I'm not a huge fan of Firefox (I think IE7 performs better, generally), but I also think the level of "bloat" is simply normal for a web browser in this day and age. Browsers are page layout programs, even worse than that, page layout programs where the layout can be changed with scripting at any second.

What's bugging me more about Firefox isn't the level of "bloat", it's the responsiveness. It shouldn't take over 5 seconds for the download window to display, it doesn't matter how long my download history is. (And the browser shouldn't be entirely locked-up while it's opening!) Hopefully FF3 will take care of some of those issues.

Re:The prefect blueprint? (2, Interesting)

KURAAKU Deibiddo (740939) | more than 6 years ago | (#23541389)

Obviously, you're not a web developer, because "performs better" and IE really don't fit together, especially when it comes to rendering web pages in a standards-compliant manner. I suppose IE7 performs better at providing possible exploits [secunia.com] for malicious pages to attack, though. By that metric, IE is the best browser ever. If you write web-driven malware, or engage in phishing.

I've not seen Firefox behave as badly as you describe; are you using Vista with less than 2GB of RAM? ;)

I do really recommend trying either a nightly build or the release candidate for Firefox 3, though; I've been using the nightly builds as my primary browser for over four months, and they've worked great. 3.0 is definitely faster and more responsive than 2.0, and the improvements to the location bar are very welcome, to the point where I can't imagine wanting to browse the web without them.

Re:The prefect blueprint? (0, Flamebait)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 6 years ago | (#23541533)

Obviously, you're not a web developer, because "performs better" and IE really don't fit together, especially when it comes to rendering web pages in a standards-compliant manner.

Actually, I am a web developer. My script runs the exact same speed in both browsers, I think IE "performs better" in that the IE team made some better decisions when differing from the standards. (For instance, the property name "innerText" makes a hell of a lot more sense than "innerHTML." The fact that Firefox won't just swallow its pride and alias "innerText" to do the same thing it does on IE is a constant thorn in my paw. "Object" tags with IDs are a better solution for Flash than Firefox's "Embed" tags, although now more and more sites are using Object in FF which is nice.)

I might be biased from my history, but IE also had a lot of little niceties it does with Javascript that Firefox doesn't reproduce. For instance, you can easily and automatically refer to tables as a 2-dimensional array. Firefox does have better development tools, though.

As for rendering webpages in a standards-compliant manner, as soon as there's a reference implementation, I might buy that. For the moment, the standards are vague, there's no reference implementation, and the standards body primarily seem to be of the extremely foolish mindset that webpages never become un-maintained, and everybody will instantly adopt your shiny new standard the instant its improved. ("Fixing" HTML by creating XHTML just makes two mostly-but-not-quite-identical standards that all browsers and devices have to support for eternity instead of one. Good work.)

In fact, without a reference implementation, I don't think there even should be a standard. It's easy to sit up in an ivory tower and think up shit to put in HTML/XHTML, but without actually writing the software you'll end up with shit that can't be implemented, or you'll miss the three dozen holes and vagaries in your spec. Let's see the reference implementation, then maybe the standards will get some respect.

(Oh, and hey guys, my web sites already do separate content and presentation-- it's called a "CMS"! I appreciate the bandwidth savings of CSS, but that whole content and presentation separation thing was already taken care of.)

For the time-being, the standard is "whatever you have to do to make the page look good in all browsers," and that work is taken care of by the web designer, not the consumer. I don't see anything on the horizon that will make that change significantly. Sure, the job gets easier for the web designer as older browsers fall out of use (at a glacial page; even today you'd be a fool to break IE 5 compatibility), but the end-user isn't going to see any kind of holy grail of improvement from using a "standards-compliant" browser.

I've not seen Firefox behave as badly as you describe; are you using Vista with less than 2GB of RAM? ;)

I dunno if you were trying to make an extremely lame "Vista sucks" joke or not with that smiley. The download window in Firefox is slow on my home computer (Vista with 2GB of RAM, if you must know) and my work computer (XP Pro with 2GB), so it's not the computer.

Recently, I had to re-install Firefox because of a bug my cat triggered while sleeping on the keyboard; somehow I got FF into a mode where every time I clicked on page content, it gave me an insertion cursor, even for non-editable text. I browsed around in about:config for awhile, but I couldn't find jack, so I eventually just gave up and re-installed. That's a sign of quality right there. (Thank God for Google Browser Sync.)

I've been using the nightly builds as my primary browser for over four months, and they've worked great. 3.0 is definitely faster and more responsive than 2.0, and the improvements to the location bar are very welcome, to the point where I can't imagine wanting to browse the web without them.

Good, I like having good browsers. I'd love it if Firefox spent a little time implementing the nice touches that IE has, or at least making the property names consistent.

Re:The prefect blueprint? (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 6 years ago | (#23541549)

GRAH! Sorry, nasty typos:

For instance, the property name "innerText" makes a hell of a lot more sense than "innerHTML."

Supposed to read:

For instance, the property name "innerText" makes a hell of a lot more sense than "textContent."

Re:The prefect blueprint? (1)

Slashdot Suxxors (1207082) | more than 6 years ago | (#23541711)

Alright buddy, you can keep calling those horrible non-standard implementations of HTML/CSS "niceties" if you want.

Re:The prefect blueprint? (1)

KURAAKU Deibiddo (740939) | more than 6 years ago | (#23541737)

Considering that innerHTML can contain HTML and not just text, it makes sense that it is named the way that it is.

Perhaps if you had more familiarity with CSS you'd realize just how broken Internet Explorer is. IE failing to properly render valid HTML/CSS that displays correctly in all other browsers is far too common, and more often than not, IE6 and IE7 can be counted upon to break it in entirely different manners.

Your observations of the speed of Firefox do not mirror mine, and I've installed it on some horribly under-powered Windows machines. Perhaps you should run an operating system that isn't incomplete [theregister.co.uk] , or keep your amazingly talented browser-killing cat away from your keyboard.

Seriously, if you're syncing your preferences, why didn't you just revert them? Any changes made go in your profile [mozilla.com] .

Do you really think that the people writing the W3C specifications know nothing about writing browsers [wikipedia.org] ?

Keith Curtis on Irelands Failure (0, Offtopic)

Keith Curtis (923118) | more than 6 years ago | (#23540375)

It's the booze - filthy Mick's can't help themselves.

9/11 was an inside job (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23540409)

AND YOU KNOW IT

Of course, it's so simple! (5, Insightful)

Jacques Chester (151652) | more than 6 years ago | (#23540445)

Good community projects need inclusivity and transparency, there's no doubt.

Though getting millions and millions of dollars from Google probably helps. You know. A bit.

Re:Of course, it's so simple! (5, Informative)

asa (33102) | more than 6 years ago | (#23540461)

Firefox was already the most widely used open source consumer product in the world before the Google revenue existed.

Re:Of course, it's so simple! (5, Funny)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 6 years ago | (#23540541)

only if you ignore all the BSD code in Windows.

Re:Of course, it's so simple! (1)

bcat24 (914105) | more than 6 years ago | (#23540623)

IIRC, there is almost no BSD-licensed code (maybe none) in modern versions of Windows.

Re:Of course, it's so simple! (3, Insightful)

mixmatch (957776) | more than 6 years ago | (#23540713)

You know this because you have the source code. Right?

Re:Of course, it's so simple! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23541333)

no, it is
  • I
who have it!

Re:Of course, it's so simple! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23540821)

IIRC, there is almost no BSD-licensed code (maybe none) in modern versions of Windows.
You say that like people use modern* versions of Windows.

*(and I use "modern" to mean "released recently" here)

Re:Of course, it's so simple! (1)

Orange Crush (934731) | more than 6 years ago | (#23541053)

Isn't the whole (pre-Vista) network stack cribbed from BSD?

Re:Of course, it's so simple! (2, Insightful)

asa (33102) | more than 6 years ago | (#23540785)

Windows is not an open source consumer product, no matter if it contains bits of open source code or not.

Re:Of course, it's so simple! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23540899)

Firefox was already the most widely used open source consumer product in the world before the Google revenue existed.
Yes indeed, all 10 users...

Re:Of course, it's so simple! (1)

AaronLawrence (600990) | more than 6 years ago | (#23541345)

That's right, thanks to Netscape and AOL.
Mozilla/Firefox has never existed as a purely non-commercial, grassroots effort. It has always had massive funding and resourcing from companies.

Whodda thunk? Massive funding and resourcing can produce a successful product?

Not our experience (5, Interesting)

wombatmobile (623057) | more than 6 years ago | (#23540465)

"two of the key figures behind the success of Mozilla's Firefox Web browser â" listed inclusivity and transparency as two of the top cornerstones of any community-built project."

That sure wasn't our experience with contributing to FireFox. My company contributed several person months of code to FireFox 3 to build out a text placement capability. Our patches were never accepted; However, they took 80% of the code and reused it to fix half a dozen incidental issues that we had had to fix in order to implement the character placement issue that we were addressing.

All of which is OK, except that our authors were not given any acknowledgement or attribution.

But then they turned around and said we'd have to rework our original patch because now "80% of the code is redundant".

We are not contributing to FireFox any more. I thought about point out our experiences to Brendan Eich and asking him if he's OK with his people's behaviour. But it was easier just to walk away. We've now changed our focus to WebKit.

Re:Not our experience (4, Insightful)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 6 years ago | (#23540495)

I feel for you in the lack of acknowledgment, but I have to say that in 20+ years of managing technical projects, these two simple things help make ANY project work better: inclusivity and transparency.

I've done projects almost picture perfect only to later see someone attempt same or similar that fails miserably because of the lack of one or both of these.

Openness: It's not just for F/OSS

Treat everybody like mushrooms and dank musty smelling product is what you end up with.

Re:Not our experience (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#23540549)

I don't know where *you* work, but being "inclusive and transparent" around here means inviting idiots who don't know anything about software engineering to come change the direction of your project the month before you hit important milestones. In many companies the only way to get stuff done is to congregate in secret and hope you can get the code written before some bozo manager starts telling sales and marketing that you're working on a high powered toaster.

Re:Not our experience (1)

dubbayu_d_40 (622643) | more than 6 years ago | (#23540835)

So true - but I don't think most programmers are in the product development biz.

Re:Not our experience (1)

pmee (1250276) | more than 6 years ago | (#23540963)

Maybe you should include these "idiots" earlier in the process so you can ship something people actually want and not what the specs said they might want.

Re:Not our experience (4, Insightful)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 6 years ago | (#23540983)

Actually, part of the reason that you pay a project manager big bucks is that s/he will avoid such scope creep, and use big hammers to ensure that there is none.

When you invite such creatures as you describe, limiting their input to a choice of two limited options is one way to keep them in check. There are others, but you NEVER let anyone have that much control, ever. Once you do, you are no longer managing the project, just taking orders.

I am very quick to throw the yellow or red cards in meetings when scope creep is showing. I've been known to repurpose meetings entirely on the spot to deal with the fact that there are one or two who think the project goals and schedule are not suitable to 'their' needs. If done right, this clearly defines not only what is supposed to be happening, but who is actually in charge. It's definitely a game of socio-political chess, but to get things done it is necessary. A good PM never ever loses sight of project goals and scope, and keeps the project reigned into those parameters. period. or fail results.

Not just anyone with PMP is going to be able to do that though. It takes skills developed over years of working projects, and the ability to efficiently use positional authority, as well as the ability to simply walk away and wish them luck on their project when they don't want to listen.

Re:Not our experience (1)

chromatic (9471) | more than 6 years ago | (#23541165)

I've been known to repurpose meetings entirely on the spot to deal with the fact that there are one or two who think the project goals and schedule are not suitable to 'their' needs.

If their needs don't affect the project, why are they in the meeting?

If their needs do affect the project, why are the project's goals different from their needs?

Re:Not our experience (2, Interesting)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 6 years ago | (#23541245)

That was in reference to the other poster's comment:

....means inviting idiots who don't know anything about software engineering to come change the direction of your project the month before you hit important milestones....
When the project scope is being redirected, or attempts to do so, in such fashion, then those people did not participate as they should have at the beginning, and the PM did not do their job right to start with. With transparency and inclusivity, the project should already have accounted for their needs. Any derivation from the agreed goals/schedules etc. requires that everything be reviewed, and any change in scope be either shut down asap or the project re-aligned to meet these hidden agenda goals, including reshaping the timeline, milestones, and scope of the project. Read that as a do-over agreed to by all the principles. In effect, stopping the current project cold, then starting a new project that covers the newly agreed goals.

Re:Not our experience (1)

HalAtWork (926717) | more than 6 years ago | (#23540603)

Is it possible to work the functionality in with an extension?

Re:Not our experience (3, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 6 years ago | (#23540671)

It's not clear exactly what you did here, but it sounds like what you did is just start coding, then come to Mozilla a few months later and say, "hey! we have code for you!" IF that is what you did, then next time you should probably get in contact with the developers and discuss the feature you want to add and how it should be done. It's hard to be coordinated when everyone is just giving stuff, and more importantly, it can be hard to change the way you were planning on organizing things suddenly, even if the new way is better.

Not sayin' you're wrong, just addin' my thoughts

Re:Not our experience (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23541923)

Not sayin' you're wrong, just addin' my thoughts
Thank goodness! Imagine the backlash you'd get if you were to claim that The Hans Reiser Way was a bad thing!

Re:Not our experience (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23540683)

AC so I don't lose what little "street cred" I have.

I had this exact same experience with Pidgin back in the Gaim days. Patches submitted, never accepted, code used to fix bugs, and contributions never acknowledged. It became obvious that I just wasn't in the clique of core contributors; and I just took my expertise elsewhere.

So, how often is this happening to other people contributing to "open" source projects

Re:Not our experience (5, Insightful)

mrbluze (1034940) | more than 6 years ago | (#23540909)

Patches submitted, never accepted, code used to fix bugs, and contributions never acknowledged.

It's sad but true. Open Source is kind of like a religion some how. People think it means the guys involved are good and fair and nice. But they are no different from anyone else. Most people are petty, selfish, poor managers (of themselves and others).

A good Open Source project requires a good manager who can coordinate and delegate and so forth. The problem is that programming is a creative activity and you can't just tell people what to do and expect them to slavishly obey. Especially if you're not paying them money. It's like herding cats.

Big projects like Mozilla's Firefox are not really a good example of anything except how big companies have seen fit to fund something 'free' in the hope that some financial gain comes to them in the end.

Your example of Pidgin (Gaim) is much closer to the real problem where, without money, human nature can be very disappointing.

The big question we should be asking is how should we organize projects to make sure good code doesn't get rejected?

Re:Not our experience (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23540973)

So, how often is this happening to other people contributing to "open" source projects
Well, if you're talking about Pidgin/Gaim, it happens just about every goddamn time anyone submits anything. Personal preference takes precedence over the good of the project, and those jackasses' egos grow ever larger.

Re:Not our experience (2, Informative)

pizzach (1011925) | more than 6 years ago | (#23541049)

I don't know about the Pidgin guys. I think empathy [gnome.org] is going to be stealing the place of pidgin in many linux users desktops if they aren't careful. It already has a form of video/voice chat built in and has been proposed for inclusion in Gnome [arstechnica.com] .

Re:Not our experience (1)

hdparm (575302) | more than 6 years ago | (#23541311)

This is on Fedora 9 computer:

yum info empathy
Loaded plugins: refresh-packagekit
Available Packages
Name       : empathy
Arch       : i386
Version    : 0.22.1
Release    : 1.fc9
Size       : 500 k
Repo       : fedora
Summary    : GNOME Instant Messaging Client
URL        : http://live.gnome.org/Empathy
License    : GPLv2+
Description: Empathy provides a powerful multiple protocol instant messaging
           : client using the Telepathy framework.

Re:Not our experience (1)

Bottlemaster (449635) | more than 6 years ago | (#23541461)

I had this exact same experience with Pidgin back in the Gaim days. Patches submitted, never accepted, code used to fix bugs, and contributions never acknowledged. It became obvious that I just wasn't in the clique of core contributors; and I just took my expertise elsewhere.

So, how often is this happening to other people contributing to "open" source projects
I have a counter-anecdote. I once submitted a small patch to bzflag, and even though they basically rewrote it (because I didn't take advantage of their configuration framework when doing so significantly improved this particular solution), they still gave me credit for the feature and put my name in the ChangeLog. I didn't deserve the recognition, so this was very gracious of them.

Re:Not our experience (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23541535)

Mod parent up. Same experiences with Ubuntu (bureaucracy), OpenBSD (perhaps the worst community experiences I've ever had), audacious and olsrd, even.

Re:Not our experience (1)

tyrione (134248) | more than 6 years ago | (#23540707)

"two of the key figures behind the success of Mozilla's Firefox Web browser â" listed inclusivity and transparency as two of the top cornerstones of any community-built project."

That sure wasn't our experience with contributing to FireFox. My company contributed several person months of code to FireFox 3 to build out a text placement capability. Our patches were never accepted; However, they took 80% of the code and reused it to fix half a dozen incidental issues that we had had to fix in order to implement the character placement issue that we were addressing.

All of which is OK, except that our authors were not given any acknowledgement or attribution.

But then they turned around and said we'd have to rework our original patch because now "80% of the code is redundant".

We are not contributing to FireFox any more. I thought about point out our experiences to Brendan Eich and asking him if he's OK with his people's behaviour. But it was easier just to walk away. We've now changed our focus to WebKit.

There is intelligence that walks amongst Us.

Re:Not our experience (4, Informative)

Merusdraconis (730732) | more than 6 years ago | (#23540853)

I'm reminded of that infamous bug amongst webcomic creators where alt text on images wouldn't go to a new line when it needed to. It was identified in something like 0.8, and finally got fixed in 3.0, with Firefox developers mocking those stupid webcomic people the entire time and continually refusing to allow someone else to fix the bug.

They make a pretty good browser, but man those developers are a buncha dicks.

Re:Not our experience (4, Informative)

roca (43122) | more than 6 years ago | (#23540977)

What was this? Bug 388547?

If so:
-- I'm sorry.
-- Looks like Robert Longson slipped up by not copying over contributor information. But I don't see any complaints from your people about that in the bugs. (Note, he's a volunteer, not paid by Mozilla or anyone else.) Would be easy to fix.
-- Tim Rowley got taken off Firefox SVG work by IBM which partly explains why the patch never got final review.
-- Looks like "25% no longer required", not 80%.
-- I don't see any sign of your displeasure anywhere in these bugs. People are busy, timely hurry-up gripes usually help prioritize things.

Re:Not our experience (1)

FishWithAHammer (957772) | more than 6 years ago | (#23541285)

-- Looks like Robert Longson slipped up by not copying over contributor information. But I don't see any complaints from your people about that in the bugs. (Note, he's a volunteer, not paid by Mozilla or anyone else.) Would be easy to fix.
You're missing the point. The fact that it would be "easy to fix" means nothing. The fact that it wasn't done does. If a volunteer sucks at it--somebody should be being paid to do it. Mozilla's hugely profitable. They have no excuse.

-- Tim Rowley got taken off Firefox SVG work by IBM which partly explains why the patch never got final review.
An explanation is nice, but it doesn't solve the problem of it not getting done.

-- I don't see any sign of your displeasure anywhere in these bugs. People are busy, timely hurry-up gripes usually help prioritize things.
This is irrelevant, and should be unnecessary.

The Firefox project wants to be treated like a big boy, it needs to act like one.

Re:Not our experience (3, Insightful)

xant (99438) | more than 6 years ago | (#23541507)

You're missing the point. The fact that it would be "easy to fix" means nothing. The fact that it wasn't done does. If a volunteer sucks at it--somebody should be being paid to do it. Mozilla's hugely profitable. They have no excuse.
Good god, do you have any idea how much code is in Firefox? How many people contributing? The entire point of open source is that lots of people can do more work than a single proprietary organization. The downside, of course, is there's too much for a single organization to oversee. Shit happens. You get things fixed by asking for them to get fixed, that includes accidental omissions of credit. It should have been done, but the fact that it wasn't is not a failing of the Mozilla organization.

[..] People are busy, timely hurry-up gripes usually help prioritize things.
This is irrelevant, and should be unnecessary.
Yet, isn't. In the real world, people do not magically know what they have to do. They do things when asked to do them.

Re:Not our experience (3, Interesting)

xant (99438) | more than 6 years ago | (#23541537)

IME, it's perfectly normal to ask patch contributors to re-submit patches, frequently, until they're right. The patch contributor is the one benefiting most directly from the patch, and is the one with the most knowledge about the patch, and is the one with the most motivation to fix the patch. That makes the contributor the only party who can be asked to fix the patch.

So they used some code from it, and then asked you to resubmit it built against the new codebase. This is perfectly normal and reasonable. They can't use the patch as-is when it has been mangled to death; and in the final analysis they don't really care whether it gets used, even though they did care about selected parts of it. You care whether it gets used. So you are the one who should remake the patch.

Yea right. (0, Troll)

fluffy99 (870997) | more than 6 years ago | (#23540529)

They started with a piece of crap code base, banged on that, did a mediocre re-write, and in the end still have a buggy, unstable, bloated browser. The developers frequently stick their fingers in their collective ears and insist that problems like memory hogging and instability don't exist. Instead, they keep forging ahead and adding more feature bloat. The only reason they had any success on the windows platform was the IE6 insecurities and people wanted a lightweight replacement browser. It's too bad that firefox has become a heavyweight, slow hog that isn't really much more secure than IE7.

Re:Yea right. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23540569)

Well, the UI still beats IE7 coming and going. IE7 is a mess.

Re:Yea right. (4, Insightful)

Slashdot Suxxors (1207082) | more than 6 years ago | (#23540585)

Say what you want but Firefox is still light years ahead of IE. If there's only one thing it has over IE, it's that it follows web standards much, much better.

Re:Yea right. (3, Insightful)

SiegeTank (582725) | more than 6 years ago | (#23540617)

I agree too, but it's hardly reason to ignore the fact that Firefox does have it's own problems. Look at FF's memory footprint and where Firefox came from and you'll see it's simply a very oversimplified and blunt statement about the ugliest bits that no one likes to focus on.

Re:Yea right. (3, Informative)

linuxci (3530) | more than 6 years ago | (#23540651)

I agree too, but it's hardly reason to ignore the fact that Firefox does have it's own problems. Look at FF's memory footprint and where Firefox came from and you'll see it's simply a very oversimplified and blunt statement about the ugliest bits that no one likes to focus on.
A lot of the memory issues have been fixed in Firefox 3 as well as improving JavaScript performance.

Re:Yea right. (2, Informative)

Slashdot Suxxors (1207082) | more than 6 years ago | (#23540653)

I'm on an old Gateway VTX400 laptop. It's got a 2.2GHz processor with 256 megs of ram. I've got four FF tabs open and it's using ~75MB of memory. I've also got uTorrent open and Windows Media Player and it runs fine for the most part. It stutters every now and then, but it's never crashed because of Firefox. (or any other reason now that I think of it.) Basically what I'm trying to say is that the foot might be wearing a bigger shoe these days but honestly is that a problem? In the day and age of 2/4/8 GB RAM setups, is a few more MB used up that big of a deal?

Re:Yea right. (1)

Kopiok (898028) | more than 6 years ago | (#23541397)

Well, if everyone thought like that you'd never get more performance out of your 4GB setup. You'd get the exact same performance, just with larger memory footprints.

Re:Yea right. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23541495)

Last time I checked Firefox's memory usage didn't scale according to how much RAM you have. He was pointing out that the memory usage wasn't that big of a factor - even when running it on older hardware. Don't be an idiot.

Re:Yea right. (2, Informative)

compro01 (777531) | more than 6 years ago | (#23540697)

AFAICT, pretty much all the FF2 memory issues have been fixed up in FF3, though i'm staying with 2 until google makes their toolbar work on 3.

Re:Yea right. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23540635)

I'm using Firefox 3, have been for some time now.

Kicks. IE's. Butt. I don't care /what/ metric you're using, memory, speed, configurability, security, portability, whatever.

FF3 is going to blow IE away completely.

Re:Yea right. (0, Troll)

fluffy99 (870997) | more than 6 years ago | (#23540657)

Certainly not in stability, or even being able to properly work with 100% of the websites out there. Compliance with standards is pointless if it doesn't work on 100% of sites. If FireFox wants better acceptance, they need to fix a lot of the corporate network support issues like centralized updates, configuration management that integrates with AD instead of some abortion scripting setup, properly implementing the proxy.pac file (which netscape invented, btw), etc.

I normally remove Firefox from my users computers as it causes more helpdesk calls, and the fact that it doesn't always automatically update itself is a security vulnerability. At least with IE7 I can control via AD and update via WSUS. I was pretty pissed to discover that one of our developer teams wrote a critical web gui that requires the chrome extensions. Now there's a fubared set of "standards" for you. I just laugh my arse off that everytime firefox gets updated (for those non-existant security holes) that their application breaks.

Re:Yea right. (2, Insightful)

Slashdot Suxxors (1207082) | more than 6 years ago | (#23540695)

Certainly not in stability, or even being able to properly work with 100% of the websites out there.
Moot point since there's not a browser out there that will display _everything_ correctly 100% of the time. At least Firefox tries to follow the standards, versus IE which seems to purposely ignore the standards that they supposedly "adhere" to. IE has broken more of the stylesheets I've been working on than I care to count. I shouldn't have to have two or three different stylesheets because MS doesn't like standards.

Re:Yea right. (3, Informative)

mixmatch (957776) | more than 6 years ago | (#23540813)

Now there's a fubared set of "standards" for you. I just laugh my arse off that everytime firefox gets updated (for those non-existant security holes) that their application breaks.
Kind of like all those websites to broke when IE 7 came out?
http://blogs.msdn.com/ie/archive/2008/01/21/compatibility-and-ie8.aspx [msdn.com]
http://www.456bereastreet.com/archive/200611/three_reasons_sites_break_in_internet_explorer_7/ [456bereastreet.com]
http://blog.wired.com/monkeybites/2006/10/why_internet_ex.html [wired.com]

Re:Yea right. (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 6 years ago | (#23541617)

Maybe he's a troll, but he makes a good point. The standards body seems to be entirely unaware that there are thousands, if not millions, of unmaintained websites out there that will never be upgraded from what they are now, whether they are bog-standard HTML 4 or some browser-detection-script mess of crap from the 4.0 era. Blindly following standards is a waste of effort if it significantly breaks websites... look at the current builds of IE8 if you want to get an idea of how much the web sucks when all sites are in "standards mode".

Both browsers, IE and FF alike, have to draw a balance between supporting standards and supporting existing websites. Some websites will break, undoubtedly. You also need to be aware that the point of the standards are for making better websites... if the user's favorite site breaks, that's extremely counter-productive. Sometimes I think web developers forget the user focus... Firefox being more "standards-compliant" doesn't help you or the user if your site doesn't work in IE6.

Re:Yea right. (0)

LeafOnTheWind (1066228) | more than 6 years ago | (#23540787)

IE, maybe, but when you compare it to a real browser like Opera...

Re:Yea right. (2, Insightful)

Slashdot Suxxors (1207082) | more than 6 years ago | (#23540809)

Opera is great as well, but it lacks the customization of Firefox that I've grown to love. I used to use Opera all the time, but then I started using Firefox and these little things called add-ons kept me coming back.

Re:Yea right. (1)

LeafOnTheWind (1066228) | more than 6 years ago | (#23540917)

I was being facetious, sorry ;)

Firefox devs, please fix these two issues for me. (0, Offtopic)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 6 years ago | (#23540637)

I love Firefox. It is my default browser and has been so since its very early days. These two issues bring me headache bigtime.

1: Please let us be able to teach Firefox how to handle the mailto: links on Windows. This is a pain on Windows XP with all service packs installed (if this helps). In its current form, if one clicks any such link, Firefox will immediately hang, and the system will "resurrect" or come to life with 48 Internet Explorer windows open.

In these windows, will be an error message saying something to the effect that Windows could not find an appropriate program to handle the request.

I know some will say this is a windows problem but to me, I blame Firefox for not being able to handle such a link by loading my GMail log-on page. There used to be an extension for this but it sucked big time.

2: Video and specifically CNN live feeds together with the rtsp protocol are still not handled in a consistent way. RTSP will sometimes work but I have never been able to watch CNN live video feeds in Firefox! Ironically, the commercials preceding the feeds have no issues together with the captions. This applies to the sound as well.

If these issues are fixed, you devs will have made my year!

Otherwise, thank you for the good and solid Firefox browser.

Re:Firefox devs, please fix these two issues for m (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23540771)

Re: 1:
Hmm. I've never had that issue with mailto: on XP SP2. It would always properly load up Outlook Express (which would always require new information since I never used it) or Thunderbird, once it was installed.

I will stand up with you on the "allow me to set webmail," but all the different webmail UIs would be a pain to work with. I'd be supremely happy if a way was found to load up my always-open Prism Gmail-app to use mailto:

Re:Firefox devs, please fix these two issues for m (1)

Slashdot Suxxors (1207082) | more than 6 years ago | (#23540789)

and the system will "resurrect" or come to life with 48 Internet Explorer windows open.
Come on man! Some of us plan on trying to sleep tonight. That thought is going to keep me up all night...

Regarding Standards Compliance (2, Informative)

Anik315 (585913) | more than 6 years ago | (#23540665)

I don't know whether Mozilla is more standards compliant than other browsers in the technical sense, but from a web developers standpoint it has lots of little things that other browsers don't have and some big things as well, such as XPCOM. It's web developers web browser, and I expect that with Firefox 4 release which will introduce JavaScript 2, it will be conclusively be the best browser out there and will perhaps regain a majority market share [w3schools.com]

Re:Regarding Standards Compliance (0, Troll)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 6 years ago | (#23540859)

Web developers use more than 2 browsers, including Safari and Opera we've already got 4. Web developers do this because they know that "Standards Compliance" is a bullshit term.

There is no reference renderer is which to compare to. All there is is a bullshit specification intentionally worded in bizarely ambiguous language.

Web developers use more than one browser because the most important thing is that their shit works for the end user. They dont sit on top of a pedestal telling the end user to fuck off if they use IE, because the end user is the commodity they are trying to sell.

Open Source Lemmings (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23540765)

It's funny...all you guys out there "contributing".

Who is going to pay your student loans?

Why do you code for "free"..."free" as in dumb?

(oh and I wonder how much cash the two leads make, while the rest of you scrape away for a mention of your name)

the question is.. (0)

rainhill (86347) | more than 6 years ago | (#23540781)

.. can we really call it a success until Firefox got a relatively safe market share of at least, lets say 40-60%?

or until there are no sites left that demands: 'sorry this site requires M$IE only'?

Right day for it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23540861)

Rather appropriate on the day of the Phoenix Landing!

Firefox is a unique project. (1)

Renderer of Evil (604742) | more than 6 years ago | (#23540863)

I feel that the browser arrived at the right time, with the right idea and bunch of external factors created a perfect storm - most notable of which was Microsoft's abandonment of its browser innovation once it had reached critical mass. If there is credit to be given to management I'd say it was the decision to keep it modular. Instead of including every known feature on the market they gave users the option of customizing the browser with plugins and kept the code uncluttered and very robust. An unintended consequence of that was user dependency. It took me about 2 weeks to quit Firefox and go to Safari 2. I kept going back because of all the cool extensions I got attached to over the years. Having a propaganda arm to spread the word is helpful as well (see: spreadfirefox.com). Those guys were instrumental in making Firefox a success. Of course, none of this would have happened if it was just hype - the product behind it was pretty solid (not counting the horrendous memory management).

First rule of project management (1)

FranTaylor (164577) | more than 6 years ago | (#23540889)

You are going to throw the first one away, whether you want to or not. Plan on it and take advantage of the opportunities this gives you.

slaps head (4, Insightful)

nguy (1207026) | more than 6 years ago | (#23540919)

How could I have been so stupid? I just forgot about enabling the "get multi-million dollar revenue stream for my open source project" option on Sourceforge.

Don't get me wrong, I use the Mozilla and Firefox products, but given the amount of money that has gone into Mozilla (and Apache), I think the results are actually not all that great.

Re:slaps head (1)

justinchudgar (922219) | more than 6 years ago | (#23541407)

As opposed to the results from Microsoft or SAP or Oracle, etc. with the multi-billion dollar revenue streams? I have no real knowledge of the how much revenue the Apache Foundation has gotten over the years; but, if you compared the quantity and quality of their code with that of MS or Oracle, I'd bet that Apache does a lot more for the dollar.

Too much success? (1, Insightful)

Waccoon (1186667) | more than 6 years ago | (#23540939)

It's nice when a project gets recognition for doing something well, but when Firefox started getting more popular, largely due to the loud self-congratulation of the open source community, it started getting slower and buggier. I've been toggling between Firefox and Opera within the last year, largely due to the horribly sluggish performance when using multiple windows. If it weren't for the excellent Web Developer extension, I'd use Opera all the time.

The plug-ins are nice, but most of the ones I use are not for clever hacks, like stripping out ads, but for getting functionality that really should be in the browser in the first place, like the ability to easily edit cookies. How come I can't switch between quirks mode and strict mode on the fly? Why can't I resume stopped downloads, instead of having to re-download them from the beginning? How can a browser get so bloated when blocking web sites from setting cookies requires you to type in the URLs, instead of just clicking a button that says "block"? I still like Firefox more than IE, but I can't say the design of the browser really stacks up well against other browsers unless you add a lot of 3rd-party software. Can you really praise the browser in that case?

Don't even get me started about stability. Update Firefox, and the browser might refuse to start. I have to dig around in my profile folder to delete plug-ins one at a time to get the browser just to get a window open. Just re-installing the browser doesn't fix plug-in issues. Doesn't Firefox keep a log, so it knows when it tries to start and a plug-in doesn't work? That's a must when you depend on 3rd-party software so heavily.

I'm almost hoping that Opera doesn't get too popular. That will keep it fast, lightweight, and low on bugs.

Yes, I know I sound angry given that I get the software for free, but Firefox gets just a bit too much praise. Firefox is what got Microsoft in line and fixing some longstanding problems with IE, but it's easy to hate Microsoft. I'd hate to see Firefox continue getting praise because 3rd-party developers have the ability to patch the browser's design issues.

qep...!? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23541003)

FrreBSD continues United States of *BSD is d7ing Yet Who sell another

Go the "Evangelists"?! (1)

syousef (465911) | more than 6 years ago | (#23541007)

Apart from being a term from the late 90s, I don't feel comfortable listening to anyone that describes themself as an evangelist, let alone use it as a job title. It makes me think of irrational religious quackery which is not a method I like to make my tech decisions. Kinda reminds me of RMS dressed in his Saint robe garb too. *shudder*

"Awesome" Bar (5, Insightful)

sulfur (1008327) | more than 6 years ago | (#23541417)

It looks like Mozilla developers are going Pidgin's way by ignoring their users. Many of us don't like new "smart" address bar that uses some arcane algorithm to sort suggested results. Unfortunately, there is no way to change address bar behavior to Firefox 2 style (when I type sl in the address bar, I want to see slashdot.org as my first result instead of some combination of my bookmarks and random pages). The worst thing about it is that there is no way to disable this "feature". I don't really mind when they bloat Firefox with some features that might appeal to some users, but I *do* mind when they make no option to turn them off.

I would probably go crazy if there was no way to change default Windows theme to Classic.

Re:"Awesome" Bar (1)

BruceCage (882117) | more than 6 years ago | (#23541799)

I don't yet use Firefox 3, but does this help? [mozillazine.org] For pretty much anything in Firefox you can think up of there's usually some kind of configuration option available through about:config.

Re:"Awesome" Bar (2, Informative)

sulfur (1008327) | more than 6 years ago | (#23541883)

No, it was removed in 3.0b3 [mozilla.org] . The problem is that it is not available through about:config or any other option. You can install Oldbar extension, but it only changes appearance of the address bar, not the sorting algorithm. You will still have results from your bookmarks and random pages.

Re:"Awesome" Bar (2, Insightful)

SlashJoel (1145871) | more than 6 years ago | (#23541805)

I happen to love the new address bar. Well, except for the fact that it assumes I'm blind and takes up 80% of the screen displaying the results. But that's why I use the 'oldbar' plugin. If there really are 'many of us' that prefer a different algorithm, one of you can write a plugin to display porn first or whatever suits your fancy. There is "no way" to disable the feature? Just like there's "no way" to block ads and "no way" to view Flash? But you're right, it's more fun to complain about how Mozilla is ignoring you, just like Pidgin. Maybe you should write a fork or perhaps you should just shut the fork up.

John Resig == JavaScript Evangelist (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23541509)

Not to disregard John Resig's work at Mozilla, but I wouldn't consider him key figure in the success of Firefox, as the summary states.

He started at Mozilla in January 2007, after Firefox 2 was released.

The article states he's a JavaScript Evangelist at Mozilla. His work on Firefox 3 is certainly important though.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...