Archive for the ‘ Misc ’ Category

Rapid Release: How to make it work

(apologies for the break in blogging. Taking another stab at ye ole’ blog)

With 103,000,000+ downloads and counting, Firefox 4 has been shipped to the world, hopefully providing a noticeable improvement in their web browsing experience. Speed, interface improvements, and a multitude of fixes and improvements, users should at least notice something different with their browser. They should also notice something different in how their browser is released in the future. Goodbye to major versions with massive changes spanning a year-plus of development. Rapid Release is how Mozilla plans to get fixes and enhancements out to users more quickly and efficiently.ย  This plan will either succeed mightily, getting rid of the release delays and slow development process of the past, or brilliantly self-destruct and result in little progress and multiple, out of date versions.

I see two things that need to be done to ensure that Rapid Release is at least viable. This is a very very broad over-simplified version, and ignores the nuances and specifics of releasing a new browser. You may also ask “what does this have to do with Triage?”. Well, it has alot to do with triage. Roughly 8000 of the Open bugs in firefox are with versions of Firefox other than Firefox 4 (there is some room for error in this number, due to bugs being submitted with the wrong version number, etc.). This isn’t bad per-say, but Triagers have to approach different versions differently. Someone reporting a bug using Firefox 3.5 will most likely be asked to attempt to reproduce with Firefox 4 for example. So version numbers and development cycles mean alot to a triager.

Under-Promise / Over-Deliver

The worst thing that can start happening to Rapid Release cycles is that developer A comes out, says “Look at my cool widget prototype. It shines and has buttons. It will be released with Firefox 6”. News Outlet B begins to spread the word about this wonderful, new, revolutionary and magical feature. Time to release Firefox 6 comes around, Developer A hasn’t had enough time to finish his widget, the release drivers are forced to either drop the feature, or delay the release. Either way they get burned. Delay the release, have every news outlet on the internet say how Firefox is falling behind, or drop the feature, and hear the same thing.

This whole scenario could have been avoided with a little prior thinking. Problems come up, issues can’t always be foreseen, and development gets slowed down. With Rapid Release, unless a feature is 99% certain to be finished and working on time, nothing should ever be promised for a certain version. I think that so far, the Mozilla team has done a good job of qualifying goals with “If it is ready” and not promising by a certain ship date. It is a better thing to surprise people with more features than none.

Make it Noticable

User Susan starts her computer, opens Firefox, begins her morning surfing. Susan has been using Firefox since the old 2.0 days, when an update comes across, she is used to major changes. She gets a message saying “Firefox 5 is released, update now”. Thinking to herself how quickly this new version has been released, she updates. After restarting, she looks for changes, but there are none. Wondering if the update even worked, she goes and checks her version. Yep, it shows Firefox 5. Puzzled, Susan decides these must be marketing hype and doesn’t update next time Firefox warns her to.

While we can’t let Firefox releases be delayed for a new feature, we also should not let a new Firefox be released with no changes at all. This I think will be one of the biggest pitfalls of rapid release. Each developer has their projects they are working on, but when the time rolls around to release, none of them are ready. sure a few things have slipped in, bug fixes, minor changes and tweaks, but nothing substantial. Too many releases like that and you might as well not release at all, you are wasting user’s bandwidth. On a somewhat serious note, if there are no major changes, what is there for the news media to write about?

Unfortunately, until we make version numbers totally irrelevant, we are going to have to make sure to include major changes in every release of Firefox. I do see in the near future, relegating versions numbers to something only developers care about. With 100% silent updates, pushed through to the user quickly, I think then we can start to relax a little bit in how releases are made. I think Chrome has come pretty close to being able to safely ignore Version numbers. Eventually they will be a thing of the past, only needed for developers to differentiate between releases. But for at least the next few releases, Firefox is still going to be relying on version 5, 6, 7 etc.

So Mozilla, I think that Rapid Release could be a good thing, or a terrible thing. I think the world is ready to be surprised though, the ball is in our court.

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Short Hiatus from Blogging

Well Saturday night I had a most unfortunate accident. A friend’s dog that I was watching decided to bite me on both wrists. This has curtailed my ability to type for extended periods of time and made me lose feeling in my left thumb. So I’m going to have to delay my planned posts on Triage, continuing from the previous few. However, I would greatly appreciate any reader feedback and suggestions. Maybe you’ll have a few ideas that I can throw into a blog post ๐Ÿ˜‰ I hope to be back in a week or two, depending on how my appointment with the hand specialist goes.

My Goals for 2011

Well, I’ve decided that I should try to put my goals into words, so then I can go back to them at the end of the year, and see how I’ve done. I always will try to set goals, then modify them halfway through. Maybe if I post them for the Internets to see, I shall be held accountable ๐Ÿ˜‰

  1. Get the number of UNCO Bugs in Firefox down to the 2,000 range and steady. This doesn’t mean closing them all as INCO. I had to do that to get the numbers down to a humanly reachable level. But now that they are almost there (I consider ~4,000 as humanly manageable) I instead to go through and change quantity for quality. Hopefully this will not backfire on me, but I do intend to clean BMO up as much as I can, thus improving it for triagers and developers alike.
  2. Improve the Triage process. I am going to try to brainstorm with other triagers as much as possible, and then maybe this year get some of the ideas that we discussed at the Summit into reality.
  3. Improve Triage relationship with Developers. I would like to see someday a developer or module peer to come to the triage community and be able to say “I have this query that I would like help in going through”. And the triage community would do it. I like the idea of bug days that we used to have, but those ended up turning into just “old bug cleanup days”, rather boring and uninspiring while important non the less. If we can get developers and triagers working together, then I think we can make Bugzilla work for us, not against us.
  4. And other bits and pieces. But these 3 main goals will be enough to keep me busy for a while at least ๐Ÿ˜‰

Off we go, into the wild blue yonder!

I am currently sitting in the airport, waiting for my 8:18 flight from DIA to Vancouver. Late night and early morning for me, but I think it will be worth it. I am looking forward to the Summit, especially meeting new people. But I also plan to have a full schedule of keynotes, breakout sessions, and listening to lightening talks, and impromptu meetings on how we can improve our triage methods and get more bugs confirmed, and fixes sent to our users.

I had a run in with some coffee this morning in an attempt to wake me up, and of course I was wearing a white shirt. So, mozillians, that is why I have coffee stains, it is not my normal appearance. If you are looking for me, look for a slightly disheveled guy with glasses and a white shirt with coffee stains ๐Ÿ˜‰ He will probably look somewhat tired as well….

Gearing Up for Summit

With only 3 more weeks until Mozilla Summit 2010, things are getting busy. I received my tickets the other day, and it looks like I’m going to be riding a CRJ to Vancouver,ย  and an A320 back. As my last ride in a CRJ was very smooth, but rather uncomfortable seating, let’s see how it goes this time ๐Ÿ™‚ It also looks like I have to wake up dark and early to leave, but my flight back will be later in the day, which is always nice.

For my time at summit, it has been kinda tough to schedule, seeing st the schedule is not released yet. However, there looks like there will be some breakout sessions on triage which I plan to attend, and some other interesting topics to be discussed. The face-to-face will be great as well. I will be posting pics and updates daily at least (as I am able to) from this blog, so stay tuned.

As for my little status update, until I get back from Summit I will be quite busy. With my day job, volunteering at the County stampede, plus prepping for the trip, not many bugs will be getting squashed. I hope to come after them with a vengeance!

New Name for Blog

On an unrelated topic, how about a new name for this blog? Something a bit more interesting and, shall I say, witty ;).

Ideas are welcome! ๐Ÿ˜€

Pac-Man Turns 30. And the number of bugs jumps considerably

So, Pac-Man turned 30 today. While I’m not quite that old, I do remember playing Pac-Man on library computers roughly 12 years ago. As Google so often does, it changed it’s logo to a Pac-Man stylized Google. As Google has never done before, they turned the “doodle” into a playable one. So, when you go to the Google homepage, you are greeted by Pac-Man sounds, sirens, and flashing colors, with a little mac-man (or Mrs. Pac-Man if you find the secret button) controllable with your keyboard. Quite fun and nostalgic. And soon enough, quite irritating.

It has also apparently attracted the attention of quite a few bug reporters on bugzilla. Kudos to the support guys for putting up an article so quickly to address this.

What surprised me is the sheer number of people who have no idea where the sounds are coming from, yet instantly identify them as “Pac-Man”. Congrats Namco for creating possibly the most universal sound in the computing world. Not even the AIM closing door sound is as recognized.