Note: Some of this content I had posted previously on the Go Firefox! Forum. After some time to think this over and doing some in depth research I have decided to dig into this in more detail on my blog.On Friday, April 28th, Mozilla announced they would be pulling a major feature from the forthcoming Firefox 2.0 (due out later this year). In the announcement on mozillaZine, there is a link to a news group post by Mike Schroepfer of Mozilla Corporation explains the reasoning for the feature removal. There are two key points here:
- The decision to remove an incomplete or non-functioning from FF 2.0
- The justification of Mozilla in keeping the release as FF 2.0 without this feature
The first part of Mr. Schroepfer’s comment really stood out…
“Places is a complex and exciting feature which changes the way people use bookmarks, history, and navigate through their private space of the web. Rather than rush it to market – we’d prefer to spend the time it takes to get it right.”
First off a bit of rant, I am so tired of software developers trying to ‘rush it to market’ resulting in a crappy product. The paying end-user become beta-testers. While Firefox is free and being open source (resulting in the end-user being somewhat of a beta-tester), Mozilla still wants to present a quality product to the market, not something half working. You know it is bad when you get new software installed and the first thing you have to do in order to even get it to work is download patches.Now before I start getting a ton of comments from folks asking the ‘Oh humble Guru, what about all the updates to Firefox 1.5, weren’t those patches?’ True they are patches, but those were fix minor bugs and/or security/exploitation issues, not a patch to major new feature. Further Firefox could run without the said patches (although it is not recommended).
As Mr. Schroepfer said ‘Places’ is a ‘complex and exciting feature’ which also means a major change to the look and feel of Firefox. From what I have read in various Blogs from those who work and test the nightly releases the ‘Places’ feature had a lot of stability issues and they are glad to see it pulled. So to leave this feature in place (no pun intended) ,not fully developed or broken could really be bad news for Firefox. Bad news not only because it does not work correctly but also could cause the whole browser to malfunction. This could leave a bad taste in peoples mouths about the ‘Places’ feature as well Firefox in general.
Again before I get a ton of comments such as ‘Oh humble Guru, but aren’t end-users use to broken or incomplete features from other developers such as that big one in Redmond, Washington that also beings with ‘M’?” or ‘Oh humble Guru, Firefox is a free product, the end-user gets what they pay for!’ Again, I stress quality product (less a few minor glitches) which is what the end-users are use to and expect from Mozilla. Besides, IE is free and then there all the problems Microsoft created by Tying IE Changes To Security Patch.
Now, if Mozilla were to go ahead and push forward FF 2.0 with the defective ‘Places’ feature the negative response (and possible backlash) to FF 2.0 in general could overshadow some of the other and functional features (see below). This could result in end-users rolling back to 1.5.0.* or whatever the most recent builds were, until a more stable 2.0 with a functioning Places (2.0.*) is released. Or worse yet, being so disappointed and/or frustrated end users just remove Firefox from their machines (nothing like shooting yourself in the foot).
The uproar in the Mozilla/Firefox community is not really the removal of ‘Places’ from FF 2.0, but keeping the 2.0 version number. Mozilla has quite an elaborate numbering scheme and to move up th next whole number (e.g. from 1.5 to 2.0) usually means a major change in the ‘engine’. Many people feel ‘Places’ is that major change and therefore yanking it out of the next big release it shouldn’t be numbered as FF 2.0. They would rather have it called FF 1.6. But there are plenty of other smaller yet ‘exciting’ features coming (see below) to justify the major release designation of FF 2.0. This issue is addressed in
Ben Goodger’s blog, Inside Firefox.
FF 2.0 New Features:
- Visual Refresh (new look and feel)
- Safebrowser anti-phising
- Inline spellcheck (something that is offered now with the Spellbound Extension)
- Session Management (SessionSaver)
- RSS handling improvements
- Extension/Themes UI change
- New search engine infrastructure and UI
- New installer
- Browser performance metric measurer
Okay, so we may have to wait for FF 2.5 (speculation on version/build number) before we get the new and improved look and feel of Firefox with ‘Places’. I don’t mind waiting a few more months for a working version, something to look forward to in that upcoming release. Further I really don’t care if FF 1.6 or FF 2.0, I am just happy Mozilla is keeping their commitment to a quality product.