Mozilla Roadmap Looks Good; Will They Deliver?

I have not been a huge fan of Firefox, nor any Mozilla product since they allowed the slowing of development around Firefox 2, and Thunderbird 1.07.

It always seemed to me that the number of changes possible with the huge influx of cash from Google, among others, was enough to get things in high gear, and make changes that would have meant that Chrome would never have been a thought on the Google scratchpad. After all, had Mozilla produced what they state they will over the next few months, Google would have continued sending in the bucks, and the problems that caused the slowing of the browser, and its development, would have been totally absent.

Now, on the Mozilla wiki, is a roadmap that is very adventurous, and also something that I’m sure that anyone looking at the proposed schedule wonders about the possibility of, in the overall timetable.

I must say I first looked at another website and was made curious because it was reported that the schedule for Firefox 4 to Firefox 7 was to be all within the 2011 calendar year; I went to the site with the idea in mind that I would write something along the lines of “what’s in a name” considering that the naming conventions are rather nebulous these days for many programming teams, known only to a few as to what they designate, and changing integers with the whim of the development team.

Google developers seem to simply change integers based upon time, which goes against the time honored tradition of bringing a new version number when a new major revision had taken place. Fixes and small feature polishes were never allowed to have the honor of changing the integer part of a software designation.

It looks as though Firefox is giving us fair warning that they, too, will be changing integer numbering whenever it suits them, and preparing us for that in the entry which gives small details of the wish list for each of those upcoming changes.

  • Ship our new technology to users in smaller bundles, more frequently
    1. Four technology shipment vehicles in 2011, including Firefox 4
    2. Achieve a regular cadence for shipping
  • This might possibly be where that other article got the idea of Firefox 7 coming within 2011; it may be true, but there is nothing specific about it. It is certain that the idea of four updates a year will appeal massively to those using the browser, no matter the integer moniker at the top of the page. Allowing people to rely on changes coming is always a good thing, for it gives hope for new features, but also allows the hope for bugs, some long suffered, to be repaired.

  • Develop a product that is responsive from “click to render”
    1. No more than 50ms delay between user action and application reaction
    2. Provide optimizations to hide network latency
    3. Obtain metrics from users in addition to our test infrastructure
  • These are noteworthy changes, but since we have no idea what equipment they will be evaluated on, nor the speed of the internet connection that the developers suspect the user to have, they are a bit nebulous to speak of – though the idea is fully put into the readers head that speed will be excellent, and that it is in the front of the developer’s minds.

    Providing network optimizations makes me wonder if Mozilla is not considering something akin to Opera’s Turbo mode, which makes the speed of dial-up very livable, and works well with their mobile browser, but is of limited use on a speedy connection. Latency is hard to hide, mostly because it relies on so many more things than raw data speed. If they achieve it, it will make many use Firefox, simply based upon feel, whether or not the browser does well in showdown exercises with competing products.

  • Expand the Open Web Platform to include Apps, Social and Identity
    1. Design and implement open systems for Identity and social interactions
    2. Design and implement Web Application Framework
    3. Implement missing pieces of CSS/HTML required for compelling Web Applications
  • I suppose this group must be catered to, so I see why the inclusion. However, will the social network crowd abandon those things which were developed from the start for them? Some people will like the idea of all-in-one browsing, but others will be looking based totally upon performance and feel, and that may be what put’s the last straw on the back of the camel.

    Still, it looks like an adventurous year for Mozilla, and I do want to get a look at the Home Dash on something other than a web page insert. It looks as though it might be a game changer, and part of that “social” look to the new Firefox 4-7.

    Say, there’s an idea. Dashes between versioning numerals, so no one can really tell what version it is!