NEW! Firefox Features List process change

Firefox, Mozilla, Product Management, Work 3 Comments

I’ve made one small-but-awfully-helpful change to how the product Feature Lists are going to work. Now, if you start working on one of the items on the list, please change the “Rank” for that item on the Feature List to “In Progress”. Don’t worry about moving it to the top of the list, we’ll sort that part out.

I’ve done a few on the Firefox Feature List, as an example. Obviously this makes it a lot easier to figure out what is currently being worked on.

If you are working on a Feature from one of the Feature Lists, please do me a huge favour and flag it as “In Progress” on the Feature List Page. Thanks!

Firefox Planning & Tracking: A New Approach

Firefox, Focus, Goals, Mozilla, Open Source, Work 4 Comments

If you take a look around Mozilla these days, you’ll notice that there are a lot more of us trying to do a lot more things a lot faster.

To manage all of this, we need to be a bit more disciplined about what we do and how we do it. Prioritizing what we want to do (and when) is a big part of what this post is all about — we can’t do everything all at once, so we need to be more deliberate about what we focus on at any given time.

We also have to be more conscientious about what and how we communicate with each other — there simply isn’t enough time for any one of us to dig through our various channels to find out everything we need to know. We need a consistent and centralized place where everyone can go to get the information they need.

How are we doing this?

We’ve developed a system to help us manage this stuff, and it looks something like this:


simplified, but you get the idea

Roadmaps are where we set forth our vision for each product and what we believe our priorities need to be in order to achieve that vision. Roadmaps often include other stuff as well, but for the most part the Roadmaps define where we want to go (vision) and how we’re going to get there (priorities).

Product Managers don’t weave these out of whole cloth, but drive the process of creating the Roadmaps through extensive discussion with people throughout the community. These are also not things to be dusted off once a year when we sit down to write a new roadmap — we will evolve them as we go.

Feature Lists are the things we believe need to be changed or added in our various products over the next year or so. These lists are derived from the Roadmaps and then divided by engineering group. The purpose of Feature Lists is to make it easier for engineers to know what they should work on next.

Like Roadmaps, Feature Lists will be revised constantly as we add, remove, and reprioritize things based on changing circumstances and information, and as we ship features out. Ultimately, each Feature List will be rank ordered by priority — #1, #2, #3, etc. with no ties — but we’re not quite there yet.

Feature Pages are really the heart of this system, as this is where each Feature is defined, specified, staffed, and tracked during development. The goal is that eventually (by Firefox 7) all significant development projects will be defined and tracked via Feature Pages.

When we talk about a feature, we’re talking about a “shippable unit”, a well-scoped and atomic piece of work that improves a part of one of our products. This is a smaller unit than what we normally think of as a feature, but conceptually larger than a typical bug fix.

Something like “Create a Home Tab as a Permanent App Tab” is a feature under this definition, whereas “App Tabs” is too large to be well-scoped. “App tab rendering glitch on OS X” is too small to be worth feature tracking, as it is really just fixing a flaw rather than adding to the product or changing how something behaves.

Feature Pages are really guidelines rather than strict templates to be slavishly filled out. Use them as you see fit. The only requirements are:

  • The status block at the top be filled in and kept up to date.
  • The team list must be fleshed out as completely as possible (and everyone on that list should be aware that they’re on that list).

After that, you’re free to do whatever you need with the Feature Pages. The sections in the template are really just prompts to help you get things clarified and written down, but you can ignore them if it makes sense to do so.

With the vision and priorities defined in the Roadmaps, and the Features defined and tracked through Feature Pages, we’re just missing a place to track the collective progress for each release. This is where the Release Tracking page comes in.

Once a Feature is underway and we know which release it’s going to target, the status block from that Feature Page will be transcluded into the appropriate table on the Release Tracking page.

Throughout development, with Feature Page statuses being updated regularly, the Release Tracking page will make it easy to see at a glance how things are progressing. Should a feature miss a release, it’s easy to move the feature into the next release table and continue tracking progress there.

No Surprises

The primary goal for this system can be summed up as “no surprises”. Everyone across the organization — engineering, QA, marketing, PR, web dev, IT, build & release, etc. — should be able quickly and easily to find out:

  • what is currently planned for each release
  • how things are progressing
  • what they need to do
  • when they need to do it

No surprises. This will never be a failsafe system, but I think we can get a lot closer to there than where we are now. This is a first step, and we will evolve the system as we learn more.

Working on stuff for Firefox 5? Please let me know!

Firefox, Mozilla, Mozilla community, Work 1 Comment

Firefox developers: if you are working on something for Firefox 5, please let me know.

I’m not looking to track every single bugfix, just changes or additions that you think would be significant enough to include in a write up or announcement about the release — anything that would be of interest to users and/or developers.

If you are not sure whether what you’re working on qualifies, please err on the side of assuming it does. You can contact me by:

  • email: deb-at-mozilla-com (email if at all possible)
  • leaving a comment on this post
  • pinging me in IM (deb.richardson@mac.com) or IRC (dria)
  • or at very least cc’ing me on the relevant bugs

Please include any relevant bug numbers and links to wiki pages!

Firefox 4 is now available

Browsers, Firefox, Mozilla, Software, things that are awesome, Web, Web - the Industry, Web Development, Work No Comments

Firefox Download Button

Launch days are great, great days. Official announcement here.

Mini Personas Plus Test Day! (Friday)

add-ons, Browsers, Firefox, Mozilla, Personas, Work 2 Comments

We’re just about ready to release an updated version of Personas Plus for both Firefox 3.6 and Firefox 4, so we’re holding a somewhat impromptu testday for it on Friday (but feel free to start early if you like).

Where to get it…

If you have a few minutes to spare, please grab Personas Plus RC4 from the FTP site and install it on Firefox 3.6 or Firefox 4. You will have to “allow” the site to install the add-on in the dialog that pops up:

https://ftp.mozilla.org/pub/mozilla.org/labs/personas/personas-1.6.2rc4.xpi

How to help…

Please test a few of the activities listed below (and anything else you can think of). If something appears odd or broken, either post a note here, leave a comment on the Personas forum thread or send an email to me directly at deb@mozilla.com.

On IRC?

If you’re on Mozilla IRC, feel free to join the #personas and #qa channels — I’ll be online for most of the day, so look for me (dria) there if you have any questions or think you have found a problem.

Some stuff to test…

  • Does the add-on icon (Fox Mask) appear properly in your status bar (Firefox 3.6) or add-on bar (Firefox 4)?
  • When you click on the Fox Mask icon, does the menu appear to be complete and correct?
  • Do all the menu items seem to do what they should?
  • When you open the “My Favorites” menu item, does clicking the “Sign in to Access your Favorites” take you to the correct page on GetPersonas.com (the account sign-in and creation page)?
  • When you select the “Random Selection from [galleryname]” submenu item, do you get a new, randomly selected Persona?
  • If you have selected the “Random Selection from [galleryname]” submenu item, does your Persona change periodically (every 60 minutes or so)?
  • If you are logged into your GetPersonas.com account, does clicking on “Go to My Favorites” do the correct thing?
  • If you are logged into your GetPersonas.com account, are you still logged in if you click any of the “#### More from [galleryname]” menu items to visit the GetPersonas.com galleries?
  • Go to Preferences and check the “Show Custom Persona in menu” checkbox. Does this add a new “Custom Persona” menu item?
  • Are you able to create and apply a custom persona using the Custom Persona menu item?
  • Does uninstalling the add-on from the add-ons manager work properly?

Did we miss something?

If you can think of anything else that we should test, please let me know and I’ll add it to the list. Thanks!

Personas Plus RC3 – Please help test (again)!

add-ons, Firefox, Mozilla, Personas, Work 2 Comments

A third (and hopefully final!) Release Candidate of the Personas Plus add-on for Firefox 4 is available on the FTP servers. The RC works with Firefox 3+, current nightly builds, and Firefox 4 beta releases.

You can download the add-on here: https://ftp.mozilla.org/pub/mozilla.org/labs/personas/ — you want to get personas-1.6.2rc3.xpi.

If you find any issues (or if you test and everything seems OK), please post a comment here! Thanks!

A Damn Good Day to be a Mozillian…

Browsers, Firefox, Innovation, Internet, Mozilla, Mozilla Labs, Open Source, things that are awesome, Web, Web Development, Work 4 Comments

Skimming back through my Twitter stream, it turns out that yesterday was a pretty great day in the ol’ salt mine. Sometimes when you’re right in the thick of it, it’s hard to really notice all the awesome that’s going on around here, so here’s a quick roundup of some of it.

Zarro Boogs!

We hit zero blocking bugs for Firefox 4. This is a pretty big deal for anyone and everyone who has been working on this release, and means we’ll be rolling out a release candidate Very Very Soon…

Demos!

We launched a demo site that includes this fully interactive HTML5 poster (grab a copy of the latest Firefox 4 beta to get the full effect). I’m biased, obviously, but this is one of the coolest things I’ve seen on the Web in a hell of a long time…

Web Apps!

We announced the availability of the first developer integration release of our Open Web Apps project (along with a neat video that explains what the heck we’re actually talking about when talk about “web apps”). ReadWriteWeb says that we make “a better case for web apps in minutes than Google did in months,” so if you’re still not sure what Web Apps are all about, you chould check out the post over on the Labs blog.

If you’re a web developer, there’s also a bunch of documentation over on the Mozilla Developer Network, and a gallery of apps that people have already built.

The best part? We’re just getting warmed up. 2011 is going to be a ridiculously amazing year.

Repost: Help test Personas Plus RC2 for Firefox 4!

add-ons, Firefox, Mozilla, Personas, Work No Comments

A second Release Candidate of the Personas Plus add-on for Firefox 4 is available on the FTP servers. The RC works with Firefox 3+, current nightly builds, and Firefox 4 beta releases.

The more testers the better, so we could really use your help. You can download the add-on here: https://ftp.mozilla.org/pub/mozilla.org/labs/personas/ — you want to get personas-1.6.2rc2.xpi.

If you find any issues, please post a comment here or in the bug. Thanks!

Thinking about the Open Web

Browsers, Firefox, Internet, Mozilla, Open Source, Web, Work 7 Comments

library books
library books :: timetrax23

Thinking about the Open Web

I’ve been thinking about how to talk to people about what the Open Web is, why it’s so important, and why they should care.

The Open Web as a global public resource

It struck me that the Open Web is analogous to some other fundamentally vital things in our society:

  • public libraries
  • public schools
  • public parks
  • public broadcasting
  • public roads
  • public art
  • public museums
  • public galleries
  • etc.

Many of these things are deemed so vital a part of our everyday lives and societal infrastructure that we support them through our tax dollars. Others are supported by concerned citizens who believe so deeply in their importance that they donate not only their hard-earned money, but also their time, skills, and creativity.

The Web is an increasingly important part of our lives, and it is absolutely essential that it remain free and open and accessible to all. If it doesn’t — if the Web becomes closed, restricted, controlled, and inaccessible to anyone who is disadvantaged or marginalized in some way — our whole, global society will suffer as a result. The Web cannot become something that further delineates the haves from the have-nots. It is already far too important for that, and it is still only in its infancy.

Mozilla exists to support the Open Web

Mozilla is an organization devoted to ensuring that the Web continue to develop as and remain a global public resource — akin to libraries, schools, parks, and roads — and everything we do, every resource at our disposal, is focused towards this end. This is the absolute core of our mission as outlined in the Mozilla Manifesto, and it is the heart of everything we strive towards.

Why Mozilla makes a browser

Making a browser is one of the most important things Mozilla currently does — not as an end unto itself, but rather in support of our larger mission and goals.

The browser is by far the most important tool we use to create and consume the Web. Without an open browser there is no Open Web. This is why we build Firefox, and why we’re pushing hard to get Firefox on to as many devices and desktops as we can. The Open Web is an increasingly crucial part of our lives and our society, and Firefox is one way we’re working to ensure that the Web remain open and available for everyone.

What do you think?

Is this a useful way to think about and talk about the Open Web to people who might not quite get what we’re so excited about? Not everyone is going to grok the analogy in the same way — and this certainly isn’t the only way to talk about it — but I think that most people understand that public works are a good thing, and that ensuring open and equitable access to fundamental resources and infrastructure — which now includes the Open Web — is an essential part of a just and civilised society.

Better than adblocking

add-ons, Browsers, Design & Usability, Firefox, Mozilla, Web, Web - the Industry, Work 3 Comments

Just jumping on the adblocking yea/nay blogging train: I don’t block ads. I could but I don’t bother. Most of the time they don’t bother me unless I’m trying to read a long article, at which point I use Readability, which is infinitely better than an adblocker for that situation.

Before Readability
before-readability

After Readability
after-readability

Note: Readability runs fine on Minefield if you use Nightly Tester Tools to force-install. There’s also a bookmarklet version if you don’t want to install an add-on.

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