Archive for February, 2010

Weave APIs, Android, mjs, plugins, Twitter, Bugzilla, GetFirebug.com, UX update, and more…

In this issue…

Weave Sync APIs + developer resources
Mozilla Labs, following on last week’s launch of Weave 1.0, has now released its first set of developer resources including the Weave Sync + User APIs, documentation, and Python + JavaScript client libraries. The hope is that developers will use these resources to increase the number of places you can easily and securely access your personal data whether or not Firefox is available. “This first set of APIs focuses on enabling Weave clients to provide users access to their stored data from other devices and environments.” The team has also released a number of early prototypes and pieces of sample code.

Firefox on Android progress
The project to port Firefox to the Android operating system is progressing well, and the team recently posted an update. “After working out a few kinks, I got our first page load,” writes Vlad Vukićević, “Mouse events sort of work, toplevel windows sort of work, keyboard doesn’t work yet but shouldn’t be hard to hook up. This is running in an emulator at the moment for ease of debugging, but it’s working just fine on physical hardware as well.” Check out Vlad’s blog for the full story.

Simple vector and matrix math for JS
“One common thread running through the many different and interesting WebGL projects out there is that they all need to do vector and matrix math, do it quickly, and do it in JavaScript. Since this is such a crucial part of a successful WebGL program, I’ve put together a small package that I’m calling mjs. mjs is designed around speed and simplicity.” Vlad Vukićević has posted more information about this library on his weblog, including code samples, performance testing results, and links to the code and documentation.

Enabling Firefox plugins on mobile devices
An experimental feature is available to Nokia N900 users that will turn on plugin support in Firefox on their device. Aakash Desai has posted instructions on his blog, along with a warning that this is currently intended for development and testing only.

Video demo of Firefox on Nokia’s N900
The Firefox team has released a quick video tour of our first version of Firefox on the Nokia N900. Check it out on Caitlin’s weblog.

Visualizing the Firefox Twitter community
Tara Shahian is working on a Twitter visualization that captures the unique and multi-dimensional nature of our community, our conversations, and the energy that flows through our tweets. “As you know, there are some incredibly complex and mesmerizing data visualizations out there… my goal is to create a similarly stunning Twitter visualization that is also built on open web technology.” Tara is looking for ideas and feedback for this project, so head over to her blog post and get inspired.

Mozilla sponsors GNOME accessibility
The GNOME Foundation announced a $10,000 grant from Mozilla to advance accessibility work. “The GNOME Foundation and Mozilla are committed to open source, open standards, and open formats. Part of that effort is working hard to ensure users with physical disabilities are able to make use of a free desktop and Web browser”. See the full press release for details.

“Bugzilla for Humans” video
Johnathan Nightingale has put together a fantastic video introduction to Bugzilla, the Mozilla project’s bug tracking system. “Bugzilla is the devil we know. It’s more complicated than we’d like, it’s pretty intimidating to new users, and adding features can be a slog. It’s also essential to the way we manage our project at scale, and enough of our project’s history and daily activity lives there that understanding it is not really optional. Certain edge cases aside, you can’t really be effective in the Mozilla project without at least a passing ability to wade through Bugzilla.”

GetFirebug.com redesign!
Following hard on the heels of the recent Firebug 1.5 launch, the Firebug team has redesigned the GetFirebug.com website with a whole new look and a brand new (and very fiery) icon. Neil Lee, part of Mozilla’s Webdev team, has posted more details. “Even with intense competition from tools integrated into other web browsers, Firebug is still the leading web development tool in use with nearly two million active daily users. Its web site needed to reflect Firebug’s capabilities more clearly. The primary goals were to make the site easier to use and to highlight Firebug’s many positive qualities.”

Firefox UX team update
Alexander Limi and the Firefox User Experience (UX) team has posted an update about recent progress and UX priorities for the upcoming Firefox release. “Last week, we narrowed down the priorities for the next release of Firefox — which may be a 3.7, may be a 4.0 — in this document: UX priorities.” Limi’s post goes on to outline the main priorities which include: a new theme, home tab and app tabs, notifications, extension manager redesign, and download manager and MIME type improvements. Other ongoing projects include resource packages, Mac installer improvements, and tab matching in Awesomebar.

Helping users avoid Firefox fraud sites
Harvey Anderson, part of Mozilla’s legal team, has written about what Mozilla has been doing — and will be looking to do in the future — in response to user reports about fraudulent sites that try to trick people into paying for Firefox or downloading malware branded as Firefox. “Long term, to really scale to meet this problem, we’re going to need to explore alternative approaches that utilize organizations like Stopbadware.org, so users can be notified in advance when they end up on these sites. In combination, we may also need more messaging to warn users about the subscription traps that exist. In the interim, however, we’ll continue to utilize the tools we have so fewer users are scammed and more get the really great product contributors have created.”

Software releases
* Thunderbird “Lanikai” Alpha 1
* Processing.js 0.4

Upcoming events
* Feb 19 – Testday: OS Testing with Mobile Firefox
* Mar 5 – Learn how to testscript your add-ons
* Mar 19 – Improve the quality of QMO
* Apr 2 – Litmus 2 development review

Developer calendar
For an up-to-date list of the coming week’s Mozilla project meetings and events, please see the Mozilla Community Calendar wiki page. Notes from previous meetings are linked to through the Calendar as well.

About about:mozilla
about:mozilla is by, for and about the Mozilla community, focusing on major news items related to all aspects of the Mozilla Project. The newsletter is written by Deb Richardson and is published every Tuesday morning.

If you have any news, announcements, events, or software releases you would like to have included in our next issue, please send them to: about-mozilla[at]mozilla.com.

If you would like to get this newsletter by email, just head on over to the about:mozilla newsletter subscription form. Fresh news, every Tuesday, right to your inbox.

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Firefox Mobile, Weave, EU ballot, Add-ons manager, Interns, Test Pilot, MDC, Store, OOPP, Lightning, and more…

In this issue…

Firefox Mobile 1.0 for Maemo
Mozilla’s Mobile team has announced that Firefox is now available for Nokia’s Maemo platform. Nokia N900 owners can now enjoy many of the same Firefox features they love on both their desktop and mobile devices. “Bringing Firefox to mobile devices is the next step toward fulfilling Mozilla’s mission of providing one Web that everyone can access, regardless of device or location. Secure, powerful, and customizable, Firefox is the most modern mobile Web browser available and is optimized for a mobile experience. Key design principles are at the heart of the mobile browsing experience including minimal typing, seamless synchronization with desktop Firefox and the ability to take your Firefox with you, to name a few.” For all the information about this milestone release, see the original release announcement.

Weave Sync 1.0 released
Weave 1.0 has been released! Weave is an add-on for Firefox that securely synchronizes all of your personal data to all of your supported devices, including bookmarks, saved passwords, browsing history and open browser tabs. Weave is available through AMO, and there’s more information about this release — and about how you can get involved — at the Mozilla Labs weblog.

New Labs Design Challenge!
The Mozilla Labs team has announced a new Design Challenge, this time focusing on the possible content for a “home tab”. “For Firefox 4, we’re thinking of replacing the home button with a home tab. It would be a mini-tab, not taking up any more space than the current home button; it would still be ‘click to go home’, but ‘home’ would be a special page that is always open in a tab.”

“If the contents of that special page are useful, this could be a great feature. On the other hand, if the contents of the home tab aren’t useful, then it’s a pointless feature. Given that, what would you put on the home tab?” If you have some ideas, head over to the Mozilla Labs Design Challenge site and find out how to participate.

Add-on Manager redesign update
Jenny Boriss is working on redesigning Firefox’s Add-ons manager and she recently posted another update about where things are headed. “The design currently being considered for the add-ons manager is a two-panel basic hierarchy view within the content area of the browser. Add-on categories would display in the left panel, with an expanded view on the right. This gives the user an overall view of what the add-ons manager entails, as well as enough room to individually configure items.” Boriss’ article discusses why this design is beneficial and provides ample mockups and wireframes of the proposal. If you would like to help, Boriss is looking for feedback, particularly from add-on developers.

Tab animation demos
“In addition to the UI and appearance changes we have been exploring for Firefox, we have also been exploring how to better improve the user experience through animation. One area that animation would be very beneficial is with tab interactions. Specifically, moving/arranging tabs on the tab strip, closing/opening tabs and tearing off tabs into new windows. Presently the feedback isn’t as good or as elegant as it could be.” Stephen Horlander has posted more details about the work he has been doing in regards to tab animations, including a couple of interesting demo movies.

EU browser choice submission
As per a recent settlement with the European Commission, Microsoft is now required to introduce a mandatory browser choice screen for Microsoft Windows Users. Mozilla had to provide a number of deliverables to Microsoft in order for Firefox to be included on that ballot. Now that this has been completed, Johnathan Nightingale has blogged about what we delivered, what was involved, and what the next steps will be. “We have little more than a month before the Browser Choice page goes live, and that means the localization and web dev teams are pushing to get everything ready for our new visitors. While we get that together, Microsoft will be running QA on the page itself in all 23 languages.”

Internship program
Julie Deroche heads up Mozilla’s (incredible) intern program which is winding up to start recruiting new participants for next summer. “What Mozilla offers is more than a summer internship: it’s an open invitation to become a meaningful contributor to the project. And when we say that your work matters, we actually mean it. All of our 2009 engineering interns committed code that became part of Firefox 3.6! Where else can you say that your work positively impacted more than 350 million users?” Mozilla’s past interns have put together demos of their work that are available over on the new Mozilla Interns website, and the current list of available internship positions is on our careers page. “Don’t be shy, check it out and send us your resume!

New Test Pilot study
The Labs team has launched a new study that aims to learn more about how people use menu items while they browse. “Ever since Mosaic 1.0 Web browsers have had a menu bar. However, this menu bar has always illogically followed the design of a standard desktop publishing application, containing top level commands like File and Edit, even though these commands are not always directly applicable to the primary functionality of a Web browser. To streamline the Firefox user interface, and to match the overall interactive design of Windows 7, the Firefox UX team is exploring collapsing the menu bar into a single ‘application button’ when Firefox is running on modern versions of Windows.”

The Test Pilot study hopes to discover which menu items are most and least commonly used and how long users spend exploring the menu bar contents before selecting an item. If you’re interested in participating in this study, check out the blog post and the detailed study write-up.

How can we improve the MDC?
Eric Shepherd is looking for feedback about what you think could be improved to make the MDC easier to use. “If you have thoughts on ‘big picture’ ideas for improvements that would make the Mozilla Developer Center easier and better for collaborative documentation work, please drop me an email or comment here“.

Mozilla Store survey
“We want to make sure that Firefox t-shirts (and other Mozilla swag) are always readily available to community members around the world,” writes John Slater. “As we think about the future of the Mozilla Store it’s really important that we get ideas and input from as many people as possible. If you have a minute, please take this short survey about the Mozilla Store. Your feedback will be a huge help!”

Multi-process plugins on by default
Benjamin Smedberg has blogged an update about the multi-process plugins work that has been underway. “Out-of-process plugins (OOPP) are now on by default in mozilla-central! The mozilla-central nightly builds will load Flash and all other plugins in a separate process by default (on Windows and Linux). The Electrolysis team would love for people to test any plugins on their system, especially less-popular plugins.” Benjamin’s post further talks about what to do if you encounter hangs or crashes on nightly builds, and how you can help with testing and development.

JavaScript performance + GPUs
Mozilla Labs recently published a guest article about utilizing NVIDIA’s CUDA (Compute Unified Device Architecture) within Jetpack to significantly improve JavaScript performance. “By utilizing the power of the GPU, it is possible to create extremely powerful Firefox extensions with only Jetpack and JavaScript. There are two possible approaches for bringing GPU power to JetPack: 1) the extension of the JetPack API, and 2) the extension of JavaScript’s syntax. Each of these approaches has its pros and cons, which we describe briefly in the rest of the article. We will also focus on possible ways of exploiting these two approaches from a developer’s point of view.”

Lightning 1.0 beta1
Simon Paquet wrote in to say, “the Calendar Project is proud to report that (finally) the 1.0 beta1 release of Lightning has been completed and is now available via AMO. Nearly 16 months after the 0.9, this release is more than overdue and we’re more than happy to get the nearly 500 bugfixes and improvements into the hands of our users.” Lightning 1.0 beta1 is available for Windows, Mac OS X (universal builds) and Linux in 37 different languages including English. Please read the release notes for Lightning 1.0 beta1 before downloading.

Firefox 3.6 release: behind the scenes
Some of the folks at Mozilla HQ took the time to record the Firefox 3.6 release day activities, and have put together a fun behind the scenes video. Check it out on the Mozilla Blog.

Mitchell receives Aenne Burda award
Mitchell Baker, chairperson of the Mozilla Foundation, was awarded the Aenne Burda Award at the international Digital Life Design Conference in Munich, Germany. Mitchell is the fifth recipient of the award that honors successful, creative female entrepreneurs that are visionaries in the digital world. She received the award for alternative and transparent developments in software. “Mitchell is a pioneer in the internet industry. The Mozilla Foundation calls for transparency and self-determination in the digital world and develops open-source software that allows everyone to contribute.” See more on the Mozilla Blog.

Software releases
* Firefox Mobile 1.0
* Weave Sync 1.0
* Lightning 1.0 beta 1

Announcements
* SUMO dev meeting moved

Upcoming events
* Feb 5 – Testday: AMO + SUMO
* Feb 6+7 – Brussels – FOSDEM 2010
* Feb 19 – Testday: OS Testing with Mobile Firefox
* Mar 5 – Learn how to testscript your add-ons
* Mar 19 – Improve the quality of QMO
* Apr 2 – Litmus 2 development review

Developer calendar
For an up-to-date list of the coming week’s Mozilla project meetings and events, please see the Mozilla Community Calendar wiki page. Notes from previous meetings are linked to through the Calendar as well.

About about:mozilla
about:mozilla is by, for and about the Mozilla community, focusing on major news items related to all aspects of the Mozilla Project. The newsletter is written by Deb Richardson and is published every Tuesday morning.

If you have any news, announcements, events, or software releases you would like to have included in our next issue, please send them to: about-mozilla[at]mozilla.com.

If you would like to get this newsletter by email, just head on over to the about:mozilla newsletter subscription form. Fresh news, every Tuesday, right to your inbox.

about:mozilla

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