Archive for April, 2010

Developer Preview, Lorentz, Firefox, Drumbeat, Personas, OpenGL, SpiderMonkey, and more…

In this issue…

New Mozilla Developer Preview
The fourth pre-release of the Gecko 1.9.3 platform — the core of Firefox and other Mozilla projects — has been released and is available for Mac, Windows, and Linux. Mozilla plans to release a Developer Preview every 2-3 weeks. This fourth release includes user interface changes, web developer changes, improvements for the new out of process plugins support, performance enhancements, and several platform changes. You can get more detail about this release, and links to download the software, at the Mozilla Developer News site.

Firefox “Lorentz” beta
A beta of the Firefox “Lorentz” project is now available for download and testing. This release takes the out of process plugins work from the Mozilla Developer Previews and builds it on top of Firefox 3.6.3. “This beta offers uninterrupted browsing for Windows and Linux users when a problem causes a crash in any Adobe Flash, Apple Quicktime or Microsoft Silverlight plugin instance. If a plugin crashes or freezes when using Firefox “Lorentz”, it will not affect the rest of Firefox. Users can submit a plugin crash report, and then reload the page to restart the plugin and try again.” Users are encouraged to download and test Firefox “Lorentz” on their favorite websites and to provide feedback by filing a bug or through the feedback form.

Dramatic Firefox stability improvements
“Over the past five months, Firefox has seen a 40% improvement in stability. While the Firefox development community continues to focus its efforts on stability and performance (i.e., 100% improvement is still being strived for), we’re proud to highlight the most recent numbers. How did we calculate that 40% improvement? We took a look at the Crash Reports data, along with an estimated ratio of daily crash instances to active daily users of Firefox.” Read the full report at the Mozilla Blog of Metrics.

Web Made Movies project
Mark Surman has blogged about Web Made Movies, one of the early Drumbeat projects. Web Made Movies is described as “A documentary about the future of the web, told by the people of the web.” “I’m also excited by the proposed partnership between filmmakers (submitting footage and episodes) and hackers (creative innovative HTML5 video interfaces). The idea is not only to create an online documentary series, but also invent an open source approach to cinema.” The project has posted a “teaser” videoblog, and is looking for examples of new internet technology, applications or content that will shape the open web of the future. For more details, check out Mark’s weblog.

Personas & AMO miscellany
Ryan Doherty has posted an update about various things going on in and around the Personas project. These include some review queue changes, addressing mature content complaints, a proposed “flagging” feature, how daily users are counted (and how that will be changing), and some new AMO site design mockups. Get all the details at the Mozilla Add-ons Blog.

Video and OpenGL layers
The new OpenGL layers backend has been enabled by default for fullscreen video on Minefield. “I talked a while ago about layers, and how we are going to be using it to accelerate composition of web pages across all platforms,” writes Bas Schouten. “There’s more news on that front! Recently we landed a first version of the OpenGL layers backend on trunk. That backend included all the necessary code to use OpenGL for both image upscaling and YUV to RGB color space conversion.”

SpiderMonkey changes
Jeff Walden has blogged about an upcoming change to SpiderMonkey, in which the the “__count__” property will be removed. “SpiderMonkey for some time has included a little-known, little-publicized, and little-used property named __count__ on all objects. This property stored the count of the number of enumerable properties directly on the object. It’s sort of a convenient way ot check property counts. Unfortunately, __count__ has a number of problems.” Support for this property has been removed from SpiderMonkey and, as a consequence, will also be removed from the next version of Firefox based on trunk Mozilla code. Jeff’s post has more information.

Standardized “extension bar” UI
The Jetpack team is working on a new experimental API. “One usability enhancement we will be offering to extension authors is a ‘Single UI Element’ API. This API will allow extension authors to expose a UI element that represents their extension in a common, standardized extension bar.

Extension bar

A presence in the extension bar will maximize both the user experience and discoverability of extensions. This does not mean we are removing the ability of the developer to modify the interface of Mozilla apps. Developers will continue to have the ability to interact with our application UI in the same ways they do now.”

Assisted starring of oranges
“As a good citizen in the Mozilla developer community, you need to watch the tree, and star any random oranges with bug numbers, and put a comment inside the relevant bugs with a link to the log of the orange in order to help debugging the problem. That’s too much work, and worse, it’s repetitive and boring. Last weekend, I got sick of it, and decided to hack Tinderboxpushlog to make this a bit easier. That work is now deployed on Markus’ instance of Tinderboxpushlog for you all to enjoy.” Read more about these new features on Ehsan’s weblog.

Software releases
* Mozilla Developer Preview (Number 4)
* Firefox “Lorentz” beta
* Weave Sync 1.2
* Bespin 0.7.2
* Processing.js 0.8

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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State of the Internet, Gecko, Add-ons, Thunderbird, SUMO, XUL, Drumbeat, MDN, and more…

In this issue…

State of the Internet report
Last week the Mozilla Metrics team released the first ever Mozilla Quarterly Analyst Report, focusing on the State of the Internet. “This is the start of something new…in addition to metrics related discussions on this blog and across the broader community, we wanted to create a somewhat standardized, ongoing report capturing the state of the internet as seen through Mozilla’s eyes. You should expect to see this report released at the end of each calendar quarter.” Read more about the State of the Internet report and download the PDF on the Metrics weblog.

Create the Official Mozilla 2010 t-shirt!
The Creative Collective’s Mozilla 2010 T-shirt design challenge has been running for a couple of weeks now, with the final deadline for submissions on Apr 30th. John Slater has posted some great tips for creating the “Most Awesome Mozilla T-shirt Ever”, including: 1) you don’t have to use the dino head; 2) If you must use the dino head, do it in an interesting way; 3) Avoid text; 4) Remember that the challenge is about Mozilla, not Firefox (or any other specific product); and 5) Abstract is better than literal. John’s post discusses each of these points in detail, so if you’re thinking about submitting a design, it’s worth a read.

Firefox and page load speed
“By making a few minor tweaks to our top landing pages, we can drive an additional 60,000,000 Firefox downloads per year. What are the tweaks? It comes down to just one factor — speed. As it stands, our landing pages can be painfully slow. After implementing changes in an A/B test, we saw impressive results. Our optimized experimental variation shaved 2.2 seconds off the average page load time and increased download conversions by 15.4%.” Read more details about this optimization project and its results at the Blog of Metrics.

Big week for Gecko
Robert O’Callahan jotted a quick note summarizing some major development milestones the platform team has recently hit. “Bas Schouten landed his OpenGL layers backend and we’re using it to accelerate full-screen video on Windows. David Baron landed his fixes to the :visited privacy leak. Chris Pearce landed the new Ogg decoder to get rid of some nasty problems and make forward progress faster. Josh Aas turned on out-of-process plugins for Mac.”

Add-ons review policy changes
Jorge Villalobos has written about some recent modifications to the Add-ons site review policies. The policy page itself won’t be updated until the next AMO release, expected sometime in mid April, but most of the policy changes are already in effect and the AMO Editor team is making sure they are followed. Jorge goes through the changes point-by-point in his write up, with links to more information.

Thunderbird feedback wanted
Blake Winton writes, “For the next version of Thunderbird, Bryan Clark, Andreas Nilsson, and I have done a lot of work to make it easier to upgrade your profile from Thunderbird 2, and we would like to hear what you think of it and how we can make it even better.” Recent builds include these changes and can be downloaded for all platforms though links provided on the original post. The team is looking for feedback as soon as possible, and ask that you leave your feedback on their GetSatisfaction topic by the end of the day on Wednesday (Apr 7).

Add-ons manager redesign update
The Add-ons manager redesign continues apace, and Jennifer Boriss has posted another update about recent progress. “The biggest change you’ll see is that the add-ons manager will no longer appear in a separate window, but in a tab in Firefox’s content space. This represents a big shift in Firefox’s interaction model. Eventually, we’d like to move many of Firefox’s ‘extra’ windows (Download Manager, Bookmarks, Library, etc) into the content area. The add-ons manager, by being the first, will hopefully provide a solid working model that will guide the redesign and improvement of Firefox’s other windows.” Boriss’ post goes on to discuss other aspects of the redesign, including icons, the “extra” windows model, and various design influences that have factored into the project.

SUMO platform roadmap
The Firefox Support team is working on a new platform (codenamed Kitsune) for the SUMO project, and recently posted an update regarding their 2010 milestones and priorities. “Since development resources are limited and a project like this requires that we scrutinize our priorities, we’d like to make it clear that we will devote as much time as possible to Kitsune development. As a result, any work on the previous (Tiki) code will be strictly for maintenance purposes: unless a bug in the previous code simply must be fixed as soon as possible, it will likely not be worked on.” Some changes have also been made to the planned SUMO milestones, which Chris Ilias has outlined in his post.

XUL school tutorial
The Mozilla Developer Center is now home to a new add-ons development tutorial. “The XUL School project was developed by Glaxstar (now Appcoast) as a comprehensive extension development tutorial, covering the most significant aspects of extension development, including proven techniques and high quality standards.” The tutorial covers a wide range of topics, from getting started with Firefox extensions through adding menus and toolbars, to JavaScript Object management and handling preferences.

Drumbeat project update
“Since my last update, we’ve launched a developer version of Drumbeat.org and held two community events. Also, two of our bootstrap projects have moved beyond planning into roll out — P2PU Open Web is running its first course and Web Made Movies has started shooting.” Mark’s post has lots more information about what the Drumbeat project has been up to, including some highlights, notes about where they need help, and quick updates about projects, events, and the website.

MDN survey reminder
Erica Jostedt writes, “Last week, the Mozilla Developer Network launched the second quarterly survey to obtain developer feedback. Also on hacks.mozilla.org are results from the first quarterly developer survey conducted in November. Thanks to the feedback from more than 5,000 developers, the Mozilla Developer Network was able to put in place a solid plan. We would appreciate your feedback and help to get the word out about our new survey.”

Software releases
* Firefox 3.6.3
* Firefox 3.5.9 and 3.0.19
* Thunderbird 3.0.4
* Sunbird 1.0 beta 1
* SeaMonkey 2.0.4
* Contacts in the Browser 0.2
* RequireJS 0.9.0

Upcoming events
* Apr 9 – Testday – Tab matches awesomebar

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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