Archive for June, 2010

Mozilla T-shirt, AMO editor guide, crowdsourcing, add-ons, WebM, Jetpack, Firefox, and more…

In this issue…

Mozilla 2010 t-shirt is here!
The Mozilla Foundation has announced that the new official Mozilla 2010 T-shirt is now available. “Designed by Mozilla community member foxyboy, this shirt cannot be bought in stores and is only available to Mozilla donors. So, how do you get it? Contribute $75 or more to the Open Web Fund. Every dollar you donate will support a Mozilla Drumbeat project.”

New AMO editor guide
“Reviewing add-ons is a complicated task, and we haven’t been very good at documenting the whole process. After a few days’ work, we now have the AMO Editor Guide on the Mozilla wiki. This guide covers all the editor tools, testing set up, and the usual editor work that can be summed up to two major responsibilities: reviewing add-ons and moderating flagged user comments. This is meant to be a comprehensive guide, so I’ve tried to put everything we do in there. This should interest add-on authors, to better understand what we do and why. Also, if you’re interested in becoming an editor, this will give you a good idea of what our day to day work involves.” Read more at Jorge’s weblog.

Crowdsource crowdsourcing project
Mozilla Labs has launched a new “Crowdsource Crowdsourcing” project, in which students around the world have the opportunity to work with us on creating the next generation crowdsourcing platform. “The project aims to bring students from leading universities together; to perform a status quo/gap analysis, collect and analyze best practices, develop ideas & concepts, run experiments and gather user feedback to develop and implement a best in class open innovation / crowdsourcing program.” More information is available on the original post.

Extension startup performance
Jorge Villalobos has written an article outlining some guidelines for add-on developers who would like to improve startup performance of their add-ons. He makes three recommendations: 1) Do not load or run code before it’s needed, 2) Use JavaScript code modules, and 3) Do as little as possible in your load handler. The article goes into more detail and includes a case study of Jorge’s own add-on, so head over to the Add-ons Blog to read the full post.

Add-ons: upcoming changes
If you are an extension or application developer who has written any XPCOM components (JS, binary, or otherwise), you should be aware that your components are probably going to break in an upcoming Firefox nightly. Dave Townsend is going to post later specific examples of the changes you will need to make, but for now has written something so you know what changes are coming. You can find his full post on the Add-ons Blog.

WebM has landed on Firefox nightlies
A little while ago, Mozilla was involved in the announcement of a new open video format called “WebM”, including the release of an experimental Firefox build that included support for it. Just this past week, Chris Pearce announced that WebM support has now been incorporated into the main Firefox development branch, and should now be appearing in our regular nightly builds. If you’re using a Firefox nightly build and are looking for some WebM videos to test with, you can find some on YouTube’s HTML5 Experiment.

Jetpack Survey report, part 2
The Mozilla Labs team has released the second part of their Jetpack Survey report. “In trying to understand the make-up of our developer community it is important to know about the tools folks use, the developer platforms they work with, and the areas in which developers need more help. In this survey we dug a bit deeper into the development platforms you prefer and your thoughts on the communities that drive them.” Read more and see the survey results on the Labs weblog.

Firefox blocklisting
“Firefox has a blocklist service that protects users from malicious or faulty plugins and extensions. We’ve used this sparingly in the past but due to the success and popularity of Firefox we’ve seen more and more activity on the blocklist than ever before. The most difficult part of the blocklist service has been deciding when to actually use it. Our policy outlines some general guidelines, but it’s not so simple when millions of users are involved because you also have to consider how you could potentially affect user experience. We have to weigh security and stability with user happiness.” Mike Morgan has written more about the Firefox blocklist service, including some of the lessons we have learned and other strategies we’re using to be more positive and proactive in our approach to keeping the web happy and safe at the same time.

Plugin hang detector
“If all goes well, Firefox 3.6.4 will be released with support for out-of-process plugins on Windows and Linux. As part of this project, Firefox now features a ‘hang detector’ for plugins. The hang detector helps protect users from plugins and plugin scripts which stop responding for 10 seconds.” Benjamin Smedberg has written more about this new feature, including how it works, what can trigger it, and how our crash report system has been modified to handle hang reports in addition to regular crash reports.

CSS3 calc()
Work is underway to implement a new CSS3 calc() value in Firefox 4. CSS calc() lets you compute a length value using an arithmetic expression, meaning you can use it to define the sizes of divs, the values of margins, the widths of borders, and so on. The Mozilla Hacks article includes more information and some code samples.

Software updates
* Mozilla Developer Preview #5
* Thunderbird 3.1 RC 2

Upcoming events
* Jun 30 – London 2010 Add-ons workshop
* Oct 1-2 – New York City – Open Video Conference
* Nov 4-6 – Barcelona – Drumbeat Festival 2010
* Nov 5-7 – Free Society Conference and Nordic Summit (FSCONS)

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, sudoSocial, IndexedDB, privacy, Bugzilla, Jetpack, add-ons, QMO, design challenge, and more…

In this issue…

Status bar + add-on icons
Jennifer Boriss has written a follow up to her earlier post about removing the Firefox status bar and rehousing add-on icons. In it, Boriss talks about the various ways people use add-on icons and the status bar, including how many Jetpacks are increasingly using the status bar in creative ways and an alternative approach the team is developing. “While this horizontal layout that some add-on developers choose is useful for many kinds of information display, it takes up a lot of space in Firefox’s interface and may not always be necessary. Providing API support for rich content panels that launch off add-on icons would allow add-ons to provide rich interactive content, accessible with a click, that takes up little UI. Dietrich Ayala and Myk Melez are already at work to add an API to Jetpack that will allow these panels to launch from add-ons.”

Introducing sudoSocial
sudoSocial is a new experiment in the Mozilla Labs Concept Series aiming to build a stream publishing platform suitable for a profile page server. “Long term sudoSocial would be suitable for curating any stream of content, but as we want to get this into your hands very early in the process, the initial release is rather sparse. The system has enough functionality to kick off the discussion and get you hacking on your own personal homepage replacement with just a little CSS, JavaScript, or processing.js.” There’s more information, an intro video, and a link to a sudoSocial demo on the Mozilla Labs blog.

An early walk-through of IndexedDB
“Web developers already have localStorage, which is used for client side storage of simple key-value pairs. This alone doesn’t address the needs of many web applications for structured storage and indexed data. Mozilla is working on a structured storage API with indexing support called IndexedDB, and we will have some test builds in the next few weeks. This can be compared to the WebDatabase API implemented by several browsers that uses a subset of the allowable language of SQLite. Mozilla has chosen to not implement WebDatabase for various reasons discussed in another post.” Read more about IndexedDB on the Mozilla Hacks weblog.

Open source research at Seneca
David Humphrey, a long-time Mozillian and professor at Seneca College in Toronto, has posted that Seneca’s Center for Development of Open Technology has received an NSERC grant. “If you don’t know, NSERC grants are a big deal, and it’s a huge honour to have received it. The grant brings $2.3 Million in funding over 5 years, and is meant to be combined with funding from industry partners. It will allow us to fund research and co-op positions, like the 9 students who are working this summer on various open source projects. It means that we can take more of the work we do in the open source courses and have it grow into larger projects, working directly with local industry partners and the open source community.”

Firefox & online privacy
“As we choose priorities for the next version of Firefox’s features and development, the Firefox team has been considering the state of the web and looking for areas where online content has changed faster than browser functionality. One area of concern is the growing use of private user data, especially by advertisers. User data being silently and persistently passed between sites and advertisers is disturbing for those with an interest in user choice and transparency on the web.” Read more about Firefox and online privacy at Jennifer Boriss’ weblog.

Bugzilla quicksearch video
Mike Beltzner has made an excellent video on how to use Bugzilla Quicksearch. “If you use Bugzilla for more than about ten minutes every day, then this is definitely worth 5 minutes and 33 seconds of your time.” The video is available in Theora format and over on YouTube.

Jetpack survey report
The results from the “Jetpack-based add-on development” survey are in and the team has shared them on their website. “In this survey we wanted to find out what level of familiarity you had with Jetpack and what you feel we need to work on to ensure that Jetpack meets the needs of developers.” Full results, including charts and graphs, are available on the Labs weblog.

mozilla.status.net project
The mozilla.status.net project is looking for help. “We’re looking for volunteers who want to help out with managing some high profile accounts. If you’re interested, please respond on the Mozilla Drumbeat project page.”

Add-on user survey
The AMO team is interested in knowing what users love and hate about add-ons today. “Whether you remember an add-on’s great first-run experience or annoying pop-ups, please take a minute to fill out our survey. We’ll analyze the responses and communicate some best practices for pleasing users to our add-on developers. Please remember that we’re looking for your feedback on specific practices with example add-ons, but that we’re not looking for bug reports or complaints that could only possibly apply to one add-on.”

Contacts design challenge
“Mozilla Labs recently launched a series of experiments around your online identity, contacts, and the relationship you have with other people. With Contacts, we’ve enhanced your browser by making it aware of your online contacts and friend lists. Imagine that a website can ask for permission to access your contacts — it could use this information to send messages to your contacts, or to discover which of your friends are already using the service. What other experiences could be enabled? How could the experience be presented in the browser? How could my friends’ and coworkers’ experience of the web affect my web experience?” Read more about this design challenge and how to take part over on the Mozilla Labs weblog.

First revision of QMO.next
Mozilla QA has been working on a new, better QMO, and after two months have completed an initial usability refresh of the site. The new site is based on a WordPress CMS, includes one-to-one mapping to each group within our QA organization, has a simpler docs tree, and includes a brand new Planet QA feed aggregator. Check it out over at quality.mozilla.org.

Documenting the new add-ons manager
As part of his project to create the new add-ons manager, Dave Townsend has posted the related API documentation to the Mozilla Developer Center wiki. “This should now be the place to go for the definitive info. Right now it is pretty dry, for the most part just pure API info with no examples. Before I started working more on that side of things, I wanted to ask what kind of examples people might like to see documented?”

Software releases
* Lightning 1.0 beta2 rc1
* Test Pilot 1.0 beta

Upcoming events
* Jun 30 – London 2010 Add-ons workshop
* Oct 1-2 – New York City – Open Video Conference
* Nov 5-7 – Free Society Conference and Nordic Summit (FSCONS)

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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