Author Archive

Mozilla survey, Thunderbird, Prospector, Army of Awesome, Open Data, P2PU, QMO, Labs, Popcorn, and more…

In this issue…

State of Mozilla survey
Recently we posted our annual “State of Mozilla” report, which describes what we have been working on and our plans for the immediate future. Mitchell Baker is hoping to get your feedback about the plans laid out in the report. “We’ve put together a short survey. I hope you will take 15 minutes and help me understand how well the State of Mozilla reflects your view of Mozilla. The survey has a place to write your thoughts as well as respond to specific questions. Please help us make Mozilla the best we can be!”

New experimental Thunderbird add-on
“A while ago we ran a survey, and found out that two thirds of the people who download Thunderbird expected us to give them an email address as part of Thunderbird. They’re quite surprised to find that we don’t. Here is our first attempt to fix that. In partnership with our friends at Tucows/Hover, we’ve built a new account creation feature, which allows new users to set up new email accounts easily. The add-on replaces the default New Mail Account dialog with a new dialog which allows people to purchase a new personalized email address.” Read more about this new add-on in Blake Winton’s post on Mozilla Labs.

Prospector experiment progress
Edward Lee has posted an update about Mozilla Labs’ newest experiment. “Our first Prospector experiment, Speak Words, helps you quickly find the websites you love. It immediately suggests the rest of the word after you type just one letter and highlights the result so you are ready to go. We would like to make the experience even better by not just showing the result but also loading the website as a preview. With Instant Preview, results that get highlighted in the Awesome Bar suggestions will automatically start loading, so by the time you confirm that the first result is the one you want, the page may be ready for you to use.” Instant Preview is best used with Speak Words, and the easiest way to get both is by installing Lab Kit on a Firefox 4 beta.

Army of Awesome now more awesome
The Firefox Support team has updated the Army of Awesome page with some changes to help and recognize contributors. “We’ve made it easier for you to choose which tweets to respond to and also added a stats section that features our top tweeters. Each tweet on the page now shows how many replies it has received. This has by far been our top request, since contributors want to respond to tweets that don’t have replies yet. We’ve also used this area to recognize contributors for being first to respond.” William Reynolds has written more about this project over on the Firefox Support blog.

Open Data Competition: Dec 17th deadline
The Mozilla Labs and Metrics teams would like to remind everyone that the submission deadline for the first Mozilla Open Data Visualization Competition is coming up fast! “Submit your entries by December 17th for a chance at a $300 Amazon gift card and a set of all 4 Edward Tufte books! We’ve already received some great entries, and our panel of judges looks forward to seeing the rest of the submissions.” Visit the official competition page for all the information you need, including how to download the data and take part in this competition.

School of Webcraft: call for courses
Peer to Peer University (P2PU) is looking for mentors to submit course proposals for the January semester of the School of Webcraft. “The School of Webcraft offered 15 classes last semester; the goal for the January semester is to double that number to 30 and to offer more classes in languages other than English. Volunteer mentors will guide groups of peers through a 6-10 week learning experience around topics related to the open web and web standards. You don’t have to be a braniac mega-expert to run a course — you just have to be curious, motivated and eager to learn alongside other passionate people. And all course organizers will receive support in peer-learning facilitation and designing the course structure from the P2PU orientation team.” If you’re interested in participating as a course mentor, you should share your course idea with the P2PU team using their form before Wed, Dec 22.

QMO 3.0 launched
The Mozilla QA team has launched a brand new version of the QMO website. “The two biggest features are the addition of User Accounts and Team Members and Forums. Users can join their favorite teams and communicate within them with employees as well as like-minded Mozilla testers! Another great thing about the release is that it sets a strong base for some bigger and better things in QMO‘s future. So, take a look at it and join in on the conversations. A big thanks to Craig Cook for developing the theme and structure, Shyam Mani for his IT guru-ism and Al Billings for his WP Community coordination and UX work for this release.”

Universal subtitles success story
“To help launch last month’s beta version of ‘the world’s simplest subtitling tool,’ Mozilla Drumbeat and Universal Subtitles asked for your help. The challenge: kick the tires on the new tool by using it to subtitle 10,000 videos by the end of the year. We’re now over 40% of the way toward that goal, with 4,179 videos submitted as of today. The early verdict: the tool works, really is ridiculously simple to use, and is already being adopted by high-profile partners like Wikimedia Commons and MIT. Even more impressive, it has a growing community of inspiring users behind it.” Read more about the Universal Subtitles project and find out how you can help at Matt Thompson’s weblog.

Thunderbird FLOSS manual complete
The FLOSS Manuals team has announced the completion of the Thunderbird Manual. “You can browse the manual online, generate PDFs of individual chapters or generate a complete manual which can be printed or saved to a PDF (or other format). Remember, this is an online, collaborative project — if you spot errors or omissions just jump in and fix them!”

Labs Night London report
Desigan Chinniah has posted a round-up of the recent Mozilla Labs Open Web Game night held in London, England. “Over 150 gamer geeks packed out Bar Music Hall in Shoreditch, London — braving the cold to enjoy an evening of talks, demos and general chit-chat about gaming on the Open Web. The audience were provided with an awesome lineup as our speakers delivered cool gaming talks, demos and discussions.” Check out Desigan’s post for more info, including links to speakers’ blog posts and slides. And don’t forget, the Game On Competition deadline is coming up in January!

Open Web App Manifests v0.2
The Mozilla Labs team is hard at work on Open Web Apps, pushing towards an initial release early next year. Right now they’re looking for your feedback on the application manifest format, which they have recently revised. “Application manifests are small JSON documents that describe applications: These documents express both how an application should be displayed in the users’ browser and what it can do. Defining the syntax of these documents has been a high priority for us, given that they are an important integration point for app developers, app stores and browser vendors.” You can read more about the manifests and leave your feedback on the Mozilla Labs weblog.

New Mozilla Labs newsletter
A new Mozilla newsletter has been born! You can now subscribe to the Mozilla Labs newsletter in order to stay up to date on the latest and greatest Mozilla Labs activities and experiments. “This newsletter is a bit different to the average newsletter — it’s more like an email update Mozilla staff send out to folks like you, who are interested in the latest Labs experiments, stuff we are working on and things we are thinking about. We don’t have a preset schedule for this newsletter — sometimes you will get a few emails a week and sometimes you won’t hear from us for a few weeks in a row. You can subscribe to the newsletter from any page on http://mozillalabs.com — the signup box is in the lower righthand corner.”

Butter up your Popcorn
Al Macdonald and the other folks at Bocoup are hard at work on the next release of popcorn.js and the first release of the Graphical User Interface for developing popcorn pages they call “Butter”. “The goal for butter is that anyone with a video anywhere on the web can build HTML5 video pages that incorporate other elements of the web — allowing non-developers to create what my fellow Mozillian Tristan Nitot has dubbed ‘Hypervideo’.”

“In the new version of popcorn, we are moving all of the functionality from the previous version into plugins. This is a timely step towards a more open infrastructure that will allow any developer to write a plugin that will work with popcorn.js, and then by extension, Butter. So while the first plugins we have developed are for popular sites and services such as Twitter, Flickr and Wikipedia, now anyone can create a plugin to support identica, open street maps, or whatever new thing the web churns out tomorrow.” Read more about Popcorn and Butter at Brett Gaylor’s weblog.

about:mozilla holiday hiatus
This is the final about:mozilla newsletter for 2010, as I’ll be halting publication for the duration of the winter holidays here in North America. Regular publication will begin again in early 2011, so stay tuned! Thanks to everyone for reading, and as always you are invited to send your feedback about the newsletter to deb-at-mozilla-dot-com. I hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday, and we’ll see you in 2011.

Software updates
* Firefox 3.6.13 & 3.5.16
* Add-on SDK 1.0b1
* SeaMonkey 2.0.11

Upcoming events
* Dec 15, Sunnyvale, Bugzilla Users & Administrators Group meeting
* Dec 17, Open Data competition deadline
* Jan 7, Mobile add-on competition deadline
* Jan 11, Game On! competition deadline
* Feb 5-6, Brussels, FOSDEM 2011
* April 9-10, Bulgaria Web Summit 2011

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.

You can also subscribe to the email version!

about:mozilla

Baby Firefoxes, Add-ons, Test Pilots, t-shirts, NTT, design, TryChooser, and more…

In this issue…

Meet the Newest (and Cutest) Mozillians
On June 14, 2010, two female firefox (a.k.a. red panda) cubs were born at the Knoxville Zoo in Tennessee, and as of last week, they’ve officially joined the Mozilla community. To meet our newest (and cutest) Mozillians, visit www.firefoxlive.org. For the next few months you’ll be able to watch these baby firefoxes play, live and grow via 24 hour live video streams.

Red Pandas are endangered animals, and these particular cubs are the most vital captive firefoxes to the bloodline of their species. Just as Mozilla works to build and protect the open Web, we also support the preservation of key natural ecosystems and hope that Firefox Live will raise awareness of the pandas’ threatened status. You can learn about Mozilla’s other conservation efforts over on Mozilla.org.

Last chance to get a Mozilla 2010 T-shirt!
At Mozilla we work tirelessly to keep the web open so that it may be protected from exploitation, centralization and control. We want to build the web so that it will benefit as many people as possible. It’s why we build Mozilla Firefox and why we’ve created Mozilla Drumbeat, a movement to keep the web open and free.

We believe hands on, participatory web projects like Drumbeat are the best place to start. To support this we’re offering a great way for people who are passionate about the open web to show their love of Mozilla and our values. If you make a donation of $50 or more to the Mozilla Drumbeat Open Web Fund we will send you the freshly designed Mozilla 2010 T-shirt as thanks. Make a donation of $25 or more and we’ll send you a plush Mozilla dino toy in early 2011. This limited edition shirt and toy are only available to supporters of the Open Web Fund.

Firefox Mobile Add-ons Cup
The Firefox for mobile team has launched a brand new add-ons competition in which you have a chance to win cash, prizes, and a trip to Barcelona. “Develop a mobile add-on for Firefox and showcase your innovation to millions of mobile users. We’re looking for compatible and innovative add-ons to extend Firefox on the Android and Maemo mobile platforms. We’re looking for the best example in each of these categories: Sports/Games, Commerce/Shopping, Geolocation, Productivity, Sharing/Social, and Novelty/Innovation. We invite developers of all experience levels to participate in creating awesome add-ons for Firefox mobile. You’ll be rewarded with fantastic prizes and tons of exposure between now and January 7, 2011 when the contest wraps.” See Caitlin’s post for all the details.

Add-on Con: Dec 8-9!
Mozillians will be out in force at this year’s Add-on Con, which starts tomorrow at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California. Myk Melez will be introducing Mozilla’s new Add-on SDK, Mark Finkle will be doing a session about building add-ons that work in a multi-process architecture, Jorge Villalobos will teach you how to update your add-ons so they’re ready for Firefox 4, Dave Townsend and Jennifer Boriss will be talking about add-ons from a UX and technical perspective (and introducing the new Add-ons Manager), and Justin Scott will be doing a whole bunch of stuff including one of the conference’s Keynote sessions. Jay Sullivan will also be participating as part of the closing keynote panel discussing the future of the browser. You still have time to register and take part.

One million Test Pilots
“It was just four months ago when we reported that 170,000 Firefox users joined Test Pilot, our open user research platform. Today, we are happy to announce that more than 1 million Firefox users are active Test Pilots, and the community continues to grow. All Test Pilot studies, resulting insights and aggregated data are shared under Creative Commons licenses for the benefit of the Open Source community.” Read more about the Test Pilot program, this important milestone, and some future plans in Jinghua’s blog post.

Toolbar buttons and icons in Firefox 4
The way toolbar buttons and icons work is changing for Firefox 4, and Jorge Villalobos has written an article that all add-on developers should take a few minutes to read. “We have been discussing Firefox 4 add-on compatibility for quite a while, and there are a couple of pain points that are important to revisit. Toolbar buttons and icons in general can be a complicated issue for many developers. Those who seek to create professional-looking add-ons will most likely have to pay a professional graphics designer to work on them, and for this they need a clear specification of the icon styles and dimensions that are necessary for each platform. That is what I will cover in this post.” See the Mozilla Add-ons Blog for Jorge’s full post about these issues and more.

Nightly Tester Tools update
Heather Arthur and the Nightly Tester Tools (NTT) team have released a new version of the add-on. “Among the added features are Crashme functionality, copying about:support to pastebin, and viewing the pushlog changes since the last nightly. Since the update about the future of Nightly Tester Tools, there’s been some discussion around the add-on compatibility feature. We decided to take out the advanced add-on compatibility fixing (you can no longer change the compatibility of individual add-ons), but left in a checkbox that overrides compatibility checking for all add-ons. It works the same way Add-on Compatibility Reporter does, but everyone’s encouraged to install ACR to help report compatibility issues to add-on authors.” There is also a new NTT for mobile, which includes a few of the desktop features and some that are specific to mobile.

Free T-shirt! (for add-on developers)
All this talk about add-ons isn’t happening by accident. Firefox 4 is just around the corner, and it’s time for add-on authors to update their add-ons to work with the new browser. The add-ons team is also adding a bit of incentive this time around: “Developers of Mozilla-approved add-ons compatible with the latest Firefox 4 beta by January 7, 2011 are eligible to receive a free Firefox 4 t-shirt from Mozilla. If your add-on meets the criteria, just fill out this form before January 7.” There are lots of articles available to help you with the update process, including Making Your Add-on Compatible with Firefox 4, Firefox 4 for developers, Updating extensions for Firefox 4, and Toolbar buttons and icons in Firefox 4.

User centered design in the open
“From September to November this year, students within the Interaction Design Studio at the University of Sydney enrolled in a User Centered Design project. The project centered around the broader theme of ‘Designing for Social’ and asked students to create applications and products in this space. All student designs, ideas and research findings are fully documented and publicly available under open licenses. This course was conducted by Martin Tomitsch from the Design Lab at the Faculty of Architecture Design and Planning in collaboration with Mozilla Labs.” Students enrolled in the Design Computing program and with varied interests and backgrounds — including media & art, interaction design and computer science — joined the course. Read more about this project and its results at the Mozilla Labs weblog.

Running extension code in another process
Benjamin Smedberg has blogged about how you can run extension code in another process, which is now supported in Firefox 4. “Running code in a separate process has advantages similar to running code in a separate thread. The running code will not block the main Firefox user interface. An added advantage is crash protection: if the code causes a crash, it will not take down the entire browser. There may also be some performance benefits from separating the garbage collection heaps and avoiding XPCOM overhead.”

Please try TryChooser
“Right now there are over 350 backed up test/talos requests for the tryserver and when I checked our report for trychooser usage it shows that the average number of users pushing with a try syntax has fallen below 50% when it used to be closer to 60%,” writes Lukas Blakk. “I encourage you to please use the trychooser syntax as much as possible. If you do not need every single try result for your patch, do not just push to try and use up all the resources needlessly. Take a moment to insert some try syntax into your commit message.” For more information see the TryChooser wiki page and Lukas’ simple try syntax builder.

Open Web Apps update
The Labs team has posted a couple of updates about progress around the Open Web Apps Ecosystem they recently proposed. The first post outlines a new feature called “Application Sync”, as well as several proposed technical changes to Open Web Apps themselves. The second article talks about their new project to build the infrastructure to support an Open Web App Ecosystem, including progress and short-term plans (including an “integration release” which is on track to be available in Q1 2011). Read more at the Mozilla Labs weblog.

Software releases
* Mozilla Labs F1
* Firebug 1.6.0
* Lightning 1.0b3pre

Upcoming events
* Dec 6-12, Online, SeaMonkey Triage Week
* Dec 8, Mountain View, Add-on Con
* Dec 15, Sunnyvale, Bugzilla Users & Administrators Group meeting
* Dec 17, Open Data competition deadline
* Jan 7, Mobile add-on competition deadline
* Jan 11, Game On! competition deadline
* Feb 5-6, Brussels, FOSDEM 2011
* April 9-10, Bulgaria Web Summit 2011

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.

You can also subscribe to the email version!

about:mozilla

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