What do you do at Mozilla?
I do what I love, which is automation. When I started at Mozilla I helped to transform the existing automated checks for several web properties into a more cohesive and mature framework. I was also helping out with the automation around Firefox itself. This led into me working on the Automation and Tools team, and then onto the Firefox OS automation team. I’ve come full circle and have returned to web technologies, which is at the heart of everything we do at Mozilla.
Any fun side projects that you’re working on?
Too many to list! I’ve recently rediscovered my love of running, and in a couple of weeks I’ll be taking part in my first ever marathon. The training has taken up a lot of my spare time, but being able to work remotely has made that much easier to manage than if I had a long commute. It’s no secret at Mozilla that I’m a fan of LEGO – I’ve even found ways to use it in my work on Firefox OS. I usually have a couple of sets waiting to be built.
How did you get started in testing?
I had a friend at school that always had the latest technology. When he introduced me to the Internet it was love at first site. I bought my first modem, and soon after created my first website using Netscape Navigator. Naturally, it became a large part of my college education and ultimately my career. I got a job working for a local software company, where I was responsible for the full life-cycle of several products. I think this is where I realised that as much fun as it could be to develop websites, I was always better at spotting issues than I was at fixing them. Add to this my obsession with reducing the need for human interaction for mundane tasks (in the early days it was Excel macros), and I believe you have the foundations of why I love test automation.
How and when did you get involved with Mozilla?
I’ve been a Firefox user since its first release. Back then I’d download and install Firefox on any machine I used, telling everyone the many benefits over the dominant browsers installed by default. I didn’t really understand the whole open source movement, and I don’t think I was even aware of the Mozilla manifesto – I just new it was a better browser for me, and that Mozilla had my best interests in mind. I remained a Firefox user throughout the years, but didn’t learn of the opportunities for contributing or engaging with the community until I was approached by Mozilla for a role in their QA team! I do wish that I’d been part of the community sooner, and now I love to mentor contributors, and help with the organisation of community events whenever I can.
What’s coming up that you’re excited about?
When I first joined Mozilla I had already been a contributor to the Selenium open source browser automation project for some time, and we talked about how it might look to have an implementation for controlling Firefox built right into Gecko. This became the Marionette project, which is now central to a lot of the automation at Mozilla, and we hope in the coming months will replace a lot of the Selenium code that exists for Firefox. It’s really exciting to see all this hard work coming together, and ultimately this will make web automation against Firefox more stable, and much more efficient.
Which question do you wish you’d been asked?
How much LEGO do I own? The answer would be a lot!
What’s your favourite city?
It has to be London. I was born in South London, and for two years lived a short walk from Tower Bridge with amazing views of Docklands. I moved out to Kent to start a family where property is much more affordable, but I regularly take the train back into London to visit the office or to catch up with friends. I’ve only been once, but I think my second choice would be Boston, MA.
Anything else you’d like us to know about you?
I have a blog at blargon7.com, which I hope to be posting to more regularly.
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