What makes a good developer platform?

I’m Nick Nguyen, the Add-ons Lead at Mozilla.  The add-ons team has been working closely with Labs on how extension development could be better and we’re approaching this problem from multiple angles, in terms of both improving the experience of the existing platform as well as nurturing new extension developers.

In the spirit of welcoming new developers to our ranks, consider this question: if you’re a potential extension developer but for whatever reason haven’t gotten around to creating the Next Great Extension, we’d like to know what we can do to help.

Check out the survey we’ve created and let us know what you like and don’t like about those platforms.  We’ll use this feedback to guide our thinking around how we can make development easier, more fun, and more rewarding.

New Developers Survey

In true Mozilla fashion, we’ll share our findings with you here on the Labs blog, and we look forward to hearing your thoughts.


11 responses

  1. T. wrote on :

    I think Firefox should get an integrated tiny CGI server to open up new possibilities for extensions at the browser level including Desktop Wikis, use of other scripting languages, and integration with other applications. Especially integration has from my perspective a very interesting potential for the development of Desktop Mashups. Here are some more thoughts about it: http://pubnotes.wordpress.com/2009/06/09/desktop_mashups/

  2. Ian wrote on :

    I’d 2nd that vote for a Linux option, as I think there are an increasing number of developers that focus on this (especially if you have Linux derivatives like Android).

    (BTW, thanks for the link to limesurvey Christian – I’d never heard of that before.)

  3. Natanael L wrote on :

    “if you’re a potential extension developer but for whatever reason haven’t gotten around to creating the Next Great Extension, we’d like to know what we can do to help.”

    That could be me as soon as I bother to figure out which of my ideas to begin making real… 😀

  4. Raju Bitter wrote on :

    Nick, it’s good that you reach out for the crowd of possible Add-on developers around the globe. I believe in off-line meetings within the developer community. The best way to get people started with any kind of development, next to screencasts

  5. Christian Cross wrote on :

    I am wondering SurveyGizmo is used here instead of the free and open source LimeSurvey (http://www.limesurvey.org) to create and run the survey. That would save imho the Mozilla foundation alot of money and show support for other open source software in general.

  6. enefekt wrote on :

    XULRunner would’ve been a good platform to add to the survey.

  7. Manuel wrote on :

    Why is Linux missing as platform in your survey? IMHO this looks like you ignore Linux or Linux is not a priority for you. I only develop for Linux, so the only way to complete the survey seems to be checking “other” and entering “Linux” manually…

  8. Jason Livesay wrote on :

    1. It needs to be as easy, fast and painless as possible to install and load the add-ons. If there were a safe way to install them without making the user do anything that would be ideal. Otherwise it should be painless and there should be a path from my web page/javascript widget/whatever directly to the add-on install.

    2. The reality is IE unfortunately still has 42% of the market. Rather than ignoring 42% of my potential users, I would like to reuse as much of my code as possible between my Firefox add-on and my IE add-on. I also would rather not create a separate add-on for Linux. The more difficult it is to create a comprehensive solution for multiple OSs and browsers, the less likely I am to do it.

    3. Javascript is faster than ever and is the most popular development platform. It should be easy to integrate my javascript application (which uses canvas btw) with my add-ons.

    4. 3D. 3D. 3D.

    5. Full audio control, frequency programming, not just playing audio clips.

  9. Neil Deakin wrote on :

    It would have been nice if the list of ‘platforms’ in the first question had included desktops as well as common platform-like languages like java/.net etc. This list is written as to assume everyone is a web developer and wouldn’t give an accurate assessment of the types of environments people are actually coming from.

  10. Elijah Grey wrote on :

    If SurveyGizmo lets you change CSS, change the submit button to have an explicit foreground color for the text. On my system the color of the button was almost exactly the same color as my system’s default for ButtonFace.