SUMO Show & Tell: A Small Fox on a Big River

Hey there, SUMO Nation!

It is with great joy that I present to you a guest post by one of the most involved people I’ve met in my (still relatively short) time at SUMO. Seburo has been a core contributor in the community from his first day on board, and I can only hope we get to enjoy his presence among us in the future. He is one of those people whose photo could be put under “Mozillian” in the encyclopedias of this world… But, let’s not dawdle and move on to his words…

This is the outline of a presentation given at the London All-Hands as part of a session where the SUMO contributors had the opportunity to talk about the work that they have been involved in.

Towards the end of 2015, I noticed that we were getting an increasing number of requests on the SUMO Support Forum questioning how users could put Firefox for Android (Fennec, the small fox of this tale) on their Amazon Kindle Fire tablet (the big river).  At first it was just one or two questions, but the more I saw the more I realised that there were some key facts driving the questions:

  • We know that users like using Firefox for Android on their mobile devices.  It enables them to use Firefox as their user agent on the web when they are away from their laptop or desktop.
  • We know that people like using Android, possibly the worlds most popular operating system.  People recognise and take comfort from the little green Android logo when they see it alongside a device they wish to purchase and they appreciate the ease of use and depth of support at a lower price point than its competitors.
  • With a little research, it became clear why people have the Kindle Fire tablet – the price point.  In the UK at the time it was retailing for £60, almost half the price of a comparative device from the big name brand leader.

What was confusing and confounding users was that having purchased a device at a great price, that uses an operating system they know, they could not find Firefox for Android in the Amazon app store.  SUMO does not support such a configuration, but with the number of questions coming through, I realised that there must be something we could do.

I started helping some users side load Firefox for Android onto their devices and through answering questions I soon found myself using a fairly standard text that users found solved their problem.  As I refined it, it made sense for this to be included within the SUMO Knowledge Base, the user facing guide to using Mozilla software. But before I could do this, there was one key issue for which I needed the help of the truly amazing Firefox Mobile team…which version of Firefox for Android to use.

Whilst Firefox and Firefox Beta are seen as the best product versions, I was advised they they would only get updates through Google Play – not ideal if the user in on the Amazon variant of Android.  I was advised that Aurora was the version to use as it would get important security updates and pointed in the direction of the site where it could be downloaded from.  In addition to this, the Firefox Mobile team helped shape some of the language I was going to use and helped check my draft article (I did say that they are amazing…!).

The article was uploaded to SUMO for approval and further to this, went live for users to see. The article has proven to be popular with users and I understand has been pickup up by some of the SUMO L10n teams, broadening its reach (it is even linked to from an MDN article).

Whilst there is no change to our support of the Kindle platform (the article carries a “health warning” to that effect), I think of this work as a great example of how several different teams, both staff and contributors, can come together to help find a user focussed solution.

Thank you for sharing your story, Seburo. An inspiring tale of initiating on a positive change that affects many users and makes Firefox more available as a result.

Do you have a story you would like to share with us? Let us know in the comments!