Beer and Tell – August 2014

Michael Kelly

Once a month, web developers from across the Mozilla Project get together to upvote stories on Hacker News from each of our blogs. While we’re together, we usually end up sharing a bit about our side projects over beers, which is why we call this meetup “Beer and Tell”.

There’s a wiki page available with a list of the presenters, as well as links to their presentation materials. There’s also a recording available courtesy of Air Mozilla.

Frederik Braun: Room Availability in the Berlin Office

freddyb shared (via a ghost presentation by yours truly) a small webapp he made that shows the current availability of meeting rooms in the Mozilla Berlin office. The app reads room availability from Zimbra, which Mozilla uses for calendaring and booking meeting rooms. It also uses moment.js for rendering relative dates to let you know when a room will be free.

The discussion following the presentation brought up a few similar apps that other Mozilla offices had made to show off their availability, such as the Vancouver office’s yvr-conf-free and the Toronto office’s yyz-conf-free.

Nigel Babu: hgstats

nigelb shared (via another ghost presentation, this time split between myself and laura) hgstats, which shows publicly-available graphs of the general health of Mozilla’s mercurial servers. This includes CPU usage, load, swap, and more. The main magic of the app is to load images from graphite, which are publicly visible, while graphite itself isn’t.

nigelb has offered a bounty of beer for anyone who reviews the app code for him.

Pomax: Inkcyclopedia

Pomax shared an early preview of Inkcyclopedia, an online encyclopedia of ink colors. Essentially, Pomax bought roughly 170 different kinds of ink, wrote down samples with all of them, photographed them, and then collected those images along with the kind of ink used for each. Once finished, the site will be able to accept user-submitted samples and analyze them to attempt to identify the color and associate it with the ink used. Unsurprisingly, the site is able to do this using the RGBAnalyse library that Pomax shared during the last Beer and Tell, in tandem with RgbQuant.js.

Sathya Gunasekaran: screen-share

gsathya shared a screencast showing off a project that has one browser window running a WebGL game and sharing its screen with another browser window via WebRTC. The demo currently uses Chrome’s desktopCapture API for recording the screen before sending it to the listener over WebRTC.

Alas, we were unable to beat Hacker News’s voting ring detection. But at least we had fun!

If you’re interested in attending the next Beer and Tell, sign up for the mailing list. An email is sent out a week beforehand with connection details. You could even add yourself to the wiki and show off your side-project!

See you next month!

Animating the Firefox Desktop Pages

Alexander Gibson

As you may have noticed, Firefox for desktop computers (Windows, Mac, and Linux) got a redesigned interface with the release of Firefox 29.0. This redesigned browser called for redesigned web pages to showcase the new interface (the tabs, icons, menus, etc., collectively called “browser chrome”) and new features (especially the new customization menu)

Naturally, the main audience for these pages are people using browsers that aren’t Firefox, so we wanted to illustrate the new Firefox design in a fun and compelling way that gives them a real sense of what it looks like, hopefully encouraging folks to download it and see it first hand. Another big target audience are Firefox users who haven’t yet updated, so we needed to give them an overview of what’s new.

This also gave us a chance to create some snazzy animations to show off some of the advances in CSS and SVG supported by the current generation of browsers, both on desktop computers and mobile devices. Here’s how we made it.

Browser Chrome Animations

In order to demonstrate features of Firefox, we needed to simulate the way interface elements respond to user actions; opening and closing tabs, rearranging icons, adding a bookmark, and so on. This called for fairly complicated animation sequences that had to be quick and buttery smooth. The complex interplay of multiple elements moving both sequentially and in tandem really drove home the need for a CSS animation editor (vote it up!).

Approach & structure

Each animation illustrating the browser chrome (One, Two, Three) is wrapped in a div element with a common class applied (animation-wrapper), along with an id we can use to target the specific element with JavaScript.

The first element inside the animation wrapper is a composite fallback image for browsers that don’t support CSS animations. This image has a common classname (fallback) for easy CSS targeting. We can conditionally hide this image by leveraging the cssanimations class Modernizr applies to the body. By first assuming that animation is not supported, we ensure a functional degradation for even the oldest and least capable browsers, and we can progressively enhance the page for more advanced browsers that support the more advanced features.

The next element inside the wrapper div is the stage for the entire animation – <div class="stage">, really just an invisible box in which other elements can move around. Using the same cssanimations class from Modernizr, we’ll display the stage for browsers that can handle the animation.

/* for legacy browsers */
.fallback {
    display: block;
.stage {
    display: none;
/* for modern browsers */
.cssanimations {
    .fallback {
        display: none;
    .stage {
        display: block;

(We use Less to preprocess our CSS, so those nested rules are converted into separate rules with descendant selectors.)

The final task is to trigger the animations only when they come into view, as there’s no sense running an animation while it’s off screen. We used jQuery Waypoints to monitor the page’s scroll position, adding an animate class to each wrapper div when it comes into view. The addition of that class sets off the CSS animation sequence.

.animating-element {
    position: absolute;
    top: 10px;
    right: 40px;
/* animate class added via JavaScript/Waypoints based on scroll position */
.animate {
    .animating-element {
        animation: moveAround 0.7s ease 0s 1 normal forwards;

This approach worked well and helped us keep each animation block self-contained and modular. It provided a common and easily customizable HTML & CSS structure for each animation, and less capable browsers still have access to all the content in a well styled page. Within that stage box we can add any other content or elements we need.

Timing is everything

The browser chrome animations have multiple elements with multiple animations applied, so getting the timing just right became rather tedious. Because separate animations are completely independent in CSS, there’s no simple way to tell a browser to “start animationY 2.1 seconds after animationX completes.” Instead, you need to do the calculations yourself and hard code them into each animation declared in the CSS, liberally using animation-duration and animation-delay to fire off each step of the scene in sequence. The mental gymnastics go something like this:

Step 1 has a 0.7 second delay and runs for 1.5 seconds. Then Step 2 should start 1.4 seconds after Step 1 completes, so it should have a delay of… 3.6 seconds. Step 2 runs for 2 seconds, and Step 3 needs to begin a quarter of a second before Step 2 completes, so Step 3 needs a delay of 5.35 seconds…

As you can imagine, the more elements you animate and the more steps you have in the sequence, the harder the math becomes. Adjusting the timing of one step in the chain can mean adjusting all the subsequent steps to compensate.

Designer Ty Flanagan created video mockups in Adobe After Effects to serve as a guide for the CSS animation, which was an enormous help. There was still a fair amount of fine tuning to be done by hand, constantly refreshing the page and tweaking a few milliseconds until it just “felt right,” but that process could have taken much longer without the videos for reference.

Another way to do all of this would have been controlling the chained animations in JavaScript, relying on the animationend event to fire off the next step in the sequence. However, a bunch of event listeners and setTimeout calls in a script probably wouldn’t have been a faster or better approach.

Animations in a Circle

Some of our favorite animations are the customize icons, mostly because the circular mask effect is so neat in its simplicity.

The key to achieving the circular mask is a bit of absolute positioning and the incredibly versatile border-radius. The markup isn’t too complex – a stage to contain everything, a div for the circular mask, and whatever elements need to be animated.

<div class="stage">
  <div class="circle-mask"></div>
  <div class="animated" id="animated-block1"></div>
  <div class="animated" id="animated-block2"></div>

If you’d like to see an example and play around with the code before reading about the methodology, here’s a little demo on CodePen.

The stage

The stage has a set height and width with a hidden overflow and relative positioning. The background color of the stage fills the circular mask.

.stage {
    position: relative;
    width: 300px;
    height: 180px;
    overflow: hidden;
    background: #fff;

The circular mask

The circular mask is absolutely positioned at the center of the stage, calculated by (stage width - (mask width + mask border width))/2 (this equation could be simpler with box-sizing: border-box). The mask has a wide enough border to reach just past the furthest boundary of the stage. The border bumping up against the page background is what completes the illusion of the mask, so the mask’s border color matches that of the section’s background color (sadly, this means the technique only works with a solid colored background).

To make sure the mask covers the animated elements, it has a z-index at least one higher than the front-most animated element.

.circular-mask {
    position: absolute;
    width: 164px;
    height: 164px;
    border: 100px solid #ccc;
    border-radius: 50%;
    top: -100px;
    left: -32px;
    z-index: 2;
/* animated elements share absolute positioning and 
   a z-index lower than .circular-mask */
.animated {
    position: absolute;
    z-index: 1;

The animated elements

The only requirement for the animated elements is that they reside inside the stage and have a z-index lower than the mask. Otherwise, anything goes.

Though purely flair (as opposed to the feature demonstrations provided by the browser chrome animations), these circular animations were fun to build and we’re very pleased with the result.

Drawing Firefox in the browser

When we first watched a video mockup of the proposed intro animation for the new Firefox for Desktop landing page, we wondered if this was actually possible to pull off in a web browser. The animation involves a series of moving lines which fill in as the outlines fade onto the web page, creating an illustrated image of the Firefox browser. Definitely not a typical animation you see on the web every day!

The first step on the path of discovery was to choose an appropriate image format. SVG seemed like the most obvious choice, given that the images needed to scale. Nobody on the team had any prior experience with SVG animation but it seemed like a fun challenge! Ty came up with a rough demo showing how we might use SVG path strokes for the moving lines, which seemed like a perfect starting point. We could have chosen to use an SVG animation library such Raphael or SnapSVG, but we wanted to try to keep our dependencies as light as possible (we had plenty already; no reason to add any more if we can avoid it). The timing and intricacies of the animation made a strong case for trying to use CSS keyframe animations, and this would also be a good opportunity to show off their potential. It was then we recalled this really clever technique that could pull off the same line-drawn effect using CSS.

Animating SVG line paths using CSS

The trick to the line drawing effect is to animate the stroke-dashoffset of an SVG image path. The stroke-dasharray property allows you to apply a dashed border effect to the outline of an SVG image. The clever part is that if you set the length of the dash equal to the total length of the image path, you can then animate stroke-dashoffset to make it appear as if the line is being drawn one segment at a time. Magic!

Here’s an example of an SVG path:

<path class="circle" stroke="#5d7489" stroke-width="2" stroke-opacity="1" 
fill="#5d7489" fill-opacity="0" 

And some CSS to animate it:

.circle {
    stroke-dasharray: 117;
    stroke-dashoffset: 117;
    animation: draw-circle 5s linear forwards;
@keyframes draw-circle {
    100% {
        stroke-dashoffset: 0;

You can find the required length of a path pretty easily using a bit of JavaScript:

var circle = document.querySelector('.circle');
var length = circle.getTotalLength();

The animation on the finished page is quite a bit more complicated than this example, but hopefully you can get the idea. We also animated fill-opacity and stroke-opacity to color in the browser panels and fade out the lines at the end of the animation, leaving a scalable vector drawing of the new Firefox.

Scaling SVG using CSS transforms

As well as animating the line drawing, we also needed to scale the image as it zooms onto the page. From there, the icons also zoom into their appropriate places. This was all done using regular CSS transforms via translate and scale.

There are some notable cross-browser inconsistencies here when it comes to scaling SVG using this method. Both Chrome and Safari render a bitmap of an SVG prior to performing a CSS transform. This is presumably for performance reasons, but it does lead to blurry images when you blow them up. Firefox seems to weigh up performance and image quality a little differently, and renders sharper images when they scale. To get around the resizing issues, the best solution was to render icons at their largest size initially and then scale them down, as opposed to the other way around. It seems browsers still have some work to do in this area in order to improve SVG rendering under these circumstances.

Putting it all together

Combining all the separate CSS keyframe animations together was probably the most time consuming task. We can also look forward to the day when we no longer need vendor prefixes for CSS keyframe animations, as the duplication of code required is still a bit undesirable. Aside from this, getting the timing right was once again the trickiest part. For a less-than-5-second animation, having to reload and run through the whole sequence over and over made the process pretty time consuming (here’s another vote for that CSS animation editor).

The final result of all this work is a set of pages that beautifully show off what the new desktop Firefox looks like while also showing off what it can do with open web technologies. If you haven’t yet, please do check it out. It’s all responsive, mobile-friendly, progressively enhanced, retina-ready, and still pretty light weight all things considered. And without a single byte of Flash.

The team

  • Jon Petto – Developer
  • Alex Gibson – Developer
  • Holly Habstritt Gaal – UX Designer
  • Ty Flanagan – Graphic Designer
  • Matej Novak – Copywriter
  • Jennifer Bertsch – Product Manager
  • Mike Alexis – Program Manager

This article was co-written by Jon Petto and Alex Gibson, with editorial assistance from Craig Cook.

Webdev Extravaganza – August 2014

Michael Kelly


Once a month, web developers from across Mozilla gather to summon cyber phantoms and techno-ghouls in order to learn their secrets. It’s also a good opportunity for us to talk about what we’ve shipped, share what libraries we’re working on, meet newcomers, and just chill. It’s the Webdev Extravaganza! Despite the danger of being possessed, the meeting is open to the public; you should stop by!

You can check out the wiki page that we use to organize the meeting, check out the Air Mozilla recording, or amuse yourself with the wild ramblings that constitute the meeting notes. Or, even better, read on for a more PG-13 account of the meeting.

Shipping Celebration

The shipping celebration is for anything we finished and deployed in the past month, whether it be a brand new site, an upgrade to an existing one, or even a release of a library.

Peep 1.3 is out!

There’s a new release of ErikRose‘s peep out! Peep is essentially pip, which installs Python packages, but with the ability to check downloaded packages against cryptographic hashes to ensure you’re receiving the same code each time you install. The latest version now passes through most arguments for pip install, supports Python 3.4, and installs a secondary script tied to the active Python version.

Open-source Citizenship

Here we talk about libraries we’re maintaining and what, if anything, we need help with for them.


pmac and peterbe, with feedback from the rest of Mozilla Webdev, have created contribute.json, a JSON schema for open-source project contribution data. The idea is to make contribute.json available at the root of every Mozilla site to make it easier for potential contributors and for third-party services to find details on how to contribute to that site. The schema is still a proposal, and feedback or suggestions are very welcome!

New Hires / Interns / Volunteers / Contributors

Here we introduce any newcomers to the Webdev group, including new employees, interns, volunteers, or any other form of contributor.

Name IRC Nick Project
John Whitlock jwhitlock Web Platform Compatibility API
Mark Lavin mlavin Mobile Partners


The Roundtable is the home for discussions that don’t fit anywhere else.

How do you feel about Playdoh?

peterbe brought up the question of what to do about Playdoh, Mozilla’s Django-based project template for new sites. Many sites that used to be based on Playdoh are removing the components that tie them to the semi-out-of-date library, such as depending on playdoh-lib for library updates. The general conclusion was that many people want Playdoh to be rewritten or updated to address long-standing issues, such as:

  • Libraries are currently either installed in the repo or included via git submodules. A requirements.txt-based approach would be easier for users.
  • Many libraries included with Playdoh were made to implement features that Django has since included, making them redundant.
  • Django now supports project templates, making the current install method of using funfactory to clone Playdoh obsolete.

pmac has taken responsibility as a peer on the Playdoh module to spend some time extracting improvements from Bedrock into Playdoh.

Helping contributors via Cloud9

jgmize shared his experience making Bedrock run on the Cloud9 platform. The goal is to make it easy for contributors to spin up an instance of Bedrock using a free Cloud9 account, allowing them to edit and submit pull requests without having to go through the complex setup instructions for the site. jgmize has been dogfooding using Cloud9 as his main development environment for a few weeks and has had positive results using it.

If you’re interested in this approach, check out Cloud9 or ask jgmize for more information.

Unfortunately, we were unable to learn any mystic secrets from the ghosts that we were able to summon, but hey: there’s always next month!

If you’re interested in web development at Mozilla, or want to attend next month’s Extravaganza, subscribe to the mailing list to be notified of the next meeting, and maybe send a message introducing yourself. We’d love to meet you!

See you next month!

Beer and Tell July 2014

Michael Kelly

Once a month, web developers across the Mozilla community get together to share what side projects or cool stuff we’ve been working on in our spare time. This monthly tribute is known as “Beer and Tell”.

There’s a wiki page listing the presenters and links to what they’re showing off and useful side information. There’s also a recording on Air Mozilla of the meeting.

Pomax: RGBAnalyse and nrAPI

This month Pomax had two projects to show. The first, RGBAnalyse, is a JavaScript library that generates histographical data about the colors in an image. Originally created so he could sort ink colors by hue, the library not only generates the data, but also generates images (available as data-uris) of histograms using that data.

The second project Pomax shared was nrAPI, a Node.js-based REST API for a website for learning Japanese: The API lets you search for basic dictionary info, data on specific Kanji, sound effects, and Japanese names. Search input is accepted in English, Romaji, Hiragana, Katakana, or Kanji.

HTML result from nrAPI search for "tiger".

HTML result from nrAPI search for “tiger”.

Bill Walker: Photo Mosaic via CSS Multi-Column

Next, bwalker shared his personal birding photo site, and talked about a new photo layout he’s been playing with that uses a multi-column layout via CSS. The result is an attractive grid of photos of various sizes without awkward gaps, that can also be made responsive without the use of JavaScript. bwalker also shared the blog post that he learned the technique from.

Dean Johnson: MusicDownloader

deanj shared MusicDownloader, a Python-based program for downloading music from SoundCloud, Youtube, Rdio, Pandora, and HypeScript. The secret sauce is in the submodules, which implement the service-specific download code.

Chris Lonnen: Alonzo

Lastly, lonnen shared alonzo, a Scheme interpreter written in Haskell as part of a mad attempt to learn both languages at the same time. It uses Parsec to implement parsing, and so far implements binary numeric operations, basic conditionals, and even rudimentary error checking. The development roughly follows along “Write Yourself a Scheme in 48 Hours” by Johnathan Tang.

Sample Runs of alonzo

Thanks to all of our presenters for sharing! If you’re interested in attending or presenting at the next Beer and Tell, subscribe to the dev-webdev mailing list! The wiki page and connection info is shared a few days before each meeting.

See you next month!

Webdev Extravaganza July 2014 Notes

Michael Kelly

Once a month, web developers across the Mozilla Project get together to talk about the things we’ve shipped, discuss the libraries we’re working on, introduce any new faces, and argue about pointless things. We call it the Webdev Extravaganza! It’s open to the public; you should come next month!

There’s a wiki page that’s mostly useful for pre-meeting connection info and agenda-building, a recording of the meeting, and an etherpad which is a mix of semi-useful info and avant-garde commentary. This month, I’m trying out writing a post-meeting blog post that serves as a more serious log of what was shared during the meeting.

Shipping Celebration

The shipping celebration is for sharing anything that we have shipped in the past month, from incremental updates to our sites to brand new sites to library updates.

Mobile Partners is a Mezzanine-based site that allows phone manufacturers and operators to learn about Firefox OS and sign up as a partner. This month we shipped an update that, among other things,  tightens up the site’s Salesforce integration, replaces HTML-based agreements with PDF-based ones displayed via PDF.js, and moves the site off of old Mozilla Labs hardware.

Input got two major features shipped:

  1. All non-English feedback for Firefox OS is now being automatically sent to humans for translation. Having the feedback translated allows processes that work on English only, like Input’s sentiment analysis, to run on feedback from non-English users.
  2. An improved GET API for pulling data from Input, useful primarily for creating interesting dashboards without having to build them into Input itself.

Open Source Citizenship

Peep has an IRC channel

Peep is a wrapper around pip that vets packages downloaded from PyPI via a hash in your requirements file. There’s now an IRC channel for discussing peep development: #peep on


Spiderflunky is a static analysis tool for JavaScript that was modified from a tool for inspecting packaged apps called perfalator. DXR is planning to use it, and there’s interest around the project, so it has it’s own repository now.

New Hires / Interns / Volunteers

This month we have several new interns (including a bunch from the Open Source Lab at OSU):

Name IRC Nick Project
Trevor Bramwell bramwelt
Ian Kronquist muricula
Dean Johnson deanj
Marcell VazquezChanlatte marcell
Christian Weiss cweiss Web Components / Brick

Bikeshed / Roundtable

In the interests of time and comprehensibility, open discussions will be ignored.

What does Webdev do?

As part of an ongoing effort to improve webdev, there’s an etherpad for listing the things that webdev does, along with who owns them, what goals they contribute to, and how they can be improved. You are encouraged to take a look and add info or opinions by the end of the week.

Interesting Python Stuff

Erik Rose shared a backport of concurrent.futures from Python 3.2 and a feature from setuptools called entry points that is useful for, among other things, supporting a plugin architecture in your library.

Did you find this post useful? Let us know and we might do it again next month!


New Firefox Nightly firstrun page and community growth

Theo Chevalier


This summer I’m doing an internship at Mozilla, and so far that’s the most exciting time of my life. I work in the Localization Team in Mountain View, and one of my goals is to increase the number of users on localized Firefox Nightly builds.
Several projects are ramped up to reach this goal, and one of them is the Nightly firstrun page. The firstrun page is the web page you see the first time you run Nightly (makes sense, right?), but also each time we release a new Firefox.

Why do Firefox Nightly builds matter?

Firefox Nightly is the earliest Firefox branch, on which all Firefox developers push their work. This build may be unstable, (but I’ve been using it as my main browser for more than 3 years, so far not that many issues). Most of the users are technical users, and they would be really valuable to the Mozilla mission if we could find an easy way to get them more involved in the project. Here comes the firstrun!

Nightly firstrun in English

Why does the firstrun page matters?

This page is one of the first things we show to our technical users. The page has been simplified on purpose, to give them a clear way to get involved. 3 core areas are displayed: coding, QA, and localization. For instance, they can find a way to provide feedback to the localization team of their language, this is really helpful for localizers to get early feedback. They can even join the team! We really want users to get more involved with their local community. That’s why we don’t just get the page translated, we localized it by adding a customizable block at the bottom of the page. This allows Mozilla communities to create and publish their own content, (for instance to promote local events, IRC channel…) so that users can meet them and get involved more quickly and easily. Fun fact, I was myself initially using Nightly and contributing to Firefox code before even knowing a French community existed!
In order to always get relevant content, localizers can update the block as part of the general Web Localization process, so it can be done quickly and regularly, without having to ask anyone.

The page has been live for a few days now, and you’ll see it if you create a new profile on Firefox Nightly, or next time Firefox team bumps up the version number. You can take a look at the per-locale customization on the French page below for instance. The page is already localized in a few locales, also we are planning to add more locales amongst Firefox Nightly locales really soon. The next step for the page will be to analyze the traffic and determine what we can improve.

Nightly firstrun in French

You too, get more involved!

If you want to contribute to these areas, you can download Firefox Nightly in your language. Right now this is the only link we have to get people to download localized Firefox Nightly builds, but we plan to get them more exposed really soon by adding Firefox Nightly to the new design of the channel page.

Personal notes

I learned a lot during this project, this was my first page for, and this was a fun challenge. Our Creative Team created the new design, I did the HTML/CSS code — and of course, made sure the page was l10n friendly — and the dev team reviewed my work and gave me useful tips. There were a lot of things to take into account: performance, accessibility, localization, metrics, responsive design… but it was really worth it.
Also, a huge thank you to Pascal Chevrel and Delphine Lebédel my mentors, and to all the Mozillians for helping me learning new things!

Site launch: Affiliates 2.0!

Justin Crawford

We just launched a redesigned website for Firefox Affiliates — check it out!

New Affiliates web site!

The Affiliates website is a portal for almost 100,000 Mozilla supporters. Affiliates believe in Mozilla’s cause and want to show their support by placing an affiliate link on their website. Here’s mine:

The original Affiliates website launched in 2011. Its branding recalls an earlier era in Mozilla style. I will miss those fuzzy monsters, but (for now at least) I know I can still find them on’s 404 page. And seriously, after three years, the site needed more than a brand refresh. As part of this launch we…

Image from the original front page.

The Affiliates 1.0 front page included fuzzy monsters.

  • Upgraded to the latest version of Playdoh
  • Removed lots of old code and subsystems no longer in use
  • Reconsidered and redesigned the entire user experience
  • Updated the pages to a beautiful take on Mozilla’s Sandstone theme
  • Added an affiliate leaderboard
  • Added user profiles and a personalized dashboard
  • Added space for localized news and announcements
  • Much more!

If you’re already a Firefox Affiliate, we* hope you enjoy these improvements. And if you’re not, why not sign up now? Being an affiliate is an easy way to support the efforts of a non-profit that strives every day to build the web the world needs.

We’d like to hear from you. Please file a bug if you find one or reach out in the #affiliates channel on to say “hi”. And keep your eye out for more new features — there’s another batch of Affiliates Awesome just around the corner!

* The Affiliates 2.0 team included dozens of people spanning the globe — too many to list here. This site redesign was a collective effort of Mozilla’s amazing affiliates, volunteers, localizers, designers, copywriters, engineers, quality assurers, contractors,  and many others. Thank you all.

Celebrating the Web We Want

Benjamin Sternthal



The latest version of Firefox is a huge milestone for Mozilla and represents the combined efforts of hundreds of people from around the world. To celebrate this launch we revisited Glow, a real-time visualization of Firefox downloads originally used during the launch of Firefox 4 in 2011.

This time we wanted to do more than just show downloads. We wanted to give people a chance to express what they want the Web to be. To this end, users visiting have the option to share with Mozilla and the world their hopes for the Web. These “shares” are displayed on the map and we display information about which issues are most important in each continent and country.


The dots on the map represents people: either someone downloading Firefox or sharing the Web they want. For me, watching the map is both humbling and inspiring. When people use Firefox— a free and open source browser made by an amazing community— and choose to share with the world what matters to them, it shows a global commitment to the future of the Web.

Technical Details

How do we process millions of interactions and display them?

The site processes request logs for Firefox downloads, auto-updates, and users who share via the website. We perform geolocation lookups on the data and aggregate the information for consumption and display by the Web application.

We have a particular love of the Simpsons on our team and elements of our project are named appropriately:

  • Mr. Burns – The overall codebase.
  • Smithers – The “servant” scripts who provide data to Mr. Burns.

Mr. Burns relies on three main scripts to display data:

  • Bart – Parses log files looking for Firefox downloads or auto-updates.
  • Lisa – Geolocates parsed data and aggregates into buckets.
  • Milhouse – Packages data into JSON for consumption by the front-end.

The flow of data can be seen in this diagram:


Data is stored in Redis and the JSON files are delivered to the front end application via CDN. The front end app renders the individual “glows” and the stats using D3.js.

To learn more visit our Wiki and explore the code on Github.

Special Thanks

This was a large project with many participants, all of whom deserve thanks. I would like to thank a few people who worked especially hard:

Eric Petitt – Project Sponsor

Paul McLanahan – Senior Developer

Steven Garrity – Senior Developer

Ali Almossawi – Metrics Engineer

John Slater – Creative Director

Sean Martell – Art Director

Matej Novak – Copy Director

The Localization Team & Contributors

And you! Without you the world would have no Glow.

Do you want a free jQuery Foundation membership?


jQuery Foundation Logo

Mozilla is renewing our jQuery Foundation corporate membership for 2014, and giving 2 individual memberships to web developers in the Mozilla community!

If you want us to consider you for a membership:

1. Join the ‘jquery’ group on Mozillians
2. Edit your Mozillians bio to include your most impressive jQuery code or activities

By June 2014, Mozilla Developer Relations and Webdev teams will select 2 winners based on the most outstanding contributions to the Open Web using jQuery.

Keep rocking the free web!

Enabling Communities: Iterating on the Get Involved Page



The Get Involved page on is one of the primary ways future community members reach out to join Mozilla and work with us to build a better Internet.

In March 2013, we turned the Get Involved page into an animated slideshow celebrating Mozilla’s 15th anniversary.

15th Anniversary slide show on the Get Involved Page

15th Anniversary slide show on the Get Involved Page

As the end of Mozilla’s 15th anniversary year approached, we wanted begin iterating on an improved user sign-up flow and telling a different part of the Mozilla story.  We also wanted to make sure our storytelling supports open web standards, so we included a sequence of HTML5 videos showing just a few of the amazing members of our global community.

You can see the updated page now in English, French, Italian, and German, with more locales to be added very soon.

What’s next for the Get Involved page?

The team is working closely with the Community Building and Community Engagement teams to build a new version of the Get Involved page to better support Mozilla’s  “Enable Communites that Have Impact”  goal.

We will collaborate with the Community Builder’s Research group to better understand how and why prospective new community members find Mozilla.  We’ll also coordinate closely with the Pathways and Systems & Data groups to ensure we are doing everything we can to help potential volunteers find the opportunity they are looking for to work with Mozilla.

We need your help!

We are still in the “gather data/understand the problem” phase of this next iteration.  If you see other websites that are doing a great job recruiting volunteers or have ideas for things that the Get Involved page could do to better connect people with Mozilla (ex:  make it easier for people to find Mozilla events close to home), please let us know!

You can contribute your ideas by either:

1.  adding them to this etherpad

2.  creating dependent bugs to this tracking bug

Expect to see the next updates to the Get Involved page in Q3 2014!