Thoughts on Mozilla

You can now directly download the video or the audio.

Spurred by a conversation I had today, I thought I’d post some wide-ranging and very rough thoughts on Mozilla. They’re pretty raw and uncensored, and I go for about 50 minutes, but it might be somewhat thought-provoking. At the least, I’d love to hear your thoughts — in agreement or vehement disagreement. Educate me!

And, here are the basic notes I was working from:

  1. the future of the web: silverlight, apollo, JavaFX — where are you?? where’s mozilla’s platform for the future?
  2. build tools. xul tools are in the crapper. look at webkit and xcode.
  3. dump spreadfirefox; get your focus back. power to the people — not more centralization. where’s the college teams? run it like a presidential but stop asking for donations. events, mash pits… MozCamps… whatever… I know something is happening in Japan with Joi Ito… but that’s about all I know about.
  4. out reach… mitchell is out there… but i feel like, with all due respect, she’s too coy… i think segolene royale — who recently lost the french election set a very good example.
  5. and, the press have no idea what mozilla is up to… where the money’s going… there’s work and a roadmap for FF3… but it’s all about FF3.
  6. joe six pack is not your audience. look at africa, non-profits, international audiences. green audiences. MozillaWifi… work with Meraki networks! Firefox + Wifi in a box. Bring the web to everyone stop being a browser company.
  7. Mozilla the platform… stop thinking of yourself as a browser company. stop competing with flock. start promoting platform uses of mozilla and treat these folks like GOLD! think of joost and songbird. as Microsoft has done, build an ecosystem of Firefox browsers…! And build the platform of support to nurture them. Make it possible for people to build sustainable businesses on top of Mozilla… provide all that infrastructure and support!
  8. CivicForge… like an ethical Cambrian House… the new sourceforge that works for non-developers… where’s the mozilla social network? sure they’re on Facebook, but it feels like a chore.
  9. leadership opportunities… Boxely… microformats… openid…. start prepping web designers for HTML5 if that’s the future.
  10. IE has caught up in the basics. They have tabs. They fixed popups and spyware. Firefox as an idea can sell; as a browser, not so much.
  11. Browsers are dead. They’re not interesting. Back to Joe Six Pack… he doesn’t care about browsers. He’ll use whatever is pre-installed. Need to get Firefox on Dells.. on Ubuntu… on the Mac. Songbird too. OEM for Joe Six Pack.
  12. Browsers are a commodity. People are happy with Safari, Firefox 2 and IE7. What comes next goes beyond the browser — again, Adobe, Microsoft and Sun are all betting on this.
  13. mobile. minimo is used by whom?
  14. Firefox as a flag — as a sports team… rah… rah! where’s the rebel yell? where’s the risk? where’s the backbone? Why can’t Firefox stand for more than web standards and safety? I don’t think Mozilla can afford to be reluctant or to pull any punches. They need to come out swinging every time. And be New York’s Babe Ruth to IE’s Boston Red Sox.
  15. open source is immortal; it’s time that mozilla starting acting open source. at this point what DON’T they have to lose? the world is not the world of 2005. i want to know what the mozilla of 2010 looks like. we’re blake ross? where’s parakey? where’s joe hewitt? where’s dave barron? there’s so much talent at mozilla… are things really happening? thank god kaply is in charge of microformats now. (but, firefox is NOT an information broker!)
  16. lastly… great hope for the future of firefox, despite what sounds like negative commentary.

Author: Chris Messina

Head of West Coast Business Development at Republic. Ever-curious product designer and technologist. Hashtag inventor. Previously: (YC W18), Uber, Google.

99 thoughts on “Thoughts on Mozilla”

  1. Great post Chris! I think you got Mozilla spot on. I too really think that they need to get their act together. They have the people and certainly the money too. Mozilla start’s looking too much like an AOL company – and that is not cool..

    If you consider that Maxthon is only a 20 person team and has taken off like a storm without any big campaigns – just spread out of love from people to people and on a shoe-string budget. Mozilla must be able to do such much more. However, this is the problem with big organizations, or small movements gone big and mainstream like. Innovation falls back , people become comfortable and the kick ass attitude is gone..

    Although I represent a browser built on “evil code” (as stated by some Mozilla zealots..) we are going platform independent. And we have a very passionate community and is not in bed with anyone..

    Would love to pick your brain one day on a number of things.

    Again, great post!

    All the best,


  2. hi chris! great vlog I am sure. but how do I download it? It is flash. viddler is flash, I thought your mantra was web open? flash is web closed as you notably mention in the first 5 minutes of this vlog.

    No really. I am at a hotel with terrible bandwidth and I would like to listen to all of this at my leisure without the horrible stopping and starting that I get with this wifi link in my hotel room.

    thx – joe

  3. Definitely a lot of interesting points here. Webkit from mozilla – XUL tools that make it easy to make the next songbird, flock, etc, would be amazing.

  4. Chris,

    Part of the problem as I see it, is that Mozilla is trying to hard to be the opposite of what Microsoft is. The thing that everyone keeps forgetting is that Microsoft, as well as Adobe, Sun and Joyent, is a company. They pay their developers to innovate. Mozilla however, is still being run as if it’s a small little project based out of someone’s garage. It’s hard for the few developers that are working full-time for Mozilla to constantly innovate because they aren’t getting paid what they’re worth and the Mozilla brass isn’t providing them with the needed tools to win.

    Microsoft doesn’t have to depend on a cadre of volenteers to test cross-platform support for their products. Why? Because they built a seperate facility specifically to house computers that run OS X (and Linux i suspect as well, but they’d never admit it). Mozilla at its’ core doesn’t have this type of infrastructure set up and they probably never will. Which makes your question about where the money that Mozilla has mad thus far, is going.

    Don’t get me wrong: volunteering to assist with the development of Firefox/XUL is a good thing. I just feel that, if Mozilla REALLy wants to compete in this area of Web Development, then they need to start paying their devs a steady check each week so that they can get back to being innvative…….

  5. I really wanted to watch this, but every 3 seconds or so it pauses and takes 2-3 seconds to “rebuffer” – basically making the video unwatchable.

  6. A lot to chew on. You’ve got your finger on the pulse a few latent movements, and how they will have quite large ramifications.

    Thanks for open sourcing your thoughts.

  7. First of all, why does Mitchell only ever get compared to other women…

    Anyway, it seems to be officially announced that the platform is a low priority. Mitchell said they have to:

    Focus most where we have the greatest impact – Firefox and “browsing” broadly defined – that is, browser-based access to web content and applications
    Focus on the XUL platform that underlies Firefox to keep the Open Web competitive against closed/proprietary platforms
    Assist other Mozilla participants and projects, but not equally with Firefox and not at significant cost to Firefox
    Be exemplary Mozilla participants (this has historically been explicitly not doing whatever people ask for, but providing evaluation, review, module ownership, etc., with a focus broader than a single product)

    To me that list says that Firefox is their primary focus and other applications will only be take into consideration if they’re not interfering with Firefox’s development. That seems pretty lame to me. They’ve been building XUL as the best platform to build Firefox on and now that’s policy not just an accident.

    So yeah, Mozilla Corporation is a product company with one product. Managing to focus on more than one product is hard, producing and supporting a platform is harder. On the outside, those of us who’re building other products on top of Mozilla technologies are not considered first-class community members, even when we’re working towards the goals set out in Mozilla’s manifesto.

    Ahh well, I’ve been doing this for six years. I’m used to it.

  8. Thanks Chris…….with open source software on a strong growth trajectory, with big budget IT shops coming back strong and investing in OS with more confidence, I’m not clear on where Mozilla stands, especially with tools on the Mac.
    Keep the heat on, please!

  9. Frank Young, I am not confident your assertions are correct. What are you basing them on? How many employees do you think Moz corp is? My guess without considering the details is that Mozilla is well over 100 employees + how many Google employees?

  10. Thanks Chris — appreciate the thoughts and I definitely think of Flock as promoting the Mozilla platform.

  11. This is great and although I’m not as close to these things as you, I definitely tend to agree with you about how Firefox should be “handled”. Great stuff.

    To anyone having problems with watching Chris’ video, please email me as I don’t want to do support in his comments here, but I want to make sure all of you are able to watch his video. If you are having buffering issues (and you know you have enough bandwidth to stream video) – I ask you specifically to contact me to let me know the details so that we can make the proper adjustments. Thanks!

  12. chris,

    Minimo is not really being worked on by Mozilla Corp. There is a small list of people working on this project in our spare time. There are about 100k downloads per month with little marketing (other than my blog).

    I do agree that we have a long way to go and at ever opportunity we engage with our community to ask for help. How can you help us Chris?

  13. I read/watched this late last night and knew this was going to make some waves. Some great thoughts in here Chris, I especially like the “stop being a browser company/MozillaWifi” point.

  14. Chris,

    Wow after watching your Mozilla video and the one a few days back on hAtomic I can’t help to chime in and also see where they both share a few points.

    It is the stuff (content, tools etc) that matters, not the browsers. This is one of the reasons why I’m so excited about the work being done on microformats and attention data, because it is focusing on the stuff and how people might actually and naturally use it.

    I believe that we’re going to see a move away from the “client – server”, “thin clients” and what ever other models there are to something else that won’t fight against the way people use and do things with stuff, maybe a “person – stuffâ€? model who knows? But the other comment on hAtomic and how people will be able to create different views of a hAtom feed from a site I think is getting closer to what we will see in the near future. Things like OPML, APML, and other microformats will allow people to this.

    First thing I thought of when hearing your comment about middle management at Microsoft being scared of change was that I think Mozilla has become dependent of the IE – Firefox rivalry and is just as scared of change.

    For example of something outside the blog , Web 2.0 or web standards bubble look at the current real estate system being used to store and display listings online. After working with the local Realtor board managing their MLS system I was excited because that is a great example of stuff (real estate listings) that people use in their life and should be able to grab copies of it in formats that they can use with the tools they want, how they want and when they want. I saw this as a great opportunity to use uFs to make that happen, though I was having to pull along the established hoarders of information to explain why this would be a good thing. I’m working on other things now, but there are plenty of things like this that are waiting for people to champion a switch from inside their industry in the way their stuff is handled on the web.

    We already know the web isn’t just for computers and your PDA anymore, but I feel people still think of it in that context instead of a way people connect with their stuff. And I think as this improves it will allow them to use these things in a more natural and productive way. Just look at the list below and see things that can already are will very soon be connected to the web to get access or share stuff. This is the reason why browsers won’t be as important, but microformats, attention data etc will be.

    Mobile: mobile phones, cameras, GPS, remote sensing / monitoring tools, PDAs and laptops

    Office: computers, appliances (set-top boxes), phones (mobile & VoIP)

    Home: computers, appliances (set-top boxes), phones (mobile & VoIP), TV, game consoles.

    Don’t get stressed out too much as I think we are seeing probably the greatest inertia shift in the web as companies, people and governments are figuring out that it is more than just a interactive form of TV on your computer or laptop monitor. And that is a bunch of inertia that is getting shifted; try to fight it too much and you will just end up getting tired.

    Michael B

  15. “it’s time that mozilla starting acting open source. at this point what DON’T they have to lose? the world is not the world of 2005. i want to know what the mozilla of 2010 looks like. we’re blake ross? where’s parakey? where’s joe hewitt? where’s dave barron? there’s so much talent at mozilla… are things really happening?”

    You know we’re not working on Mozilla, so why are you asking where we are in relation to it? As for where Parakey is, well, we’re working on it quite a bit. It takes time–unlike, say, making a video 🙂

  16. Hi Chris – great points made.

    With respect to Mozilla as a platform to develop applications: this should indeed be the main focus for Mozilla. At TomTom we are using it to build our next generation of the TomTom HOME application based on xulrunner (over 1.5M registered users currently). This will add a very nice showcase example to the list of Flock and Songbird.

    Our main challenges with xulrunner based application development: resourcing (getting really good people) and tooling (IDE, automated testing tools).

  17. Haven’t seen this happening for a while but it’s kind of funny it happens in the middle of your video 😉
    Messina Messing Mozilla?

  18. I think firefox will die, and be replaced by Adobe Apollo. But that’s not a bad thing. There’s no need to try to save it, or fight for Firefox. It’s a choice, they exist to provide choice. And right now, Firefox is the best choice for browser, but soon Apollo will have a better browser, and it will be dead simple to write plugins. The XPCOM codebase is too crazy, and Adobe’s simpler codebase will replace it without a doubt. I think that’s perfectly fine. Yadig?

  19. I’d be interested in helping with a Mozilla wifi project. How would I get involved?

  20. put your money where your mouth is and help out.
    you *quit* working on spreadfirefox remember?

    So it’s great that you can mouth off but if you’re not willing to help out, file bugs, be active in spreadfirefox, what you say doesn’t really matter.

    Criticism is good but this isn’t helpful. More self promotion than anything.

  21. @Rafael: Just a point of clarification. I lobbied for over two months for Mozilla to pull me on full time as an employee to continue doing work on Spread Firefox. I couldn’t continue at the level I was at as an unpaid volunteer and still get by, living in San Francisco with a full-time job.

    Chris Beard never got back to me about my offer to come on full time and subsequently went off with Bart to start Round Two, which later became Flock, because I felt that it would keep me close to browser development and the Mozilla community.

    Unfortunately, the politics between Flock and Mozilla were never good, stemming from prior grievances and so my vision of having Flock and Mozilla work towards improving the Mozilla platform and innovating in web browser design never came to fruition.

    You can certainly opine that I “quit” and that this is all self-congratulatory and self-promotional; it’s good to get that kind of criticism, as I asked. But to imply that I walked out on the job is patently wrong; it was Mozilla who quit on me when I was just getting going — otherwise I’m not sure exactly how you expected me to make a living giving away all my time to Mozilla for free. What kind of open source sustainability model is that?

  22. Amen brother! Another observation – it seems like half of the Mozilla leads and their top contributors work directly for Google. Seems ironic to me that things would be moving so slowly with Mozilla – given this symbiotic relationship with Google. Contrary to everything Google is about (on the surface).

  23. Yawn, as an FF user since pre v1, you sound like a loon. None of this matters to me as an FF user. I am not interested in the politics as most FF users are probably not either because it does not appear to affect this great product. I think you could waste your time on something more important. Wake up and take a look around the world. The politics of FF don’t mean squat.

  24. “stop competing with flock” – Flock shouldn’t exist to “compete” against in the first place. It’s nothing more than an over-glorified set of extensions that would have more of a following if it were actually packaged as such.

  25. I did NOT intend to listen to this whole thing. But here I am at the end.

    I just wanted to comment that when you spoke about Mozilla towards 45:00 I turned away from coding and watched. Inspiring stuff. Sometimes it’s hard for people to understand how we can be passionate about things like browsers and open technologies.

  26. Well u nailed it.

    Mozilla suck list :

    – Extension handling/repos … no _real_ central up2date repository (which looks and feels professional!)

    – _NO_ inovation. Why not implement a _REAL_ bookmark manager instead of relying on dozens of half-assed,sh*tty extensions (if ff3 gets SqlLite ?!) ?

    – Someone will sooner or later come of with a cross platform _WEBKIT_ based browser. Instead the “Mozila Foundation” _BURNS_ wastes money for crap _!_

    Just take a look at the FF3 roadmap … It looks like a joke …

  27. Corey said: “Another observation – it seems like half of the Mozilla leads and their top contributors work directly for Google.”

    Where did you _observe_ that half of the Mozilla leads and top contributors work directly for Google? Have you queried our source code repositories to see who has contributed code to Mozilla? Have you looked at patches submitted to Bugzilla? Have you looked over the Mozilla Module Owners page to see who the Mozilla leads are? Obviously not.

    Had you actually observed something, rather than just making shit up, you’d have seen that with the exception of Mike Pinkerton who owns the Camino project and Mark Mentovai who co-owns the Mac widget code, (neither of whom are paid by Google to do any Mozilla work) not a single Mozilla Module Owner works for Google. Had you queried bonsai or looked through patches at Bugzilla, you’d have seen that, with the exception of the Firefox Phishing Protection feature and some minor bugfixing, Google engineers haven’t contributed substantially to Firefox in years. They certainly aren’t “top contributors” and leads, as you’ve observed.

    The Mozilla community of contributors is large and there are people being paid to do considerable work on Mozilla at other companies (like IBM, Sun, ActiveState, and Adobe) but no one who has looked at the actual development of Firefox recently could say with a straight face that Google employees are top contributors to Mozilla.

  28. (Sorry, having problems posting in one go because of some bug at Chris’ blog where it tells me:

    Precondition Failed

    The precondition on the request for the URL /blog/wp-comments-post.php evaluated to false

  29. Lloyd Budd said “My guess without considering the details is that Mozilla is well over 100 employees + how many Google employees?”

    Not a bad guess. I think we’re at about 100 fulltime MoCo/MoFo contributors and zero fulltime (or even part time, as far as I can tell) Google employees.


    Frank Young, as should be obvious from my comments here, Mozilla does pay people to work on Mozilla. We pay quite a few. We also have a non-trivial infrastructure. Can you name any other companies that ship annual releases simultaneously on three platforms across 40 languages resulting in an average of about 500,000 downloads per day? What other companies can you name that are supporting volunteers with hardware, software, internet connectivity and bandwidth, and travel? What tools should “the Mozilla brass” be providing to Mozilla contributors (paid and volunteer) that they aren’t?

  30. Ian, I’m sure you all would love a free lunch, (Flock did too,) but that ain’t how Open Source works or what being a member of the community means. Mozilla is not the “technology only” organization that it was in 1998 when Netscape was afraid of competition from a Mozilla branded browser. We are, and were well before Songbird (or Flock) came into existence, shipping consumer products as our primary focus. This buy-me-lunch expectation, that the rest of the Mozilla community is here to build the technologies you need for your product is just silly. Your company has resources (aren’t you all Sequoia backed?) You’re utilizing a huge chunk of resources previously developed and being developed by the Mozilla community. If Mozilla isn’t fully the technology you all need it to be, then put more resources against those technology problems.

    The mission of the Mozilla project is to preserve choice and innovation on the Internet and we’re doing that with Firefox quite nicely: aggressively growing market share, forcing the 500 pound gorilla to improve its standards support and product usability, introducing new ways of interacting with web content, keeping users secure and their data private, supporting the 100+ million Firefox installations with regular security and stability updates, delivering new web platform features like canvas, 2 & 3-D accelerated graphics, JavaScript 2, off-line support and more, improving and adding new support for well defined, public, and free web standards, and building or experimenting directly with a wide range of partners to improve specific user experiences. We’re doing all that AND making incremental improvements to the generalized Mozilla XUL application platform and you’re here suggesting that Mozilla is failing at its mission because the bulk of the Mozilla community contributors aren’t focused more on the needs of your commercial product? Are you kidding?

    Oh, and where are your contributors not being treated as first class community members. From a quick scan of patches attached by Songbird folks, it looks like you all are getting reviews as fast a most other developers on the project. I don’t see any large number of newsgroup posts going without responses. Where are Songbird contributors being treated as second-class community members? Not getting a free lunch is not the same thing as being treated as second-class community members.


    Chris Messina, as I said to Ian, no free lunches here. If you think Mozilla’s mission is important, then put something on the line for it. And you don’t have to be a full-time employee to contribute directly to Mozilla. Nearly 30% of Firefox 2 code came from part-time volunteers. The overwhelming majority, more than 90%, of the high-quality bug reports fixed in Firefox 2 come from part-time volunteers. Most of our downloads come from word of mouth and buzz generated by part-time volunteers and regular folk, outside of Mozilla-sponsored advertising or PR. If you really believe what you’re saying, there are lots of ways you could plug in as a part-time volunteer.

    I realize that you probably think you’re contributing by “starting” these conversations, but unless you’re offering new ideas, it’s really just a distraction. I, for one, don’t see anything particularly novel here and don’t see a new conversation emerging that wasn’t already happening among people actually working to advance the Mozilla mission.

  31. It seems that the featured video is
    not viewable in any web browser —
    without a proprietary plugin.

    What is it about Flash videos that makes individuals so reluctant to add direct URLs for downloading?

  32. @Asa,

    Why don’t you tell me what you *really* feel? 🙂 My (apparently incorrect) assumptions were that Ben Goodger and his team worked for Google directly. Lies damn lies I guess…


  33. Corey, yes, Ben Goodger and his team (not sure who that is, exactly) do work for Google. What I’m saying is that Ben Goodger hasn’t worked on Mozilla seriously in years. He hasn’t been the Firefox Module Owner for ages.

  34. I think Mozilla needs to take the conversation to the media industry. They need to be engaged in the conversations that define the future of media production; at present Adobe and Microsoft own that. And they shouldn’t. I’ve written up a post here:

    Great video though. If it’s not a call to action, then you’ve just bashed one of the final nails into the coffin for Mozilla.

  35. @Asa,

    If Mozilla is a product company not a product + platform company that’s fine. It hasn’t been clear to external members of the community that that is the case until recently. I often feel that we’ve been misled about the resources that have been committed to XULRunner.

    Part of the amazing promise of XULRunner was that we’d all be able to ship our apps as a tiny XPI that would run on any computer with Firefox. This has been pushed out indefinitely. If we look at a 2005 roadmap we get:

    Firefox will be one of the most critical delivery vehicles for Gecko and XULRunner technology in 2005.

    Fast forward to the present and the XULRunner roadmap says:

    It is possible that Firefox 3 will be built on top of a “private” XULRunner (i.e. XULRunner will be installed in the Firefox application directory, and will not be shared with other applications).

    It has also been frustrating to see the Mozilla Corporation attempt to directly compete with community members. I know it’s tough to separate the Mozilla Corporation’s roles as a for-profit company and it’s role as the leader of the community, but that’s just rude. The Corporation doesn’t need to refrain from competing with anyone building on Gecko/XUL, but if you’ve got someone already building an open source implementation of something (for example online photo management or social network integration) it’s good practice to talk to them first. At least to talk to the developers. Otherwise you start looking like Apple or Microsoft.

    Personally I’ve had trouble getting patches looked at to the extent that I instinctively shy away from investing the time to contribute back. I know I need to battle that in myself (and I’ve committed to fighting this attitude) but when my patches aren’t aligned with the product goals of MoCo (ie: it’s irrelevant to Firefox) or technology goals (eg: patches to the RDF subsystem) they really tend to get ignored.

  36. @Ian and the other MoFoCo peeps: why all the hate? Is the atmosphere in your vaulted tower depriving your brain of much needed humility? Not one of you have provided an extension to the conversation; instead you’ve provided either accusatory remarks or defensive tirades. One has to wonder — whose side are you are on?

    I mean — bored — do I sound bored? If you confuse concern with boredom, I can’t imagine how you might treat passion…

    I’ve received a good deal of affirmative comments — here and elsewhere — in the past couple days. I don’t think that I’m that far off base, even if my details are fuzzy. If you want to educate me on how things are from your vantage-point, I’m all ears and said so in the video; if you can’t take 50 minutes of a concerned citizen rambling on about his thoughts on the organization’s future, how are you possible going to meet that future with eyes wide open?

  37. “Can you name any other companies that ship annual releases simultaneously on three platforms across 40 languages resulting in an average of about 500,000 downloads per day?”

    It is exactly this statement that shows that those in charge of directing Mozilla and presenting a clear vision of what Mozilla should be involved in and how to get there don’t really know what they are doing. Your statement is only applicable to one product: Firefox. It’s great that you ship annual updates across three platforms in 40 languages, blah, blah, blah, BUT firefox IS NOT the only application that Mozilla develops. There is no reason if you have 100+ paid devs as you claim, that development of Thunderbird and Sunbird should be as slow as it is. If you really have 100+ paid devs, then why is so hard for Mike Pinkerton and his team to get substantial work done on Camino (not bashing Mike here)? As Chris mentioned in his video, where is XULRunner, XULRunner dev tools? Where’s Tamarin?

    Mozilla can’t possibly have the infrastructure that you claim it does or things wouldn’t languish as much as they do. Of course, nothing always goes as you plan it, but the reality of the situation is that it is taking too long to get things done. This all goes back to my original statement: Mozilla isn’t functioning in the manner that it should be.

    If Firefox is going to be the thing that Mozilla wants to focus on solely, then it should give up ownership of the other products/projects and quit trying to market itself as a platform. There’s nothing wrong with being a one app company and no one would fault Mozilla for changing its’ manifesto to more clearly represent where it is today. In fact, doing this would probably be easier on Mozilla as a company as it would lessen the amount of headache involved in getting things done.

    You say that Chris’ post is no different than talks that you’ve been having internally. Well, as is clear from the many comments and outside commentary on other blogs, it’s hard for us to believe this when we aren’t seeing results. Sure, IE has improved (a little) and you’ve grown in market share…now what? Where do you go from here? It’s clear in everyone else’s head but yours that eventually the browser will become a non-important component to interacting online. If you aren’t doing what’s needed to meet that challenge, then you’re going to get caught out there with your pants down and your head up your ass. Adobe gets it, hence Apollo. Microsoft gets it, hence Silverlight. Hell, even Joyent gets it releasing their own runtime called Slingshot. It seems like there’s this big joke that everyone in the room is laughing at except Mozilla because it’s flying over your heads.

    We’re not trying to piss you off and certainly no one is trying to get a “free lunch”. We all have as much of a vested interest in the wellfare of Mozilla as you do. We just want you to see that. Mozilla can’t depend on Firefox forever. It’s time to move forward or move over. If Mozilla isn’t going to put anytime and effort into making things happen with these various applications and projects then release them. Let someone else take over the management and development of these tools/apps/projects. If Mozilla really wants to be a next-gen, forward thinking company then stop putting roadblocks in place that hinder US from helping YOU succeed. Just as Chris and others have mentioned, stop trying to compete with other companies/developers that are also building great apps/projects on Gecko and XULRunner. Flock is not your competition…it is an application that is meant for a different market than firefox attracts. Quit trying to implement features that are already implenmented/planned for Flock. Let Flock do what it’s supposed to do and let Firefox do what it’s supposed to do. Let Camino do what it’s supposed to do. I don’t think that many people see Firefox as a “Social” web browser. They see it more as a pro-level, business minded app. So let it be that and leave the social aspects to Flock. By both browsers succeeding in their respective markets, Gecko and XULRunner WILL get its’ shine.

    Hire more devs. Stop depending on people to put in full-time work with no compensation. Give the devs a steady check and stock in Mozilla. That gives them a vested interested to see that Mozilla succeeds. You do this and I gaurantee that you’ll see a huge productivity leap across all of the apps/projects that are under the Mozilla umbrella (ella, ella, a, a…under my umbrella..whoops, Rihanna was playing). I’m tired of seeing Thunderbird/Sunbird looking like third-rate apps from 1997. I’m tired of reading in forums how un-finished the apps feel to the thousands of people who try to use them everyday.

    If you’re going to be a company, then damnit start acting like one. How do you even hope to compete with Apple (WebKit), Microsoft (Trident) and Opera (Presto)? These engines aren’t just being used on the desktop, but across millions of handheld units globally. Just as Chris mentioned, why aren’t manufactures using Gecko in their devices? My guess is that device manufactures aren’t too confident that Mozilla will be around for the long haul or aren’t impressed with Mozilla’s roadmap for Gecko and XULRunner. Frankly, who can blame them? From what I see, I’m sure not impressed.

  38. Hey Chris,

    In case you haven’t figured it out yet, blog comments lend themselves to reactive-type comments instead of thought out ones, based more on emotion. You spent 50 minutes basically telling “MoFoCo Peeps” that you thought they were totally missing everything, and you didn’t do it in the most constructive manner. I can’t believe that you didn’t expect to bruise some feelings, and indeed, kind of thought that might have been the point; you did it to get a reaction, and you succeeded. Well played!

    I worry, however, that you don’t read Planet Mozilla, and as such may not have seen some of the more thoughtful replies to your post:

    I also asked you this over Twitter (but maybe you’ve stopped following me? I bet you get a lot of tweets) if you read the NNTP/Google Group “mozilla.governance”, which is a good place to engage the people who are heavily involved in both the Mozilla Foundation, Corporation and Project in a discussion about your ideas. I’m pretty sure that people would be receptive.

    I was also wondering if you’d considered calling into any of the open, weekly project status calls. We’ll even pick up the tab:

    I guess what I’m trying to say is: you consistently make it sound like “Mozilla” isn’t listening, isn’t engaging its community, and isn’t open. That’s simply not true. I know of no other organization about which you could do a 50 minute video critique and have it actually make as much of an impact as yours has had on Mozilla; indeed, the fact that it’s made any impact at all reflects both the validity of some of your points, as well as the fact that we are listening with humility. Not from an ivory tower, but from the seat of our project and community; one that you can easily make yourself a part of, if you so choose.

    I know you make a career out of creating communities for profit, so it astounds me that you haven’t even tried to actually bring any of these points up in the wide and varied fora that our community lives in.

    with love,

  39. Hey, as long as you’re ranting, can you rant to the OpenID community about how it really blows that if I log in to OpenID to leave a comment on someone’s blog, that entire comment gets lost?


    (I’ll try to recreate my comment, but it was really long, and I’m really annoyed about having lost it)

  40. I definitely think that mozilla should focus more on applications. I think the success of the itunes store has shown that these types of things can be very successful if well thought out.

  41. @Chris

    hmm.. should I email or post here, its ended up being quite long, apologies for that everyone, but I’ll post here in the interests of openness.

    No hate from me Chris, nor from anyone else that I’ve experienced, but you can’t expect to sucker punch folks and expect them to say, hi Chris long time no speak thanks for that mate! I think Rafael is right it would be better for you to have offered some thoughts on the solutions instead of what could be interpreted as an arrogant way of “tell me if I’m wrongâ€? approach.

    Anyway, I kept my previous comment short as I did not want to provoke argument in your own blog posting. Nor do I want to now but here’s the longer version of what I wanted to say.

    I think you have your own style, you deliver confrontational points in a very measured calm way, you know you can expect some people to think your doing this for your own publicity because many people won’t understand why you don’t just chip in and help out the project instead of standing on outside throwing stones. Well its a free on line world and that is your choice dude.

    I don’t agree with everything you say, I think your too simplistic in terms of what has been possible to achieve in the recent time frame tbh, I do agree Mozilla could be seen to be doing more because in principle everyone and everything always can do more, but I think its doing a good job with the time its had to do it so far.

    Btw I don’t get the ivory tower thing at all btw, I don’t think you meant that your a laid back guy in real life. Like Beltzner said there are channels and there are ways of engaging in an open way and public way instead of lobbing the grenade dude.

    To offer you some clarity on my three questions in reverse order…

    What’s your real point dude?
    Why now?
    Are you bored?

    What I mean by are you bored, I mean, you sound like your looking for a fight or a challenge and seem to think the spark has gone from Mozilla because of the Focus on Firefox as a maturing product. I know Firefox promotion is not as urgent as it was in the early 1.0 days, but that is just the nature of the way things evolve, after the revolution comes order and progress right, not so exciting but necessary non the less.

    Sure it would be more exciting to be doing all the things you talk about right now, but, I don’t think any of us could realistically say that not having the tools in our hands right now is a shortcoming, I mean come on its still early days dude. You like the fun of the chase, you like new things, you always move on after the first battle is won, thats ok, different people have different styles, yours is one that wants to shout out the next war cry but listen there’s just work that needs to be done to keep steadily and incrementally focussing on the browsing experience, Mozilla has been hugely successful and its make sense to continue that success, it is what fuels its survival. No one seems to take time out to think that one through enough.

    To diversify its focus too soon would be a mistake, maybe around ..hang on… nearly there….. now!…… is about the time that Mozilla could start to think about what comes next, but I think its not fair to say that its a failing not to have any other major success other than Firefox right now.

    By “why nowâ€?, I mean simply is this part of the kick Mozilla for wanting to focus on Firefox instead of XUL runner thing that so many are unhappy about right now, you catching a wave here? You say you have been thinking about these things for a while, I’m curious what the nature of the IM was you spoke about, its seemed to have galvanised your thoughts somewhat, none of my business but it may be helpful for viewers to understand this context.

    By “whats your real point?� I mean is this a closure piece from you on Mozilla, your feelings and a goodbye and good luck to the projects cause. Or, is this your way of saying, hey, I want to re-engage in a bigger way and get back in the trenches? Or thirdly is this the start of a war cry to polarize opinion and see if there are enough people to start something new?

    In terms of offering conversation, about Spread Firefox. I recall that you were calling for it to end and you thought it had run its cause way back in the day you left almost two years ago, so your saying it now is no surprise to me now. We’ve been recently working on a Drupal 5.x upgrade build of the site and have written a whole new bespoke project module in order for the new roll out to enable members to manage their own action orientated projects, its all staged and almost ready to go. Btw If you take a look on the site you would have seen that CBeard has posted that Mozilla intend to re invigorate the site with an open-marketing approach and the site will become far more action orientated again, the site is about to deliver some very cool things and its far from finished imho.


  42. I think some people are confusing the whole Mozilla has 100 employees thing to mean that Mozilla has 100 developers.

    Do you think that every employee at Mozilla is a developer? No QA, no Marketing, nothing but developers?

    From what I’ve seen, it is a diverse mix of people there and they are supporting a number of projects.

  43. I developed a prototype XUL Form designer which included drag-drop editing and property pages etc. This included the ability to create projects, design forms, and save/restore XUL form designs. I demonstrated this to Robert Ginda at Netscape Developer Days in 2002 (well before Firefox). The project is currently languishing at

    Mozilla has consistently shown ZERO interest in having an XUL based IDE. In fact they have seemed to be antagonistic. Every bug I reported to Bugzilla has been removed. The story was alway “If it does not directly affect the Browser – then forget it”.

    Ostensibly simple things have been asked for for over five years and are still on the back burner. E,g, It is essential to be able to load an XML DOM from source files in a Meta-Mode in which DTD constants are not resolved, overlayed content is identifiable, etc. Even the current DOM load method is totally horked. XUL documents are treated as special cases. Mixed documents of HTML, XUL and SVG are completely screwed. Not implemented DOM methods, inaccessible functions (Available to HTML but not XUL and visa-versa) abound. The whole loading framework needs a complete overhaul with an eye for tool development. Good luck.

    Even more importantly, there has been ZERO interest from the developer community. Actually I exagerate, there has been 3 messages on the XulApp forum since 2003.

    The current state of the project is that the main parts of the IDE have been demonstrated and just require straightforward improvement. The big area that requires major development is the Javascript editor. This requires more help at the C++ level – JS is just too slow to do this low level job. E.g. JS Parsers, XML JS syntax tree builders, editor support for XML documents (Composer targets html and this is less than ideal as the basis for a JS editor).

    I gave up – my head feels much better the bruises on my forehead are nearly healed.

  44. Chris,
    I completely agree that silverlight, apollo, JavaFX are the future of the web. Have you ever heard of Trimpath’s Junction MVC javascript framework? It’s like rails for javascript.

  45. Asa, I need to correct you here. Engineers on Google’s payroll did make significant contributions to Firefox 2.0 which shipped in late 2006. To name a few:

    – Darin Fisher’s ThreadManager re-architecture
    – The spell checking system implemented by Brett Wilson
    – The RSS preview/subscription feature I implemented
    – The search system back end straw man that I put together (and Gavin Sharp finished)

    And for Firefox 3, there’s the significant amount of effort that several of us put into the core of the Places functionality which continues to be developed by folks at MozCom.

    The majority of this work was done during 2006 (and can be verified using bonsai), which makes the assertion that Google employees haven’t contributed in “years” incorrect.

  46. hey chris, i have no idea what you’re talking about, but it’s cool to see you! x

  47. Just checking out the viddler interface.

    Viddler’s time based tagging and commenting is interesting but let me know when they get the comments out of flash and use the blog API to post them as real comments to your blog post where they belong… where they can be read with the rest of the comments, where they can be tracked with and other trackers, where they can be syndicated with RSS… where I can actually READ them instead of them being in a tiny little 320×240 little window.

    The bottom line is there’s two different conversations here. There’s the one in viddler, which is… whatever… can’t follow it. And then there’s the one in the page… which is awesome and useful…. and I can actually read… and which I will actually get responses on because I’m tracking it with

    Now… as to comment on what I read and hear hear.

    Mozilla is a PLATFORM… this is why it rocks and I.E. SUCKS. Because mozilla is open source it can be extended… innovation can be happen… Greasemonkey, plugins… exetentions… to a lesser extent themes. You’re right most people DON’T care what browser they use, but if that was the ONLY case then Mozilla would be DEAD and has no future. Mozilla’s job is to MAKE people care! There’s NO way around that. In order for mozilla to suceed people MUST care. Mozilla’s success right now is because they ARE making people care. My DAD uses mozilla. My dad would never go back to IE. Why? Because of security and popups for one. And btw, he see’s that as the same issue. Because in many ways it is. I.E. craps all over him. Extentions he’s installed = 0. Theme’s he’s changed to or installed = 0.

    Why do I say this. Because just like Apple who buys or simply outright steals the best 3rd party OS innovations and hacks like quicksilver, and the current application switcher and tons of other innovations. Mozilla needs to roll the BEST of these innovations, the most popular, the most sought after into the DEFAULT mozilla. Because Mozilla CAN and IS winning at making a large part of the population CARE about their browser. Security, pop up ad blocking… maybe a few other key components… but people WILL NOT configure mozilla… they will not sift through it’s endless preference panes no matter how well designed and simple they are… **intelligent defaults are extremely important** and even more important still they will NOT go through and install plugins. The best of breed plugins need to be integrated into the core mozilla. It’s good for the developers of those plugins to aknowlege their hard work and integrate it into the core… and it’s GREAT for the customers. That cycle of encouraging innovation through creating an OPEN platform… I’m thinking grease monkey too… by courting the developers… by making great API’s… by using copy left open source licensing to encourage branching. That and lots of consultants and strategists and developers donating their time and energy is the key to mozilla creating a product that’s so much better than IE that people CARE to install it.

    Personally, I have infinite thanks for Mozilla. If you set a side the fact that I use firefox and love it… take that completely out of the equation all together… mozilla has still been a RESOUNDing success. Even if it only had 15% of the market share… and not the 20 or 25% it has… even if it never progresses beyond 20% it’s still a success because it has brought innovation and openess back to the web space. Of course… to most people commenting here they’re like “no sh*t, you don’t say”.. but I had to say it. Even though I would hope Mozilla would take 50% market share or more and make I.E. the #2 browser it really doesn’t matter in the scope of things. All that matters to me now is that the mozilla foundation turns a 10% or 20% profit while staying true to it’s manifest (being open and not evil) and keep innovating so that it can sustain itself as a very equitable business and keep innovation alive in the space for another 5, 10, 20 years.

    Anyway… just thought I really just wanted to comment on viddler, because I was checking it out, but I thought since I wrote so much on viddler interface I should also respond to the actual post.

    One last thought on viddler. While the interface is interesting there’s a lot more to a company than a cool flash interface… look at My fav video blog host. The key to blip’s success thus far is serving the core videoblogging community… which unlike youtube.. wants to have their own domain… their own blog, the ability to monetize… to OWN their own content and have control over it… to not have it deleted or removed because of some arbitrary DMCA notice. Anyway… none of that has to do with a slick interface. It has to do with strategy and architecutre and business direction. Then again.. blip could REALLY stand to have a slick viddler flash interface… maybe the two should partner… of course maybe viddler sees blip as competition. They shouldn’t, but maybe they do.

  48. Hey Chris, I am new here. I am wondering about this comment:
    8# CivicForge… like an ethical Cambrian House…

    I am wondering what is wrong with Cambrian House (

  49. Former employee lobs disgruntled vision fused with passion to a (well composed) PR team. Crowd goes wild.

  50. Pingback: Nice Chrome

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