Firefox Summit 2006 and TV Flicks

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A few weeks ago, Firefox contributors from around the world met at Mozilla headquarters in Mountain View, CA for the Firefox Summit 2006. Below is a link to the Agenda and Proposed Sessions.

Sadly I couldn’t go but last week I met Ian Hayward of Glaxstar - UK developers of Firefox add-ons (Yahoo’s delicious add-on) and the organiser of the Firefox party, which I will be going to this Friday. Attending the party will be several of the Mozilla developer team, if you have any questions.

Speaking briefly with Ian and others about the summit, it seems the key take-away were the number of concerns & challenges facing Mozilla as is starts the countdown to Firefox 3.0, the first being how to avoid becoming bloatware.

“we need to shed some ten year old platform baggage while retaining our (large) lead in web compatibility.”

Personally I prefer Firefox 2 to Internet Explorer 7, not just because of the faster rendering engine or the better standards support, not just because of the extensive 3rd party add-ons but simply because it looks and works the same on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux platforms, as do most of the add-ons. So my user experience is the same irrelevant of the underlying operating system. So when people talk about the possibility of a GoogleOS, for me Firefox is already the WebOS but I do agree that Mozilla needs to stay lean and mean, shed a few Netscape Gecko pounds and ensure that the additional “nice to have” functionality is delivered via the extensive add-on marketplace and/or greasemonkey scripts.

The second challenge facing the Mozilla project is in the mobile space, especially given the new challenge following today’s announcement of Opera mobile/mini and the recent news from 3 of their x-series mobile broadband initiative. One proposal discussed was the development of a new version of HTTP to address solely the mobile community.

“Another problem with the mobile Web is HTTP. We would like to start work on something similar to Waka as soon as possible.”

Mobile Web InitiativeAlthough there are other web protocols such as FTP, I suspect Sir Tim Berners-Lee will be hanging his head at this thought. I would not like to see a new protocol but better Mozilla support for the new W3C Mobile Web Best Practices Proposed Recommendation.

The third issue raised concerning the Mozilla project is the continued release of Linux builds that now run on an extremely wide variety of distributions. This is a large burden, because claiming a release runs on “Linux x86″ requires compatibility with extremely old libraries and forces a lot of checks to happen at runtime which slows down Mozilla.

“The various distros can do a better job at this than we can, and they also happen to have most of the users, outnumbering Mozilla builds by more than 10-to-1. For Firefox 3, there will be no release Linux binaries, but nightly builds will continue, on a single, relatively modern reference platform. getfirefox.com will still have options for Linux users, but they will be in the form of packages from Red Hat, Ubuntu, Novell, etc. The same arrangement will be made for OpenSolaris and other Unix versions.”

Other sites worth visiting:

Mozilla is about to start a Firefox TV campaign (flicks) with Spot Runner, the first Internet-based ad agency that makes it really easy for companies like Mozilla to advertise on TV. Spot Runner does TV advertising — commercial production, media planning and buying. This is one of Saul Klein’s (VP of Skype and founder of Video Island) favourite companies and a potential acquisition for Google. I wish there was an equivalent over here in the UK.

Below is a list of flicks that meet the three criteria set out by Mozilla for their flicks:

  1. Appeal to a wide, mainstream audience
  2. Capture an audience’s attention and imagination
  3. Don’t directly attack our competition by name

Daredevil, This is Hot, Billy’s Browser, Web for All, Give me the soap, Painter, One Window for Every Reason, Improve, No comparison, Sunday Morning, Life Lessons.

And finally for those of you who have not seen this humorous spoof site http://www.msfirefox.com please do so before Microsoft’s lawyers get it closed down.
Microsoft Firefox Professional

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