For the past several months, everyone has been bitching about the lack of availability of Chrome on the Mac. So Google did something about it, and formally released a developer build to the public, making sure to note that it wasn’t really ready for prime-time. Nevertheless, a ton of people downloaded it and then started bitching that it wasn’t ready for prime-time. So today, the lead engineer on Chrome for the Mac took some time to respond to the critics.
“What was the point of releasing at this stage, you might ask? It’s clearly not finished. Clearly. It’s missing a large number of features, some half implemented, others not at all. Why even bother? Doesn’t it just make us look bad?,” Mike Pinkerton (also the man who leads the Camino browser development team for Mozilla) writes today. His answer is basically that they don’t care how it makes them look to release an unfinished product. Part of the development cycle of open source software is to get it in the hands of outside developers and have them help in completing the product.
Makes sense to me.
But Pinkerton goes on to further quote the famous essay “The Cathedral and the Bazaar” by Eric Raymond:
“When you start community-building, what you need to be able to present is a plausible promise. Your program doesn’t have to work particularly well. It can be crude, buggy, incomplete, and poorly documented. What it must not fail to do is (a) run, and (b) convince potential co-developers that it can be evolved into something really neat in the foreseeable future.”
And he then follows that with another three paragraphs of justifications.
But the post probably could have been two paragraphs — if not shorter. Don’t listen to the haters Mac Chrome team, you’re doing a good job. Yes, it’s taking you a long time, but at least we know when it’s done, it should be a solid product. Hopefully more solid than Safari 4, which Apple officially released yesterday and has been giving myself and quite a few others, fits.