Premature Release

Well, things are pushing towards 1.0. Especially evident in a note by Ben Goodger today.

Note, this isn’t in any way meant, to start a flame war, or a “Ben Goodger$oft is evil” rant… so if you’re going to comment along those lines, just disappear and save us all the time.

I’m a little concerned, as I’ve voiced before. In particular the following quote alarms me a bit:

There is a new bugzilla nomination flag – blocking-aviary1.0RC1. We are now going to be fairly tight fisted about approvals here since we prefer to hit our target dates than become sidetracked. We would like to keep the bug list as similar in length to or shorter than what it is now. Basically we are trying to maintain feasibility. This may mean that your pet bug may be minused. This is an unfortunate consequence of project management, but if you can produce a patch and make a case for your fix, it may be allowed in.

Emphasis mine

My concern is this: Mozilla has built quite a reputation in recent weeks regarding security, and alternate browser articles. Pretty much every technology publication has mentioned it (as I mentioned earlier), often with very fond reviews in the past 14 days. That’s awesome news! It honestly is.

But with that comes some responsibility: So far, Firefox has shipped as ‘pre-release’ or ‘test’ releases. The authors of those articles note that these builds aren’t intended for production use. Just ‘technology previews’ as Mozilla.org likes to call them. And that’s great. That’s the way pre-1.0 should be.

But the second we hit 1.0, Mozilla Firefox will be viewed in a new light, and with a new level of detail. My personal concern is following a slightly buggy 0.9 release, there should be a little less emphasis on a shipping date, and more emphasis on what got us to this point: focus on quality code and end user experience. That’s what got this reputation. Not that builds are prompt and on the date.

For example, Jesse Ruderman makes a security note on his blog which is of particular interest, considering how many browser holes have been exploited in IE in recent weeks (Mozilla right now is being hailed as a ‘more secure’ alternative). Time should be taken to address, and examine stuff like this, and really make sure it’s given proper attention.

Another concern of mine is stuff like bug 154892. This effects quite a few sites. Users expect to be able to print, and get reliable output. It’s a simple, ancient function (from an enduser perspective, I realize printing is somewhat complex). But the end users won’t read/understand the bug. They just take it as ‘incomplete’, ‘buggy’, ‘unreliable’, ‘cheap’ software. That’s not how Mozilla should appear.

I’m not saying Mozilla should wait until Bugzilla clears (obviously won’t never happen). My point is simply that this mentality is a little bothersome.

As I posted in the MozillaZine forums:

But we only have 1 chance to make a first impression. I think we all know how Netscape blew it with Netscape 6. Even though Mozilla 1.0 really made up for that blunder. Many saw Netscape 6, and referred to it as ‘RIP’. Netscape never quite rebounded from that.

(perhaps the first time I ever quoted myself)

That is my ultimate fear. That negative karma associated with a pre-mature release. Apple suffered it a bit with Mac OS X 10.0. They got quite some negative feedback over DVD support, and burning support. The software itself was pretty good. Really quite good. But those missing holes were much more vibrant than the new Aqua interface, or UNIX core. They are what end users and the media focused on. That’s how they work.

Apple released 10.2 (Jaguar) a much more complete and thorough release. Covered all their bases. Jaguar did excellent. People were very satisfied with the product. Why? Because Apple had a complete product. It wasn’t bug free, it was succeeded by future versions, security patches, etc. But that maturity was valued.

What’s the moral of the story? We need some serious testing between now an 1.0 if this is going to happen. Extension Manager is extremely new, and as some have found a bit buggy still. That needs to change if this is going to be viewed as the new way to view the net.

The first impression will always be important. Mozilla’s got a high expectations to meet. The media is playing it up as a possible savior. To disappoint would be a shame. You never get to make a second first impression.

Just my $0.02.

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One Response to “Premature Release”

  1. Anonymous Coward says:

    >so if your going to comment along those lines,
    “you’re”

    >built quite a reputation in recent weeks regarding security, and alternate browser articles
    Built a reputation regarding browser articles? Is that like underpants or something?

    >browser holes have been exploted in IE
    Exploded?? Ah–exploited.

    >(obviously won’t never happen)
    Needn’t I not say anuther werd?

    >That negative carma associated with a pre-mature release.
    “karma” and “premature”

    >negative feedback over DVD support, and buring support
    Yeah! Where’s the love for the burings, man?

    >those missing holes were much more vibrant
    Missing holes…are vibrant…hmm…have to think about that for a while…

    >serious testing between now an 1.0
    “and” serious proof-reading

    >Extension Manger
    Is it that extensions eat something from this? Or are extensions eaten from it?

    And from the department of redundancy department:
    >this is going to be viewed as the new way to view the net
    >every technology publication has mentioned it (as I mentioned earlier)
    And “Net” while we’re here, and for good measure.

    >Mozilla’s got a high expectations to meet.
    A whatsit?

    >You never get to make a second first impression.
    AMEN, BROTHER!

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