Firefox rapid releases: developers *are* users


There's a tempest brewing in the Interteapot over Jono's post about the Firefox rapid release cycle. I reacted the way he probably anticipated - "Good points that are already well taken." But tech media is sensational, so the story reported was "Firefox dev hates Firefox ZOMG!" prompting an official Mozilla Press Statementâ„¢ and a sincere face-palm from Jono.

Let me make something clear: Jono is one of my heroes. When he writes something, I read it. And when he writes how Silicon Valley culture has a monomaniacal obsession with hugeness, I read it so often that it's the first hit in my browser bar for 'le'. But I want to add another perspective to his main point - at least the main point he wanted to make.

The main point I wanted to make was about the distance between the developer perspective and the user perspective, the costs for users of updates (even good updates), and the reasons why developers (everywhere, not just Mozilla) may have trouble seeing updates from the user perspective.


Web developers

I'll emphasize that Jono means the Firefox developer perspective vs. the user perspective. Web developers are Firefox users. Working on MDN, acting as a developer evangelism rep, and running Tulsa Web Devs gives me some insight into the web developer perspective, so let me talk about them.

I've showed the new dev tools, HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript support to web developers and they are always surprised how much has been added to Firefox in the last year (i.e., the time they've been using Chrome.) Most of them make an opposite response to the one Jono describes - something like "Wow, I need to look into Firefox again." And I'm able to re-pitch, re-sell, and re-promote Firefox with "What's new in Firefox for developers" every 6 weeks rather than once a year!

In almost every one of these encounters, I also show web developers the Aurora release channel, and they love it. I tell them Aurora is Firefox, just 7-13 weeks in the future. (Because Mozilla has time machines) It gets new features like the awesome new responsive design view and javascript debugger even sooner, and it lets web developers see how their sites work in future versions of Firefox.

Here's the kicker: Aurora updates more frequently than Firefox does - and web developers love it! These are Firefox users. And importantly, they're usually "the people who shout the loudest about browsers."

So that's it. Just want to point out an important segment of Firefox users for which the new rapid release process is a big improvement. Jono knows this, but maybe some clueless tech journalist will pick this up and write a "ZOMG Mozilla web developer likes Firefox" article. Nah, not enough page-views.

UPDATE: Too perfect. Right after I published this, I got an update prompt from Aurora. ;)

Question or comment about this post? Tell me on GitHub.

Firefox rapid releases: developers *are* users / groovecoder by groovecoder is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike CC BY-SA
  1. I've been using the nightly build of Firefox regularly for the last several years; it's a great early warning system for web developers, not just about changes in Firefox, but changes to web standards that you might otherwise overlook.
  2. I love Aurora and use it as my daily browser. Gets me all the cool new features ahead of time and is quite stable. Once the Webdev tools start becoming un-dockable and in one window, I'll give ditching firebug a chance. The tools aren't there quite yet, but will be in the future.
  3. Web developers are not the prototype Firefox user, and not the majority of our users. Actually, I would hate if the current web developers would be the majority of users, as that would mean we'd have a very small market share. I would love the majority of web developers to be Firefox users, though. And I'd even love the majority of Firefox users to *become* web developers (see the Webmakers initiative). Still, the majority of our users are not web developers at this time and probably feel differently about updates than web devs. That said, it's cool that web devs become more interested in Firefox, and in Aurora. An awesome trend that I hope continues! :)
Firefox rapid releases: developers *are* users / groovecoder by groovecoder is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike CC BY-SA