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Mozilla Contemplating Five Week Release Cycle 495

MrSeb writes with an article in Extreme Tech about the ever quickening pace of Firefox development. Quoting the article: "Mozilla, not content with its monumental shift from four major builds in five years down to a new stable build every six weeks, is looking at outputting a new release every five weeks, or perhaps even less. Christian Legnitto, a project manager at Mozilla (and currently the 'release manager' of Firefox), announced the intention to shift to a shorter release cycle on Mozilla's planning mailing list. In response to one developer citing the success of the six-week release cycle, and asking whether it would be feasible to speed it up even further, Legnitto said: 'Yes, I absolutely think in the future we will shorten the cycle.' There are still some pains to overcome, though, such as add-on maintenance, testing, and localization — and ultimately, as browsers become more like operating systems, do we really want something as important as Firefox receiving a new major version every 5 weeks?" In other news, it looks like Firefox is losing users faster than ever despite (because of?) the new rapid release cycle.
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Mozilla Contemplating Five Week Release Cycle

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  • Sigh... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2011 @05:17PM (#37460602) Journal

    I've stopped using Firefox. I was a constant user of it since the Firebird days, but somewhere down the line the whole project has lost sight. I find Chrome a good deal faster and more agile. Maybe I'd feel differently if I were a plugin developer, but as it stands, Firefox seems to be a project that has lost its way.

    • by Rob Y. ( 110975 )

      I still use Firefox on Windows at work. The Windows version works well, and I can live with the constant upgrades (so far). And all things being (more or less) equal, I still prefer Firefox as a browser.

      But I'm finding that the Linux version of Firefox is getting unbearable to use. There are just so many times when the UI becomes unresponsive. Hell, there are very noticeable delays just to scroll with the scroll wheel. And their attempts to copy the Chrome UI are really kludgey on Linux. Chromium work

    • Interesting. I've been using Firefox nightly for a while now and it seems better than or equal to Chrome in most ways. Plus it's fully open source.

      As far as performance goes Javascript in Nightly is on par (+/- a few % on Kracken) with dev channel Chrome, compositing is faster, the garbage collector is better (fewer pauses, less overhead). I don't notice the UI lagging like in older versions. You can have as many tabs open as you want.

      As far as features, Nightly has an option to force add-on compatibili

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2011 @05:18PM (#37460610) Homepage

    Have they totally lost it? It's not like the browser world is making sudden great progress. It's a mature technology. The big problem today is getting stuff fixed.

    I'm doing some Firefox extension development, and I'm finding documentation from versions 1.5 to the current one, all out of sync.

    • by Lennie ( 16154 )

      As I understand it, the new SDK is available:

      http://www.h-online.com/open/news/item/Add-on-SDK-for-Firefox-updated-1343612.html [h-online.com]

      It allows to rewrite the old Addons which need to be updated when Firefox upgrades.

    • by BZ ( 40346 )

      > It's not like the browser world is making sudden
      > great progress.

      Browsers today are switching to using hardware accelerated rendering, changing their HTML parsers for the first time in a decade, working on JITs for JavaScript, adding new ECMAScript features, adding a ton of DOM APIs, implementing new networking stacks (SPDY, say), revamping user interfaces (Firefox 4, IE9), adding support for lots of new HTML elements for the first time in over a decade.

      What exactly would constitute "great progress"

  • by who_stole_my_kidneys ( 1956012 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2011 @05:20PM (#37460630)
    Sorry i have other things to do than repackage FF for deployment every 5 weeks.
  • I switched to Chrome long ago, but despite my efforts to convert her, my wife still wants to use Firefox. And if she wants Firefox, she's getting Firefox.
    • Picking your battles is an important component of a happy marriage!

    • by keird ( 519534 )
      I like the fact that Chrome is just always up to date and they are continuously releasing. I don't have to worry about what version I'm using. Shouldn't all browsers move to that model?


      Kilroy is Here.
      http://itunes.com/apps/kilroy [itunes.com]
      • by Tridus ( 79566 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2011 @05:34PM (#37460838) Homepage

        Not when doing so continually breaks the things that the users you do have care about, no.

        What FF user actually wants this model? Most of them don't. Releasing at the same speed as Chrome isn't going to win over Chrome users, but it will chase FF users off. That's what we're seeing here.

        • Perhaps addon writers shouldn't be lazy. Noscript has not once broken for me, despite having gone from FF5, to Aurora, to Nightly on my personal system.

          • by Exitar ( 809068 )

            Do you really pretend that people writing extensions for hobby and not for work should rewrite them every 5 weeks?

        • As an avid Firefox user, I find I'm torn with this release method. It used to be that when a new version of Firefox came out, it was the shizzle to the nizzle, the bee's knees, the cat's...well you get the idea. Version 3 was leaps ahead of Version 2 and Version 2 made Version 1 look antiquated. However, that's partially because it took Mozilla so long to release them, over the course of a year or so, Firefox would go from being the most advanced, best browser out there to being outdated and slow. This was

  • Since they're pumping out versions as fast as Chrome, why not do what Chrome does and make the version # irrelevant?

    How many people know what version of Chrome they're running? I sure don't know. But Firefox trumpets the "new" Firefox on every release.

    If you're going to do a rapid release schedule, you've made the version number meaningless to your average user.
    • by wsxyz ( 543068 )
      As I recall, this idea was actually floated. But after a couple of weeks the news was posted to Slashdot and the nerd rage was so strong, the plan was scuttled.
      • by Tridus ( 79566 )

        Probably because in certain cases the "Firefox is up to date" ifnormation on that screen flat out lies and tells you you're up to date when you're really not. The version number is a pretty important sanity check until they fix that bug (which they still haven't).

        • by Sancho ( 17056 ) *

          The other issue is when someone reports a bug in your website, you want to be able to know which version of the browser was used in order to reproduce the environment. The harder it is to find the version, the longer the helpdesk call.

          It also makes it hard for vendors selling web applications. They say it works for Firefox--does it work for all versions? Does it break when a new version of Firefox is released? Some major educational applications still require Firefox 3. Ideally, they would be written to sta

    • Because Chrome is special and exempt from the petty hate being directed towards Mozilla.

    • What I don't understand is why they don't do a half way and release a new minor every 6 weeks and save the major versions for...well...major versions? Firefox went from 4.0.0 to 5.0.0, then a bugfix came out that was 5.0.1, then 6.0.0. Why didn't they just do 4.0, 4.1, 4.1.1, 4.2, etc? That would shut most people up and considering that little has changed between versions, would probably make extension developers' lives a bit easier. It also removes the superfluous middle digit.

      • What I don't understand is why they don't do a half way and release a new minor every 6 weeks and save the major versions for...well...major versions?

        They'd never release a "major version".

        The idea of a major version release is that it's one which changes a lot of things, or adds a large number of new features or a few very large features. But the idea of an agile development process, with a very short release cycle, is that you never do that. You change a few things in each release, or add a few features. When it comes to big features, you find ways to break them down into smaller features and add those incrementally. If a feature is not decomposa

      • I'm not sure why anyone cares what the number says, especially slashdotters, who should be familiar with how meaningless version numbers are. They can go from 4.0.0 to 25.potato::# with a bugfix release for all I care. Posters here often complain about extension breaking or new bugs being introduced, but I've been running firefox's aura branch (which auto updates daily) as my only browser both at work and at home for the last 4 months without any trouble. Version checking is disabled for addons and they
      • Simple: because IE is already at 9. With Firefox only at 6, it's obviously way, way behind, so they need to catch up. Staying with 4.x would have been even worse.

    • And I think this is a big flaw in Chrome too. A product shouldn't be just a straight line of incremental fixes, there need to be branches so that you an stay on old versions and still get bug fixes and security patches. The straight line model is the naive straight-out-of-school developer's favorite model, the one they used on their class projects.

  • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2011 @05:24PM (#37460688)

    If they keep this up, I will remove it from our labs. I am not going to deal with this shit. Release bug fixes as often as you need to, but new features need to be something that doesn't happen too often. I can't go and test this shit every few weeks, nor do I want to deal with things that are outdated. I like FF, but this policy they have is pushing me to dump it. I haven't yet, but we'll see.

    • Yeah, we should sit for years between versions to keep cranky IT workers and the corporations they inhabit happy.

      • by Xugumad ( 39311 )

        Here's the thing; IE is basically free to manage if you're using Windows. To install Firefox means extra testing work, and I'm told it requires tailoring to work effectively with our desktop management, so there is a cost involved.

        Any case I try to make for installing Firefox has to be based on a benefit to the organisation. IE security holes are patched fast enough there's no case to be made there, so it depends on increased web app development costs. That can be done with Firefox on a yearly release sched

  • by chebucto ( 992517 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2011 @05:25PM (#37460708) Homepage

    Seamonkey uses Gecko and is compatible with most Firefox extensions, but has a sane release schedule. 4 years from 1.0 to 2.0, 2 years from 2.0 to 2.3 (current version).

    It gets new features more slowly than Firefox, but, currently at least, it is as good as Firefox (for my use, at least). Oh, and it has a menubar and statusbar.

  • No, the fact that it will very very soon go to eleven does not make your browser any better! I realize you are getting version envy (IE 9, Chrome 14, Opera 11) but believe it or not, NO ONE GIVES A DAMN. Except the Mozilla devs, apparently.

    A faster release cycle is fine. Just not one that increments the main version number, especially when (perhaps poorly coded) extensions break. When you do that, it just looks like a "mine's bigger!" contest. Which I think it is. And that is sad.

  • Browser share (Score:2, Informative)

    by Jamu ( 852752 )
    The article linked to describes losing browser share. That does not imply that it's losing users. It might be. However, the article does not say that.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by idontgno ( 624372 )

      I suppose they could be gaining users, and that some users...aren't using the browser, leading to paradoxical loss of browser share. More users of Firefox using less browser.

      Ow. I think I just sprained my brain.

      Let's try this again. Browser share is user share, unless (A) some users are using more than one browser, or (B) some browser users aren't actually using the browser, in defiance of the actual meaning of the phrase "browser user". Like, "non-driving driver", or "non-drinking drinker".

      Dammit, my brain

  • We use Selenium IDE for test scripts. Every new release# kills Selenium. My boss has canceled several projects that were intended to use this for regression and other testing while we try to find something that's not going to die on us every few weeks.

  • Extensions... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Windwraith ( 932426 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2011 @05:28PM (#37460762)

    Extensions stop working at random without any good reason and in record time. So many of us use Firefox over Chrome because of extensions.

    This plan is just terrible.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I am an extension author. If they expect me to work so regularly on something that enhances their product, they need to pay me.

    • by Creepy ( 93888 )

      It would be nice, but I am using some extensions that are only supported on two browsers - IE and Firefox. I had to fricking use IE at home... grr. IE is for work only because I still need to use the damn ActiveX heavy HR web system that integrates with that godawful HR system SAP puts out (dear SAP - hire a usability engineer already... as someone trained in usability, I can attest your software is not, and my companies' custom web interface isn't much better - I have a theory that is your goal however, as

  • by davewoods ( 2450314 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2011 @05:28PM (#37460764)
    Mozilla addons getting shafted because one guy wants faster releases? Sweet.
  • Firefox is starting to piss me off. I'm relatively happy with the way it looks and works now, and I've got the add-ons I want installed and working properly. I see no way they're going to keep a schedule like this without breaking aps and causing me problems.

    I've had Opera as my back-up browser for quite a while now. I notice it's getting quite a nice stable of widgets together. When they get enough that are close to my current Firefox add-ons, I think it's going to be curtains for the Fox.

  • by prgrmr ( 568806 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2011 @05:30PM (#37460786) Journal
    This will continue until they get to a daily release schedule with each new release containing 1 new feature or 1 or 2 bug fixes. And then look for twice daily, etc.

    Mozilla, much more than Google, is pushing me toward using Chrome.
  • Incredible (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Microlith ( 54737 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2011 @05:35PM (#37460852)

    I'm amazed at how hateful and petty people are towards Mozilla over this. Google gets a pass though.

    I guess the notion of "release early, release often" is dead?

    • Re:Incredible (Score:4, Interesting)

      by dAzED1 ( 33635 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2011 @05:52PM (#37461054) Journal
      No, google doesn't get a pass. A number of us weren't using chrome for reasons just like this - do you see a lot of enterprises pushing out chrome? Nope. If FF does the same thing as chrome, why use FF? The market needs versioned (6-9+ months minumum) browser other than IE. Guess that's going to have to be Opera instead of FF now.
    • Re:Incredible (Score:5, Insightful)

      by shish ( 588640 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2011 @06:00PM (#37461158) Homepage

      I'm amazed at how hateful and petty people are towards Mozilla over this. Google gets a pass though

      Google don't break compatibility with every release

    • by he-sk ( 103163 )

      Same here. It's not like they radically change the user interface every 6 weeks.

    • by lennier ( 44736 )

      I guess the notion of "release early, release often" is dead?

      Once people are actually using your product, yes.

      When a project is just an experimental research toy, nobody cares how fast your updates break everything. But when you're dealing with adults, stability is a feature, not a bug. I know it's old-fashioned and boring of us, but we like to use browsers to do our work, not just to admire the shiny go-faster stripes and try to work out where the gear shift lever is this week.

      • Once people are actually using your product, yes.

        Quick, someone tell the Kernel community that they need to stop doing frequent releases IMMEDIATELY.

        • I just realized that that's the perfect analogy.

          The kernel community's interest in the problems you have with old versions of the kernel is pretty much non-existent unless you can show it exists in the current version. They also release on ~13 week schedules. But if you need long term kernel support, you go to a 3rd party like Redhat.

          Maybe instead of bitching on Slashdot and shitting on the honest efforts of the Mozilla team, someone should step up and make a long term support release of Mozilla (like Debia

  • by Tridus ( 79566 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2011 @05:37PM (#37460868) Homepage

    Did Mozilla go hire some MBAs or something? That's the only rational explanation for this idiocy.

    The userbase has rejected rapid release. They hate it. Users are leaving the browser faster then ever before ever since it started.

    So Mozilla's response is... even faster releases? Is it possible to miss the point any more then this? People don't care about this shit, they just want a good browser.

    • Indeed, so people are leaving a browser that is moving to rapid release and going to a browser that does... rapid release. Wait, what?

      • by 0123456 ( 636235 )

        Indeed, so people are leaving a browser that is moving to rapid release and going to a browser that does... rapid release. Wait, what?

        Mozilla seem to be putting most of their development effort into trying to ape Chrome. If they're just trying to be a second-rate copy of Chrome, then users might as well just switch.

    • by 0123456 ( 636235 )

      Is it possible to miss the point any more then this? People don't care about this shit, they just want a good browser.

      Don't worry: after they remove the version number from the UI, no-one will notice the rapid releases.

    • by Darinbob ( 1142669 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2011 @08:45PM (#37462890)

      The Mozilla devs don't care about this shit either, they just want to check in code without worrying about customer support on older versions. Ie, they want their lives to be easier by cutting the customer out of the picture.

    • by kripkenstein ( 913150 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2011 @10:33PM (#37463690) Homepage

      Did Mozilla go hire some MBAs or something? That's the only rational explanation for this idiocy.

      The userbase has rejected rapid release. They hate it. Users are leaving the browser faster then ever before ever since it started.

      So Mozilla's response is... even faster releases?

      Hi, I am a Firefox dev. The answer to your question is no: The answer is not faster releases. We are not currently planning to do faster releases, despite the Slashdot headline.

      What is the link then? Someone - not sure if a Mozilla developer or not - posted the suggestion to make it faster. Since Firefox's development is open, anyone can post whatever they want whenever they want. There was some debate, most of it negative - as you would expect. Then someone posted it to Slashdot, where it was picked up.

      So, no faster releases. What actually is the Mozilla response to the current situation: To fix the problems. We are working to make updates silent and break less addons. We've also made it so third parties can't install addons without your permission. All of this is in response to user feedback. Hopefully some of that stuff will be posted to Slashdot too ;)

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        We are working to make updates silent and break less addons

        And from a business perspective, that's even worse. I get to spend hours trying to figure out why 10,000 workstations are suddenly flaking out on me, and then finally explain to my boss that it was because a "silent update" went out completely untested and unproven.

        If you guys really don't want any Enterprise use of FF, just say so up front so we can start looking elsewhere, instead of holding onto a few final shreds of hope.
        We don't want massive changes to the function of the software all the time, it's a

      • by alexo ( 9335 )

        Hello FF dev,

        Please stop trying to change the paradigm and go fix some bugs [mozilla.org].

        An ex FF user.

  • by MyLongNickName ( 822545 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2011 @05:37PM (#37460870) Journal

    Chrome scares my from a privacy standpoint. Firefox wants updated between every keystroke. IE is my new browser of choice.

    • by Yvan256 ( 722131 )

      Since you mention IE, implying Windows, I won't mention Safari. It works great on Mac OS X but it seems a lot of people don't like the Windows version.

      So my only question is: have you ever tried Opera?

  • I switched from Firefox to Chrome 2+ years ago because at the time FF was constantly crashing. Just this week I switched back to FF because Chrome on Mac has had numerous problems for me over the past month. So far I am liking Firefox, but I am relying on a few plugins or add-ons. The quick development cycle will make it tough for users who have to rely on add-ons that may not be updated to support new browser versions immediately upon release.
  • by DoomHamster ( 1918204 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2011 @05:40PM (#37460912)
    Mozilla should just cut out the race to 5 blades and call nightlies full releases.
  • Eventually we'll move towards a new version for every bug fix.

    • by shish ( 588640 )
      And then when one release per week isn't enough and they want to move to one release per day, they'll move towards a new version for every bug addition :-P
  • They might as well make it an even month. Call it version yyyymm (201109 for this months version). That way, they not only have their fast updates, but the higher version numbers ever!

  • Exactly what problem does Mozilla think they're solving by accelerating release cycles?
  • Birds of a feather screw the add-on devs together.
  • Browsers versions are not a pissing contest. Is your goal to be at version 9000 before Google?

  • by fast turtle ( 1118037 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2011 @06:06PM (#37461258) Journal

    It's getting so bad with the rapid release cycles that I've tossed out FF4+ as my critical add-ons no longer work. The rapid move from 4 to 6 w/o actually fixing things made as much sense as them simply having gone to Firefox 11 (because it's 1 more then 10).

    It's gotten so bad that I'm finding myself actually using IE 10 more then I'm using firefox. I've got tabs and since I've configured my scripts to none except for those websites I actually find that I need them on, I'm finding IE to be more stable and less of a problem. The only thing I'm hoping is that the noscript folks actually get an accelerator/plug-in for IE so I can get the same functionality as what firefox gives me as Noscript is the only add-on that has at least remained compatible with it.

  • The strength of Firefox lies in its plugin architecture which is leagues ahead of the competition. Adblock on Firefox is superior to other browsers because it can block dynamic content/video ads. Noscript, Requestpolicy, sharemenot, refcontrol, betterprivacy, certificate patrol, and on and on. These are all addons that I use that either have no alternative in other browsers due to technical limitations or have alternatives that are lacking in functionality. Firefox is also the only major browser left that i
  • I mean they are not actually speeding up development and testing and fixing.
    I do not believe they can speed up their delivery of quality tested features
    by much at all. Who can?

    They're just re-labeling what they have as a whole-number release much more often.

    Why? Who knows. Maybe because it's fashionable.

  • The browser I use is good enough.

    I was a long time FF user since early alpha releases. Plugins are nice but FF has too many issues. I started to use Chrome and I like it. As long as it continues to work well and is fast (enough), I'll stick with Chrome.

    Among the reasons I think a lot of people back when had a 'favorite' browser was standards compliance and rendering speed. All the major browser devs are working towards standards compliance *now* (as compared to severals years back) and we have faster comp

Today is the first day of the rest of your lossage.