Next steps for Mozilla Developer Tools

I’m going to use this opportunity to make a couple of observations about Mozilla and planning. If you really just want to know about what we’re thinking of doing next in Mozilla’s developer tools group, you can take a look at the current draft of what we’ve got in mind for later this quarter. There are links in that document to join the dev-apps-firefox list or to email me. If you have feedback, let me know.

Now, for some thoughts on planning at Mozilla. I started working at Mozilla as part of Mozilla Labs. In Labs, we would often let an idea bake a little bit before turning it loose on the world. We wanted to have enough of an expression of the project available to show people what the truly idea is before they pass judgment on it. Open Web Apps was like that. A couple months back, an early take on some of that code was in a project called “vapour” on github. But, there are a lot of pieces involved in creating a coherent open web app ecosystem and getting a coherent picture together before starting the public conversation around it seems like a good approach to me.

Working on Firefox, however, is different. Firefox is an established project with a huge and active community. There have been a couple of times since I joined the Firefox team where I was discussing something with someone who then said “this discussion should really be in some public forum”. I think that’s fantastic. Firefox development is a public project from the first kernels of new ideas, as those ideas grow, when they ship and beyond. Firefox 4’s Panorama feature was like that. Ditto for Personas, which started out in Labs and eventually became a core, and very popular, part of Firefox.

Working on open source software is great, because it makes it possible for people to add to the project in so many ways. Collaborating with other projects both complementary and similar is much less formal (and risky!) than the kinds of partnerships that form between closed companies.

On the flip side, software projects get messy at times and, with Firefox and other Mozilla projects, that mess is out in the public to see. I’ve seen a handful of articles over the past few months written by people that didn’t really get this. Every company has dates that slip, features that are dropped, etc. With Mozilla projects, you get to see this happening as it happens. With closed software projects, you just see the final result.

I did some work with a company a few years back where one of their mottos was “plan is a verb”. Sure, plan is also a noun… but, in their world, planning is something that happens all the time and a plan is just a snapshot of the planning that’s going on. Any plans you see me post should definitely be viewed in that light.

We want Firefox to have the best developer tools of any web browser, and we want to push dev tools for the open web in new directions. You can help through ideas, code, tutorials, etc. Join us on the dev-apps-firefox mailing list/newsgroup, join the Firebug project or email me directly if you want to help.

And, in case you’ve read this far, here’s a link again to the current snapshot of our planning.