The roads I take...

KaiRo's weBlog

Juli 2009

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Populäre Tags: Mozilla, SeaMonkey, L10n, Status, Firefox

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31. Juli 2009

Decoupling SeaMonkey and Thunderbird Schedules

At the SeaMonkey and Thunderbird meetings this week, I started advocating for the SeaMonkey 2.0 schedule to be decoupled from Thunderbird 3.0, specifically, to have SeaMonkey 2.0 Beta 2 and final be released before their Thunderbird "counterparts".

For some fun around this, let's view a proposal of a schedule I sent to the SeaMonkey Council in mid-December 2008:
Alpha 3:
align freeze with Thunderbird 3.0b2, ~7 weeks from now
release in early February
~9 weeks between freezes, ~8 weeks from a2 cut to a3 freeze
(longer cycle due to holidays)

Beta 1:
freeze (roughly) aligned with TB3 final, mid-March
release end of March
~6 weeks (?) between freezes
--- feature freeze for SeaMonkey code! ---

2.0 Final:
freeze late April
release early May
~6 weeks (?) between freezes
possibly room for more candidates

We actually did release Alpha 3 on March 3 and Beta 1 on July 21, and added a second beta that is still to be released, apart from the fact that Thunderbird plans changed significantly as well. I don't really know if I should laugh or cry when reading that proposal from 7-8 months ago.

So, what went wrong or not as expected? For one thing, there is this old rule that every project takes longer than expected, even if you plan with that circumstance in mind. For the other, we decided to follow Thunderbird schedules so that freezes for the shared mailnews code code are aligned and we cause each other as few problems as possible. And that turned out to be the wrong thing to do for the SeaMonkey project, because the objectives the two projects have for the upcoming release series are quite different and therefore impose different scheduling.

Thunderbird has a new team that took over after a period where development stalled, and they try to show off that things are moving as well as make the product better fit for the mass-market.
SeaMonkey has the team that has been in charge for some years now, where it did continuous development, and we try to get our existing userbase to a new level while making the product more compelling to the same target audience as before

Thunderbird's current stable release is built on top of the "new toolkit" platform also used by Firefox, including good add-on management, mail and news standards haven't seen significant new features, and their security updates are driven by MoCo on well-managed, redundant release infrastructure.
SeaMonkey's current stable release is built on top of the "old xpfe" platform inherited from Mozilla Suite, with quite bad add-on management, the web sees lots of new developments in standards, and I need to manage our security updates myself, building them on my private machines that definitely show their age and have zero redundancy.

On top of that, Thunderbird has multiple people working full-time on the project, so that they are able to hand off management of releases where needed and have some organizational redundancy while in SeaMonkey land I'm the only one working full-time on the project and doing all release management and build engineering work without real redundancy.

And then, I have booked the flight for a three-week vacation in November, believing this to be far from any release. There I need to get off my thoughts from day-to-day work, have enough breathing room to really have some fun and appreciate the beauty down in Dixie so that I can "recharge my batteries", figuratively speaking. The last thing on my mind there is a major release that still need to be completed even though it should have been out for half a year.
I don't think I'd manage to really relax with an unreleased 2.0 on my mind, and that would probably leave lasting damage to my mental health, which I would like to prevent.

Given all that, I convinced the team at the SeaMonkey Status Meeting to target a freeze for Beta 2 on September 1 and assure that we will release final before November. We will re-evaluate the target freeze date in the next meeting on August 11 and make firm schedules there - but remember that a code freeze for that last beta also means a feature freeze for the whole 2.0 series!

This might mean that we possibly won't get everything into 2.0 that we would have liked to have there, but we are in no way short of total improvements in this series, and it's time we get something better than 1.1.x out to our regular users. There will be further releases, hopefully with smaller steps, following the "release early, release often" methaphor that's proven to be successful in open source projects overall.

I would have liked to sync up with Thunderbird as freezing shared code at different times can be somewhat painful at times, but given the different objectives, they seem to be less pressed by time and more pressed by features, while we already have a big load of features to show off in this release, but are overdue to deliver something.

I hope things work out fine that way and I'll blog again when we know even more on concrete schedules.

Von KaiRo, um 13:45 | Tags: Mozilla, SeaMonkey, SeaMonkey 2 | 2 Kommentare | TrackBack: 0

23. Juli 2009

Thoughts Going Around In My Head

This is a random collection of thoughts going around in my head - probably all of them would warrant a full blog post, but I don't come around to doing them, so I'll put down the short summaries.
  • Geolocation: Why do we have to rely on Google magically knowing where someone might be? Wouldn't it be better to have a community-driven database we all could contribute to, which could give you croudsourced location data?
    For example, I know where I am, I can give precise location of both my wifi IDs as well as a range of IPs up to the building, but Google Location Service (what Firefox uses for the internal geolocation module) just tells me I'm somewhere in Vienna. They don't have a way for me telling them my info and improving that information, but an open, community-based service could. And OpenStreetMap would even know full address data for this location. How dull that all our modern technology just tells me I'm somewhere in a multi-kilometer radius around the Vienna City Center.
  • SeaMonkey Meetup: The SeaMonkey project has some amount of donations stacked up at Mozilla Foundation, and I think it would be cool to use that to finance a SeaMonkey meetup, paying for accommodation and travel of major contributors as well as the (if needed) the place to do the meetings. Would this be a good idea? Who would come, maybe even if we can't pay for him, in what city should we do this event?
  • Contribution Statistics: I have thought a few times about doing a script that parses our Mercurial pushlog at least between releases, and gathers data on how many changesets and +/- codelines people have created and/or reviewed, to get a view of which people are how active in the community. The same could be done for bug triage. The result would be something like Jonathan Corbet's Linux Kernel Developer Statistics.
  • SeaMonkey QA: We're really missing someone to lead and coordinate SeaMonkey QA work - Andrew Schultz is quite busy with some strange thing called "real life" nowadays and can't really do that work right now. I'm sure we'd all be quite happy if he could pass the torch and we'd support anyone who tries to do it with all help we can provide.
  • Web-based Help and Support Resources: We have some weekness in SeaMonkey help and support resources on the web. While our in-product help is fine, it would be good if a Google search would turn up something helpful and if we could point people to URLs. One partial solution would be to have a script that periodically converts our inline help to usable web pages, and better solution would be to set up a copy of SUMO for SeaMonkey, with a knowledge base and possibly even a web forum - but someone needs to drive that. Any volunteers?
  • SeaMonkey Marketing: Even though I'm theoretically responsible for marketing right now, I badly fail on getting anything done, starting from putting a page with a collection of logos and web buttons up, and moving on with all other possibilities of fostering community marketing. This is another area where I'd be happy to have someone come on board and drive this. I'm happy to support any efforts from a technical and project organization POV, but we probably need someone else to lead those efforts.
  • Mozmill: Thunderbird is starting to automate tests on Mozmill now, Firefox QA people start using it for smoketests, could someone get it to run for SeaMonkey so we can do those things as well?
  • SMILE, Weave, Jetpack: There are more things out there that probably need help: the equivalent to FUEL and STEEL, which we call SMILE, getting Weave to work for SeaMonkey, and last not least, getting Jetpack to work (which probably needs SMILE).
  • Parallels: Why does it need to be so painful to run OSX in VMs? And does nobody else run a larger number of VMs, including OSX machines, on Parallels? I don't understand how we can have basic problem like not being able to run more than 8 VMs on one host and OSX VMs being unstable esp. if they have access to more then 1 CPU core and both thing not getting much traction from Parallels devs. It can't be that we are the only customer who see those problems.
  • Statistics: I would love to have a lot more statistics on users, downloads, etc. for SeaMonkey and esp. SeaMonkey 2 but it seems to be hard to get the data and tooling that exists inside Mozilla systems out in a way we can use it. I guess Mozilla Corporation is not as open as it could and should be in some areas.
  • openSUSE: With the inclusion of SeaMonkey 2.0 Alpha 3 (soon to be Beta 1, they already have Thunderbird 3.0 Beta 3), in the current openSUSE Factory, it looks very much like openSUSE 11.2 will be the first distribution to have SeaMonkey 2 in their official package repositories. Thanks to their package manager Wolfgang Rosenauer for making this possible!
  • Moving: I'll finally be moving from a student dorm to my own flat in August, lots of stuff to think about there. Also, the machines building SeaMonkey 1.x nightlies and releases are about to be moved to a different location, Linux and Windows being unavailable there recently is connected to this, I had to clear up how to do this, and some missing responsiveness on the side of my provider contributed a lot to finally deciding to switch providers in that process.
  • Vacation: I have already booked the flight for my vacation this year, I'll be away for three weeks in November, traveling through the US gulf region, circling from Houston via New Orleans, Pensacola, Atlanta, Nashville, Memphis, Dallas back to Houston. It will be quite a distance to travel, but it should be manageable and be a good distraction from my usual work, and lots of things to see and experience. I easily get excited when talking about this.
  • Music: Sometimes I'd love to be a signer in a local Blues/Rock/Country band, but I hardly find the time to practice the guitar any bit or type the lyrics of my recently written songs into the web database I have for them. At least I come around to some Karaoke singing every week.
  • Space: How come that the great things NASA does is not worth more to the public than the half cent of every US tax dollar it actually gets? How come that it isn't worth more to other countries as well? Isn't exploration of new frontiers, world-wide cooperation to do amazing things not because they are easy, but because they are hard, aren't all those things one of the main drivers of what makes humanity great? Are we losing focus in that we are only caring about our own small biotopes and internal affairs and forgetting to expand our knowledge and horizons?
  • Test Coverage: It would be so nice to increase coverage of SeaMonkey code with automated tests, but it's proving even hard to require tests for new things added, as we also don't want to slow down progress - esp. when we are already behind the schedules we hoped to follow a few months ago.
  • Mozilla 1.9.2 and SeaMonkey/Thunderbird: Mozilla platform maintainers decided to do a 1.9.2 branch very soon now and base Fennec 1.0 on it as well as a Firefox 3.6, not featuring lots of application changes, but some good platform improvements. Some of those changes in the platform would be good to have for SeaMonkey and Thunderbird, but we also know of some problems we'll have there due to doing our experimental builds with mozilla-central all along. Moving over to the branch now would probably delay our stable releases for a few weeks more, but we are already running behind the schedules we wanted to have, so we think it's better to stick with 1.9.1 for now and get SM 2.0 and TB 3.0 out before even thinking of what to do about 1.9.2 - we could either ignore it completely or do smaller-step 2.1 and 3.1 releases on top of it just like FF does with 3.6, but we're not sure what's best. For now, we'll watch it but not actually do anything about it.
  • MailNews API refactorings: It would be really nice if we could port the JS-driven folder pane and the various refactorings done for gloda search from Thunderbird to SeaMonkey UI, as those would sync our APIs with theirs and make life easier for add-ons, next to making work with folder and thread panes easier internally as well. Once again, what we're missing is someone to do the work - we are a volunteer open source project after all, and people here tend to work on those things that are fun for them, and of course only in the little free time they have.
  • Local Communities: Every face-to-face meeting i had locally with open source developers around here in Vienna was very rewarding, and I should engage much more with those communities. Also, my recent talk for IT businessmen on "project management in open source" was a very exciting and successful thing, I believe I could, with the help of a few fellow open source community people, dampen a lot of FUD that arises with people used to traditional IT business but who are still interested in how thing work "on our side" - which I hope to have proven to not actually be that much different as they often think. By the way, and I got got comments like "Oh, so the suite is still being developed? Nice, I need to try SeaMonkey then!" :)
You see, lots and lots of things are going around in my head all the time - this is still only an excerpt, but I thought a should get a few words on most of them out to you some time, so here's those bits. More thoughts will come in the future, I'm sure - i'm a thinker, you know ;-)

Von KaiRo, um 16:36 | Tags: geolocation, marketing, Mozilla, music, openSUSE, Parallels, QA, SeaMonkey, SeaMonkey 2, Space, stats, tests, travel | 11 Kommentare | TrackBack: 0

22. Juli 2009

The Beta Has Landed

Community - SeaMonkey Base here. The Beta has landed.

After somewhat more time than we had expected earlier, we finally have a great SeaMonkey 2.0 Beta 1 release available for you. This release really brings the suite up to modern standards, supporting feeds as well as HTML5 audio/video, managing add-ons in a comfortable way (as known from Firefox 3.5), having customizable toolbars in both browser and mail windows, and much more - and all that in more than a dozen languages right from the beginning.

In many ways this beta is much better than our stable 1.1.x releases, and it's probably not even less stable from most points of view, but it still has some corners that need smoothing and some features we want to add before calling it a final 2.0 release.

Pushing it out to the public today was one small step for a release engineer, but one giant leap for the project. One after after celebrating the 40th anniversary of the first human setting foot on a different celestial body, i.e. the Apollo 11 mission to the moon, this is our mission of exploration, boldly moving the well-known Internet suite where it has never been before - into a state where it fully fit for the challenges the Internet and web sets for us today and laying the base of where it can be tomorrow.

To echo what Buzz Aldrin said two days ago when asked if we can manage the challenges to go the way even further and step further out - in the case of space exploration, that's bringing humans to the Mars and beyond, in the case of SeaMonkey it's a 2.0 release and beyond - I fully agree with him paraphrasing a nowadays almost overused sentence:

Yes, we can.

(And you can join us in that task by testing this beta, reporting bugs, and if you're really bold, exploring possible improvements and writing patches. Yes, you can.)

Von KaiRo, um 03:31 | Tags: Mozilla, release, SeaMonkey, SeaMonkey 2 | 3 Kommentare | TrackBack: 1

18. Juli 2009

Windows and Linux Testing For SeaMonkey 2.0 Beta 1

I ran into strange problems with the Mac builds of SeaMonkey 2.0 Beta 1 (a step in the process that works flawlessly everywhere else hangs with very strange errors), but that shouldn't stop us from starting tests on the other two platforms that have builds available now.

So, please help us testing the available Windows installers and Linux packages, both available in 17 languages including US English!

I hope to sort out the Mac problems ASAP, we'll have disk images when those are solved and will get updates ready on the testing channels once all platforms have builds ready.

Update: Mac disk images are now available for all languages as well.

Update #2: Updates are available on the betatest channel.

Von KaiRo, um 15:47 | Tags: L10n, Mozilla, SeaMonkey, SeaMonkey 2 | 7 Kommentare | TrackBack: 0

16. Juli 2009

SeaMonkey 2.0 Beta 1 Is On Track, L10n Opt-In Wanted!

If you have the SeaMonkey 2.0 Beta 1 Schedule in mind, you know that by now, all the code and strings are fully frozen for this release, all we are waiting for is for additional L10n opt-ins until their deadline of midnight Pacific time today.

10 locales have opted in so far, 8 of those (be, de, fr, gl, pl, ru, sk, tr) are good to go, the other two (ca and hu) are not green on dashboard due to obsolete strings, they should just remove those and are good to go as well.

13 locales are green on dashboard, so 5 of those haven't opted in yet (cs, es-AR, lt, nb-NO, pt-PT) - if yours is one of them, please tell us which revision to use for release in the opt-in thread on the group/list - 2 more locales (es-ES and nl) have just a handful of missing strings and also could make this release easily, but any opt-in needs to be there until midnight Pacific time, remember that. (The remaining 7 locales on dashboard, ja/ja-JP-mac, ka, pt-BR, ro, si, sv-SE, need a good amount of work to get ready, any locale not on dashboard yet please follow the process outlined in our wiki to get on for future releases.)

For me, this release will be special not only because we finally can release official localized builds and do that in sync with the en-US builds, but also because we'll be using release automation for the first time, the same hg- and buildbot-based tools Firefox is using for their releases. I just checked in a fix for repackaging localized builds on Mac, so all that tooling we need should be there and working now, but it's the first live run, so far I only did test runs of those tools. They will provide us with partial updates as well (for en-US only, as that's the only language for which we have an earlier release), so we have a number of firsts in this release from a build and release management point of view.

Of course, that only complements the firsts we have in the source, we have the same platform and web functionality as Firefox 3.5 (including the 3.5.1 security updates), the same mail and newsgroups backend as Thunderbird 3.0 Beta 3 and about 130 SeaMonkey-specific fixes upcoming in this release.

I will start release automation early in the morning tomorrow, so localizers, remember to opt in today, and testers (including L10n testers!) be ready for candidate builds being available later in the day tomorrow (including updates on the betatest channel)!

Von KaiRo, um 15:52 | Tags: L10n, Mozilla, SeaMonkey, SeaMonkey 2 | 2 Kommentare | TrackBack: 0

1. Juli 2009

Schedule for SeaMonkey 2.0 Beta 1

Thunderbird came around with setting up a schedule just in time, so at yesterday's SeaMonkey Status Meeting, we agreed on adopting Thunderbird 3.0b3 dates as the SeaMonkey 2.0 Beta 1 schedule as well (times of 23:59 US/Pacific, as usual):
  • Slushy String freeze date: 2009-07-02 (Thur)
  • Slushy Code Freeze date: 2009-07-07 (Tues)
  • Firm String / Code freeze date: 2009-07-14 (Tues)
  • l10n-mozilla-1.9.1 freeze date: 2009-07-16 (Thur)?*
  • Target Ship date: 2009-07-21 (Tues)
This is the first time we have string freezes for SeaMonkey, so let me give you some explanation:

After the slushy string freeze, string changes should be avoided where possible, and those needed must get approval-seamonkey2.0b1+ before being checked in.

After the slushy code freeze, the same is true for any code changes, though blocking-seamonkey2.b1+ bugs without string changes can go in without further approval (blocking+ serves as approval).

The firm freeze should be the cutoff for any changes at all, unless there are blockers we still need to fix.

* I'm not completely sure about the freeze for L10n, we might not need that at all, as we'll likely do the same opt-in process as Firefox did recently and so might be able to just take any L10n changes up to the time when we start the builds. This is the first time we're doing that, so please excuse roughness in the process.

Von KaiRo, um 13:52 | Tags: Mozilla, release, SeaMonkey, SeaMonkey 2 | keine Kommentare | TrackBack: 1

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