The roads I take...

KaiRo's weBlog

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Popular tags: Mozilla, SeaMonkey, L10n, Status, Firefox

Used languages: English, German

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May 21st, 2010

Let's Make A Difference!

So, I've spent a lot of this day with philosophical issues, thinking about a lot of things surrounding, Mozilla, SeaMonkey, Firefox, the web, and the future.
I found myself in danger of being misaligned with where Mozilla is heading as the project is trying to make the open web more relevant and be a force that constructs where the web as a whole is going, possibly even fearing oblivion if not being in the lead there, and SeaMonkey and myself are easily seen as conservative and backwards and probably irrelevant from that point of view. Not that I agree that things are necessarily that grim, but it is a great base to really go deep and let your thoughts wander.

Now, what are the powers that seem to be shaping a lot of the web today and which we are facing when wanting to make our mission and vision win ultimately?

Google is trying hard to be your one true way to get to information, Facebook your one true way to friends, Microsoft your one true way for applications (in the cloud), Apple your one true way to mobile computing and media - of course, all on "the web", trying to make those rather large areas of the Internet their realm and ultimately rule over your online life.
(Of course, that description of the contenders is largely incomplete, there are some more areas, some of those and probably a few others competing over them, but more details wouldn't change the picture much.)

The common theme here, as you're seeing, is that single large companies are trying to be the "one true way" to do things - some for very specific areas, some for multiple ones, possibly ultimately all your online experience.

Bring in feature-rich web applications: Now you can do everything online on their services, in the cloud, running on their machines, under their tight control, they can have all your data to use for any mining they want to make money with, share it with whomever pays, and it even looks nice and convenient for you! Isn't that cool?

One shape fits all, one entity controls all, runs all, and markets all. Well, nice if you're that entity, probably not so nice if you are individualistic, don't do or want to fit that common shape, or want to have self-control over your own (online) life, let alone don't want to or can't be online all the time. Or, heaven forbid, be creative and shape some part of the future on your own!

ADOPT mozilla.Now, here's where Mozilla comes in, why that project really matters, and why the future needs our work.
If you always wondered if there's some scheme going on behind what Mozilla does, be it Firefox or anything else, let me be clear: there is.
And that scheme "behind the scenes", the very core of what makes Mozilla such a great and special project, is our mission of promoting openness, innovation, and opportunity online.

That mission means, for example, that what we're trying to accomplish is that everything is built in a way that everyone can see how it works and rebuild it him-/herself and plug him-/herself into the network of services. You can built your own search engine, friend network, web application, or even mobile app/service and can fully hook it into your online experience and your browser and even offer it to others, without needing to ask anyone for permission. In that light, web applications are things you can re-shape, run independently and control yourself. You also can control your data and determine who is being able to do what with it. You can be inventive and find new ways of doing things - for you and others. And you can even choose what your window to that experience is, you're not bound to a single shape or size - e.g. use a visual screen, a screen reader or braille display; use a traditional desktop browser like Firefox, an integrated Internet suite like SeaMonkey, or a mobile browser like Firefox for mobile devices (and I'm just using our own projects as examples for convenience, we welcome any competition that is in line the mission). Or even find a completely new way of doing it!

OK, if you're in the Mozilla community, you probably already know that. But there's more.

Think about breaking down the borders between web application and desktop application development: What if writing one or the other would be so similar that it's almost or completely the same? There will always we a need for offline or local applications, and there's some historical evidence that even could make one assume that after the web application being the cool hype, there will be some wave towards local applications again. What if a developer wouldn't need to care much and his code would run the same in both settings, and at the same time on all kinds of operating systems that people may use now and in the future? I know one single piece of technology out there that is in a unique position to strongly enable and support that. Did you know that a real lot of the Firefox, Thunderbird, and SeaMonkey applications are written in almost exactly the same technologies that are used for web applications? Now, guess what I'm thinking about here.

And now, what if that one shape of the window to the Internet (the browser) isn't really what fits you? What if you want a different interface that provides you with more, less, or different features? Imagine this browser, let's call it "Firefox" for the sake of the argument allows all kinds of free changes to the face it shows you, i.e. its User Interface, and anyone with knowledge of web-like technologies can create those mods and offer them to anyone else who might like them, in some kind of "add-on" system? Ah, right, we already have that. And what if you want some really different UI, say one with a lot of advanced data controlling features available fast in its menus, and that even has a built-in message center for online communication and also some easy way to create simple web content built in? Good we already have SeaMonkey for you. And what if you want to build something different yourself? We even have that already. And we are working on improving that.

Build your own shape that fits you, control your things yourself, run things like you want, make your own market. Take what's there and improve it. Create a better future.

DrumbeatNow, if that doesn't have potential!

We only need to work and care that it's successful.

Let's beat the drum for that. Let's keep the Internet diverse. Let's make a difference!

By KaiRo, at 02:13 | Tags: Drumbeat, Facebook, Firefox, Google, Mozilla, SeaMonkey | 10 comments | TrackBack: 2

March 20th, 2009

Writing/Porting Tests Detects Bugs!

When I read about a test that runs well in SeaMonkey being moved from testing/mochitest/ to browser/ yesterday (as it tests stuff that is actually internal to browser/ JS), I decided it would be good if SeaMonkey would still run it. And as I was already looking into moving/porting a browser test, I decided I would look into what other tests from browser/base/content we should have.

Following that, I spent the whole day trying tests and porting those that are useful to suite/browser - finding a number of things to add to the Firefox to SeaMonkey porting list as a number of tests were for features we haven't implemented yet (helpwanted!) as well as a few bugs in SeaMonkey, which I either fixed right in the patches for adding the plain mochitests and browser-chrome tests or marked todo() relying on followup bugs to fix them.

In the end this should result in easier extensible browser context menus and better accesskeys within them, improved feed detection, and plugins handling improvements - in addition to detecting more regressions in the tested areas when we're doing future work.

What I really like with that work though is that it uncovers existing bugs (that are sometime easy to fix) in addition to early detecting future ones.

That's why I proposed increasing automated test coverage as a Summer of Code project for SeaMonkey - if you are a student and want to learn Mozilla code, please consider applying for this one, you'd even get paid for it!

By KaiRo, at 14:57 | Tags: Google, GSoC, Mozilla, SeaMonkey, tests | no comments | TrackBack: 0

July 6th, 2007

Status page for GSoC project

I just got word that a Status page for our Google Summer of Code project has been created.

As I mentioned earlier, we have a project in this program entitled "Make SeaMonkey Not Suck As A News Reader", and Markus Hossner is working on this under supervision from Karsten Düsterloh.
The new status page lists all tasks that either Markus has started working on, or which are in various review processes or even fixed already. Karsten will update the page through the project period so we can track what is going on there.
Oh, please don't edit this page yourself, we know you have wishes, but if a bug is filed on those in Bugzilla, you can be pretty sure Karsten and Markus will pick them up as time and the project scope permit. Karsten has multi-year experience in probably all areas the SeaMonkey newsreader sucks in, we can be pretty sure they'll cover quite a few hot spots. And it's really nice to see which ones Markus is currently attacking.

I just hope we'll soon find a few green spots on this list :)

By KaiRo, at 01:22 | Tags: Google, GSoC, Mozilla, SeaMonkey | 1 comment | TrackBack: 0

April 22nd, 2007

My Easter Photo Map

Looking at Google Maps today, I realized they have a new "My Maps" feature, so I decided to try it out, and improve the map I linked in my earlier German entry of my Easter photo tour. I added a few additional destination points so it matches my actual route a bit a better (as good as a car route can match a bike/walking route), and added placemarks with selected photos out of my photo gallery from this tour.
The result is quite nice - but see for yourself: Easter Photo Tour Map

Looks like Google Maps is becoming an even more interesting tool to link to with this feature :)

I just realized that sometimes you need to click the "Search Results" tab first to get the route drawn as well as the placemarks - they seem to have a small glitch in there, so that it doesn't always draw that route right away...

By KaiRo, at 15:56 | Tags: Fotos, Google, photos | no comments | TrackBack: 0

April 17th, 2007

Improving SeaMonkey with funding from Google

As you probably have heard already, Google is repeating its Summer of Code ("GSoC") program the third time this year, funding 600 projects in the open-source area with up to $ 5000 (up to $ 4500 for the student and $ 500 for the project they are doing their work for).
This year that program includes 10 Mozilla projects, among which even one project aimed specifically at SeaMonkey con be found!

The title of this project is "Make SeaMonkey Not Suck As A News Reader", done by Markus Hossner, and mentored by our SeaMonkey Mail & Newsgroups owner Karsten Düsterloh (also known as Mnyromyr). I asked both Markus and Karsten 3 questions, read what they have to say about this GSoC project:

First, some questions to Karsten Düsterloh, GSoC project mentor and SeaMonkey MailNews owner:

[KaiRo] 1. You created the idea of this project. What exactly "sucks" in SeaMonkey's news reader currently (many people tell us it's pretty usable, actually) - and what improvements do you expect we get from this GSoC project?

[Karsten] First of all, the project idea's title is stolen from a bug report in Bugzilla: "Bug 176238 – Make Mozilla not suck as a newsreader", a very old meta bug referencing several other bugs which make using (Mozilla back then and SeaMonkey and Thunderbird even now) as a newsreader not the experience folks are accustomed to from the Mozilla browsers or other newsreaders.
While most of the "major suckage" is gone by now, there are still some advanced features missing, even when compared to our Netscape 4.x ancestors. Clickable references or reordering the folder pane are requested very frequently.
Markus has a very good Mozilla background to get things running in this area, since he's the author of the MessageID Finder extension (almost a must for serious newsreading with Mozilla applications), so I think we will see quite some progress.


[KaiRo] 2. How much do you think Mozilla projects profit from each other's GSoC projects? That is, how can/will Thunderbird and Firefox projects help SeaMonkey, and the other way round?

[Karsten] The ties between the SeaMonkey MailNews and Thunderbird backends are rather strong, so here's a very good chance that any SoC project for one will help the other, too. (Roaming support for TB may be an exception, since we already have that in SeaMonkey.) In general, projects touching the common codebase are usually good for any project, eg. JPEG2000 support. Some of the Mozilla projects are rather application-specific and thus non-sharable, like the Firefox micosummary stuff.

[KaiRo] 3. What other improvements of the Mail and Newsgroups component of SeaMonkey are planned for the next few months or would badly need help, perhaps from new contributors?

[Karsten] Lots. ;-)
We still have lots of "parity bugs" asking for features known in Netscape 4.x or other mail and news clients, like score files or "real" message templates. Thunderbird has some features we would like see in SM as well, like back/forward in the mail reading history or folder views. There are some structural backend fixes pending, like unified header usage in view/forwarding/printing or blackboxing the mail storage.
Sometimes I feel its just a gift that everything is running so well even without that...


And then, let's see what Markus Hossner, the student working on this project, has to tell us:


[KaiRo] 1. Please introduce yourself: Who is this guy who wants to improve SeaMonkey's news client, what involvement did you previously have with the Mozilla and SeaMonkey projects/communities?

[Markus] I'm a German Student of Computer Science at the University of Karlsruhe (TH). For 3 years now I'm maintaining an addon for the Mail/News client of SeaMonkey and Thunderbird: The MessageID-Finder. An addon to deal with messageids and references.

[KaiRo] 2. What are your concrete goals you would like to achieve with this GSoC project?

[Markus] The project's slogan is: "Make SeaMonkey Not Suck As A News Reader". The project aims to make SeaMonkey a much more useful news reader by adding needed features. Features like clickable references, clickable headers in general, a more usable subscribe dialog, the ability to reorder newsgroups in the folder pane, the ability to quote only selected text, to offer a better offline support for news reading and a correct implementation of the nntp/news protocols.

[KaiRo] 3. Could you imagine to continue to work on improvements for SeaMonkey after this summer project?

[Markus] For sure ;-)

We all hope that SeaMonkey will "suck less" through this project, as will probably even Thunderbird. On the other hand, I hope SeaMonkey can gain from other projects as well, maybe even last year's Firefox GSoC project for a better Page Info window.
It's always good to see that a company like Google is giving back something to the open source communities, which provide a collection of good software which is probably also used intensely inside Google itself.

By KaiRo, at 02:31 | Tags: Google, GSoC, Mozilla, SeaMonkey | no comments | TrackBack: 0

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