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What The Hell Is Up With AMO?

I was recently disturbed when AMO announced that the only communication channel with them I could routinely use would be shut down - the mozilla.dev.amo newsgroup was obsoleted by some web forums. While newsgroups flow naturally along with what I can glance over quite fast in my mailnews client, i'd need to open a website and log in and do several clicks and wait for page loads to read a web forum, which just takes up too much time in my busy daily life.
It made me somewhat angry to split their communication channel away from what most of Mozilla is using usually, but I accepted that because I rarely needed that channel anyhow. But, of course, once you accept a thing like that, you immediately get reminded of why it made you angry:

As you might know, I'm maintaining the package for the German dictionary on AMO. When I uploaded a new 2.0 version of that package to support the newer HunSpell spellchecker which we have in Mozilla since some 1.9.0 alpha state, I realized that AMO wouldn't tell Thunderbird 2.0.x any more that the 1.0.1 dictionary version was compatible with that product, as the developer dashboard settings are only reported through the version check for the latest add-on version.

Because of that, I uploaded a 1.0.2 version with just an updated install.rdf so that everything should be fine again. Of course, I made that only report compatibility for Firefox/Thunderbird 2.0 and SeaMonkey 1.x, as for the newer versions the 2.0 version of the dictionary fits perfectly well.

But now for the real killer: At least since the last update of AMO, 1.0.2 is shown as the "newest" version because I uploaded it later than the 2.0 version. And now people with a current Firefox or SeaMonkey don't see the fitting dictionary for them any more!

And what's even better is that the "older versions" link at the bottom of the page does reveal the list of versions, but you can't get to any of those versions any more!

What the hell are the AMO developers thinking? Has anyone of them ever thought about testing such things on their preview/staging server before rolling it out to the public and f**king up add-ons developers' and users' experience and ability to work with the site?

I have been quite patient though a number of problems I've seen with AMO over time, as I knew a number of my problem were with the SeaMonkey-oriented things and those are a niche affecting a lot less people than cool new features for Firefox add-on stuff. But now I'm really badly pissed off.
Supporting versions of add-ons usably and somewhat correctly is no niche issue, it's a major f**k-up of the site - and when I posted this in mozilla.dev.amo, I of course got no reaction at all for multiple days, as usable communcation channels just get ignored by the AMO team.
On the other hand, I of course got angry messages from users who can't reach a usable German dictionary any more - and if you look at user number of that add-on, you can understand how many people this affects (German is the most-used Mozilla localization, so just guess the impact - it was among the 5 or 10 add-ons overall last I saw statistics of daily users).

(For now, I've upped the versions of the old myspell-based 1.0.2 version so that people have at least something installable, but it's more than suboptimal.)

Thanks to AMO for messing everything up and giving me and a good number of users a hell lot of trouble. :(

Entry written by KaiRo and posted on October 29th, 2009 03:15 | Tags: AMO, Mozilla | 9 comments | TrackBack




File a bug for specific bugs. You'll get much faster of a response.
2009-10-29 04:00

Daniel Holbert

from Mountain View

AMO's 'older versions' page worksforme
"And what's even better is that the "older versions" link at the bottom of the page does reveal the list of versions, but you can't get to any of those versions any more!"

FWIW, the "older versions" page for your German Dictionary addon works for me in SeaMonkey 2.0 (as well as in Firefox mozilla-central nightly). Each listed version has a green button at the right side, linking to the XPI, labeled "Download Now" in SeaMonkey. I was able to install Version 2.0 of the German Dictionary in Seamonkey using that button.

2009-10-29 04:06

Tony Mechelynck

from Brussels, Belgium

Tsss... Mozilla bigwigs' high-handedness all over again. "I don't use it, therefore no one needs it." Remember when they dropped the throbber link in Firefox? Not to mention, of course, when they dropped the Suite concept, but happily for me (and a lot of others), you were there to pick it up.
2009-10-29 05:15

Daniel Holbert

from Mountain View

AMO's "Older Versions" worksforme in Seamonkey 2.0
AMO's "Older Versions" page works fine for me, in both my mozilla-central nightly and a copy of Seamonkey 2.0 that I just downloaded.

Older Versions page for your German Dictionary addon:

I viewed that page in Seamonkey, and each version has a "Download Now" button next to it linking to the XPI. I clicked the one for version 2.0 of the addon, and it installed just fine.

[Tried to post a comment to this effect earlier, but I'm not sure it submitted correctly, so re-posting.]
2009-10-29 05:29

Wladimir Palant

Yes, filing a bug would be the way to go - only that I'm pretty sure there is a bug on that already. This isn't a new problem, I hit is once as well and AMO devs are well aware of it. The problem is that their infrastructure isn't meant to serve different versions to different clients, they always serve the latest version uploaded. Changing this is everything but trivial, already because of optimizations in various places. This is an issue that doesn't come up often so nobody took the time so far - like in every software project they have to prioritize.

As to the version list being messed up, that's a different thing. Please file a bug on it, it should be an easy fix (probably something wrong with their sorting).
2009-10-29 07:55


You surely know (as Wladimir thankfully reminded you) that filing a bug when you notice an issue is the way to go in the Mozilla community -- rather than ranting publicly and hoping someone will file a bug for you (which Justin did: https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=525179). If you would like to add something to the bug report (for example, I don't know what you mean by "you can't get to the old versions anymore"), please go ahead.
2009-10-29 11:31



I now see the download buttons on the versions page, after you people pointed me to it. I probably had tomatoes in my eyes repeatedly when checking those pages, but as I got mails from users not finding it, there might be some UE issue here as well. I probably should file another bug on that.

For the other issue, thanks for filing the bug, I know that should be done first, but what really brought me over the top was the complete lack of reaction on either the newsgroup or IRC, which are the usual ways of communication in the Mozilla community and so somewhat moot the "you know what's usual in Mozilla" argument as you guys are breaking that yourself. And when I get no reaction at all, I get angry and pissed off, and I try to vent that, which ended up in this post.
2009-10-29 12:57

Peter Lairo

from Germany

I have unsuccessfully wasted a lot of time on several occasions trying to find a current version of the German spell checker.

The fact that you have to click on the link to OLDER versions to get a NEWER version is VERY confusing; actually, it makes it virtually impossible to find the NEWEST version.

Also, that the older versions link is buried way down the web page makes it even worse.

PS. Thank you KaiRo, for making this very important add-on for those of us who always use the English versions of software, but who need a German spell-checker.
2009-10-29 14:18



I'm closing this comment thread because someone has been repeatedly posting personal insults here and this is one thing I cannot tolerate here, independent if those insults are against me or anyone else.
2010-01-01 04:35

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