Mozilla ponders, rejects even faster Firefox release pace

Hears out proposal to ship a new version every five weeks

A pitch to accelerate Firefox's rapid-release schedule even more -- cutting a week to ship a new version every five weeks -- was rejected by Mozilla, according to a lively discussion on a company forum.

The proposal, made by Mozilla engineering manager Josh Aas last week, would have cut weeks from the current scheme.

"Moving to a five-week cycle would mean a fix going into mozilla-central would get to users three weeks faster," said Aas on the mozilla.dev.planning forum. "That's a big deal. It's an upgrade in responsiveness that we can't afford to pass on if we can pull it off."

Developers continually work on Firefox in the browser's main code base -- what Aas called "mozilla-central" -- and when changes there are ready for release they're worked on for an additional 12 weeks in the Aurora and beta channels before being added to the release version. The result: A new edition every six weeks.

For example, Firefox 7, slated to release Sept. 27, will follow Firefox 6's Aug. 16 debut by six weeks.

The reaction by Mozilla contributors, developers and managers to Aas' proposal was almost universally negative, with reasons ranging from developer burnout and too-short testing time for enterprises to the current lack of an automatic, behind-the-scenes update mechanism ala Google's Chrome.

But while the consensus seemed to be that moving to a five-week schedule was a bad idea at the moment, Mozilla left the door ajar.

"Yes, I absolutely think in the future we will shorten the cycle -- but it won't be soon," said Christian Legnitto, the Mozilla manager who oversees Firefox releases. "We have some work to do to make 6 weeks smooth from a process, tool, and product side. When we get 6 weeks down to a science we can shorten as needed."

Others made it clear that the discussion was just that, and not proof that Mozilla was about to speed up Firefox releases.

"This thread is not changing the schedule of Firefox releases. This thread is people talking about stuff," said Johnathan Nightingale, director of Firefox development. "Any future change to our schedules will be loudly communicated."

Mozilla prides itself on the open nature of its development process, in which most proposals and decisions are made public.

"This thread is about people talking about stuff. That's how Mozilla works -- we discuss in the open," said Mike Beltzner, a former Firefox director who still contributes to the open-source project.

The topic of Firefox's rapid release schedule has been a touchy one since Mozilla shifted to an every-six-week scheme last spring. Some enterprises that rely on Firefox loudly complained about the fast pace, saying that it gave them insufficient time to test each edition before deploying it to workers. Others have griped that many add-ons -- the extensions Firefox is famous for -- were broken by new versions, and that add-on developers weren't keeping pace.

Mozilla plans to ship Firefox 7 next Tuesday, then follow that with Firefox 8 and Firefox 9 before the end of the year.

Firefox 7 has been touted by Mozilla as a memory miser compared to earlier editions, using as much as 50% less memory than its predecessors.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed. His e-mail address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

See more articles by Gregg Keizer.

Read more about browsers in Computerworld's Browsers Topic Center.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags applicationsbrowserssoftwareinternetmozilla

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld (US)
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?