Firefox's user share has stabilized this year at around 12 percent of the global browser market. Credit: Net Applications
Mozilla will accelerate the release of new features for its Firefox browser, dumping its current 18-week development schedule for something nimbler, a company manager told contributors last week.
The firm will also deliver a browser for Windows 10, a reversal of a 2014 decision to stop work on a touch-based version of Firefox for Microsoft's OS.
In a pair of messages that Dave Camp, director of Firefox engineering, posted to a mail list, as well as a blog post, Mozilla summarized some of the decisions it reached at an all-hands meeting in Whistler, a Canadian ski resort town north of Vancouver, BC, last week.
"Since Firefox began, the industry has continually evolved how it deploys code to users, and today it isn't done on an 18-week cycle," Camp wrote, referring to the current development cycle, which runs new features through three six-week stretches and a trio of browser builds. "We think there are big wins to be had in shortening the time that new features reach users. As Laura Thomson put it in her Whistler presentation -- 'The trains have served us well, but it's time to build a hyperloop.'"
Camp offered few details about the schedule plans, in large part because they haven't yet been worked out. Unlike other browser makers, Mozilla relies not only on paid developers but also on a community of volunteers, and typically holds public discussions with that community before it decides how to proceed.
"Some of these questions are going to take a while to answer, and will involve a bunch of concurrent discussions," Camp said.
Camp also touted a new concept for Firefox development he labeled "Great or Dead." The idea, he said, was that "every feature in the browser should be polished, functional and a joy to use." In instances where engineers can't meet that bar, the feature should be canned or instead passed to a partner.
Mozilla did the latter last month when it baked the Pocket reading list app into Firefox. Some, however, objected to Pocket's integration, while others argued that the service's privacy and licensing policies were contrary to Mozilla's.
In another message to the same development mailing list, Cook said that Mozilla would change how it implements partners' code. "Folks said that Pocket should have been a bundled add-on that could have been more easily removed entirely from the browser," Cook wrote. "We tend to agree with that, and fixing that for Pocket and any future partner integrations is one concrete piece of engineering work we need to get done."
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