Communication by Firefox devs to add-on devs

The time has come for the developers of Firefox to start communicating
with the developers of add-ons. As a case in point:

Recently the classic.manifest file in fx3 has had a large number of
override codes added to it that reassigned filenames from example.png
to example-aero.png. Suddenly, all third-party themes in Vista are now
missing buttons in a number of places - some of them not easy to spot
(e.g. - the wrap icon that shows up only when you reach the bottom of
a page in a page search). If one of the themers had not had a user
using Vista who communicated with him, and if the themer had not
communicated with the rest of us, the rest of us would never have
known.

And not too long ago one of you changed the ID of the url box in fx3
to force a refresh, all in support of the Home button appearing on the
bookmarks toolbar.

I would like to see the Firefox devs start to post announcements in
Mozillazine about any changes that will affect extensions and themes.
No, Google Groups will not do - there are plenty of casual theme-
makers who have no clue this venue exists - and trust me, you don't
want them here.

You could even ask the Mozillazine people to make a new forum,
specifically for your announcements so that you wouldn't have to
choose between themes and extensions.

0
Ed
2/24/2008 3:35:08 PM
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> Recently the classic.manifest file in fx3 has had a large number of
> override codes added to it that reassigned filenames from example.png
> to example-aero.png. Suddenly, all third-party themes in Vista are now
> missing buttons in a number of places - some of them not easy to spot
> (e.g. - the wrap icon that shows up only when you reach the bottom of
> a page in a page search). If one of the themers had not had a user
> using Vista who communicated with him, and if the themer had not
> communicated with the rest of us, the rest of us would never have
> known.
So, when did this change?  I think we've been pretty good about
including things in release notes when we release milestones.  It's
pretty unreasonable to expect all changes that *might* affect themers
before they land.  The signal to noise ratio would be pretty unusable.

> And not too long ago one of you changed the ID of the url box in fx3
> to force a refresh, all in support of the Home button appearing on the
> bookmarks toolbar.
It wasn't just to move the home button - please do your research
before taking up such an accusing tone.

> I would like to see the Firefox devs start to post announcements in
> Mozillazine about any changes that will affect extensions and themes.
> No, Google Groups will not do - there are plenty of casual theme-
> makers who have no clue this venue exists - and trust me, you don't
> want them here.
That sounds pretty unreasonable.  As it is, things are placed in
release notes, posted on the newsgroups, documented on devmo (before
milestone releases), and documented in bugs.  Adding yet another place
sounds pretty ridiculous to me.

Cheers,

Shawn Wilsher
0
Shawn
2/24/2008 10:05:52 PM
>> Recently the classic.manifest file in fx3 has had a large number of
>> override codes added to it that reassigned filenames from example.png
>> to example-aero.png. Suddenly, all third-party themes in Vista are now
>> missing buttons in a number of places - some of them not easy to spot
>> (e.g. - the wrap icon that shows up only when you reach the bottom of
>> a page in a page search). If one of the themers had not had a user
>> using Vista who communicated with him, and if the themer had not
>> communicated with the rest of us, the rest of us would never have
>> known.

Some bugs are darn hard to spot. Well its great the themers have a good 
network to communicate with each other.  Maybe this this communications 
mechanism could be enhanced to ensure that release notes are communicated?

>> And not too long ago one of you changed the ID of the url box in fx3
>> to force a refresh, all in support of the Home button appearing on the
>> bookmarks toolbar.

I'm not sure that was the goal of this change.

>> I would like to see the Firefox devs start to post announcements in
>> Mozillazine about any changes that will affect extensions and themes.
>> No, Google Groups will not do - there are plenty of casual theme-
>> makers who have no clue this venue exists - and trust me, you don't
>> want them here.

Yea, I can see the other channels might not work out. Following the 
moz.dev newgroups can be low signal for themers and who knows which bugs 
to follow. And finding the right devmo page is just dumb luck.  Probably 
the most certain channel is the release notes, since they are edited and 
right with the updated exe. If Moziallazine is great channel, maybe 
someone from the themeing community can take the challenge of extracting 
the bits of the release notes that are critical for themers and posting it?

Of course in the end, the Firefox devs don't know how some changes they 
make will affect themers.  Only themers can try the stuff they do and 
find out.  Luckily the beta is now stable and its the right time to give 
  it a go.
0
John
2/25/2008 5:01:33 AM
On Mon, Feb 25, 2008 at 12:01 AM, John J. Barton
<johnjbarton@johnjbarton.com> wrote:
>  >> And not too long ago one of you changed the ID of the url box in fx3
>  >> to force a refresh, all in support of the Home button appearing on the
>  >> bookmarks toolbar.
>
>  I'm not sure that was the goal of this change.

That change was reverted before b3 was released. See bug 415099.

Gavin
0
Gavin
2/25/2008 3:13:54 PM
On 24-Feb-08, at 10:35 AM, Ed Hume wrote:

> The time has come for the developers of Firefox to start communicating
> with the developers of add-ons. As a case in point:
>
> Recently the classic.manifest file in fx3 has had a large number of
> override codes added to it that reassigned filenames from example.png
> to example-aero.png. Suddenly, all third-party themes in Vista are now
> missing buttons in a number of places - some of them not easy to spot
> (e.g. - the wrap icon that shows up only when you reach the bottom of
> a page in a page search). If one of the themers had not had a user
> using Vista who communicated with him, and if the themer had not
> communicated with the rest of us, the rest of us would never have
> known.

For what its worth, it wasn't well known that this would have any  
effects at all outside of the default theme.  If it was known, we'd  
have actually communicated and/or found a better solution.  FWIW, we  
are actually going with a less efficient solution in order to avoid  
any work at all for themers.

> And not too long ago one of you changed the ID of the url box in fx3
> to force a refresh, all in support of the Home button appearing on the
> bookmarks toolbar.

Yes, we did that.  That was not the only reason, as has been  
repeatedly pointed out, but in any case we reverted the change, and  
other than people trying to keep up with nightlies there should have  
been very few issues.

> I would like to see the Firefox devs start to post announcements in
> Mozillazine about any changes that will affect extensions and themes.
> No, Google Groups will not do - there are plenty of casual theme-
> makers who have no clue this venue exists - and trust me, you don't
> want them here.

I think this is the wrong way of dealing with the problem, period.  If  
you don't like Google Groups, use the mailing lists (dev-themes@lists.mozilla.org 
  and dev-apps-firefox@lists.mozilla.org) and let it come as email.   
Forcing us to broadcast in more places feels like an undue burden vs.  
simply establishing a single reliable communications channel.  I don't  
think we need to have any sort of elitist basis like "we don't want  
their kind around here" for keeping multiple channels open.

We're trying to flag bugs that will affect compatibility with the late- 
compat keyword, so themers/addon authors trying to keep up with  
changes as they happen can keep an eye on those bugs.  This is the  
same solution that 40+ localization teams use to great success, and  
creating a very different for extension/theme authors doesn't make a  
great deal of sense.

-- MIke
0
Mike
2/29/2008 8:45:41 PM
On Feb 29, 3:45 pm, Mike Connor <mcon...@mozilla.com> wrote:

 If
> you don't like Google Groups, use the mailing lists (dev-the...@lists.mozilla.org
>   and dev-apps-fire...@lists.mozilla.org) and let it come as email.
> Forcing us to broadcast in more places feels like an undue burden vs.
> simply establishing a single reliable communications channel.  I don't
> think we need to have any sort of elitist basis like "we don't want
> their kind around here" for keeping multiple channels open.
>
> We're trying to flag bugs that will affect compatibility with the late-
> compat keyword, so themers/addon authors trying to keep up with
> changes as they happen can keep an eye on those bugs.  This is the
> same solution that 40+ localization teams use to great success, and
> creating a very different for extension/theme authors doesn't make a
> great deal of sense.
>
> -- MIke

I thank you all who have responded. If I had not checked back in to
the Google Groups page, I would have missed all but Mike's reply.

Which is the problem. Once upon a time I used to participate in
newsgroups. But that was long ago, and I these days this Google
interface is all I know. It's pretty bad, but many of the other
themers don't even know about this venue.

I am aware that you can communicate brilliantly well with other
developers in a Usenet. But most themers - me included - are not as
sophisticated as you. If you communicate through Usenet groups you
will miss most themers. Most do read the Mozillazine forums, though.

What to announce? Well, anything that will affect one platform and not
others, for one. Most of use themers only have access to one platform.
Unless we hear from users, we do not know how our themes look on other
platforms. So, the Aero business would have been a perfect topic for
an announcement.

Then we get to ID changes. Just two nights ago I had to add the
selectors #page-proxy-stack and #page-proxy-favicon, which replace
#page-proxy-deck and #page-proxy-button in fx3. Not a problem, really.
And since they show up on all four platforms - XP, Vista, OSX and
Linux - we'll pick them up well enough.

So, you could draw the line somewhere between the Aero business and
mere ID changes. But please consider at least the occasional
announcement.
0
Ed
3/1/2008 2:10:55 AM
Ed Hume wrote:
> On Feb 29, 3:45 pm, Mike Connor <mcon...@mozilla.com> wrote:
> 
>  If
>> you don't like Google Groups, use the mailing lists (dev-the...@lists.mozilla.org
>>   and dev-apps-fire...@lists.mozilla.org) and let it come as email.
>> Forcing us to broadcast in more places feels like an undue burden vs.
>> simply establishing a single reliable communications channel.  I don't
>> think we need to have any sort of elitist basis like "we don't want
>> their kind around here" for keeping multiple channels open.
>>
>> We're trying to flag bugs that will affect compatibility with the late-
>> compat keyword, so themers/addon authors trying to keep up with
>> changes as they happen can keep an eye on those bugs.  This is the
>> same solution that 40+ localization teams use to great success, and
>> creating a very different for extension/theme authors doesn't make a
>> great deal of sense.
>>
>> -- MIke
> 
> I thank you all who have responded. If I had not checked back in to
> the Google Groups page, I would have missed all but Mike's reply.
> 
> Which is the problem. Once upon a time I used to participate in
> newsgroups. But that was long ago, and I these days this Google
> interface is all I know. It's pretty bad, but many of the other
> themers don't even know about this venue.
> 
> I am aware that you can communicate brilliantly well with other
> developers in a Usenet. But most themers - me included - are not as
> sophisticated as you. If you communicate through Usenet groups you
> will miss most themers. Most do read the Mozillazine forums, though.
> 
> What to announce? Well, anything that will affect one platform and not
> others, for one. Most of use themers only have access to one platform.
> Unless we hear from users, we do not know how our themes look on other
> platforms. So, the Aero business would have been a perfect topic for
> an announcement.
> 
> Then we get to ID changes. Just two nights ago I had to add the
> selectors #page-proxy-stack and #page-proxy-favicon, which replace
> #page-proxy-deck and #page-proxy-button in fx3. Not a problem, really.
> And since they show up on all four platforms - XP, Vista, OSX and
> Linux - we'll pick them up well enough.
> 
> So, you could draw the line somewhere between the Aero business and
> mere ID changes. But please consider at least the occasional
> announcement.

Ed, I'm an user, not even an add-on developer, much less a Firefox dev, but 
let me make two remarks:

1. The Mozilla newsgroups are not exactly Usenet groups in the strict sense of 
the word, in the sense that they aren't mirrored by news servers all over the 
net. You can get them by means of the same "NNTP" protocol used by Usenet 
groups (that's how I get them, very easily, using Thunderbird: there's 
absolutely no magic to it) but only via the news.mozilla.org server, not via 
your own ISP's news server (if any). They're also distributed by mailing lists 
but I don't know the details. Personally I like newsgroups much better than 
HTTP-only forums, but of course that's my own preference, you don't have to 
share it.

2. My second remark will be blunt, please excuse the bluntness: if you aren't 
willing to stand where the devs are willing to post, you won't see what they 
have to say. It's not very hard to find the places where they _are_ willing to 
post, and I'll venture that it is -- or ought to be -- quite within the 
capabilities of any extension or theme developer, who, after all, is supposed 
to be "somewhat" savvier than the average Firefox user. The present newsgroup 
is one of these places; another one is under some "well-chosen" 
bugzilla.mozilla.org bugs and/or components (to be warned of new bugs for a 
given component, just watch its "QA contact" by changing your Bugzilla 
preferences).


Best regards,
Tony.
-- 
Never eat more than you can lift.
		-- Miss Piggy
0
Tony
3/1/2008 3:09:32 AM
On 29-Feb-08, at 9:10 PM, Ed Hume wrote:

> On Feb 29, 3:45 pm, Mike Connor <mcon...@mozilla.com> wrote:
>
> I thank you all who have responded. If I had not checked back in to
> the Google Groups page, I would have missed all but Mike's reply.
>
> Which is the problem. Once upon a time I used to participate in
> newsgroups. But that was long ago, and I these days this Google
> interface is all I know. It's pretty bad, but many of the other
> themers don't even know about this venue.

Then we should tell them about it, and tell them how to subscribe to  
the mailing list so they don't need to deal with newsgroups if they  
don't want to.  dev-themes is pretty low traffic, so I don't think  
we're asking themers to walk on burning coals by subscribing.  And  
NNTP is optional, which you nicely glossed over.  https://lists.mozilla.org/listinfo 
  has what people need to subscribe via email.

> What to announce? Well, anything that will affect one platform and not
> others, for one. Most of use themers only have access to one platform.
> Unless we hear from users, we do not know how our themes look on other
> platforms. So, the Aero business would have been a perfect topic for
> an announcement.

To repeat: had we understood that what we were doing would have _any_  
impact on other themes, we would have announced it, or even more  
likely, found a solution that didn't impact themers (as we did  
today).  I'm going to assert, again, that had this been an understood  
consequence, it would have been a critical issue to notify themers  
about.

-- Mike
0
Mike
3/1/2008 5:39:20 AM
On 2/29/08 9:10 PM, _Ed Hume_ spoke thusly:
> Which is the problem. Once upon a time I used to participate in
> newsgroups. But that was long ago, and I these days this Google
> interface is all I know. It's pretty bad, but many of the other
> themers don't even know about this venue.

FWIW...<http://ilias.ca/blog/2006/01/instructions-for-new-newsgroup-server/> 
:-)

-- 
Chris Ilias <http://ilias.ca>
List-owner: support-firefox, support-thunderbird, test-multimedia
0
Chris
3/1/2008 6:41:44 AM
from extension dev's perspective:

It's not like the communication couldn't be improved. Mozilla really IS 
a platform, a platform that urges contributors to code/update extensions 
for future releases on a fluid codebase. DevMo is GREAT improvement over 
the earlier "state" of documentation. However there's still a huge 
amount of time one spends just trying to find out why something doesn't 
work as expected/documented.

I would indeed wish there was something like a chrnological *log of 
changes* that affect APIs, methods, structure of XBL elements and the 
like. This would also allow contributors to update DevMo using that 
info... I'd love that!

Just imagine how difficult it can be to get all that info required to 
build a good app on top off Mozilla, if you're "on the outside" of the 
process of building that platform. The platform is cool, good and sexy 
already. That kind of "info flow" would make it great, fabulous and 
invincible. Thanks. Marc


-- 
Marc Diethelm
- SMS Sidebar Creator
0
Marc
3/1/2008 6:25:24 PM
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