Interview with Asa Dotzler of Mozilla
Here is an interview with Asa, community quality advocate extraordinaire from Mozilla. Thanks Asa.
LQ) The obligatory tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do at Mozilla.
AD) My first serious exposure to Open Source software was in the 1995. I was studying Architecture at Auburn University and became good friends with a number of Linux users. The Open Source development model really appealed to me but, spoiled on the GUIs of Macs (mostly) and Windows PCs, I just couldn't bring myself to like Linux. A couple years later I read some excerpts from The Cathedral and the Bazaar and right about that time, Netscape made the annoucement that it was going to free the source code for one of my favorite applications, the Communicator suite. I thought, "I've got to get myself involved in that." I wasn't (and still am not) a developer but I thought I might be able to help out testing Mozilla. Long story short, I found some early Mozilla binaries, did some testing, learned what it took to provide useful feedback to developers, and started helping others test and file good bug reports. I got involved :-)
About two years after Netscape released the source code and about 1 year after I'd ramped up to spending most of my evenings and weekends with Mozilla and the growing Mozilla testing community, I was invited to join firstname.lastname@example.org and hired by Netscape. Over the last three years, my responsibilities have included coordination of the Mozilla community QA and testing efforts, developing Mozilla policies and process, building development roadmaps and release schedules, and shipping Mozilla milestones.
My employment with AOL/Netscape comes to an end this September and I plan to continue my involvement with Mozilla as an employee of the Mozilla Foundation.
LQ) How do you think the recent spin-off of the Mozilla Foundation from AOL will impact the longterm direction, success and viability of the Mozilla project?
AD) I think the Mozilla Foundation is great news for Mozilla and its community of developers, testers and consumers. We've been working on this for quite a while and are pleased to see it finally happen. I think that while Mozilla has always been successful at attracting talented individual contributors, the structure the Mozilla Foundation will make it much easier for large organizations like Red Hat, Sun and IBM to contribute to Mozilla.
For as long as I've been involved with Mozilla, we've been a technology provider and I think that one of the important changes will be our focus on delivering a product to end users. The independence we've gained will also allow us to put more focus on delivering the best possible technologies and products to our users. The last few releases from mozilla.org have won numerous awards and the early reviews of our stand-alone Firebird web browser and Thunderbird mail clients, with their clear focus on delivering for the end user, are all very positive so I think we're off to a great start.
LQ) Do you think the fact that AOL has laid off all the Gecko developers after the spin-off is indicative of the future support Mozilla will receive from AOL?
AD) AOL has pledged $2 million dollars over the next two years and has contributed a truckload of hardware to the Mozilla Foundation. I'm pleased that they're contributing to a project I care deeply about.
LQ) What do you see as Mozilla biggest shortcoming? and its biggest strength?
AD) I think that our biggest shortcoming has been in marketing our technologies and our products. We've always put development first and marketing and distributing to users second. We've got a great product and a more people should hear about it.
Our biggest strength is, without a doubt, the long list of hugely talented contributors. I've never before worked with so many brilliant, creative, and devoted people.
LQ) What are your thoughts on Apple passing over the Gecko engine for OSX?
AD) I think it's great that Apple decided to work with Open Source software solution. We're committed to a cross-platform rendering engine which carries some overhead that Apple apparently didn't want to carry. But Apple didn't completely pass us over. They're using some significant pieces of Mozilla code in Safari. They're also working hard to build support for Web standards and I'm happy with every increase in standards compliant user agents on the Web.
LQ) Why do you think AOL choose to sign a long term agreement with Microsoft? and about IE no longer being a standalone product?
AD) There has always been far too much work to be done in Bugzilla and elsewhere for me to spend any time thinking about AOL business decisions.
I did read a lot about the standalone IE plans, mostly in blogs, and I'm not sure what to think. Mozilla is already at least a generation ahead in terms of features. More and more users are realizing that pop-up blocking, tabbed browsing and other convenience and anti-annoyance features make the Web fun again.
LQ) How do you feel about the Firebird database uproar and why does Mozilla have such bad luck with names?
AD) Can I say "Pass" :-) I think it was a mountain made out of a mole hill. Naming is hard (seriously) and no one has good luck with it.
LQ) Will the Mozilla Foundation consider implementing a "java-RE" built in to upcoming releases?
AD) We're still exploring what it means to be an end user product and while it's agreed that plug-ins (including Java) play a key role web browsing, we don't yet know how or if we'll handle bundling proprietary software. At the technical level, we're working with the Sun Browser team (a great team of engineers in Beijing who work on Mozilla) and several Sun Java folks to design a better interface for plugging Java into Mozilla products.
LQ) What do you see as the long term direction for the Mozilla project?
AD) We're going to continue to develop great technologies that support a free and open Web and we're going to deliver those technologies in high-quality products to millions of users.
LQ) Do you see the different projects (SeaMonkey, Gecko, Firebird, Thunderbird, Blackwood, etc.) surviving as separate projects or do you see more integration/consolidation?
AD) I think there are at least three distinct consumers that we're going to have to support. First, there are end users. This is a new target for us and we're exploring ways to deliver innovative products that end users will really enjoy. The second audience is the enterprise. Mozilla has to provide the enterprise customer with high-quality Internet client applications. I don't think we can be a success without that. The third consumer is the technology consumer. Mozilla has become a powerful platform and we need to continue to develop the GRE and other components and features that make Mozilla technologies appealing to application developers. I don't think we can satisfy end-users, the enterprise, and application developers with on large integrated suite of application.
LQ) What do you consider Mozilla's place in the current browser market? If you couldn't use a gecko based browser, which one would you use?
AD) There's no doubt in my mind that Mozilla is the best browser out there, bar none. And if the stock build doesn't have everything you could ever want in a browser then you're likely to find it among the 100+ Mozilla extensions. http://extensionroom.mozdev.org/
If I couldn't use a gecko-based browser I'd probably browse a lot less :-) I really don't know what else I'd use. Is there a non-gecko Linux browser out there that does out-of-the-box tabbed browsing, pop-up blocking, view selection source, bookmark custom keywords, Goggle search for selected text, image blocking, and type ahead find -- with an interface as clean and simple as Mozilla Firebird? I use those features every day and I don't think I could get by without them.
LQ) Do you see more acceptance of the browser as a client interface to applications in the future?
AD) Definitely! It's already the interface to most of my primary applications: Bugzilla, Bonsai, Tinderbox, LXR, Movable Type, various webmails, and more. But what I really want to see is these old-style HTML web applications replaced with rich XUL interfaces like the Mozilla Amazon Browser ( http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/a/mozi...asestudy2.html ) or XUL Channels ( http://www.xulchannels.com/ ). Mozilla's rich UI layer and its support for web services ( http://devedge.netscape.com/viewsource/2003/wsdl/01/ ) is a combination that I think will help usher in the next generation of Internet applications. I'm very excited about the future of rich remote applications and so are many Mozilla developers.
LQ) Anything else you would like to add?
AD) Sorry for taking so long to respond and thanks for all of the great questions and the opportunity to discuss Mozilla with the LinuxQuestions community.
There's no doubt in my mind either that Moz is # 1. Good interview! ThanX guys!
New home for BlackConnect
Hi. Just wanted to say that I've taken up the mantle of maintaining Blackconnect. Sun effectively abandoned the project in 2001 and has not maintained it since. I've done a great deal of work the last few months forward-porting Blackconnect to Mozilla 1.4; a lot of work remains to be done, but we have made a great deal of progress. See http://java.mozdev.org/blackconnect for more information and to see how you can help.
translated and put it on the web
Hi, guys! Thank you for the interesting interview.
I've translated this into Japanese and put it on my site below:
Please check it out, Jeremy.
Thanks again Jeremy, and Asa.
I was also informed that the interview has been translated to French.
Mozilla is definately nice! I love it. I use Galeon, which is Mozilla without the extra features. Mozilla rocks!
Mozilla is the BEST linux web broswer, it is the only linux web broswer I have used that had the plugins to display my webpage the right way.. I love it..
I just love Mozilla!!!
(Especially its expansion capability using plugins!)
No Contest About it - Its the best browser I've used so far.
Wonderful interview btw...
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