Rey Bango

Web developer, honey badger

Which is Your Primary Browser?

I did a REALLY informal poll on Twitter to see which browser people consider their primary browser. I’ve listed the results below. The “Browsing” category is what I consider results for a “primary” browser in terms of general day-to-day use while “Development” is the primary browser used to build web applications or help you in your job:

Browsing:

Firefox: 9
Chrome: 25
Safari: 10
IE: 2 (including @getify)
Opera: 1

Development:

Firefox: 10
Chrome: 0
Safari: 0
IE: 1

Again, this was a totally unscientific and informal poll but the results were surprising. I would’ve expected Firefox to be ahead of Chrome & Safari in the “Browsing” category, especially since add-ons are such a huge benefit. I know that Chrome for Windows now has extensions but nowhere near the number of add-ons Firefox offers & their currently not available on Chrome for Mac or Linux. I guess it may not be too off base considering that most of the people that follow my Twitter account would be considered advanced users who tend to be early adopters. I remember Firefox going through the same adoption process with techies leading the charge.

Unsurprisingly, Firefox still rules the roost when it comes to a development browser. Add-ons like Firebug, Web Developer Toolbar, TamperData & ColorZilla really make a HUGE difference in getting work done. Other browsers are catching up (Safari Web Inspector & Developer Tools for Google Chrome) so it’ll be interesting to see how that evolves.

Miami & Chicago Mozilla Add-on Meetups

I’m organizing add-on meetups in Miami and Chicago to spread awareness of add-ons, meet developers who are interested in extending the browsing experience and talking about all of the great things happening on AMO. The dates are:

Miami – Sept 15th (Details here)
Chicago – Sept 29th (Details here)

If you’re near either of these cities, I’d love for you to come out and learn more about Mozilla add-ons.

Cool new Feature in Ubiquity 0.5.4; Command Discoverability

After upgrading to Ubiquity 0.5.4, I started noticing something very cool. It now prompts with a really simple and unobtrusive reminder that you have commands available for specific sites. Very neat.

The reason I like this is because it’s just too easy to forget all of the commands that are at your disposal. If you have Ubiquity installed and type in “about:ubiquity” in the address bar, you can look at the command list and see what I mean.

This new feature will definitely help me discover new commands. Here’s an example prompt when I visited Amazon today:

ubiquity
(Click on the image to expand it out)

New York City Meetup Next Tuesday (8/18). Learn About Firefox Add-on Development!

I’ll be in New York City next Tuesday, August 18th, along with AMO Product Manager Justin Scott, to host the first leg of the Mozilla Add-ons Meetup Tour. We’ll be discussing some of the newest initiatives going on including Collections, Contributions & more. This will be a great opportunity to meet & mingle with other add-on developers, learn about add-on development and pick the brains of AMO team members. Here are the details:

Mozilla Add-ons Meetup – New York City
August 18th, 2009
6-9pm EST
131 Varick St, Suite 909
NY, NY
10013

Be sure to RSVP by filling out the registration form.


View Larger Map

Look forward to seeing you there!

1 Billion Firefox Downloads & Counting

Today marked the 1 billionth download of Firefox, an incredible milestone in the history of the biggest open source project around. Here, let me put that into actual numbers:

1,000,171,095 (at last count)

That is a staggering figure for an open-source application that was officially released on November 9, 2004 (this is why I wanted to know the dates CBeard!).

ffbillion2

I’m glad to say that I’ve been a part of every release, in some small way, since it’s early beta stages as it’s been my main browser since I first installed it as Mozilla Firebird. Seeing Firefox make such a dramatic positive impact on the lives of so many and doing so with Mozilla not abandoning it’s core principles of making the Internet better is truly an amazing feat.

Firefox helped to change the browser landscape & forced other players to rethink what’s okay to do (& what’s not okay). It’s just not a given anymore to assume that users will accept “lock-in” into proprietary implementations as the Firefox team continues to push efforts to enhance web standards & support better experiences through open platforms.

And this is a really good thing for the web as it will make projects re-evaluate what’s possible (and acceptable for the overall good of the Internet). Users will benefit from having a better portal to the web. As developers, we’ll benefit (hopefully!) from having less headaches when building apps. And all this will be achievable without the need for another billion downloads to open people’s eyes to the possibilities.

A Redesigned Add-ons Site and Add-on Collections

Last night we rolled out a major redesign of Mozilla’s add-on site AMO. This was a huge release meant to not only provide a much better UI but also to improve organization and discoverability of add-ons. Over the last several months, we collected quite a bit of feedback on what worked and what didn’t work on AMO and did our best to improve the experince and with some great help from the Clearleft team, I think we’ve done a great job of addressing the needs.

Add-on Collections

Update: There was a quirk in the Add-on Collector add-on that in some cases prevented a user from logging in. This has been fixed and we recommend updating to Add-on Collector v1.0.2+.

One of the coolest features that we’re especially excited about is Collections. With Collections, you’ll be able to create a list of your favorite add-ons and publish them to the web for others to use. The concept is all about sharing and if you really think about it, it falls squarely in line with what’s really great about the web. You can now make it insanely easy to expose your friends & families to really useful add-ons by organizing them in an easy-to-discover tool. The added benefit is the trust factor. If you’re like me, your friends & families trust your judgment (we hope!) and always ask about cool apps to install. Well, with Collections, you no longer have to send them an email with a long list of add-ons to install. Just point them to your collections and they’re all set. Collections are managed via the Mozilla Add-on Collector add-on so be sure to install that and fire up a new collection. You should check out the videos below for more details:

Add-on Collections: Overview from Justin Scott on Vimeo.

Add-on Collections II: Sharing & Publishing from Justin Scott on Vimeo.

Add-on Collections III: Auto-publishing from Justin Scott on Vimeo.

Presenting on Mozilla Add-ons at BarCamp Miami

Tomorrow I'll be at BarCamp Miami & will be signing up to do a presentation on the opportunities available with add-ons built on Mozilla's platform.

I've be uploaded my slides so that you can get a peak at what I'll be talking about:

If you're in the South Florida area, I would urge you to attend this great (and free) gathering. With over 500 registered, it's sure to be an excellent opportunity to learn and network.

You can register for the event here: http://barcampmiami09.eventbrite.com/

Helping Promote Ubiquity

I had the chance to hang out with Aza & Atul over at Mozilla last week and we chatted a bit about evangelism. Having quite a bit of experience with this due to my work with the jQuery project, they were interested in how to best promote Ubiquity and garner more mindshare. One thing led to another and I'm now heading up evangelism for Ubiquity! :D

This won't be my full-time job and I'll be volunteering, just like I do with the jQuery project. But like the jQuery project, I see so much good in Ubiquity and how it can help to shape the way that browsers are used and that gets me excited. The user community is absolutely incredible already having contributed a ton of commands and being extremely supportive. The traction behind Ubiquity is equally impressive. Even prior to my chat with Aza & Atul, I had already seen a number of sites creating their own commands to make their sites easier to use.

I think it's only appropriate that my first Ubiquity blog posting details the great resources available for using, and developing for, Ubiquity:

Links:

Twitter:

  • @mozillaubiquity: The main source of news & info about the Ubiquity project via Twitter. Be sure to follow.
  • @azaaza: Mozilla's co-lead developer for the Ubiquity project
  • @toolness: Mozilla's co-lead developer for the Ubiquity project
  • @reybango: Evangelist for the Ubiquity project
  • @theunfocused: Fellow Mozillian Blair McBride
  • @_abi_: Created the Devo Firefox extension which provided a keyboard command launcher similar to what Ubiquity is today.
  • @fernando_takai: Major supporter of Ubiquity.

Blogs:

Support:

Mozilla & Google: Knowing the Facts and Irresponsible Reporting

There are few things I hate more than irresponsible “journalism”, especially the sensationalist type that is done for the sole purpose of generating page views and clicks. Of late, I've been seeing it more and more with the most recent coming from eWeek writer Joe Wilcox. Now, I was about to jump into the fray because quite honestly, I thought this was just a poorly done piece but as I perused the mostly Mozilla-supportive comments, I spied Mozilla's Asa Dotzler's comment which does an amazing job of PROPERLY summarizing Mozilla's arrangement with Google and others. Following is his comment in its entirety:

Joe,

Rather than sensationalizing, maybe you try to, you know, inform your audience.

“But Mozilla's dirty little public secret has been its dependence on Google search revenue.”

Mozilla isn't dependent on Google search revenue. Mozilla is, (and it's a bit concerning, but not terribly so,) dependent on the search advertising marketplace that most of the web is dependent upon.

Any search provider would, (and others besides Google do,) pay for traffic that Firefox generates for them. Google is the lion's share of Mozilla's revenue not because they pay more to Mozilla for searches than the other providers, but because there are a whole lot more searches to pay for.

That's because Google is the default. If, for example, Yahoo was the default, it would be the lion's share of Mozilla's revenue.

It's not about Google and it never has been. It's about search advertising and the fact that _any_ search provider is not just willing, but thrilled to pay reasonable prices for for _any_ search traffic they can get.

I know this can be a bit confusing, but it's not rocket science and as you're paid to learn about things and help explain them to others, I'd expect a little more from you. Because, for whatever reason, you've failed to explain this honestly to your readers, let me take a crack at it.

A lot of your readers have blogs so I'll explain it on those terms. It's quite a good analog, actually.

If you have a blog and you run Google AdSense, Google pays you for the traffic you send them. That makes you “dangerously dependent on Google's money” but there's nothing to stop you from moving to Microsoft's or Yahoo's or some other ad platform. So you're not really dependent on Google so much as you're dependent on the basic text or banner advertising marketplace.

Now, you might decided to diversify because you want your readers to see more than one kind of ad or because different ad platforms offer different features so you add, say, BlogAds ads to your blog. But, you keep Google at the top banner spot because it's the most relevant content to must of your users and it's not all Flash-y and probably won't tick them off as much. Now you've got most of your ad click revenue coming from that Google banner at the top but you've got some other clicks on the BlogAds banner in the sidebar below the fold.

Now you've got diversity, but you're still dependent on the same basic marketplace.

You could rotate the ad providers, putting AdSense below the fold and BlogAds up in that top spot and you can bet your revenue proportions would change but you're basically still in the same place, dependent on advertising.

That's basically the Mozilla situation. Mozilla provides a variety of search services, driving traffic to a variety of search providers and deriving revenue from those transactions. Google is the search service at the top of the page (the default) and Yahoo and Ebay and Amazon and others are tucked under fold (alternative services listed in the search menu.)

“This open-source success story is as much about commercial financial support as community participation. Firefox fails, I predict for the future, lest Mozilla gets more donors or turns the browser back over to the open-source community.”

Look, Mozilla makes a few products, Firefox chief among them. Volunteer coders contributing to Firefox out-number Mozilla employed coders contributing to Firefox by 10 to 1. Open source participation is critical to making and distributing Firefox.

Volunteers contribute about 40% of the code (a number that's stayed consistent over the last five years, even as full-time Mozilla employed coders have grown from just three to over 100.) Volunteers localize Firefox into 65 languages, and non-English (the languages created almost exclusively by volunteers) account for more than half of Firefox usage today. Surveys we've conducted say that 80% of Firefox users learned about it by word of mouth, and so volunteers make up a huge piece of the Mozilla project's marketing and outreach.

Firefox simply would not happen without the amazing community of volunteer contributors. It's never been possible to ship Firefox without this community effort. Neither has it ever been possible or ever been the case that a community minus Mozilla's full-time staff could ship and support Firefox. We all work together to make it happen. Take either away and it probably doesn't happen at all.

I think, based on your characterization of things in this article, that you're either misinformed, uninformed, or simply confused about how the Mozilla project operates and how money and employment play a role.

While I'm disappointed that you've opted for a sensationalist and wildly misleading approach to this story, I'd be happy to help you better understand if you're interested.

As always, I can be reached at asa@mozilla.org.

- A

If Joe Wilcox does read my post, please man, take Asa up on his offer so you can actually understand how Mozilla works. I think it's only fair to your readers that they get the facts.

Firefox Add-ons in MaximumPC Magazine

Even though I'm a recent Mac convert, I still keep up with all of the trends in the PC world. One of the magazines that I pick up religiously is MaximumPC which always has great articles on the PC world. Another cool thing about the magazine is that they always include a CD full of sweet software.

When I got this month's issue, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the CD was chock full of Firefox add-ons! Check out the pics:




It included many of the add-ons currently on the AMO Recommended list such as PicLens (now called Cooliris) & FoxyProxy as well as some other cool add-ons such as Panic & GSpace.

In addition, they included a bunch of Firefox themes (e.g. Aero Fox & PimpZilla) for good measure.

I've been getting this magazine for quite some time and haven't seen them publish add-ons before so this is a pretty good indication of how important add-ons are to making the browser your own custom experience.

Now, MaximumPC is really a bit of a techie magazine but I do hope that this helps to introduce Mozilla add-ons to the more mainstream user. When I chat with non-techie folks about Firefox, the majority still don't know what add-ons are. This is something that I'm working to fix and so I'd like to hear your suggestions for spreading the word about add-ons to the mainstream crowd that has absolutely no interest in Firebug, TamperData or ColorZilla.

So I ask, how can I better reach the average Firefox user to educate them about Mozilla's add-on ecosystem?

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