Mozilla’s Release Plan for Firefox in 2011

Ryan Paul at Ars Technica has a good write up of Mozilla’s announced roadmap for Firefox in the coming year.

Some of Mozilla’s key technical priorities include improving responsiveness, integrating social sharing, refining the user interface, supporting 64-bit Windows and Android tablet form factors, finally delivering process isolation for tabs, and supporting emerging standards like CSS 3D transforms and WebSockets. In terms of features, Mozilla’s 2011 roadmap is compelling and achievable. There is room for skepticism, however, about the organization’s new release management strategy. Instead of aiming to roll all of this functionality out in a major release next year, Mozilla intends to push it out to users incrementally, using a series of three releases after the upcoming launch of Firefox 4.

I am slightly less skeptical. Mozilla has some experience with this sort of incremental, rolling release for smaller features as part of their beta process. Admittedly, the scale is smaller and the target quality isn’t the same but I think it is an incremental difference rather than a qualitative one.

Several of the items on the roadmap are also already under active development. Slating them for 2011, to specific releases draws a line in the sand. Not all of the development work is going to be from a standing start, rather it is being pressured to get to a finished and releasable state. I’ve written repeatedly about full multiprocess support in Firefox and this set of priorities may be the kick in the pants needed to finally land it.

I don’t necessarily disagree with Paul’s reasoning. He makes a good case for the benefits, mostly in the form of staying competitive and in better tune with the rapidly evolving standards space, as well as the challenges. He has more insight into Mozilla’s internal makeup and Firefox’s codebase. I suspect Mozilla will settle on the six month cycle he suggests but suspect it may need to reach farther in order to hit that stride. Undoubtedly there are bits of institutional inertia and other internal pressures prompting such aggressive planning.

Is Mozilla’s 2011 roadmap unrealistically ambitious? Ars Technica

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