back to article Firefox 79: A thin release for regular users, but plenty for developers to devour

Mozilla's Firefox 79 is here, but general users shouldn't get too excited – almost all the new features are aimed at developers. The snag with a four-week release cycle is that coming up with notable new features at such a rapid pace is a challenge, and perhaps not even desirable, since stability and familiarity are also …

  1. jake Silver badge

    The snag with a four-week release cycle ...

    ... is that the developers don't necessarily follow the Moon.

    Putting a date and time on future code releases has done more for bullshit code release than anything else imposed on developers by management.

    1. Len Silver badge
      Go

      Re: The snag with a four-week release cycle ...

      Why would a time based release cycle produce more bullshit code? As there is no list of arbitrary goals that need to be met to call something a release one could even argue that it produces fewer irrelevant code.

      Obviously, time based cycles are useless if you are just a handful of developers all working on the same thing.

      If, like Mozilla, you are hundreds of developers who work on a high complexity product with dozens of completely unrelated sections then time based releases make a lot of sense. Every week one or two teams complete a major feature or change, in the current process it takes only eight weeks (one alfa and one beta cycle) before end users get to benefit from it.

      That speed is very useful for a dynamic environment such as the web.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: The snag with a four-week release cycle ...

        "That speed is very useful for a dynamic environment such as the web."

        But is the code actually done in that time? Or is it still untested, and chock full of bugs? And conversely, what if the code is done in a day or two? Are the devs supposed to sit around for the rest of the time, twiddling their thumbs?

        1. HildyJ Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: The snag with a four-week release cycle ...

          However they do it they test it far better than M$ (admittedly a low bar). I've never felt the need to turn off Firefox updates.

          1. Aleph0
            Facepalm

            Re: The snag with a four-week release cycle ...

            Ha ha... Try downloading a file and (when the dialog pops up asking which filename to save to) using a filename with double spaces.

            Since time immemorial, file system operations either succeed or not (giving an error message like "cannot save for $reason"). Now Firefox has a third mode of operation, "I'm gonna save the file, but with a different name"... I wonder how it passed their tests.

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: The snag with a four-week release cycle ...

              So you've discovered what you think is a bug in Firefox?

              Have you reported it so it will get fixed? Let's face it, that's a flaw that not many people would run across, so speak up!

              Or have you been saving it to have a "Ha ha" moment at Firefox's expense?

              1. Aleph0

                Re: The snag with a four-week release cycle ...

                Obviously yes, #1651800 in bugzilla.mozilla.org.

                Result: fix optional, priority 3 (think it's the lowest one). Perhaps my fault for not being able to explain why breaking longstanding computing paradigms is a problem...

                Hilarious was the first comment after triage, that basically amounted to "you're saving your own files wrong"

        2. Len Silver badge

          Re: The snag with a four-week release cycle ...

          Erm, they don’t code everything in four weeks, that’s just the release process.

          A feature or change can have been worked on for 18 months in a separate branch, compiled, tested etc. Only when they think it’s ready for alpha does it go to alpha. Some changes stay in alpha multiple cycles if issues are detected there. Then beta, where they can still sit multiple cycles if needed.

          The benefit of a release cycle like this is that, once you know it’s ready, you don’t have to wait some arbitrary time until some other team has completed their unrelated code that just happened to be scheduled together with your team’s code.

          1. stiine Silver badge

            Re: The snag with a four-week release cycle ...

            Or it could be an ignorant idea from a developer with a very limited understanding of..well..most things. And that, in a nutshell, is Mozilla.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: The snag with a four-week release cycle ...

            I work to a fortnightly release cycle and there is no difference between a fast release cycle and a slow one:

            1) There is still pressure from the PM to get commits into the next release instead of the one after that, even though it will result in bugs being opened later because it's been bodged together to meet the deadline.

            2) There are still such things as dependencies.

            The only difference as far as I can see is that with a fast release cycle these problems happen every two weeks instead of e.g. every six months or year.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The snag with a four-week release cycle ...

          It's the classic train model. You have to be on board when the train leaves the station, and if you didn't have time to take a shower first, everyone else suffers.

          1. Len Silver badge
            Headmaster

            Re: The snag with a four-week release cycle ...

            That’s a good analogy.

            The milestone release model means that a large train will depart as soon as passengers X, Y and Z have boarded. If passenger Z is late, the train will wait until they show up. As we saw with Firefox 4, the last passenger may be a year late. That particular delay inspired the switch to time based releases.

            The time based release model means that there are multiple smaller trains in much quicker succession. If passenger X and Y are on board but passenger Z is late, the train will leave at the designated time. Passenger Z will have to wait until the next train, which in Mozilla’s current case is only four weeks later.

      2. Louis Schreurs Bronze badge

        Re: The snag with a four-week release cycle ...

        "That speed is very useful for a dynamic environment such as the web."

        It is also the thing, "speed", that lemmings use to get to the edge of the cliff.

  2. Len Silver badge
    Holmes

    Focus on developer tools

    I sometimes think that Mozilla should focus being the best browser for web developers. Perhaps spend a few major releases in a row with 90% of the changes focussing on the web developer features. The tools that help webdevelopers do their job such as optimisation and debugging.

    It may seem odd but I think it’s strategically smart as it makes web developers focus on making stuff work on Firefox and then sort out the odd stuff where Chrome (and its engine clone Edge) deviates.

    For the health of the web that is a much more desirable scenario than the one we’re currently headed where webdevelopers design for Chrome only and ignore other browsers.

    1. richardcox13

      Re: Focus on developer tools

      I find myself increasingly using FF, and the DevTools are definitely much improved.

      Often use Chrome by default because I don't use it as either my primary or secondary browser so no issue with non-dev use interfering. But each use of FF makes it more likely that'll become my initial target when developing.

  3. razorfishsl Silver badge

    I stopped using firefox ,

    After their android version started sending me political messages about not voting for TRUMP.......

    And BLM garbage......

    I'm in the middle of Hong Kong... WHTF do i care about voting in the US.

    1. jake Silver badge

      "And BLM garbage......"

      Really? You'd think that the Firefox folks would know that the Bureau of Land Management is a US agency, while in Hong Kong they use the Land Registry.

      And it's not garbage. The BLM is a federal agency, which makes it much, much worse.

    2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      After their android version started sending me political messages about not voting for TRUMP.......

      That's more likely to be a MITM hack from your phone provider. Are you using a privately-purchased phone with a SIM-only deal, or did you get the phone from a network provider with their software pre-installed?

  4. BGatez Bronze badge

    Every recent release gradually gobbles memory until it stops everything including mouse movement or suddenly collapses

    1. jake Silver badge

      Just checked the Wife's computer.

      Just updated the computer in the barn (to Firefox 78.1.0esr running on kernel 5,4,54). Firefox 78.0.2esr had been running non-stop on kernel 5.4.51 since July 10th. It had been rather heavily used in those three weeks of uptime. There was no sign of memory being gobbled up &etc.

      The dev box here in the office that I use to keep an eye on things like this has similarly seen none of the issues that you describe. Bleeding edge kernel & Firefox, updated sometimes daily.

      I suspect there is something else wrong with your computer.

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