Talking About Firefox 1.1 Previews
Posted by asa on Sat, 04/09/2005 - 21:46 :: Spreading Firefox
SFX TeamAs many of you know, we're coming into the final stages of the Firefox 1.1 development cycle. I've posted some specific developer-oriented planning over at my primary weblog. I'm posting here because, in addition to getting the developer and testing communities organized around the important issues for Firefox 1.1, we also need to start talking about our messaging around the upcoming releases and how that can work to support the releases.
As you can see from the map, before we ship Firefox 1.1, we've got several previews and testing candidates scheduled. These releases provide a lot of value in terms of our development effort, but also create potential pitfalls in terms of media exposure.
The first of these is due up in the next week to ten days. This release, which will most likely be branded as the "Deer Park Developer Preview" (Deer Park is the project codename for Firefox 1.1) or simply "Developer Preview" is intended as a testbed for website developers, web application developers, and extension or theme developers. While it's only been five months since we shipped Firefox 1.0, the underlying technologies that impact these sorts of developers have seen nearly a year's worth of changes so it's critical that we get those in the hands of developers so they can test and update their work so it functions properly when Firefox 1.1 is released. This release is not "feature complete" and is likely to still have major issues that end users would not be tolerant of.
For the second of these releases, due about 5 or 6 weeks after the first and probably branded as a "General Preview" (or similar) we'd like to achieve widespread testing. This release should be feature complete for Firefox 1.1. We will certainly still have bugs to fix, but for most testers and reviewers, the feature set will finished enough that they can have a good idea of what's new for Firefox 1.1. It's important that we get this out so that we can get more widespread testing on the new features before they're released in Firefox 1.1. This release will certainly still contain some serious bugs and may have features which aren't functioning quite as intended and it won't have the fit and finish, spit and polish of a final release.
After the second candidate, we'll be working on fixing bugs and polishing up for a final release. To make sure our "nearly final" code is really ready for the masses, we'll be shipping at least a couple of "Release Candidate" builds. We expect the first of these when we feel like we're "done" but if we find any last-minute issues when the community is testing these, we can still fix those and offer up another candidate. When we ship a candidate and there are no new problems surfaced, that candidate will become the final Firefox 1.1. These builds should be quite good and we don't expect most people to be able to distinguish them from final releases.
OK, I realize that was a bit of a lengthy explanation of our release process but there's good reason for that. The world will be turning to us (the Mozilla community, including SFX, personal weblogs, the mozilla.org website, Mozillazine, etc.) for their stories around each of those pre-releases. It's very important that we help them set the correct expectations for each one of these -- to avoid the bad assumptions and negative press that could result if they gave these pre-releases the same treatment they would a final release.
I'm turning to you all for help in generating the "talking points" for each of these releases. I've described what the releases are here for and why we're doing them and I hope you all can help us generate good "quotable" one or two sentence explanations that will help set the right expectations and tone for each of these releases.
The first release is probably the biggest concern because it's neither feature complete nor highly stable. Let's start there and see if we can come up with short, clear, and positive sounding talking points that we can all use in our public communications (blog and forum postings, etc.) to convey what this release is and also what it isn't.
Awesome. I hope it comes out soon. Man, how did I ever use IE? Or even opera for that matter. On a side note FF 1.0.3. is out, just dled it.