Weekend Discussion: Is Netscape Doing the Right Thing?
Friday May 12th, 2000
Netscape recently released its plans for the PR2 branch. Mozilla.org then released their tree plans for the next few months, and then followed up this evening with a more detailed position on tree management. The one thing that is clear is that Netscape is working on an accelerated schedule. Mozilla.org has yet to release a beta, and Netscape is currently working towards a second beta. Feature freeze for Netscape is coming much earlier than for Mozilla. This means that Netscape's feature list will probably be truncated somewhat (although the developers are trying mightily to get the remaining features in), and it also means that there might be changes to Mozilla before its release that impact its compatibility with Netscape's final release. Netscape has promised standards compliance, but there is also the serious question as to how bug-free that standards compliance will be by final release.
Is Netscape doing the right thing by pushing ahead and trying to get a release into the public's hands? Or will they just end up alienating Mozilla developers and website developers by rushing a product to market? Is it even fair to consider it "rushing"?
#12 Feature freeze vs. API freeze
Saturday May 13th, 2000 10:54 AM
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Netscape is primarily concerned with features because that's what the ordinary PC user cares about. The end user for Mozilla is the developer, not the average PC user. When the release of Mozilla 1.0 becomes imminent, we will be talking about an API freeze, not a feature freeze. The two are closely related, but the API is more fundamental than superficial features. So I think Netscape's priorities and Mozilla's priorities will always remain distinct, and there's nothing wrong with that.
Mozilla is not yet ready for an API freeze, but if Netscape thinks they can release a competitive browser based on Mozilla, let them go ahead. Netscape is losing market share and mind share, and they do need to act quickly. In some ways, Netscape's survival as a viable company is at stake here. Their actions may delay Mozilla 1.0, but I think we should be willing to put up with it, just this one time. If Netscape had a dominant position in the browser market, I would have a different opinion. (But then Mozilla may have never come into existence!)