Netscape Cannot Win

Monday November 6th, 2000

I have recently become convinced that Netscape is fighting a losing battle against third-party micro-managing in their attempt to produce a browser for market.

The first conflict was with the raving loonies of the WSP. The WSP whines and bitches about standards compliance. They create a petition to convince Netscape to switch to development of their "Gecko" rendering engine technology, which promises greater standards compliance. They take credit for the Mozilla project moving to this new technology.

Then, they decide that the WSP is much more concerned about dictating project deadlines than standards compliance, and demand that Netscape release a product before the end of the year 2000, and stop any more work on Netscape 4.x -- including security fixes, apparently. (And read below to see what their fearless leader had to say today).

Now, a guy named Dave Flanagan has determined that Netscape 6 is too non-compliant to be released, although any reasonable, objective assessment of the application would prove that it is much more compliant than any browser currently on the market (yet you don't hear Mr. Flanagan petitioning against the release of iCab or IE6 or Konqueror).

And guess what? Mr. Flanagan has a petition you can sign, telling Netscape to hold off release of Netscape 6! But you can also use his petition to log your dissent.

[Mr. O'Reilly, I'm saddened that you signed an assent to Mr. Flanagan's petition without making an assessment of Netscape 6's standards compliance.

And Mr. Zeldman, I was dismayed, but not surprised, to read your statement in which you backtrack on the WSP's call for product release by the end of the year, when you obviously have not done an honest assessment of Netscape's standards compliance. "Releasing a close-to-perfect standards-compliant browser would be fine. (No software is perfect.) But releasing a browser with seriously buggy, incomplete standards support will not serve Netscape, will not serve developers, and will not serve the cause of web standards."]

I have made it known to a few people that I will no longer be fielding Netscape news on my site. You may see news of product releases, but you will no longer see links to reviews, complaints, rants, or any other information having to do with the Netscape product.

This site is called MozillaZine for a reason. I started it to support the Mozilla Open Source project. Along the way, I tried to be a voice of support for Netscape as it navigated the murky waters of being a commercial contributor to an open project. But what I am confronted with is the fact that if I were to continue posting Netscape news I would be forced to continue posting links to this garbage, giving it more credibility than it deserves. Look what happened when news of Mr. Flanagan's petition hit Slashdot. The petition now overflows with rants against Netscape, and I bet not one of these ravers has done even a modest assessment of Netscape 6's standards compliance. Is that the kind of support you wanted Mr. Flanagan? If you can get lots of people to raise their voices, does the din drown out their ignorance?

In any case, this crap will no longer will find a home in MozillaZine. So, take a good long look. Gaze into Mr. Flanagan's eyes. Because he's the last guy with an axe to grind against Netscape that you will see in these pages. The last armchair-marketer to get a say on this site. You'll have to go elsewhere to get your fix. (However, I allow myself an exception to clobber the hell out of the WSP if they continue to act like pussies.)

Netscape is in the unenviable position of choosing between bug-fixes and product release - the Scylla and Charybdis of software development. They've set their course. Maybe they will stop and reassess. That's up to the Netscape managers and the PDT team. But the waters grow increasingly insipid, and they might just end up deciding that it's not worth the trouble and pack it all up and call it a day. Maybe they can put in the past this peanut-gallery micro-management Hell that they've fallen into.

I'll leave you with a very thoughtful post to the n.p.m.layout newsgroup by Dylan Schiemann.

#55 Re: Re: Re: Why Mozilla is so hated, and loved.

by Blake <>

Wednesday November 8th, 2000 9:22 AM

You are replying to this message

*** "My post describes why people" don't contribute in the numbers that Mozilla expects.

Huh? We're extremely happy with the public response to the project. The number of outside developers grows substantially each month, and community QA has hit an all-time high. Seeing as you don't even seem to be involved in the project, I'm not sure how you can make this claim. And since you provide no support, it has no merit.

*** "I claim mozilla's documentation sucks in a way that hurts open-source developers."

Have you even looked at or asked around on IRC? And wait a second. Who do you think is going to write this document in the first place? My first guess would be the same open-source developers that you mention.

*** "I claim it's too difficult to localize a bug and try to fix it once you find a bug."

And I claim that you're not trying hard enough. Let me explain how things work in an open-source project: the way of doing things remains constant as long as it remains successful (and it has; see my comments above), unless someone proposes a better idea that everyone agrees on. All you did was whine and propose two completely implausible ideas (listserv and email), actions which serve only to make you the subject of humiliation among those involved in the project.

*** "I claim not everyone knows all the mozilla TLA's (like XPFE -- so what's XP then)."

And I claim you either didn't (or can't) read my first post, or just didn't bother to check out the link I provided. If you had, you would have seen "Mozilla Jargon File" as the second link under "Introductory Material", a glossary which provides exactly the definition you're looking for.

*** "But coders don't like reading documentation."

First you complain that there's no documentation, then when I show you where it is, you complain that no one wants to read it. Stop bitching for the sake of bitching.

*** "They find a bug and will try to fix it, and if they can't do it in a few hours, they will give up."

Take 10 minutes to learn how things work and it won't be that difficult. Who is the "they" you refer to? You are absolutely the laziest person I have ever encountered in this project, and I hope with that attitude you never join it.

*** "I've been saying this for a long time, but no one wants to hear it. They just go through the cycle of complaint again."

Stop saying it, ask around, and figure out how things work around here.

It is clear that you are whining just to whine. I've showed you where the documentation is and now you say you're too lazy to read it. You claim that Mozilla doesn't have the turnout it expected, but it certainly does.

Basically, every claim you make is based on a lie or an unprecedented attitude of laziness. If whining is the only thing on your agenda, please leave this project.