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.

#58 Re: Civility has failed. FLAMEWAR!

by Blake <>

Wednesday November 8th, 2000 1:05 PM

You are replying to this message

Uh..and you, mcelrath, with no email address given, keep making unfounded arguments.

Did you really do a search for me? I don't think so. I have touched over 5,000 bugs. Sure, much of that interaction involves triage work -- what do you think QA does?

I couldn't help but laugh at your completely inaccurate statement that "all the bugs you file are of the form page X doesn't work". Of the 510 bugs I've filed, about 5 of them have to do with a page not working. LOL - did you actually even read any of my bugs?

*** "Do you realize there is code attached to this project? Do you know what code is?"

Uh...again, I question whether you read anything I'm telling you. As I said, yes, I know what code is. In fact, I know quite a bit about it. Here's a link to my checkins in the past couple of months: <…e=&cvsroot=%2Fcvsroot>

I also suggest re-reading my post where I mentioned how I learned many different languages since starting the project, and that I am considering an engineering job.

(this is not meant to sound `pompous', but rather to prove the point that you keep bringing things up that either have no relevance or simply are untrue)

*** "Have you ever written a line of code in your life, Mr. Visual Basic?"

OK, so I see you DID read my post, but you decided to conveniently stop at the part where I mentioned my programming and job.

*** "How could you have any clue what I'm talking about?"

Uhh...because I've been with the project for a couple months (that's a couple months more than you have), and I do QA and programming work all the time?

*** "You just add work for existing developers and don't do anything useful."

Find me an "existing developer" who believes this. I'm afraid many (if not all) would disagree with you.

*** "Clue: discovering that something was done by design is not "fixing a bug" regardless of that satisfactory RESOLVED in bugzilla."

What the heck are you talking about? Now you're just babbling.

*** "I don't want to be a bugzilla maven like you."

Um, then our bug tracking system shouldn't have been one of your main points of content in your initial post.

*** "You lose credibility and look like an asshole by your personal attacks."

Excuse me? I am curious how you expected to go to a Mozilla advocacy site and post a laundry list of shortcomings that are, in reality, only a result of your unwillingness to become familiar with the project. I am completely receptive for constructive criticism and ideas on how to improve Mozilla's facilities. But I'm not going to tolerate someone posting a rant about Mozilla and basing it on completely unsupported and unfounded claims.