Accomplishments in 2001
Tuesday August 6th, 2002
#9 Re: Moz Memories
Monday August 12th, 2002 1:27 PM
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I've followed the Mozilla project since the day the source code was released and I've downloaded nightlies and milestones since the very first release. Even before that, I've been a Netscape user from as far back as version 0.94 in 1994 or 1995 (I forget which). I've been eager to see Netscape / Mozilla make a kick ass browser but the user interface in Mozilla and Netscape's Mozilla based browsers keep dissapointing me. Right now and for the past couple of years, I've used IE for my browsing needs and Netscape 4.7x for email.
The other day, I was reading Mozilla blogs and I ran into this piece, by Dave Hyatt, Mozilla veteran coder and creator of Chimera: <http://www.mozillazine.or…28_mozillian_archive.html> - scroll down to "Mozilla 1.0 Review".
Basically, what he says confirms what I've seen. The core of Mozilla kicks ass bt the UI is of very poor quality. What's shocking is the following thing:
"This problem also applies in the open source community, where the level of contributors varies widely. Mozilla has non-Netscape contributors that have been given checkin access to the tree that have no business being let anywhere near a computer. The argument for access was always, "But this idiot from Netscape is allowed to checkin, and I can't?" and so the lowered bar at Netscape resulted in a lowered bar for the rest of the world.
The only way Mozilla is going to become a strong product IMO is if many fewer people are allowed to check in. Mozilla has to stop the bad code from getting into the tree. They tried to do this with the review/super-review process, but it isn't really sufficient. There are simply too many patches being contributed for super-reviewers to catch all of the problems and errors caused by bad coding practices and sloppy programming.
I began working on Chimera largely out of frustration with having to deal with all of the lousy work being done on the Navigator front end (both in UI design, marketing nonsense and lousy implementation). It wasn't so much that I wanted to learn Cocoa or anything; I just wanted to work with a small number of talented people instead of an uncontrollable mob."
Now, hearing this, I don't know if it's correct or not, but it confirms my fears and I would have to assume that Dave Hyatt as a Mozilla insider and Netscape developer knows what he is talking about. If it is correct, however, it raises questions about what the focus of Mozilla should be. Right now, the main focus is on the Browser - Mail & News - Editor - Chatzilla combo, with a XUL frontend. Maybe it should be something more along the lines of Chimera, with a native, fast, correct and polished UI. Personally, I would like to have a good, solid mail client as part of the app too, but I find correctness and polishedness to be more important.
I find it puzzling how it ended up this way in the first place, because so many of the issues are just so obvious. Like having two tree-widgets right next to eachother but with two completely different borders (Select Addresses window from the mail composer), having tree-headers that dissapear when clicked twice to change the sort order in the (Help window), widgets with inconsistent alignments and sizes (all over the place), inconsistent or wrong 3d effects and shadows / direction of light (tabs in editor, under the document), etc. How did these things end up in the codebase in the first place? Were there no reviews and approval of them? If so, why were these things not caught, pointed out and corrected?