Mozilla 1.3 Alpha Released
Friday December 13th, 2002
Mozilla 1.3 Alpha is out! This release introduces shedloads of new Mail & Newsgroups features (including Bayesian spam classification, message views and improved filtering), a new Bookmarks Quick Search bar (similar to the one found in Phoenix) and support for the Back and Forward buttons on the IntelliMouse Explorer. There's also improvements to the DOM Inspector and lots of other bug fixes. However, remember that this is only an alpha release, so expect bugs.
#16 and the xul desperately needs polish
Saturday December 14th, 2002 10:19 AM
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I've noticed lots of annoying usability bugs with mozilla since I started using mozilla last summer. On the whole I love the browser, appreciate the work that goes into it and the people who do it. However I can't help but wonder whether mpt (<http://mpt.phrasewise.com/>) is right when he argues open source products typically have poor usability.
Type and search for instance is the living proof. It's a cool feature with a not so obvious interface and poor support from the gui. There are many (IMHO) obvious improvements to it that would make this feature more usable. But why prioritize this when even the (popup) menus are inconsistent. Middle click on a link and a new tab opens. Do the same in the sidebar and nothing happens. In fact there is no other way than dragging the link to the tab bar to make such links open in a new tab.
The problem with bugzilla is that these things are not treated as usability bugs (i.e. the useability of the browser degrades) but as requests for enhancements. In most cases the XUL tinkering required to fix it is near trivial, the corresponding bug has been in bugzilla for ages (in some cases from before 1.0) and nothing seems to happen with it.
The usability problems with mozilla are not a technical issue, they are an issue with the way mozilla is developed. It will be interesting to see how phoenix will evolve The development process for that browser is more lightweight than that for mozilla. It seems that (so far), disruptive/unorthodox changes are still possible.