AOL Cuts Remaining Mozilla Hackers
Tuesday July 15th, 2003
It has been learned through public and private sources that AOL has cut or will cut the remaining team working on Mozilla in a mass firing and are dismantling what was left of Netscape (they've even pulled the logos off the buildings). Some will remain working on Mozilla during the transition, and will move to other jobs within AOL.
The news isn't all doom and gloom, folks. I've been informed that the number of volunteer Mozilla hackers started eclipsing the number of Netscape hackers last month, and that a number of folks have already been snatched up by other organizations.
Stay tuned for updates.
UPDATE: Looks like folks are starting to post to ex-mozilla.org.
UPDATE: I was told to stress that Mozilla will continue, and that many of the folks let go today will continue to devote time and energy to it. I'd like to wish all the best of luck, and I'd like to thank everyone for the amazing contributions that they have made over the past five years.
UPDATE #3: Some changes made to the main text above.
#138 Re: $2M
Wednesday July 16th, 2003 12:51 PM
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It's certainly nice that various parties are donating money, AOL included. And I recognize that the composition of the engineering core of Mozilla (drivers, etc.) has become largely non-Netscape-affiliated. To be clear, I don't think the way the Mozilla organization operates will change too drastically in its practices or principles. However, I don't believe any of that matters. My thesis (and please excuse me for my thoughts and arguments being a bit ill-formed, since this is totally off the cuff) is: Mozilla is not special.
What do people consider "special" or unique about Mozilla? Mostly attributes pertaining to its status as a framework (as opposed to a browser), such as: - XPToolkit (XUL/XBL, or whatever you want to call it). But the idea of a cross-platform skinning system is not unique. Skinning has been implemented in numerous other products using XML and custom-built scripting languages. Other products have done a perfectly reasonable job doing the same thing as the XPFE without doing the web-standards song and dance that makes Mozilla's front end so slow. And judging by the shifting focus of the Mozilla organization from developing a fully-featured browser suite to developing a tight runtime environment for embedding purposes, it seems the negative tradeoffs in having such a heavyweight front-end are well-understood. - XPCOM. This has also been done over and over again. XPConnect, to be fair, is a beautifully-engineered technology which does a far better job at bridging language boundaries than COM's IDispatch. But the generally pervasive use of XPCOM throughout the codebase, especially in the layout engine, is a nightmare. I still have flashbacks to nsCSSFrameConstructor... Regardless, it seems like the majority of what XPCOM is used for and built for is to have ownership semantics inherent in the programming model. A better solution to this would be to use the full features of C++, rather than using crippling coding conventions in order to support legacy compilers, and to use smart pointers (i.e., std::auto_ptr, boost::shared_ptr, etc.) in the cases where ownership is complex. - Netlib. How many times does the software community have to reimplement the core set of networking protocols before it is satisfied? The only thing that makes Netlib special is that it's XPCOM-based and thus integrates better with the rest of the framework. - Gecko, and standards compliance, in general. Two points to be made here: firstly, there are an increasing number of standards-compliant browsers out there, some of which have true commercial viability (e.g. Safari, as it is to be a part of MacOS X). So compliance alone doesn't make Mozilla special. Secondly, what does it matter to implement the XForms standard, for example, when not a single human being on the planet cares about it? The W3C is quickly losing its relevance to the development of the web-at-large, and Mozilla would do well to adapt by innovating.
My point is this: You say, "we're still building and shipping great software." I don't dispute that the Mozilla community continues to march forward, but my question is, for what purpose? To what end? Until any true innovation is made in the internet arena -- that is, until an entirely new paradigm of publishing information and creating applications is developed -- browsers have been done, and there is nothing left to do. Mozilla purports to be far more than just a browser, so does it mean anything to be "award-winning" when all you're being compared to is other browsers? As a user, my perspective is: whether it's IE, Safari, Opera, Konqueror or Mozilla on my desktop I absolutely do not care as long as it works. And as a business my set of concerns would be no different, with the exception of cost as an added consideration. You can "reach out to new consumers" all you like, but unless Mozilla does something new and spectacular -- and I don't mean "browsing the web" -- nobody will be impressed.