Removing Firefox Version Number

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Tyler Downer

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Aug 14, 2011, 9:53:56 AM8/14/11
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In Bug 678775 (https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=678775),
Asa has suggested that we remove the version number from the Firefox
About window, stating that the about:support page is all the
information anybody will need. While I understand that the UX team
wants to remove content from the UI and simplify it, there needs to be
a balance between information that benefits someone, and cleaning up
the UI.

First off, the versions number has always been shown in the Help>About
window for almost every Windows program for the past 16+ years (I
started using Windows with 95, it was probably in use before then). By
removing the version number from the About window (which was already
simplified to showing just the version number, and not build ID in
Firefox 4, eg. Firefox 4.0.1), then we open up a window of confusion
with those people who want to check just what version they are
running.

Asa says "When a user opens the About window for Firefox, the window
should say something like 'Firefox checked for updates 20 minutes ago,
you are running the latest release.'" But what if the computer is not
always connected to the Internet and the user wants to see if they
have the latest Firefox or if they need to connect to the internet and
download it? Or if they have had issues with their internet
connection? I had an Apache server set up on a computer once that i
did not have connected to the internet so I didn't have to worry about
security, but I did keep an up to date version of Firefox on the
computer because I used it for web development. And using the about:
pages isn't a good solution. 75% of people don't even know the about:
pages exist (based on my triage experience) and users likely are not
going to find them on their own.

Now, while I understand that the UX team wants to make version numbers
less important (that is something I myself want to see happen)
removing them from the About window is not the answer. Even Chrome,
which has a rapid release cycle and a VERY good updating process,
shows the Version in the about window. What needs to be done is,
remove the version from the download page. Just say "Download Firefox"
and leave it at that. Make Firefox automagically update in the
background (with an easy to find preference to turn that off), and get
rid of the first run pages (which now that we are using rapid release
and each new version has like 1 small feature, don't serve any purpose
anyway).

The About window needs to continue showing the version number, and it
already checks for updates as soon as it is opened. I see little to no
benefit by removing it (other that "let's remove something else from
the UI". Might as well remove the entire about window) and just
confusion, community angst, and frustration by cutting it.

Asa Dotzler

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Aug 14, 2011, 4:23:17 PM8/14/11
to
Tyler Downer wrote:
> In Bug 678775 (https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=678775),
> Asa has suggested that we remove the version number from the Firefox
> About window, stating that the about:support page is all the
> information anybody will need.

Actually, the Firefox usability lead, Alex Limi suggested it. As the
Firefox Product lead, I agreed and so I created a feature page for
tracking this effort and I filed a bug for the implementation when we're
ready to start that.

> First off, the versions number has always been shown in the Help>About
> window for almost every Windows program for the past 16+ years

It's always been that way is not a new argument against change. This was
considered when we decided to make this change.

> By removing the version number from the About window (which was already
> simplified to showing just the version number, and not build ID in
> Firefox 4, eg. Firefox 4.0.1), then we open up a window of confusion
> with those people who want to check just what version they are
> running.

We also thought of that. And the after thinking about it, we concluded
that most people don't need to know what version number they're using
and what they actually want to know is whether or not they're running
the latest version. For the few people who care whether it's version 7
or version 2011-08-16 or version 1.8.0.0.1.77, they can get this
information from about:troubleshooting which is available in the Firefox
Help menu.

> Asa says "When a user opens the About window for Firefox, the window
> should say something like 'Firefox checked for updates 20 minutes ago,
> you are running the latest release.'" But what if the computer is not
> always connected to the Internet and the user wants to see if they
> have the latest Firefox or if they need to connect to the internet

Actually, that's not quite accurate. For the tiny minority of users who
open the Firefox About dialog who are not connected to the internet, the
dialog will say something like "As of N hours ago, you are running the
latest version of Firefox" where N is the number of hours since Firefox
was online and made the update check. If they're not connected to the
internet, and they happen to know what the latest version of Firefox is
(how did they learn that again?) then they can open
about:troubleshooting and compare versions themselves. This is a rare
case that should not impact the decision on this feature change.

> download it? Or if they have had issues with their internet
> connection? I had an Apache server set up on a computer once that i
> did not have connected to the internet so I didn't have to worry about
> security, but I did keep an up to date version of Firefox on the
> computer because I used it for web development.

Users with Apache servers set up on their machines are quite capable of
using about:troubleshooting to figure out which version of Firefox
they're using.

> And using the about:pages isn't a good solution. 75% of people don't
> even know the about:pages exist (based on my triage experience) and
> users likely are not going to find them on their own.

about:troubleshooting is available via the Help menu. Users need not
know about the existence of about: pages.

> Now, while I understand that the UX team wants to make version numbers
> less important (that is something I myself want to see happen)
> removing them from the About window is not the answer.

It is not *the* answer. It is part of an answer which includes removing
it from other touchpoints in Firefox and the Firefox websites.

> Even Chrome, which has a rapid release cycle and a VERY good updating
> process, shows the Version in the about window.

Chrome does foo is a reasonable data point to offer. We can certainly
look at how certain Chrome features behave or are received by users and
use that data to help inform our decisions on Firefox features.

But this isn't new data. The UX and Product leads were fully aware of
what Chrome does here and that didn't cause us to decide differently.

> What needs to be done is, remove the version from the download page.
> Just say "Download Firefox" and leave it at that.

Thank you for the prescription. We are removing the version from the
download page. There's a bug on file and it is scheduled as part of the
next Website refresh. But no, we are not going to just "leave it at that."

> Make Firefox automagically update in the background (with an easy to
> find preference to turn that off), and get rid of the first run pages
> (which now that we are using rapid release and each new version has
> like 1 small feature, don't serve any purpose anyway).

Firefox already automagically does some of its update in the background.
We have feature pages and bugs describing the means by which we are
going to make this even more magical and less distracting.

We also have a feature page describing the intent to remove the What's
New tab that loads with each new release. That one is contentions but
it's on my list of features that will all combine to give us much more
"silent" updates.

> The About window needs to continue showing the version number, and it
> already checks for updates as soon as it is opened.

So far, I think I can summarize your argument for why Firefox "needs to
continue showing the version number" as 1) Versions have always been
shown in the About dialog, and 2) Some offline users will get a outdated
message about when they were last updated, and 3) users cannot find the
menu for Help -> Troubleshooting, and 4) Chrome does it.

I think I've responded to each of those. Have I missed one of your
arguments or mis-characterized any of them?

> I see little to no benefit by removing it (other that "let's remove
> something else from the UI".

That is not the benefit that the UX and Product lead are after here and
characterizing our intents like that is somewhat insulting. I expect
that kind of nonsense from random slashdotters and trolls, but not from
regular members of our community. I don't assume your work on the
Mozilla project is mindless or un-serious. Please don't make those
assumptions of those around you.

We have a goal to make version numbers irrelevant to our consumer
audience. We also have a need to let users know if they are indeed using
the latest and greatest version of Firefox. This feature re-design
accomplishes both of those goals.

- A

Neil Lee

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Aug 14, 2011, 9:05:24 PM8/14/11
to dev-us...@lists.mozilla.org
Sunday, August 08/14/11 at 04:25 Asa Dotzler <a...@mozilla.com> said:
>> In Bug 678775 (https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=678775),
>> Asa has suggested that we remove the version number from the Firefox
>> About window, stating that the about:support page is all the
>> information anybody will need.
>
> Actually, the Firefox usability lead, Alex Limi suggested it. As the Firefox Product lead, I agreed and so I created a feature page for tracking this effort and I filed a bug for the implementation when we're ready to start that.

Is there a wiki page for this change? I haven't read the notes so I'm not exactly clear what the justification for this change is, but as a knee-jerk reaction it seems a bit of an odd decision. If going to "about firefox" no longer gives the user specific information **about the version firefox they are running** and is just becoming a place to check for updates (which seems to be the case?), maybe instead of just removing the version from this window the label for actual menu item and window itself should change to just "check for updates".

As I said, though, I haven't seen the context for this change so I'm probably missing something important, but selecting "about" should probably provide some basic information about the current application, and part of that includes what the current version number is.

And thus concludes my completely uninformed 2 cents.

Neil

Thomas Ahlblom

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Aug 14, 2011, 9:42:11 PM8/14/11
to
Microsoft Guidelines show version number in their About Box example.

----------

Excerpt from Mac OS X Human Interface Guidelines:

About ApplicationName
Opens the About window, which contains the app's copyright information
and version number.

----------

Excerpt from GNOME Human Interface Guidelines 2.2.2:
Help About
...contains the name and version number of the application, a short
description of the application's functionality, author contact
details, copyright message and a pointer to the licence under which
the application is made available.

----------

Could someone please post references to the relevant standards Firefox
will comply with after implementation of bug 678775?

DaveG

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Aug 14, 2011, 10:10:00 PM8/14/11
to
<tangential rant>
First off, let me state here that either a group discussion is the
prerequisite to a bug or if not, then Bugzilla is actually where this
discussion belongs, regardless of what some people want on occasion.
No, Bugzilla is not generally a discussion forum, but it /is/ quite
often the place for discussing how and what is implemented, so long as
we don't get into a loop of repeating ourselves. Actual pros and cons
and alternative solutions are debated in Bugzilla all the time and it
is rare that I can stand to come over to the groups. I would've
thought the spam alone would make usenet dead by now, let alone the
fact that it's... usenet. I stopped using this place a decade ago. It
needs to die with fire.
</tangential rant>

On Aug 14, 4:23 pm, Asa Dotzler <a...@mozilla.com> wrote:
> It's always been that way is not a new argument against change.

Certainly, but "it's always been this way, and thus everyone knows how
to use this" is, especially if we're explicitly talking about user
experience and interaction here.

The about dialog may be part of the application, but it's really more
of an OS-level action. It's one of the few things that has been more
or less standard on multiple OSes for decades. I have no clue what
version of KDE I have installed right now, but I do know it's in help-
>about for every KDE application as is each application's version. The
same concept is applied virtually everywhere.

> We also thought of that. And the after thinking about it, we concluded
> that most people don't need to know what version number they're using
> and what they actually want to know is whether or not they're running
> the latest version. For the few people who care whether it's version 7
> or version 2011-08-16 or version 1.8.0.0.1.77, they can get this
> information from about:troubleshooting which is available in the Firefox
> Help menu.

So... you basically want to use about:troubleshooting as a second
about window? I'll restate myself from bug 678775 here: The about
dialog is essentially a box designed for the sole purpose of housing
the application developer and version.

Also, to restate my suggested compromise:
If there's an actual known repeatable problem this would fix, I think
some kind of compromise where there were two views in the about
dialog: a hyper-user-friendly one with things hidden and a link to
show the rest of the (and maybe more) info including the version and
date of said version. (i.e. similar to how the credits were done once
upon a time)

> So far, I think I can summarize your argument for why Firefox "needs to
> continue showing the version number" as 1) Versions have always been
> shown in the About dialog, and 2) Some offline users will get a outdated
> message about when they were last updated, and 3) users cannot find the
> menu for Help -> Troubleshooting, and 4) Chrome does it.
>
> I think I've responded to each of those. Have I missed one of your
> arguments or mis-characterized any of them?
>
> > I see little to no benefit by removing it (other that "let's remove
> > something else from the UI".
>
> That is not the benefit that the UX and Product lead are after here and
> characterizing our intents like that is somewhat insulting. I expect
> that kind of nonsense from random slashdotters and trolls, but not from
> regular members of our community. I don't assume your work on the
> Mozilla project is mindless or un-serious. Please don't make those
> assumptions of those around you.

Let me see if I can put this as politely as possible: The "let's
remove something else from the UI" route is often a perfectly valid
way to improve things. Firefox had until recently a lot of UI that
needed removing, and still has some. This should not be taken as an
offense and your response is more confrontational than is needed here.
I think we all would rather have a debate than an argument.

> We have a goal to make version numbers irrelevant to our consumer
> audience. We also have a need to let users know if they are indeed using
> the latest and greatest version of Firefox. This feature re-design
> accomplishes both of those goals.

Let me restate that these goals and showing expected information here
are not mutually exclusive concepts. Just have a little text link for
"show technical information about this version" (or some more concise
wording) which transitions from your ideal hyper-simple dialog to show
the version, its date, and maybe a link to about:buildconfig. This
gives the best of both worlds.

Additionally, version numbers matter whether anyone likes it or not,
at least until Firefox forces updates (with an override only
discoverable by power users and sys admins) such that you don't have
an ungodly number of users not taking major updates for quite some
time, if ever. We're currently on a path towards a highly fragmented
user-base and fixing that should be higher on the priority list. Yes,
I know that doesn't prevent improvements to the about dialog, but it
does mean that the version is not (yet) a completely trivial thing to
be buried.

Asa Dotzler

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Aug 14, 2011, 11:02:11 PM8/14/11
to
DaveG wrote:
> <tangential rant>
> First off, let me state here that either a group discussion is the
> prerequisite to a bug or if not, then Bugzilla is actually where this
> discussion belongs, regardless of what some people want on occasion.
> No, Bugzilla is not generally a discussion forum, but it /is/ quite
> often the place for discussing how and what is implemented, so long as
> we don't get into a loop of repeating ourselves. Actual pros and cons
> and alternative solutions are debated in Bugzilla all the time and it
> is rare that I can stand to come over to the groups. I would've
> thought the spam alone would make usenet dead by now, let alone the
> fact that it's... usenet. I stopped using this place a decade ago. It
> needs to die with fire.
> </tangential rant>

Rant not withstanding, thanks for bringing this to the newsgroup. This
is where I've asked for feedback and as the Product owner of this
feature and reporter of the bug, I think I'm completely within reason to
request that discussion happen here and not in the bug. I appreciate
your willingness to accommodate my request.

> On Aug 14, 4:23 pm, Asa Dotzler<a...@mozilla.com> wrote:
>> It's always been that way is not a new argument against change.
>
> Certainly, but "it's always been this way, and thus everyone knows how
> to use this" is, especially if we're explicitly talking about user
> experience and interaction here.

This assumes "everyone" needs to know how to find the version number
when what we're doing here is intentionally killing the version number.

> The about dialog may be part of the application, but it's really more
> of an OS-level action. It's one of the few things that has been more
> or less standard on multiple OSes for decades. I have no clue what
> version of KDE I have installed right now, but I do know it's in help-
>> about for every KDE application as is each application's version. The
> same concept is applied virtually everywhere.

And we're breaking from that convention. We're moving to a more Web-like
convention where it's simply not important what version you're using as
long as it's the latest version. We're also already in a new system
where there is no supported version except the latest versoin so the
overwhelming majority of users will be on that latest version and for
them, the most important thing isn't the number of the release. The most
important thing is confidence that they're on the latest release. That's
what the About dialog will give them.

>> We also thought of that. And the after thinking about it, we concluded
>> that most people don't need to know what version number they're using
>> and what they actually want to know is whether or not they're running
>> the latest version. For the few people who care whether it's version 7
>> or version 2011-08-16 or version 1.8.0.0.1.77, they can get this
>> information from about:troubleshooting which is available in the Firefox
>> Help menu.
>
> So... you basically want to use about:troubleshooting as a second
> about window? I'll restate myself from bug 678775 here: The about
> dialog is essentially a box designed for the sole purpose of housing
> the application developer and version.

No, we don't want about:troubleshooting as a second about window. The
about:troubleshooting page is for troubleshooting. The About dialog is
for finding out about Firefox, including whether or not you're on the
latest version.

> Also, to restate my suggested compromise:
> If there's an actual known repeatable problem this would fix, I think
> some kind of compromise where there were two views in the about
> dialog: a hyper-user-friendly one with things hidden and a link to
> show the rest of the (and maybe more) info including the version and
> date of said version. (i.e. similar to how the credits were done once
> upon a time)

I don't believe, and the the UX lead for Firefox doesn't believe, that
this information belongs in the About dialog. You think it does and
you've cited "convention" as your argument. I've explained that we're
intentionally breaking from convention here because we're changing how
we make the software.

Our new model is much more akin to how Web software works where you are
always on the latest release and you don't need to know what release
number that is. As an end user, the number tells you nothing of value
and so we're removing it.

If you are in a troubleshooting situation, perhaps because you're
talking with a website that doesn't work in Firefox or you're trying to
get Firefox support from our Mozilla Support Forums , then you can go to
Help -> Troubleshooting and from there get all of the information about
Firefox that could help you troubleshoot your Firefox problem, including
the version number.

>>> I see little to no benefit by removing it (other that "let's remove
>>> something else from the UI".
>> That is not the benefit that the UX and Product lead are after here and
>> characterizing our intents like that is somewhat insulting. I expect
>> that kind of nonsense from random slashdotters and trolls, but not from
>> regular members of our community. I don't assume your work on the
>> Mozilla project is mindless or un-serious. Please don't make those
>> assumptions of those around you.
>
> Let me see if I can put this as politely as possible: The "let's
> remove something else from the UI" route is often a perfectly valid
> way to improve things.

I disagree with that. That's never a valid way to improve things without
considering carefully the "something" you're removing from the UI.

> Firefox had until recently a lot of UI that needed removing, and still
> has some. This should not be taken as an offense and your response is
> more confrontational than is needed here. I think we all would rather
> have a debate than an argument.

When someone assumes or says outright that Mozilla UX and Product folks
are removing things just to be removing things, I'm going to shout
loudly. I stand by that. It's an argument, along with "You're just doing
it because <other browser> did it" and "It's just change for the sake of
change" that I'm not going to accept in these discussions and when it
comes up I'm going to call it out and call for it to stop. I'm sick of
it and I'm not going to accept those kinds of insults as arguments.

>> We have a goal to make version numbers irrelevant to our consumer
>> audience. We also have a need to let users know if they are indeed using
>> the latest and greatest version of Firefox. This feature re-design
>> accomplishes both of those goals.
>
> Let me restate that these goals and showing expected information here
> are not mutually exclusive concepts. Just have a little text link for
> "show technical information about this version" (or some more concise
> wording) which transitions from your ideal hyper-simple dialog to show
> the version, its date, and maybe a link to about:buildconfig. This
> gives the best of both worlds.

I don't think, and I believe the Firefox UX lead agrees with me, that
users need that information in the About dialog. That's why we're
removing it. The version number is only relevant to users for
troubleshooting and I question it's relevance even there given that
we're shooting for having all of our users on the latest release.

> Additionally, version numbers matter whether anyone likes it or not,
> at least until Firefox forces updates

Firefox updates are already all required. Firefox 5 was a required
update for Firefox 4 and the overwhelming majority of Firefox 4 ussers
are migrated to 5. Firefox 6, which will be available in several days,
is a required update for Firefox 5 users.

> (with an override only discoverable by power users and sys admins) such
> that you don't have an ungodly number of users not taking major updates
> for quite some time, if ever.

As I said above, Firefox 6 is an automatic and required update for
Firefox 5. Firefox 5 was a required update for Firefox 4. We're there
today. By the time we get to Firefox 9 or 10, when this new About dialog
feature change lands, we'll have an even better update experience so
we'll lose even fewer people in the transition and we'll transition them
even faster.

It's off-topic but I do want to note that there aren't an ungodly number
of users on Firefox 4 because Firefox 5 was an automatic update and the
overwhelming majority were updated in just a couple of weeks. That
update transition will be even faster with Firefox 5 to 6 and faster
still with 6 to 7 and 7 to 8.

> We're currently on a path towards a highly fragmented user-base and
> fixing that should be higher on the priority list. Yes, I know that
> doesn't prevent improvements to the about dialog, but it does mean that
> the version is not (yet) a completely trivial thing tobe buried.

We're not on a path to a highly fragmented user-base. You can't just
assert facts without evidence. The rapid release transitions are working
quite well and will improve over time. A year from now we'll be far
*less* fragmented than we've ever been since Firefox launched.

- A

Asa Dotzler

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Aug 14, 2011, 11:25:25 PM8/14/11
to dev-us...@lists.mozilla.org

The About Firefox dialog contains a lot of information about Firefox. It
contains a paragraph describing Firefox and Mozilla with links to how
you might learn more or get involved. It contains the end user rights
and licensing links (in place of the traditional copyright notice found
in most about dialogs.) It contains a link to Privacy Policy for
Firefox. It also identifies the Firefox channel the user is on and
information about the last update check.

This dialog provides considerably more than just an update function.

There is a wiki page for
this.https://wiki.mozilla.org/Features/Desktop/About_Version

The justification is simple. We're removing the Firefox version number
from all of the common user-visible locations because we don't believe
that users need to know what version they're on. We're moving to a model
that's more like the Web. What version of Gmail are you on?

We've removed it from all of our marketing materials. We're removing it
from the download button on the Website. We're removing it from how we
talk to users about Firefox. We're ending version numbers because
they're not meaningful to users (except in troubleshooting situations.)

People using Firefox do need to have confidence that they're on the
latest version, though, and that's what this feature provides. Telling
the user explicitly that Firefox has checked and that she is indeed up
to date is a much better way of letting the user know that she's up to
date than giving her a number she can compare with some other number on
a website somewhere to figure out if she's on the latest version.

- A

Asa Dotzler

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Aug 14, 2011, 11:25:25 PM8/14/11
to dev-us...@lists.mozilla.org

The About Firefox dialog contains a lot of information about Firefox. It

Asa Dotzler

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Aug 14, 2011, 11:29:01 PM8/14/11
to
Thomas Ahlblom wrote:
> Could someone please post references to the relevant standards Firefox
> will comply with after implementation of bug 678775?

No. Not really.

We're intentionally breaking with convention here because we've moved to
an unconventional release model where conventional versioning and
version branding are no longer applicable.

- A

Tyler Downer

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Aug 14, 2011, 11:43:26 PM8/14/11
to
On Aug 14, 9:02 pm, Asa Dotzler <a...@mozilla.com> wrote:
>
> We're not on a path to a highly fragmented user-base. You can't just
> assert facts without evidence. The rapid release transitions are working
> quite well and will improve over time. A year from now we'll be far
> *less* fragmented than we've ever been since Firefox launched.
>
> - A

Not to get off topic, but comparing the version adoption graphs at
http://arstechnica.com/web/news/2011/08/july-browser-stats-windows-xp-loses-its-majority-share-of-web-users.ars,
Firefox's version adoption is quite behind the efficient model that
Google has for Chrome. Until we can reach that, updates are
"automatic". Just a offtopic link ;)

Asa Dotzler

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Aug 15, 2011, 1:41:54 AM8/15/11
to

To be clear, Firefox 3.6.x to Firefox 4 was not an automatic update.
Firefox 4 to 5 was and 5 to 6 will be. Our Firefox 4 users are already
into the single digits percentage of all Firefox users so we're moving
users pretty well.

As you noted, we're not yet as efficient as Chrome, which has been
working under an automatic update model for three years now. Maybe give
us a little slack as we've yet to release our first true rapid release
version :-)

- A

Anthony Ricaud

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Aug 15, 2011, 2:57:15 AM8/15/11
to

I don't see how unconventional this release model is. I use several
software that update more often than every six weeks and they keep their
version number in the About window.

Also, we're now talking about the privileged 2% web developers and I
think it's a need for us to see the version number we are working on.

Robert Kaiser

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Aug 15, 2011, 10:44:11 AM8/15/11
to
DaveG schrieb:

> Additionally, version numbers matter whether anyone likes it or not

Version numbers in software are like coordinate systems in physics:
irrelevant and necessary at the same time - it's completely irrelevant
how you do them, but they provide necessary reference points. Not more,
not less.

Robert Kaiser


--
Note that any statements of mine - no matter how passionate - are never
meant to be offensive but very often as food for thought or possible
arguments that we as a community should think about. And most of the
time, I even appreciate irony and fun! :)

Asa Dotzler

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Aug 15, 2011, 11:17:15 AM8/15/11
to Anthony Ricaud

Anthony Ricaud wrote:
> On 15/08/11 05:29, Asa Dotzler wrote:
>> Thomas Ahlblom wrote:
>>> Could someone please post references to the relevant standards Firefox
>>> will comply with after implementation of bug 678775?
>>
>> No. Not really.
>>
>> We're intentionally breaking with convention here because we've moved to
>> an unconventional release model where conventional versioning and
>> version branding are no longer applicable.
>>
>> - A
>
> I don't see how unconventional this release model is. I use several
> software that update more often than every six weeks and they keep their
> version number in the About window.

We're trying to change user expectations around the versioning of
Firefox. This may not be a goal for the other software you use but it is
a goal for Firefox. I appreciate that you may not like that goal, but
it's something we started on 6 months ago and this is a natural and
reasonable continuation on that path.

> Also, we're now talking about the privileged 2% web developers and I
> think it's a need for us to see the version number we are working on.

Web developers can get at the version number from an extension or from
Help->Troubleshooting which contains the version number, the full user
agent string, and additional information about which extensions,
plug-ins, and graphics settings they've got which might cause Firefox to
display to them their content differently from how end users see it.

If I was a Web developer, testing across a variety of browsers and
versions, I'd want to have the user agent string even more visible than
buried in an About window. Add-ons like Nightly Tester Tools and
Customize Titlebar offer that convenience.

- A

Tyler Downer

unread,
Aug 15, 2011, 11:22:57 AM8/15/11
to
Asa, going off something you posted in the bug...
>The difference between what was there and what will be there is the removal of the version number and the addition of the time since last successful check.

The About window automatically checks for updates every single time it
is opened by default. Then it says "Firefox is up to date" when it
checks, unless there is an update available, when it will start to
download the update. Is there something wrong with this method, or
some problem that needs to be addressed? Otherwise, Firefox will
always be saying "Checked for update 1 second ago" because as soon as
they open the window, it will check again. There will never be a
"Firefox checked for updates 20 minutes ago" unless the user is not
connected to the internet. Firefox checked for updates 1 second ago,
if that is the only time that is ever shown, will be just as useless
as "Firefox is up to date". If users don't trust that "Firefox is up
to date" means that Firefox is up to date, they aren't going to trust
"Firefox checked for updates 20 minutes ago, Firefox is up to date".
You are simply saying the same thing, with more words, making it more
confusing. When I open about Firefox, it takes about 30 seconds~ to
check, so I can clearly see that Firefox is actively checking for
updates.

Besides, if I ever had an doubts, I can always look right above the
text, see, "Firefox 5" then google "What is the latest version of
Firefox" and see "Firefox 6 is being released tomorrow" on google
news. So I know tomorrow, I can check for updates again, and I'll have
the latest.

It just doesn't make sense to add the time, when the about window
checks immediately it is opened. Unless you will have the time
dynamically update for those people who leave the About window open
for 20 minutes, which seems more like a fancy gimmick than anything.

>That is not the benefit that the UX and Product lead are after here and
>characterizing our intents like that is somewhat insulting. I expect
>that kind of nonsense from random slashdotters and trolls, but not from
>regular members of our community. I don't assume your work on the
>Mozilla project is mindless or un-serious. Please don't make those
>assumptions of those around you.

No, I'm not a troll, but statements like that make me wonder why I
bother contributing to Mozilla. At least respect your community a bit
please. Your email address ends in @mozilla.org, I respect that, that
is why I came to usenet. At least hear me and others out on our
concerns.

DaveG

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Aug 15, 2011, 12:15:06 PM8/15/11
to
On Aug 14, 11:02 pm, Asa Dotzler <a...@mozilla.com> wrote:
> It's off-topic but I do want to note that there aren't an ungodly number
> of users on Firefox 4 because Firefox 5 was an automatic update and the
> overwhelming majority were updated in just a couple of weeks. That
> update transition will be even faster with Firefox 5 to 6 and faster
> still with 6 to 7 and 7 to 8.
>
> DaveG wrote:
> > We're currently on a path towards a highly fragmented user-base and
> > fixing that should be higher on the priority list. Yes, I know that
> > doesn't prevent improvements to the about dialog, but it does mean that
> > the version is not (yet) a completely trivial thing tobe buried.
>
> We're not on a path to a highly fragmented user-base. You can't just
> assert facts without evidence. The rapid release transitions are working
> quite well and will improve over time. A year from now we'll be far
> *less* fragmented than we've ever been since Firefox launched.

I'll reply to this first because it's of course a fair point to
request hard numbers. I'm not just going on a feeling based on
complaining users. I see things being far worse than what you see by
looking at Firefox upgrade rates in my and other addons' AMO stats.

Flagfox currently has a peak of around 1.68 million users. Here's a
breakdown of what Firefox versions its users are reporting in their
update pings:
Firefox 5.0.x: 66%
Firefox 3.6.x: 21%
Firefox 4.0.x: 6.6%
Firefox 3.5.x: 3.1%
Firefox 6.0b: 1.9%
Firefox 3.0.x: 0.79%
Firefox 7.0a2: 0.19%

We're almost upon Firefox 6, yet only 66% of the users I see here are
running a current version. I do personally consider this to be fairly
horrible. Not only is a quarter of the user-base not even upgrading at
all anymore, but it appears that 5-10% of users got stranded on
Firefox 4 for quite some time, and many look like they're going to
stay there. I can back this claim up with data too, by going within
those numbers. Out of those who are on Firefox 4.0.x, only 73% are
running 4.0.1. The other 27% are on 4.0.0 and because major updates
are still only offered to those who have performed minor updates,
they'll stay there for quite some time. The Firefox 3.6 situation is
far more grim: out of all those running Firefox 3.6.x, only 3.5% are
running 3.6.19 (latest as of the moment).

This is only one data set, but I can repeat this with other addons
with public AMO stats. I'm #12 by average user count, but the same
pattern holds if I take a look at #1. Adblock Plus has over 13 million
users; here's its breakdown:
Firefox 5.0.x: 66%
Firefox 3.6.x: 21%
Firefox 4.0.x: 5.5%
Firefox 6.0b: 1.8%
Firefox 3.5.x: 1.5%
Firefox 3.0.x: 2.1%
Firefox 7.0a2: 0.15%

The top two are the same (with rounding to 2 significant figures) and
the situation for Firefox 4 is similar. The numbers for minor updates
are similar: 77% of Firefox 4.0.x users are on 4.0.1 and 2.3% of
Firefox 3.6.x users are on 3.6.19. (a little better for Firefox 4.0.x
and worse for 3.6.x)

Both of us have our stats set to public. The URLs are here and CSV is
available for digging into the numbers easier:
https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/statistics/addon/5791
https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/statistics/addon/1865

One obvious issue with this method is that while addon use is
extremely common, most Firefox users don't use addons. Thus these
numbers are skewed in favor of those who do. One might want to say
that these are more often "power users" but that's not always the
case. Without more info there's no way to say the above is drastically
different from the rest of the Firefox user-base, however it is a
quite clear picture of a notable portion of it.

Seeing the above is why I say we're on a path to a highly fragmented
user-base, and I stand by that. It will be interesting to see if the
same thing that happened with Firefox 4 is the case for Firefox 5 when
Firefox 6 comes out, and how much. Regardless, right now we have a
somewhat fragmented user-base and I don't see a force going in the
opposite direction enough to change that yet.

Now to reply to the actual issue here:

> > Certainly, but "it's always been this way, and thus everyone knows how
> > to use this" is, especially if we're explicitly talking about user
> > experience and interaction here.
>
> This assumes "everyone" needs to know how to find the version number
> when what we're doing here is intentionally killing the version number.

No, not "everyone", just everyone who is looking for their version
number using what they've learned in the past. Unless we're only
catering to those who stumbled into this thing, people who
intentionally open the about dialog are often looking for exactly
this.

> And we're breaking from that convention. We're moving to a more Web-like
> convention where it's simply not important what version you're using as
> long as it's the latest version.

Firefox is not the web, just a chauffeur to it. It's still a program I
install on my computer and as was posted above by Thomas Ahlblom some
OSes even explicitly state that this is how programs are supposed to
function in this regard. Yeah, you are capable of ignoring that, but
the point is that it's sort of outside of what a program should be
doing and honestly, a strange fight to have.

> We're also already in a new system
> where there is no supported version except the latest versoin so the
> overwhelming majority of users will be on that latest version and for
> them, the most important thing isn't the number of the release.

Part one of a reply to this is the stats analysis at the top of this
reply. 66% is no overwhelming majority. Sadly, people don't care if
the version is supported anymore or not, and more often than not don't
even seem to know what this means.

Part two of my reply to this is that nobody here is arguing that the
version number is the most important thing, just that it's not
insignificant enough to be ditched from the about dialog where it
belongs. It's already deprioritized and I've already said that doing
so some more is a perfectly reasonable idea.

> The most important thing is confidence that they're on the latest
> release. That's what the About dialog will give them.

I have extreme doubts that such a logical expectation holds true given
the stated update rate. There are many many people who don't care at
all about being on the latest release, and some even scream at Mozilla
for posting updates at all. Most people have no understanding
whatsoever of what updates are for.

> The About dialog is for finding out about Firefox,
> including whether or not you're on the latest version.

Yep, and the version number is a part of both portions of that.

> >>> I see little to no benefit by removing it (other that "let's remove
> >>> something else from the UI".
> >> That is not the benefit that the UX and Product lead are after here and
> >> characterizing our intents like that is somewhat insulting. I expect
> >> that kind of nonsense from random slashdotters and trolls, but not from
> >> regular members of our community. I don't assume your work on the
> >> Mozilla project is mindless or un-serious. Please don't make those
> >> assumptions of those around you.
>
> > Let me see if I can put this as politely as possible: The "let's
> > remove something else from the UI" route is often a perfectly valid
> > way to improve things.
>
> I disagree with that. That's never a valid way to improve things without
> considering carefully the "something" you're removing from the UI.

I would think that by now we can all agree that EVERYTHING is done
with careful consideration. We shouldn't have to prefix everything
with "careful consideration of". Let me put it this way: this is the
worst kind of debate; the kind where we're agreeing but debating
anyway.

> When someone assumes or says outright that Mozilla UX and Product folks
> are removing things just to be removing things, I'm going to shout
> loudly. I stand by that. It's an argument, along with "You're just doing
> it because <other browser> did it" and "It's just change for the sake of
> change" that I'm not going to accept in these discussions and when it
> comes up I'm going to call it out and call for it to stop. I'm sick of
> it and I'm not going to accept those kinds of insults as arguments.

1) Nothing of the sort. You're making assumptions and generating your
own angst here. Even if Tyler was partially passive-aggressively going
against UI removal, you're overreacting. (and I have no reason to
believe he was)
2) You're ramping up this discussion with the wrong tone. You're not
arguing with some people who just popped in from nowhere to yell at
you here, and even if you were, it's not helpful.
3) I don't want to get into this any more and it's a distraction from
this actual discussion, such that it is.

Look, I don't claim that showing the version number is the most
important thing in the world, just that the about dialog is where it
belongs and trying to change that feels to some of us like a fight is
being picked that doesn't need to be. Every decision is going to be a
cost-benefit analysis, and I just don't see the benefit to outweigh
the two costs here:
a) Breaking explicit HIG and decades of precedence, which both
translate to breaking how users find this basic and still needed
information in a place that is not in the way.
b) Confusing those of us closer to Mozilla and ticking off those
farther away. (yeah, some loons that are in the process of descending
on this to yell are overreacting, but it does nonetheless point out
that a portion of the community is not happy with this sort of change)

Jesper Kristensen

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Aug 15, 2011, 12:38:08 PM8/15/11
to
Den 15-08-2011 18:15, DaveG skrev:
> I'll reply to this first because it's of course a fair point to
> request hard numbers. I'm not just going on a feeling based on
> complaining users. I see things being far worse than what you see by
> looking at Firefox upgrade rates in my and other addons' AMO stats.
>
> Flagfox currently has a peak of around 1.68 million users. Here's a
> breakdown of what Firefox versions its users are reporting in their
> update pings:
...

> One obvious issue with this method is that while addon use is
> extremely common, most Firefox users don't use addons. Thus these
> numbers are skewed in favor of those who do. One might want to say
> that these are more often "power users" but that's not always the
> case. Without more info there's no way to say the above is drastically
> different from the rest of the Firefox user-base, however it is a
> quite clear picture of a notable portion of it.

Also: https://metrics.mozilla.com/stats/firefox.shtml

Tyler Downer

unread,
Aug 15, 2011, 12:40:51 PM8/15/11
to
On Aug 14, 2:23 pm, Asa Dotzler <a...@mozilla.com> wrote:
> Tyler Downer wrote:
> > In Bug 678775 (https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=678775),
> > Asa has suggested that we remove the version number from the Firefox
> > About window, stating that the about:support page is all the
> > information anybody will need.
>
> Actually, the Firefox usability lead, Alex Limi suggested it. As the
> Firefox Product lead, I agreed and so I created a feature page for
> tracking this effort and I filed a bug for the implementation when we're
> ready to start that.

Yes, and you filed the bug. I wasn't intending to attack you or Limi,
I just was giving background to everyone that might now know.

>
> > First off, the versions number has always been shown in the Help>About
> > window for almost every Windows program for the past 16+ years
>
> It's always been that way is not a new argument against change. This was
> considered when we decided to make this change.

No, it is not a complete argument. But since 99% of programs across
all Operating systems use the same location to put their version
information, then yes, I think that it is. Being the one odd duck out
on something so trivial as Version is not worth the backlash and
confusion.

>
> > By removing the version number from the About window (which was already
> > simplified to showing just the version number, and not build ID in
> > Firefox 4, eg. Firefox 4.0.1), then we open up a window of confusion
> > with those people who want to check  just what version they are
> > running.
>
> We also thought of that. And the after thinking about it, we concluded
> that most people don't need to know what version number they're using
> and what they actually want to know is whether or not they're running
> the latest version. For the few people who care whether it's version 7
> or version 2011-08-16 or version 1.8.0.0.1.77, they can get this
> information from about:troubleshooting which is available in the Firefox
> Help menu.

Somewhat along these lines, maybe we should change to a date
versioning scheme, somewhat like Ubuntu. Firefox 8.11 or something.

>
> > Asa says "When a user opens the About window for Firefox, the window
> > should say something like 'Firefox checked for updates 20 minutes ago,
> > you are running the latest release.'" But what if the computer is not
> > always connected to the Internet and the user wants to see if they
> > have the latest Firefox or if they need to connect to the internet
>
> Actually, that's not quite accurate. For the tiny minority of users who
> open the Firefox About dialog who are not connected to the internet, the
> dialog will say something like "As of N hours ago, you are running the
> latest version of Firefox" where N is the number of hours since Firefox
> was online and made the update check. If they're not connected to the
> internet, and they happen to know what the latest version of Firefox is
> (how did they learn that again?) then they can open
> about:troubleshooting and compare versions themselves. This is a rare
> case that should not impact the decision on this feature change.

You are still assuming that they will know to look in the
Troubleshooting page to find the version. I was using Firefox before I
even began contributing to Mozilla 3+ ears ago, and never knew ANY of
the about pages existed, and I was running a server, designing
websites professionally and so on.

>
> > download it? Or if they have had issues with their internet
> > connection? I had an Apache server set up on a computer once that i
> > did not have connected to the internet so I didn't have to worry about
> > security, but I did keep an up to date version of Firefox on the
> > computer because I used it for web development.
>
> Users with Apache servers set up on their machines are quite capable of
> using about:troubleshooting to figure out which version of Firefox
> they're using.

See above. Troubleshooting is not a logical place to find version
information.

>
> > And using the about:pages isn't a good solution. 75% of people don't
> > even know the about:pages exist (based on my triage experience) and
> > users likely are not going to find them on their own.
>
> about:troubleshooting is available via the Help menu. Users need not
> know about the existence of about: pages.

See above

>
> > Now, while I understand that the UX team wants to make version numbers
> > less important (that is something I myself want to see happen)
> > removing them from the About window is not the answer.
>
> It is not *the* answer. It is part of an answer which includes removing
> it from other touchpoints in Firefox and the Firefox websites.

Well, I am glad that you are doing other things than just removing the
version window, that makes me a bit more at ease :) You didn't explain
that in the bug or the wiki page, so I was confused at that point.
Thank you for clearing it up.

>
> > Even Chrome, which has a rapid release cycle and a VERY good updating
> > process, shows the Version in the about window.
>
> Chrome does foo is a reasonable data point to offer. We can certainly
> look at how certain Chrome features behave or are received by users and
> use that data to help inform our decisions on Firefox features.
>
> But this isn't new data. The UX and Product leads were fully aware of
> what Chrome does here and that didn't cause us to decide differently.
>
> > What needs to be done is, remove the version from the download page.
> > Just say "Download Firefox" and leave it at that.
>
> Thank you for the prescription. We are removing the version from the
> download page. There's a bug on file and it is scheduled as part of the
> next Website refresh. But no, we are not going to just "leave it at that."
>
> > Make Firefox automagically update in the background (with an easy to
> > find preference to turn that off), and get rid of the first run pages
> > (which now that we are using rapid release and each new version has
> > like 1 small feature, don't serve any purpose anyway).
>
> Firefox already automagically does some of its update in the background.
> We have feature pages and bugs describing the means by which we are
> going to make this even more magical and less distracting.

No, it doesn't. When only 66% of Firefox users are running Firefox 5
according to Dave's stats, that is a total failure. Especially compare
that with Chrome uptake.

>
> We also have a feature page describing the intent to remove the What's
> New tab that loads with each new release. That one is contentions but
> it's on my list of features that will all combine to give us much more
> "silent" updates.
>
> > The About window needs to continue showing the version number, and it
> > already checks for updates as soon as it is opened.
>
> So far, I think I can summarize your argument for why Firefox "needs to
> continue showing the version number" as 1) Versions have always been
> shown in the About dialog, and 2) Some offline users will get a outdated
> message about when they were last updated, and 3) users cannot find the
> menu for Help -> Troubleshooting, and 4) Chrome does it.
>
> I think I've responded to each of those. Have I missed one of your
> arguments or mis-characterized any of them?

In a nutshell, yes those are the 4 I wrote early on a Sunday
morning ;) I'll have more

>
> > I see little to no benefit by removing it (other that "let's remove
> > something else from the UI".
>
> That is not the benefit that the UX and Product lead are after here and
> characterizing our intents like that is somewhat insulting. I expect
> that kind of nonsense from random slashdotters and trolls, but not from
> regular members of our community. I don't assume your work on the
> Mozilla project is mindless or un-serious. Please don't make those
> assumptions of those around you.

Again, this isn't an attack on you, or the UX team. Just my
experience, opinions, and suggestions. Don't turn this into a personal
attack please. It isn't needed.

Tyler Downer

unread,
Aug 15, 2011, 12:47:43 PM8/15/11
to
> The justification is simple. We're removing the Firefox version number
> from all of the common user-visible locations because we don't believe
> that users need to know what version they're on. We're moving to a model
> that's more like the Web. What version of Gmail are you on?

I know it isn't Beta anymore ;) But on a serious side, Gmail is a
webpage. Firefox is a program that I have to download and install on
my computer. I have no control over Gmail's version even if I wanted
it. I can't roll back, I can't update. It just is. Firefox, I can, and
should be able to. It is installed on my computer, I want to know what
version it is without having to type in "about"troubleshooting" or go
to a non-standard location to find it.

>
> We've removed it from all of our marketing materials. We're removing it
> from the download button on the Website. We're removing it from how we
> talk to users about Firefox. We're ending version numbers because
> they're not meaningful to users (except in troubleshooting situations.)

Good steps :)

DaveG

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Aug 15, 2011, 1:22:22 PM8/15/11
to
On Aug 15, 12:38 pm, Jesper Kristensen
<moznewsgro...@something.to.remove.jesperkristensen.dk> wrote:
> Also:https://metrics.mozilla.com/stats/firefox.shtml

Thanks for that link. I didn't know where to find that and it looks
nice and buried.

Boiling that down to percentages as I did with my numbers above,
here's what the stats from Mozilla Metrics show:
Firefox 5.0.x: 52.6%
Firefox 3.6.x: 31.6%
Firefox 4.0.x: 7.75%
Firefox 3.0.x: 3.33%
Firefox 3.5.x: 2.74%
Firefox 6.0b: 1.20%
Firefox 2.0.0.x: 0.75%
Firefox 7.0a2: 0.07%

Wow... that's actually far worse than I imagined. Scratch thinking
about an "overwhelming" majority, Firefox 5 barely even has a simple
majority.

On Aug 15, 12:40 pm, Tyler Downer <tyler.dow...@gmail.com> wrote:
> Somewhat along these lines, maybe we should change to a date
> versioning scheme, somewhat like Ubuntu.

Yeah, I said the same thing in the bug and others have brought this up
else where too. It would make things a lot simpler in this regard, and
if the opposition to version numbers is in any way based their new
lack of meaning then this would return some to them.

> Firefox 8.11 or something.

Actually, that'd imply November 2008; we'd want 11.8, otherwise the
versions wouldn't always be in ascending order.

Tyler Downer

unread,
Aug 15, 2011, 1:27:25 PM8/15/11
to
> Actually, that'd imply November 2008; we'd want 11.8, otherwise the
> versions wouldn't always be in ascending order.

True, thanks ;) It was just an idea, I don't know it even 11.8 would
be best, but some date based version may be better in the long run.

Thomas Brownback

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Aug 15, 2011, 1:32:58 PM8/15/11
to
Has the ux team considered removing the entire about dialog? If the
support page is the home of troubleshooting info, maybe that's where
this all goes. Also, maybe a date is unnecessary, you could just
indicate a binary state of whether the browser has been checked in the
past t days by making some ui element green if the browser is 'fresh,'
red otherwise.

Just a thought. I was initially worried about loss of version info,
but hey, why not go farther?

Tyler Downer

unread,
Aug 15, 2011, 1:33:19 PM8/15/11
to
Asa, you said above:
>People using Firefox do need to have confidence that they're on the

>latest version, though, and that's what this feature provides. Telling
>the user explicitly that Firefox has checked and that she is indeed up
>to date is a much better way of letting the user know that she's up to
>date than giving her a number she can compare with some other number on
>a website somewhere to figure out if she's on the latest version.

And on the wiki it says:
>It is important to say when the last check happened and ideally to do the check when the dialog is launched so that time is very near and to drop the version and simply tell them >they're on the latest or not.

And

>Asa heard something about a new version of Firefox on the radio and he's not sure if he's got it or not. He opens the About dialog and is comforted to read that he is on the latest >version of Firefox as of Firefox's last check 1 minute ago.

This is what we currently do: http://tylerdowner.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/checking.png

And then, if no update is found, we get: http://tylerdowner.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/checked.png

How exactly is this not succeeding in your use case goals? and how is
this bad and how does it need to be changed? Since we already check
automatically as soon as the about window is opened (https://
bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=596813 is where we made this
change in Firefox 4). Maybe you weren't aware of this behavior? Or
does this somehow now meet your need of showing the user that Firefox
is checking up update actively and Firefox is up to date?

Asa Dotzler

unread,
Aug 15, 2011, 1:40:07 PM8/15/11
to

Tyler Downer wrote:
> Asa, going off something you posted in the bug...
>> The difference between what was there and what will be there is the removal of the version number and the addition of the time since last successful check.
>
> The About window automatically checks for updates every single time it
> is opened by default. Then it says "Firefox is up to date" when it
> checks, unless there is an update available, when it will start to
> download the update. Is there something wrong with this method, or
> some problem that needs to be addressed? Otherwise, Firefox will
> always be saying "Checked for update 1 second ago" because as soon as
> they open the window, it will check again. There will never be a
> "Firefox checked for updates 20 minutes ago" unless the user is not
> connected to the internet.

There's nothing wrong with either the connected to the internet or not
connected to the internet states you describe. The important part is to
let the user know that it actually happened and that this is not just
some static text saying "up to date".

> as "Firefox is up to date". If users don't trust that "Firefox is up
> to date" means that Firefox is up to date, they aren't going to trust
> "Firefox checked for updates 20 minutes ago, Firefox is up to date".

Here you're wrong. The context is very meaningful. I'll let the UX
experts weigh in here, but they've specified this as a crucial
requirement for the feature.

> Besides, if I ever had an doubts, I can always look right above the
> text, see, "Firefox 5" then google "What is the latest version of
> Firefox" and see "Firefox 6 is being released tomorrow" on google
> news. So I know tomorrow, I can check for updates again, and I'll have
> the latest.

This is the part that needs to be eliminated. Users should not feel the
need to compare a number in the About dialog with a number they found on
the web somewhere.

> It just doesn't make sense to add the time, when the about window
> checks immediately it is opened. Unless you will have the time
> dynamically update for those people who leave the About window open
> for 20 minutes, which seems more like a fancy gimmick than anything.

If you left the window open for long enough that a new auto check
happened, I'd expect it to update with the time of the check that
happened. I don't see anything gimmicky about that.

>> That is not the benefit that the UX and Product lead are after here and
>> characterizing our intents like that is somewhat insulting. I expect
>> that kind of nonsense from random slashdotters and trolls, but not from
>> regular members of our community. I don't assume your work on the
>> Mozilla project is mindless or un-serious. Please don't make those
>> assumptions of those around you.
>
> No, I'm not a troll, but statements like that make me wonder why I
> bother contributing to Mozilla. At least respect your community a bit
> please. Your email address ends in @mozilla.org, I respect that, that
> is why I came to usenet. At least hear me and others out on our
> concerns.

I didn't call you a troll. I said I didn't expect that kind of comment
coming from regular members of the community.

You said you thought that the people responsible for this feature (the
UX and Product leads for Firefox) were thinking "let's remove something
else from the UI" as a rationale for this feature. That's insulting.
That's insulting in the same way that the all too often claims of
"You're just doing it because Chrome did it" or "you're just changing
for the sake of changing" are insulting.

I don't think that the people working on this project deserve to be
treated like that. You won't hear me making those kinds of claims about
the contributions you're offering and I think it's reasonable for us to
not expect to hear that from you.

- A

Asa Dotzler

unread,
Aug 15, 2011, 1:42:18 PM8/15/11
to Tyler Downer

Tyler Downer wrote:
>> The justification is simple. We're removing the Firefox version number
>> from all of the common user-visible locations because we don't believe
>> that users need to know what version they're on. We're moving to a model
>> that's more like the Web. What version of Gmail are you on?
>
> I know it isn't Beta anymore ;) But on a serious side, Gmail is a
> webpage. Firefox is a program that I have to download and install on
> my computer. I have no control over Gmail's version even if I wanted
> it. I can't roll back, I can't update. It just is. Firefox, I can, and
> should be able to. It is installed on my computer, I want to know what
> version it is without having to type in "about"troubleshooting" or go
> to a non-standard location to find it.

You cannot roll back Firefox versions without losing support. You get
automatic updates with Firefox unless you've disabled that feature which
you absolutely should not unless you're trying to get exploited.

No one is taking these things away. You can roll back. You can turn off
updates. It's just a foolish thing to do in all but very exceptional
cases and we discourage it.

- A

Asa Dotzler

unread,
Aug 15, 2011, 1:43:36 PM8/15/11
to Tyler Downer

Tyler Downer wrote:
> Asa, you said above:
>> People using Firefox do need to have confidence that they're on the
>> latest version, though, and that's what this feature provides. Telling
>> the user explicitly that Firefox has checked and that she is indeed up
>> to date is a much better way of letting the user know that she's up to
>> date than giving her a number she can compare with some other number on
>> a website somewhere to figure out if she's on the latest version.
>
> And on the wiki it says:
>> It is important to say when the last check happened and ideally to do the check when the dialog is launched so that time is very near and to drop the version and simply tell them>they're on the latest or not.
>
> And
>
>> Asa heard something about a new version of Firefox on the radio and he's not sure if he's got it or not. He opens the About dialog and is comforted to read that he is on the latest>version of Firefox as of Firefox's last check 1 minute ago.
>
> This is what we currently do: http://tylerdowner.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/checking.png
>
> And then, if no update is found, we get: http://tylerdowner.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/checked.png
>
> How exactly is this not succeeding in your use case goals?

We don't tell the user when the check happened which is a requirement
for the feature. We show the version number and removing it is a
requirement for the feature. So, those two goals are not met.

- A

DaveG

unread,
Aug 15, 2011, 1:32:05 PM8/15/11
to
(by the way, if anyone wishes to look at any of the above numbers, I'm
using stats from 2011-08-11 to avoid the regular drop-off on the
weekends)

Tyler Downer

unread,
Aug 15, 2011, 1:51:04 PM8/15/11
to
On Aug 15, 11:40 am, Asa Dotzler <a...@mozilla.com> wrote:
> Tyler Downer wrote:
> > Asa, going off something you posted in the bug...
> >> The difference between what was there and what will be there is the removal of the version number and the addition of the time since last successful check.
>
> > The About window automatically checks for updates every single time it
> > is opened by default. Then it says "Firefox is up to date" when it
> > checks, unless there is an update available, when it will start to
> > download the update. Is there something wrong with this method, or
> > some problem that needs to be addressed? Otherwise, Firefox will
> > always be saying "Checked for update 1 second ago" because as soon as
> > they open the window, it will check again. There will never be a
> > "Firefox checked for updates 20 minutes ago" unless the user is not
> > connected to the internet.
>
> There's nothing wrong with either the connected to the internet or not
> connected to the internet states you describe. The important part is to
> let the user know that it actually happened and that this is not just
> some static text saying "up to date".
>
> > as "Firefox is up to date". If users don't trust that "Firefox is up
> > to date" means that Firefox is up to date, they aren't going to trust
> > "Firefox checked for updates 20 minutes ago, Firefox is up to date".
>
> Here you're wrong. The context is very meaningful. I'll let the UX
> experts weigh in here, but they've specified this as a crucial
> requirement for the feature.

And someone who can't see the spinning circle that says "Firefox is
checking for updates" then "Firefox is up to date" Isn't going to have
a different experience with "Firefox last checked 30 minutes ago". You
are addressing a problem that I don't see existing with a solution
that is exactly the same as what is already in place. Do you have
metrics on how many user's go into the About window to check for
versions, how long they stay and how many actually would benefit from
this?

>
> > Besides, if I ever had an doubts, I can always look right above the
> > text, see, "Firefox 5" then google "What is the latest version of
> > Firefox" and see "Firefox 6 is being released tomorrow" on google
> > news. So I know tomorrow, I can check for updates again, and I'll have
> > the latest.
>
> This is the part that needs to be eliminated. Users should not feel the
> need to compare a number in the About dialog with a number they found on
> the web somewhere.

You are assuming that all users will implicitly trust the Firefox
version updater, which they won't. You are always going to have those
who want to dig in deeper.

>
> >> That is not the benefit that the UX and Product lead are after here and
> >> characterizing our intents like that is somewhat insulting. I expect
> >> that kind of nonsense from random slashdotters and trolls, but not from
> >> regular members of our community. I don't assume your work on the
> >> Mozilla project is mindless or un-serious. Please don't make those
> >> assumptions of those around you.
>
> > No, I'm not a troll, but statements like that make me wonder why I
> > bother contributing to Mozilla. At least respect your community a bit
> > please. Your email address ends in @mozilla.org, I respect that, that
> > is why I came to usenet. At least hear me and others out on our
> > concerns.
>
> I didn't call you a troll. I said I didn't expect that kind of comment
> coming from regular members of the community.
>
> You said you thought that the people responsible for this feature (the
> UX and Product leads for Firefox) were thinking "let's remove something
> else from the UI" as a rationale for this feature. That's insulting.
> That's insulting in the same way that the all too often claims of
> "You're just doing it because Chrome did it" or "you're just changing
> for the sake of changing" are insulting.
>
> I don't think that the people working on this project deserve to be
> treated like that. You won't hear me making those kinds of claims about
> the contributions you're offering and I think it's reasonable for us to
> not expect to hear that from you.
>

I never intended it to be insulting, and I don't think that in the
context of what I was saying it was insulting. I said that is the only
benefit that I can see. I am all for removing unnecessary stuff from
the UI, I never said it was a bad idea, nor that we shouldn't do it
because of that. Nor am I saying we are copying Chrome or anything. I
was simply saying that was the only pro I could see, along with
several cons. Nothing insulting about listing the pros and cons of a
change. Just because I don't see things the same way as you and UI
team doesn't mean I am insulting you or them, and you don't need to
take it that way. That is part of having an intelligent mature
conversation about change and compromise.

Maybe if regular members of the community are making these kinds of
comments will give you a hint on how the community feels.
Tyler
> - A

Asa Dotzler

unread,
Aug 15, 2011, 1:56:07 PM8/15/11
to Tyler Downer
Tyler Downer wrote:
> On Aug 14, 2:23 pm, Asa Dotzler<a...@mozilla.com> wrote:
>> Tyler Downer wrote:
>>> In Bug 678775 (https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=678775),
>>> Asa has suggested that we remove the version number from the Firefox
>>> About window, stating that the about:support page is all the
>>> information anybody will need.
>> Actually, the Firefox usability lead, Alex Limi suggested it. As the
>> Firefox Product lead, I agreed and so I created a feature page for
>> tracking this effort and I filed a bug for the implementation when we're
>> ready to start that.
>
> Yes, and you filed the bug. I wasn't intending to attack you or Limi,
> I just was giving background to everyone that might now know.
>
>>> First off, the versions number has always been shown in the Help>About
>>> window for almost every Windows program for the past 16+ years
>> It's always been that way is not a new argument against change. This was
>> considered when we decided to make this change.
>
> No, it is not a complete argument. But since 99% of programs across
> all Operating systems use the same location to put their version
> information, then yes, I think that it is. Being the one odd duck out
> on something so trivial as Version is not worth the backlash and
> confusion.

And we are the odd duck out because we're not delivering software like
99% of downloaded programs. We're moving to a model that's much closer
to how websites operate. It's not trivial. It's a fundamental change to
how we're delivering software. The version exists in the about dialog
because of the way desktop software has traditionally been developed and
distributed. We're changing the way that sofware is developed and
distributed and with that we're obsoleting this piece of information.

>>> By removing the version number from the About window (which was already
>>> simplified to showing just the version number, and not build ID in
>>> Firefox 4, eg. Firefox 4.0.1), then we open up a window of confusion
>>> with those people who want to check just what version they are
>>> running.

By leaving it we'd be opening up a window of confusion for the people
who want to check what version they are running. When version has no
actionable meaning to the user, it not only doesn't help, it adds confusion.


>> We also thought of that. And the after thinking about it, we concluded
>> that most people don't need to know what version number they're using
>> and what they actually want to know is whether or not they're running
>> the latest version. For the few people who care whether it's version 7
>> or version 2011-08-16 or version 1.8.0.0.1.77, they can get this
>> information from about:troubleshooting which is available in the Firefox
>> Help menu.
>
> Somewhat along these lines, maybe we should change to a date
> versioning scheme, somewhat like Ubuntu. Firefox 8.11 or something.

We're not going to change the format, that's just rearranging deck
chairs on the titanic, we're going to obsolete the entire feature of
version numbers.

>>> Asa says "When a user opens the About window for Firefox, the window
>>> should say something like 'Firefox checked for updates 20 minutes ago,
>>> you are running the latest release.'" But what if the computer is not
>>> always connected to the Internet and the user wants to see if they
>>> have the latest Firefox or if they need to connect to the internet
>> Actually, that's not quite accurate. For the tiny minority of users who
>> open the Firefox About dialog who are not connected to the internet, the
>> dialog will say something like "As of N hours ago, you are running the
>> latest version of Firefox" where N is the number of hours since Firefox
>> was online and made the update check. If they're not connected to the
>> internet, and they happen to know what the latest version of Firefox is
>> (how did they learn that again?) then they can open
>> about:troubleshooting and compare versions themselves. This is a rare
>> case that should not impact the decision on this feature change.
>
> You are still assuming that they will know to look in the
> Troubleshooting page to find the version. I was using Firefox before I
> even began contributing to Mozilla 3+ ears ago, and never knew ANY of
> the about pages existed, and I was running a server, designing
> websites professionally and so on.

That's not correct. I'm assuming they won't need to find the version
except in very rare cases.

There will be cases where they are in a trouble shooting situation and a
support person will ask them to give their information to the
troubleshooter or a an article will tell them how to diagnose a problem.
In those cases, the helper or the documentation will guide them to Help
-> Troubleshooting.


>>> download it? Or if they have had issues with their internet
>>> connection? I had an Apache server set up on a computer once that i
>>> did not have connected to the internet so I didn't have to worry about
>>> security, but I did keep an up to date version of Firefox on the
>>> computer because I used it for web development.
>> Users with Apache servers set up on their machines are quite capable of
>> using about:troubleshooting to figure out which version of Firefox
>> they're using.
>
> See above. Troubleshooting is not a logical place to find version
> information.

Unless the reason you need the version number is because your
troubleshooting and I don't see any other obvious use cases for the
version number.

>>> And using the about:pages isn't a good solution. 75% of people don't
>>> even know the about:pages exist (based on my triage experience) and
>>> users likely are not going to find them on their own.
>> about:troubleshooting is available via the Help menu. Users need not
>> know about the existence of about: pages.
>
> See above
>
>>> Now, while I understand that the UX team wants to make version numbers
>>> less important (that is something I myself want to see happen)
>>> removing them from the About window is not the answer.
>> It is not *the* answer. It is part of an answer which includes removing
>> it from other touchpoints in Firefox and the Firefox websites.
>
> Well, I am glad that you are doing other things than just removing the
> version window, that makes me a bit more at ease :) You didn't explain
> that in the bug or the wiki page, so I was confused at that point.
> Thank you for clearing it up.

And why wouldn't you assume the best from your colleagues rather than
the worst? When I see a colleague doing something I don't understand, I
don't assume they're idiots that don't know what they're doing. I assume
that they've thought about it carefully and I'm the one not seeing the
whole picture. I find that mindset helps me a great deal on a project
that's so large that I can't possibly know why everything is happening
as it is happening.

>>> Even Chrome, which has a rapid release cycle and a VERY good updating
>>> process, shows the Version in the about window.
>> Chrome does foo is a reasonable data point to offer. We can certainly
>> look at how certain Chrome features behave or are received by users and
>> use that data to help inform our decisions on Firefox features.
>>
>> But this isn't new data. The UX and Product leads were fully aware of
>> what Chrome does here and that didn't cause us to decide differently.
>>
>>> What needs to be done is, remove the version from the download page.
>>> Just say "Download Firefox" and leave it at that.
>> Thank you for the prescription. We are removing the version from the
>> download page. There's a bug on file and it is scheduled as part of the
>> next Website refresh. But no, we are not going to just "leave it at that."
>>
>>> Make Firefox automagically update in the background (with an easy to
>>> find preference to turn that off), and get rid of the first run pages
>>> (which now that we are using rapid release and each new version has
>>> like 1 small feature, don't serve any purpose anyway).
>> Firefox already automagically does some of its update in the background.
>> We have feature pages and bugs describing the means by which we are
>> going to make this even more magical and less distracting.
>
> No, it doesn't. When only 66% of Firefox users are running Firefox 5
> according to Dave's stats, that is a total failure. Especially compare
> that with Chrome uptake.

The Firefox 3.6 problem isn't something we've addressed with rapid
releases yet. We're not moving those users forward the way we are the
4.0 users and 5.0 users. So, if you're going to criticize the rapid
release process, you need to actually look where we're applying it.
We're applying it right now in moving Firefox 4 people to Firefox 5 and
we've done that rather well.

>> We also have a feature page describing the intent to remove the What's
>> New tab that loads with each new release. That one is contentions but
>> it's on my list of features that will all combine to give us much more
>> "silent" updates.
>>
>>> The About window needs to continue showing the version number, and it
>>> already checks for updates as soon as it is opened.
>> So far, I think I can summarize your argument for why Firefox "needs to
>> continue showing the version number" as 1) Versions have always been
>> shown in the About dialog, and 2) Some offline users will get a outdated
>> message about when they were last updated, and 3) users cannot find the
>> menu for Help -> Troubleshooting, and 4) Chrome does it.
>>
>> I think I've responded to each of those. Have I missed one of your
>> arguments or mis-characterized any of them?
>
> In a nutshell, yes those are the 4 I wrote early on a Sunday
> morning ;) I'll have more

Great.

- A

Asa Dotzler

unread,
Aug 15, 2011, 1:58:35 PM8/15/11
to DaveG
DaveG wrote:

> I'll reply to this first because it's of course a fair point to
> request hard numbers. I'm not just going on a feeling based on
> complaining users. I see things being far worse than w