1.0 - functionality and organization

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Mar 18, 2002, 1:20:37 PM3/18/02
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[This message will be cross posted on mozillazine / in the news: ]
Cf http://www.mozillazine.org/talkback/read.php?f=1&i=1188&t=1188


Hi Asa,

Little background: I am a software engineer, who's been using mozilla a
lot, who spends some time in bugzilla, following bugs, and sometimes
rereading/reviewing patches. I use mozilla both on Windows (at work) and
Linux (at home).

I will try not to make too many comments regarding the functionality in
itself (i.e. support of HTML, CSS, XML and co....) as I am pretty sure
most of the people will comment on that and that it will be taken care
by the developers.

The Mozilla product has seen great progresses in the last year. But I
think that Mozilla is after all as much an organization as it is a product.
Progresses can be even bigger and faster if the organization is
improved. When I am talking about organization, I do not know about the
internal organization, the one at Netscape. I am talking about the
community involved around mozilla.


Areas were I see things could get improved:

1- Mozilla for all

Testers/developers:
- easier access to new builds. The getmoz project on mozdev.org seems to
be a great step towards that. It allows user to easily install and test
new versions of mozilla without having them to risk their system. I
don't know is it does it or not, but I would expect such a tool to be
able to use a rsync-like protocol to allow those with slow connections
to easily make fast upgrades .


Simple users:
My mum is a teacher. I want my mum to use mozilla. I want it to be
simple to use, intuitive, and I want all this to make her a mozilla
addict: if she has to use another PC, that she misses mozilla. I want
her to know where she can find it, and how to install it. I want her to
know where the information is in order to use it or spread the word to
her friends/coworkers.

Evangelism:
I want people to know that problems sometimes come sometimes from sites
not from the browser itself. E.g. I want an indicator saying whether the
page adheres to standard or not when loaded. E.g. by running the page in
the W3C validator. Some browsers have that. I couldn't find the related
bug in mozilla.


Bugzilla for all
---------------------
I would like to see an organization where the interaction with the users
and the developers is as smooth as possible.
Bugzilla is a masterpiece of the interaction with the community. The
community has plenty of different categories of people. The information
in bugzilla is of mixed styles, from technical to user one. This is not
that good.
Bugzilla in itself is still too close to the technical side. It's a tool
designed by technical persons, mostly used by technical persons and
having technical contents. It is important to make it appealing to
normal users. I see good initiatives lately such as rewriting bug
writing guidelines, making simple search pages for bugzilla, etc...

Having a more uniform content would mean better search results for
everybody, less duplicates, less administration work. It is really
important.

As a user and follower of the project, I also want to be able to get
access to this information without having to make my own queries:
- what is known to be broken in my version of the mozilla (that's in the
releases notes).
- what is expected to be fixed in the forthcoming release
- what has been fixed in the trunk since the last release and since my
version
- what has been broken in the trunk since the last release and since my
version

This perhaps means having more predefined queries easily accessible.

Some further ideas: easy search of bugzilla from the browser (I can do
Search Google from a bookmark let, why can't I do search bugzilla? I
know about the sidebar, but to the normal user, I don't find it well
designed; it takes place and is only used once in a while. So you hide
it and then forget to open it when you need. Normal users do not have
the sidebar reflex.


On the technical side, I would like to have an emphasis on the Data
handling and the UI.

UI:
Functionality is good but UI is not. It is clumsy in many places. There
was a great comment by I-don't-remember-who on I-don't-remember-where
the other day who listed a long list of very valid points. It was in the
news or on mozillazine. Can't remember where. E.g. of comments were
'difficult to access password manager', names are not well chosen
'Tasks' , sidebar is bad, etc... The person is well known is the
community. Sorry for not remembering.

Better data handling:
Software applications are about data handling. There are just interfaces
to allow us (stupid users) to handle this data. The access to this data
must be both easy and powerful. Loss of the data is the greatest fear.
I cannot live in the fear my data is lost or in a proprietary format
(fear to lose it one day).
This means:
- Easy and powerful tools: we need to have the tools that handle the
data both easy to use and powerful. Some of the tools we have now in
mozilla are difficult to access to (e.g. hidden in menus), and/or lack
functionality.
- Standards data formats: the data these tools handle should be in open
formats. I believe the mozilla organization can help to create and/or
push standards allowing this data to be stored (or exported) into
standard formats. I am talking here about bookmarks, cookies, passwords,
addressbook and so on. I want to be able to move this data easily, save
it, backup it, REPAIR IT if necessary, etc...

I want mozilla to do the best and fastest rendering as possible. If
there is a better tool for a specific task, why not let this tool be
easily integrated into mozilla. I wouldn't mind if I had several
alternatives to do the cookie management or the password management,
encryption, spell checker, etc...
Same for download management. It was just checked, but why not let
another tool be completely responsible for it.

Let's give back the power to the users.


Sorry for the long post...

Gervase Markham

unread,
Mar 19, 2002, 8:03:22 AM3/19/02
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> Testers/developers:
> - easier access to new builds. The getmoz project on mozdev.org seems to
> be a great step towards that. It allows user to easily install and test
> new versions of mozilla without having them to risk their system.

This is not true. Using a getmoz-installed Mozilla is (AIUI) just as
risky as one you download and install yourself.

> I
> don't know is it does it or not, but I would expect such a tool to be
> able to use a rsync-like protocol to allow those with slow connections
> to easily make fast upgrades .

An rsync-like tool would not help, unless it used some form of binary
diff. The effort required to produce such diffs for every possible form
of build, for the current version against (say) all the versions
published in the previous week would be massive. Perhaps this is why no
other free software project does this sort of release.

> Simple users:
> My mum is a teacher. I want my mum to use mozilla.

mozilla.org does not really want your Mum to use Mozilla. We'd love your
Mum to use Netscape 6.2.1, Beonex Communicator or OEOne HomeBase.

This is _not_ to say that Mozilla should not be simple to use and
intuitive; it is to say that binaries available from ftp.mozilla.org are
not, as they stand, suitable for giving to your Mum. That's what
companies like Netscape, Beonex and OEOne do.

> Evangelism:
> I want people to know that problems sometimes come sometimes from sites
> not from the browser itself. E.g. I want an indicator saying whether the
> page adheres to standard or not when loaded. E.g. by running the page in
> the W3C validator. Some browsers have that. I couldn't find the related
> bug in mozilla.

There is one - search harder :-)

> Bugzilla in itself is still too close to the technical side. It's a tool
> designed by technical persons, mostly used by technical persons and
> having technical contents. It is important to make it appealing to
> normal users.

Why? We don't want your Mum trying to report problems to Bugzilla
either. If all the users of Mozilla-based products did this, we'd be
swamped with thousands of low-quality bug reports every day. We are
already having trouble keeping up as it is.

Bugzilla is a software development tool. As such, it has a specific
target audience - and the Bugzilla team is working to make it work
better for that audience.

> As a user and follower of the project, I also want to be able to get
> access to this information without having to make my own queries:
> - what is known to be broken in my version of the mozilla (that's in the
> releases notes).
> - what is expected to be fixed in the forthcoming release
> - what has been fixed in the trunk since the last release and since my
> version
> - what has been broken in the trunk since the last release and since my
> version
>
> This perhaps means having more predefined queries easily accessible.

There is nothing to stop you writing your own page which (given a
version number) constructs and submits the appropriate queries, and
returns the results. But this is, again, a service which Mozilla
distributors should be providing to their customers - not querying
Bugzilla, but digesting and representing the information in a format
which your Mum can understand.

> Some further ideas: easy search of bugzilla from the browser (I can do
> Search Google from a bookmark let, why can't I do search bugzilla? I

Install the Bugzilla sidebar. It's on scottcollins.net somewhere. Or set
up custom keywords like "bug". Or, write yourself a bookmarklet. Or use
Simple Search or Quicksearch. But remember, for most things, querying
Bugzilla is more complex than querying Google.

> Functionality is good but UI is not. It is clumsy in many places. There
> was a great comment by I-don't-remember-who on I-don't-remember-where
> the other day who listed a long list of very valid points. It was in the
> news or on mozillazine. Can't remember where. E.g. of comments were
> 'difficult to access password manager', names are not well chosen
> 'Tasks' , sidebar is bad, etc... The person is well known is the
> community. Sorry for not remembering.

The UI is not ideal. However, merely pointing this fact out doesn't help
much :-)

> Better data handling:
<snip>

The entire rest of your post basically says "Mozilla should be better".
We agree. Head over to http://www.mozilla.org/quality/help/ to see how
you can help.

Gerv

Matthew Thomas

unread,
Mar 20, 2002, 9:14:56 PM3/20/02
to
Gervase Markham wrote:
>...

> > Bugzilla in itself is still too close to the technical side. It's a
> > tool designed by technical persons, mostly used by technical persons
> > and having technical contents. It is important to make it appealing
> > to normal users.
>
> Why? We don't want your Mum trying to report problems to Bugzilla
> either. If all the users of Mozilla-based products did this, we'd be
> swamped with thousands of low-quality bug reports every day. We are
> already having trouble keeping up as it is.
>...

There are three aspects to fixing this problem. First, stopping the
effects of the swamping (bugmails), by getting rid of component owners.
Second, making existing bugs easier for beginners to find. Third, making
new bugs more difficult for beginners to file.

The first seems anathema to the Powers That Be, but I'm working on the
second, and I'd be happy to work on the third too if people thought it
appropriate. (Learnability and usability are orthogonal -- making
enter_bug.cgi more difficult for beginners need not make it more
difficult for those who already know what they're doing.)

>...


> > Some further ideas: easy search of bugzilla from the browser (I can
> > do Search Google from a bookmark let, why can't I do search
> > bugzilla?

>...

You can. This is a bookmarklet I made a couple of years ago, and still use:

javascript: id=document.getSelection(); if(!id) { void(id=prompt('Enter
Mozilla bug number or summary term, or * to go straight to
Bugzilla:','*')) } if(id) { if(id == '*') {
document.location='http://bugzilla.mozilla.org/' } else if(isNaN(id)) {
document.location='http://bugzilla.mozilla.org/buglist.cgi?bug_status=UNCONFIRMED&bug_status=NEW&bug_status=ASSIGNED&bug_status=REOPENED&short_desc_type=substring&short_desc='+escape(id)
} else {
document.location='http://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id='+escape(id)
} }

It could be refined to use resolution=--- instead of all the bug
statuses, and to use all words as substrings instead of substring.

--
Matthew `mpt' Thomas, Mozilla UI Design component default assignee thing
<http://mpt.phrasewise.com/>

Jesse Ruderman

unread,
Apr 7, 2002, 4:27:32 PM4/7/02
to
> > > Some further ideas: easy search of bugzilla from the browser (I can
> > > do Search Google from a bookmark let, why can't I do search
> > > bugzilla?
> >...
>
> You can. This is a bookmarklet I made a couple of years ago, and still use:
> ...

> It could be refined to use resolution=--- instead of all the bug
> statuses, and to use all words as substrings instead of substring.

Here's a similar bookmarklet that uses bugzilla quicksearch:
http://www.squarefree.com/bookmarklets/mozilla.html#bug_search

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