Camino, Firefox on Mac OS X, and My MF Employment

I’ve somewhat collected my thoughts since getting hired last week, and I’ve had time to read through emails, comments, and blog posts concerning my employment. Most people have been very supportive, but there seems to be a fair amount of confusion about what I’ll be doing.

In layman’s terms…

First of all, lets just get this out of the way – Firefox and Camino will remain separate products with healthy futures. Neither one is going to replace the other. There are no plans for any sigificant changes in the way either product is developed in terms of each other, except perhaps a little more sharing of code. Camino and Firefox already share many components, so that won’t be much of a change. They are still and probably always will be fundamentally different, with both offering certain advantages over the other.

As you probably know, I’ve spent most of my time working on Camino-specific development in the past. There has been some concern about my abandoning Camino development for Firefox. I’m going to do my best now to explain how my employment with Mozilla Foundation changes that.

Firefox and Camino share a lot of code, but they also have a large amount of code that is specific to each application. Working on Camino-specific code obviously only helps Camino, and the same goes for Firefox. Working on code that they share helps both browsers. The easiest way to explain how things are going to change is to say that I will spend a lot more time on the code that the browsers share, and also more time on the Mac OS X Firefox-specific code. I will spend less time on Camino-specific code, that is true, but I will still be “working on Camino.”

If you’re a Camino user, here is what you can expect to see from my work on the code that Camino and Firefox share. One of the first things I’ll be doing is cleaning up form widgets (content-area buttons, text fields, etc.). Most widgets in Camino already have a native look and feel, but they aren’t great right now. I’ll also be working on making pages load faster, and Mac OS X rendering in general. This most likely includes making the gecko rendering engine use the Quartz API intead of Quickdraw. This will bring a lot of benefits, including making use of your graphics card to do a lot of the work that your CPU is doing right now because we use Quickdraw.

If you’re a Firefox on Mac OS X user, you will see all of the benefits described in the previous paragraph, but you should also be seeing some additional improvements. In general, my goal is to make using Firefox on Mac OS X a better experience in terms of its user interface. At the moment, Firefox does an acceptable job of looking and behaving like it has a native Mac OS X user interface, but it could be a lot better. I am going to do my best to improve the situation. Its a big job, but now I should have plenty of time to do it 🙂

Aside from Camino and Firefox on Mac OS X, I’ll be doing some work on Thunderbird on Mac OS X as well as the Mac OS X toolkit.

I know this is somewhat vague, but I’m just trying to give a general idea of the direction I have in mind. I don’t actually start working on this stuff full-time until I graduation in May, but I will be working on it part-time until then.

Goodbye SGI

As I am now employed by Mozilla Foundation, I resigned from SGI on Saturday (a few months earlier than I had planned to leave). It was a quick transition – I’ve already cleaned out my office there and turned in my security badge.

My time at SGI was wonderful. The people, the work, and the environment there in general are superb. It felt great to work on products that I really believed were of the highest quality and very innovative. Most of the time I worked on core system software (the lower level stuff in SuSE and Red Hat Linux) and the Linux kernel, and I will miss working on those things. Hopefully I’ll have enough spare time to continue working on some of it. Fascinating stuff.

Two days before I left there was a round of layoffs at SGI, and that is always tough. It was especially tough to have it happen to my coworkers. Its feels even worse to hear about it when it hits so close to home. I am incredibly fortunate to have a great new job, and I wish the best to the amazing people that were laid off.

Good News

I’m really happy to announce that as of tonight I am a Mozilla Foundation employee. I don’t have much more to say at the moment, but I’m really excited about this. Mozilla Foundation is making more of a commitment to Mac OS X, so hopefully there will be some really good things happening on the platform in the near future.

There are a lot of people that helped me along this path, and I’m very thankful to all of them. I’m not even going to try to make a list here. I’ll write more when I have had time to collect my thoughts!

New PowerBook on the Way!

I just ordered a new PowerBook to replace my aging 15-inch 667MHz/512Mb PowerBook. This is what I got:

– 15 inch screen
– 1.5GHz G4
– 80GB 5400RPM hard drive
– ATI Mobility Radeon 9700 w/64MB VRAM
– SuperDrive
– Airport

I haven’t had much time to work on Mozilla stuff lately, but this will help me take advantage of what time I do have. Its sad that this nearly-top-of-the-line Apple setup will probably have way worse compile times for Mozilla products than top-of-the-line PC laptop offerings, but oh well. I’ve found Apple hardware to be wonderfully designed and reliable, and when I need something other than Linux (which should run fine on my PowerBook) I’d much prefer Mac OS X over Windows.

A Reminder to Ride Your Bike

I’ve had a car for most of the time since I turned 16, which is about 5 years. I am guilty of unecessarily driving it quite often, wasting gas and polluting the air much more than is necessary. Tonight I spent some time thinking about that problem, and I’ve made reminders to ride my bike whenever possible. I’m also going to do some more research on the public transportation available in my area so I can use that as another alternative to driving my own car. I hope I can do better, and I hope you’ll consider making an effort to do the same! It’ll be good for all of us.