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.

22 thoughts on “Camino, Firefox on Mac OS X, and My MF Employment

  1. Thunderbird! Yes!

    I use TB, and it’s very frustrating at times when things don’t work on the Mac, and it seems like I’m the only one who uses it. I’m grateful you’re going to give TB a little TLC.

  2. I’ve been a Mac addict since my days first as a Software Human Engineering researcher and then on the old Apple/DEC alliance. I was a very early Chimera/Camino user, and somewhere around the time that Safari showed up pretty well abandoned IE. Since then Firebird/Firefox has come on the Mac scene and it pretty much pushed Camino and Safari off my desk.

    For all that I spent a decade doing user interface architecture and such, the fact that Camino’s UI is a closer match for the Mac’s just isn’t as important to me as Firefox features, nor is performance.

    As such, I for one am really pleased both to hear that you’re headed to MF and to hear how and what you plan to be doing there. Firefox, Camino and to an extent Safari have done a really good thing both in advancing the state of the art in browsers and in counteracting the stagnation that monopoly brings.

    Good luck, and keep up the good work.

    JimB.

  3. The 6th paragraph of that made me happy 🙂 Quartz graphics and improved text fields fixes most of my remaining nitpicks about Camino. Good luck!

  4. It’s a little sad (though not at all unexpected) that you’ll be spending less time on Camino-specific work, but as there are so many big and/or complex tasks in the core that really need the attention of a full-time (paid!) developer in order to make some decent progress, it’s definitely good news to hear those areas will be your focus. (And, well, lord knows Fx needs some serious attention to its Mac UI behavior, so that’s to be expected.) Go, Josh, go!

  5. Hi, congratulations on your new job. I believe a lot in Firefox/Thunderbird, but I have to say that in particularly on OS X they lacks some small details, which makes them really usable for mac users. I have recently switched from Linux to OS X, and I love the way apple is designing it programs user interface. Lets look a bit for Human Interface tricks to be implemented into FF/TB.

    I am sure that Thunderbird have a potencial to be the best client on OS X platform if there is litte effort to make more apple like….

  6. Quartz rendering would be an excellent addition to both browsers! Though I use Firefox on my Mac simply because it’s much more feature rich. But I do like the gracefulness of Camino.

    One other thing I would love to see in Firefox/Mac is full Keychain support. I would use FX built in password manager, but it’s not worth it until MF releases the “Sanitize” feature.

    Good luck!

  7. Excellent stuff! I’m really looking forward to seeing Firefox on the Mac improve. Currently, I use Firefox at work on my Windows XP machine, and Safari at home on my Macs. I’d prefer to be using Firefox all around… but Firefox on the Mac isn’t up to par in terms of speed with Safari, and Camino doesn’t have all of the features that are in Firefox (extensions for example).

  8. Hey Josh,

    I read up on your blog and you seem to be doing a fantastic job so far, keep it up :). I am wondering if you will be graduating from high school or college in May? Just curious… :).

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  10. >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.

    Bug 233977 would be good place to start (single-click selects entire address bar rather than activates cursor). I can’t understand why the Firefox developers refuse to fix this bug, even though the change would take 5 minutes to implement. Please talk some sense into them Josh!

  11. Jason,

    Welcome! It’s great to hear that you’ve joined Mozilla. I’m an avid Firefox for Mac OS X user and can’t wait for the next version. I must admit I’m ambivalent about the real need for continued development of Camino. As for Thunderbird, it rocks and is a good alternative to Mail.app — except for its lack of Palm synchronization and true Address Book integration. If you can do something about, you’ll be my hero. Good luck, man.

  12. Hi. Does any of your toolkit work also affect the Mozilla suite? In particular I’m annoyed that the middle-mouse-click doesn’t work there (open-new-tab).

    Will Mozilla/Mac be supported by anyone at all? Will it use the FF toolkit sometime?

  13. hey, that sounds really good.
    Beside the change to Quartz i would really love to see the keychain support in all Moz apps and AddressBook integration in TB. Together with proper implementation of apple’s upcoming spotlight, it would be soooo nice 😉

    max

  14. Oh, congratulations! Looking forward to seeing the results of your work. Oh, and don’t forget about Services . . . been waiting to be able to copy Thunderbird email contents into NoteTaker via Services . . .

  15. Sounds great!

    I hope you will work a bit on Thunderbird for OS X. Few small steps, such as adding key shortcuts, alt/control/command+key unification and improving UI to behave as usual with macs would make it BEST MAIL CLIENT for OS X!

    I wish you good luck, man! You have my deep respect!

  16. Sorry for the previous test post. Didn’t mean to actually post it!

    I wanted to say that I’m really glad that someone capable and passionate about the Mac is going to be working on Firefox on the Mac. I just recently switched to Firefox from Safari, because of some of Safari’s limitations. But, I still use both, mainly because Firefox has a tendency to misbehave sometimes.

    Anyway, good luck and know that your commitment and work is appreciated (by me and by many)!

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