Getting started on Photon

Justin Dolske dolske at
Mon Mar 20 20:01:22 UTC 2017

 Hello Photon team!

The engineering work on Photon is getting underway, and I’m pretty excited
about it! Here’s where things stand right now and how we’re getting things

== Size and Scope ==

This is a big project! We’ll be starting off with about 12 full-time
engineers and 7 UX designers, and another 3 engineers will become involved
in coming weeks as other projects wind down. Photon (and Quantum) are
targeting Firefox 57, which is currently scheduled to uplift to Aurora on
August 7th, and ship to Release on November 14th. We’d like to have major
engineering work done by uplift, which gives us 20 weeks from today (March

In case you haven’t seen them already, the current best description of
Photon is Stephen Horlander’s slide deck at,
which has been digested down into an initial planning spreadsheet at

== Team Structure ==

Did I mention it’s a big project? To help keep things manageable, we’re
going to divide Photon into 5 sub-projects, each with an assigned
engineering lead, engineering team, and UX contact. We’ll make adjustments
over time, but I think this is a good balance for the work we know of right

1) Onboarding. Improvements to the first-run experience to improve
user retention, as well as Photon-specific onboarding.
Engineering: Tim Chien (lead), Fischer Liu, Evan Tseng
UX: Michael Verdi

2) Visual Redesign. General improvement to make Firefox’s UI feel refined
and modern.
Engineering: Dao Gottwald (lead), Nihanth Subramanya, Johann Hofmann
UX: Stephen Horlander

3) Animation. Judicious use of motion to make Firefox feel fast and
Engineering: Jared Wein (lead), Sam Foster
UX: Eric Pang and Amy Lee

4) Performance. Front-end specific performance improvements that complement
Quantum work.
Engineering: Florian Quèze (lead), Neil Deakin
UX: Philipp Sackl

5) Structure. Changes to menus and customization.
Engineering: Gijs Kruitbosch (lead), Mike de Boer, Drew Willcoxon
UX: Brian Bell and Aaron Benson

Jean Gong is our EPM for Photon, and I’m the overall engineering owner for
the project.

== Next Steps ==

The next step is for each subproject to start doing bug breakdowns. This
serves two purposes. First, we need to flush out any under-specified areas
— ranging from the traditional what’s-it-take-to-build-this breakdown work,
to meeting with UX to to finish defining what Photon is. Then we’ll be
using these bug trees to get better estimates on the scope of the work, and
see what’s feasible to do in the fixed timeframe available.

Bug 1346488 is our uber-meta bug for Photon, each subproject should file a
metabug blocking it for work within their areas.

I fully expect that we’ll be deprioritizing and descoping a significant
amount of work from Photon as is exists today.

== Other Administrivia ==

- A weekly Photon meeting will be set up soon. Given the size of the whole
project, this is going to be somewhat high-level. Each subproject will
likely want to set up their separate meeting to focus on the coordination
with UX and engineering nitty-gritty details.

- We’ll be using Marco Mucci’s system for tracking bugs and estimating
work. He’ll be talking about this with the team once we’ve made progress on
getting the initial bug breakdowns and first bugs going.

- Also be expecting to spend some time working on “P0” bugs coming from the
Quantium project. These will generally be performance-related bugs in
front-end code, which Quantum engineers have found are contributing to
general jank in Firefox. We don’t have a detailed list yet.

That’s it for now. I’m sure I’ve missed some details, so do feel free to
followup on the list if there are things you’re not sure about. Let’s get
Photon rolling!

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