Why we need Gecko updates

Jim squibblyflabbetydoo at gmail.com
Thu Dec 10 20:09:12 UTC 2015

On Thu, Dec 10, 2015 at 11:20 AM, R Kent James <kent at caspia.com> wrote:

> I also suggest that you listen to some of Chris Beard's speeches on Air
> Mozilla about planning for 2016. One of the points he makes is that the
> attempt of Mozilla to refocus on desktop Firefox requires that they
> identify things that they used to do that are not adding value to Firefox,
> and try to eliminate them. At the highest management levels, they are
> looking around for what can be cut to allow better focus. Thunderbird is an
> obvious target of this. (Apparently, so is Firefox OS phones.)

The issues with Firefox OS provide a good contrast. There are a *lot* of
Firefox OS developers (at least 100, I think). Compare that to Thunderbird,
where we have just a handful. Given that we're just about dropping support
for Firefox OS phones (I'm sure we'll still let people use B2GDroid and
such, but that's not where we'll be focusing a lot of our time), the
requirements for Firefox OS are now quite a bit smaller. If we focus on the
one product that seems to be doing ok (smart TVs), about half the apps
we've written become superfluous. Do you really want to check your calendar
on a TV? (To say nothing of making phone calls.) The media apps are the
important ones; all of the others can start winding down.

It's not clear to me what will happen to people working on core apps that
are less important now. Will they get moved to desktop? I'd argue that at
least a couple could be moved to Thunderbird. 2-3 full-time developers on
Thunderbird could make a huge difference, and combining our efforts with
the Firefox OS productivity team would help both parties out. We might be
able to use code from Firefox OS to help modernize Thunderbird.

One good example would be enhancing <gaia-fast-list> to replace our usage
of XUL trees. XUL trees are a mess, and also the main reason why we don't
have 2-line items in the thread pane. Using an enhanced version of
<gaia-fast-list> would resolve this while also helping us to move away from
XUL. We could even pitch this to the rest of Mozilla as a way the
Thunderbird developers could "give back" to Firefox. If we turn
<gaia-fast-list> into a XUL tree replacement, then Firefox could also use
this in places like the bookmarks/history window.

- Jim
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