The impression of Firefox summit 2006(3)
By pengyang on Nov 21, 2006
After the Brendan's day, it came to a free discussion time on the second day for this summit. The topics include testing, process evaluation, community build up, distributors discussion and some technical sessions.
The sessions began at three places at the same time. I joined the automated testing and the Firefox 2 Postmortem in the morning. As for the automated testing. community has done a lot in this area. Litmus is a public website for the community users to make contributions to the testing of several projects. Notice that Solaris has been added to this system so that users can also help on the Solaris testing. The unit testing includes JSunit, mochikit, XPCshell, necko. They help ensure that some core modules function well. If you go to the tinderbox website, you can see that there are some performance testing(Tp, Ts), reference testing deployed on different machines. So every period of time, all the testcases will be run automatically. Besides all the stuff above, there also have regression tests, eggplant automation of smoke test and test buildbots. Can we deploy all the automation testing in our testing process is a problem for us in the future. I think it's a one time effort and we can benefit from it for a long time.
The Firefox 2 Postmortem focused on the process discussion for Firefox2. Which parts of the process need to be improved in Firefox3 or later? Which is good in Firefox2.0? Actually, it's mainly software process management problem. How to audit the progress of the critical features and bugs especially in a release time frame? How to coordinate the development of different modules to avoid conflict? How to improve the documentation to get more people involved? Here is the meeting minutes on the session.
Chris(from Redhat) and Roc(from novell) gave a session on Firefox for Linux in the afternoon. Chris also invited me to join and talk about the problems in Solaris. Mozilla.org provides binary builds for three major platforms--Windows, Mac and Linux. But different Linux distributors will have their own packages delivered into their own systems. By using different distributions, most users will get the Firefox Linux package from the distributors directly instead of mozilla.org. Meanwhile, different distributors have their own requirements on Firefox and different library dependency. Therefore, they have some patches maintained by themselves and some of them are hard to be accepted by mozilla.org. How can we resolve the problems? So it's hard for the community to provide one solution to all the platforms. One option is that three major distributors(Redhat, Novell, Ubuntu) take more control on the Linux releases and more responsibility on the quality ensurrance. They need to contribute different packages to mozilla.org like we've been doing on Solaris, and their testcases back to the database as well.
As for Solaris and OpenSolaris, most of the issues are similiar with Linux, but still some difference. We don't keep any Solaris specific patches by ourselves. All our patches are now in the community codebase; we plan to put the latest released version for Firefox into next Solaris which may ease the future maintenance effort; Solaris isn't a first class platform in the community. We'll have to do the testing work all by ourselves(we also partly depend on the core function quality ensurrance by mozilla.org of course). To tightly cooperate with the community, we should improve our Solaris Tinderbox tree, deploying the automation testing on it, fixing the Solaris specific bugs caused by code commit, making Solaris Tinderbox tree to the main webpage of Tinderbox for Firefox and even more products as Roc suggested. So what does Tinderbox tree mean to mozilla.org? The main issue is that if some tree on the main webpage becomes red, all the future check in will be blocked. That's to say, adding a new tree probably increase the workload for the community, and the lack of enough Solaris experts in the community may hold the development process. Then how is the real situation for Firefox on Solaris? We've been working on Firefox on Solaris since Firefox1.0 was released, and now it's Firefox2.0. We've fixed most of the Solaris specific bugs by providing patches to the community codebase. Some others are still waiting for review. It's not bad for Solaris actually, is it? Then what can we do more for Solaris? We'll try to figure that out later. The basis is that Mozilla Corporation and different contributors including Sun can work together. Trust and responsibility are important.
After this discussion session, I went to the Text And Typography session given by Roc. This session is about the i18n problems in Firefox, such as how to render different languages or even combinations in browser? How to handle different special requirements for different languages? This is a new area for me. I heard lots of information during this summit for the first time(Actually during the talk with Roc in the welcome session, he has mentioned some part to me). Some languages really have some weird syntax and rendering requirements, which is really annoy. One good information is that Chinese performs well:-)
The last session was about community testing and Litmus. I got some idea about Litmus before I went to American, during the talk with Emily. There is community test day every period of time. Volunteers can make some contributions to the mozilla community. This public website mainly contains menu testing. How to attract more people into this? How to make the testing contributors recognized by more people? How to improve the test cases set? That's the area the discussion is about. Then how about Solaris? The QA engineers have added Solaris to this system. Can we make it available to the Solaris users? Or get some Solaris people into this community work?
Because there was a big party at night, the session ended early at about 4:30pm. We set out back to the hotel and some people dressed up a little bit. Ladies are all pretty! The party was held at Foreign Cinema, a nice place with transparency roof. Still free food, drink. The wonderful thing was the toast part. Different people in the community stood in front of the crowd one by one, saying what they wanted to say, mostly thankful to the people who contribute to this huge community. I can remember the people who toasted that night: Mitchell Baker, Brendan Eich, Dan Mosedale, Mike conner, Mike Shaver, John Lilly, Chris Beard, Mike Schroepher, Chris Aillon... As I've just been with the community for more than one year, I can't imagine how hard when Netscape abandoned this project and laid off the people in the project, how they can continue the open source project under this circumstances and make it through. But I can see their excitement when we all come to a huge success for the launch of Firefox2.0. Even Microsoft also sent a small gift to the community -- A cake with Firefox logo on it. That night, people were all a little bit crazy. After the Cinema party, they went to other two bars to continue drinking, until 3:00am in the morning. Because I was a little drunk after two cups of red wine, I went back to the hotel early.
During the way back to the hotel, I sat in the shuttle bus and watched the light outside, fell asleep without consciousness. It's a really a crazy night.