[Project_owners] Clarification for a SeaMonkey User

Axel Hecht axel at pike.org
Tue Sep 16 05:19:12 EDT 2003

Pete Collins wrote:
>> Maybe this post is a little OT, but my main concern is that we are 
>> wasting resource when we just have a complete suite and we have to 
>> produce "only" an API and good documentations to help programmers.
> Yep, i totally agree. Mozilla is already a working system that isn't 
> perfect but doesn't suck.
> Good documentation can go a long, long way.
> It might make sense for Mozilla.org to do this:
> 1. Release 1.5 and get it out of the way.
> 2. Stop, Stop Stop! Reevaluate the entire project

That alone is very ambitious. Let alone that the definitions of "entire" 
and "project" prolly diverge. As can be seen in this discussion.

> 3. Put together a mission statement that inclusively reflects the 
> Mozilla community as a whole.

marked WONTFIX ;-). There is no such thing. It'd be nice to have, sure. 
But so many people can't agree. Let alone the fact that more people feel 
part of the Mozilla community than just those that do the work. Which 
*must* create a conflict between different users in the first place, and 
even worse, a conflict between what the user part wants and the 
developer part is willing to implement. In any given timeframe.

> 4. Document the architecture, all vital public API's, document, 
> document, document, *samples*, *samples*, *samples*.

For what? Mozilla1.0? Mozilla1.4? Toolkit? Just frozen API's or vital 
ones? And, should the Mozilla developers fix the bugs (and change the 
API's as necessary, which sometimes is inevitable) or rather document 
the current (or not so current, eg. 1.0) code? For which audience, even? 
Oh, and which of the numerous dead documentation projects should this 
stuff end up in? This is by far more than one issue, and it's a matter 
of priorities and keeping those that should do the work motivated.

> 5. Establish clear module ownership.

That is mostly a matter of putting money where your dreams are. Module 
ownership requires time in the first place. That costs money. Which is 
one reason why module ownership is deadly rotting away these days. It 
was never in best shape, but right now, it's a burning inferno. Like the 
lifes of the former owners.
Plus, module ownership requires a good combination of knowledge of code, 
social skillz and the willingness to do decisions. Even decisions that 
conflict anything that may have been dreamt of in 3. and 4. That is a 
pretty rare combination, which keeps us from just pointing fingers at 
people and declare them module owners.

> 6. Establish technical direction based on the mission statement.

How is that supposed to come to life?

> 7. Establish a technical plan on precisely how proceed step by step.
> 8. Proceed one day at a time.

Last I heard, programming doesn't work that way. I thought you'd start 
off with a vision of the result, and iterate towards it. Precise plans 
require simple targets. We don't have too many of those. Sadly. Oh, did 
I mention money? So much for "one day at a time". The majority of the 
developers will likely have to work "on or off the other week".

> 9. Stick to the plan.

See above.

> 10. Continue releasing stable snaps of the tree.
> If there is clear direction, then it is all just a matter of everyone 
> being on the same page and getting there. Everyone has their part to 
> play and I don't think there is anyone in the community who wants to see 
> Mozilla fail. There is still a lot of dedication floating around despite 
> the worst of setbacks. That dedication needs to be leveraged not 
> squandered.

Sorry Pete, but I think one essential thing to keep Mozilla afloat will 
be tolerance-to-frustration. I lack that myself, but I got used to it 
back in the AOL-paid days and I'm getting better every day. If things 
don't work out the straight way, try another path to your goal. And be 
ready to see it fail. (I myself am waiting for a security review writeup 
for almost half a year now. So I changed direction, just to end up in 
another fight. I moderated that fight down, now I don't get any 
responses. See? A cookie for those that guess the bug #s. ;-) )
One thing that can help on getting there is adjusting ones expectations, 
of course. Which is why I replied.

The best thing we can say about the current situation is that those 
outside Netscape (now all) don't depend on decisions from folks inside 
AOL (now basically none). We're just left with drivers still being 
somewhat mystical, which is, AFAICT, the heatsource in this thread. 
(Apart from giving all kinds of folks another chance to raise their 
voice and get all the things of their little souls that lingered there 
for years.)


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