Thursday, March 20, 2008

about:mozilla - Memory usage, QA companion, SXSW, Effortless Good, Year of the Gecko, T-shirts, AwesomeBar and more

In this issue…

  • Firefox 3 Memory usage
  • Mozilla QA Companion released
  • Mozilla at SXSW
  • John Lilly and Mike Schroepfer interviewed by Matt Asay
  • Effortless Good Firefox Add-on
  • The Year of the Gecko
  • Executive Director search update
  • Last chance for free t-shirts!
  • Firefox 3’s AwesomeBar changes for Beta 4
  • Developer calendar
  • Subscribe to the email newsletter

Firefox 3 Memory usage

As the web and web browsers have matured, people have started expecting different things from them. When Firefox was first released, few people were browsing with tabs or using large numbers of add-ons. As browser usage patterns have changed, so too have Mozilla’s strategies on how to effectively make use of system resources such as memory. A large number of changes have been made to the platform Firefox 3 is built on, including many that aim to reduce the browser’s memory footprint. The results have been dramatic, particularly in the recently released Firefox 3 Beta 4, with tests showing that Firefox 3 now beats memory usage numbers of all other modern web browsers.

Stuart Parmenter discusses Firefox 3’s memory usage in a post on his weblog. Several follow-up posts expand upon the discussion, including on weblogs by John Resig, Tristan Nitot, and Chris Blizzard. Ars Technica has also written an article about this topic.

Mozilla QA Companion released

Mozilla’s Quality Assurance team has released a new “Mozilla QA Companion” Firefox add-on that was created to make it easier for people to get involved with the Mozilla Project by helping to test Firefox. The add-on pulls test cases from Litmus, provides an easy-to-use response form, and keeps users up to date on events such as Bug Days and through live feeds from the QMO site and forums. Chatzilla is also bundled with the add-on, with one-click access to the Quality Assurance IRC channel (#qa). The add-on is currently in beta form so there are still likely to be some minor issues and bugs. See the QA blog for more information and a download link for the add-on.

Mozilla at SXSW

The annual South by Southwest (SXSW) interactive conference happened this past week, in toasty Austin, Texas. Thousands of web developers poured in from all over the country to hear the latest techniques and get to know the web development community a little bit better. Mozilla was well represented: Aza Raskin (User Experience Lead for Mozilla Labs) lead a discussion on designing intelligent user interfaces, John Resig (JavaScript Evangelist) lead a panel discussion on the Secrets of JavaScript Libraries, and Brendan Eich (CTO of Mozilla Corporation) participated in a rousing “Browser Wars” panel, with many of the major browser vendors.

Mozilla also lead a developer get-together giving Firefox users and developers the opportunity to connect. We ran a quick contest to get fun ideas for new Firefox add-ons, and the three winners were:

  • John Refano: “I served you an ad but I eated it” - a spin-off of Adblock which replaces all ads with cute lolcat pictures.
  • Jon Steffens: “Stumble Fake or Not” - displays two panes, one with a real web site, one with a fake one - can you tell the difference? Useful for teaching users to spot possible in phishing attempts.
  • Steve Levithan: “A Firefox 3+ only add-on to leak memory, to remind you of the old days”.

We want to thank everyone who came to our get-together and those who participated in the add-on competition. We had a great time getting to chat everyone and we hope to see you again, next year!

John Lilly and Mike Schroepfer interviewed by Matt Asay

Matt Asay spent an hour with John Lilly, CEO of Mozilla, and Mike Schroepfer, Mozilla’s vice president of engineering. Matt has put together an extremely interesting write up of his chat with Lilly and Schroepfer, which you can read on the Webware blog.

Effortless Good Firefox Add-on

The Participatory Culture Foundation has released a new Firefox add-on that helps you do good without any effort whatsoever. Simply install the add-on with a click and then anytime you shop at Amazon, a portion of your purchase will be donated to four non-profit organizations — Rainforest Alliance, Save the Children, Grameen Foundation, and the Participatory Culture Foundation. The add-on currently works with Amazon in the US, UK, Canada, France, Germany, and Japan, functioning by simply adding a referral code to the URL when you browse on Amazon. When you buy something, the Amazon referral fee is collected by the PCF and distributed evenly among the four non-profits. For more information, and to install the add-on, head on over to the Effortless Good website today.

The Year of the Gecko

Mike Shaver, Mozilla’s Chief Evangelist, has declared 2008 to be the “Year of the Gecko”. Gecko is the platform upon which Mozilla projects are built (including Firefox), and with the new performance gains being made on that platform it’s a great time to start building software with it. Shaver writes, “Fast, small, cross-platform, industry-leading stability, solid OS integration, excellent standards support, excellent web compatibility, great security, ridiculously extensible, a productive app platform, accessible, localized to heck and back, open source from top to bottom: it’s a great time to be building on top of Gecko, and Firefox 3 is just the beginning. Wait until you see what we have in store for the next release…” Read more at Shaver’s weblog.

Executive Director search update

The Mozilla Foundation has been searching for a new Executive Director for quite some time now. Mitchell Baker has posted an update about the process on her weblog, writing, “We suspected that the number of people who can understand and lead something of Mozilla’s complexity and history would be small and hard to find, and we were right.” More information, including an outline of the search so far, is available on her blog.

Last chance for free t-shirts!

March 18th (today!) is the final deadline for updating your add-on for Firefox 3 to get a free t-shirt! Alex Polvi’s weblog has all the details, but act fast — today is the last day the free t-shirt offer is available.

Firefox 3’s AwesomeBar changes for Beta 4

Edward Lee, one of the developers responsible for the new Firefox 3 “AwesomeBar”, has blogged about the new features that have been included in the new location bar behavior for Firefox 3 Beta 4. The adaptive learning system works for the drop down menu without typing any words, so it now benefits from mouse as well as keyboard input. Additionally, the location bar now allows you to search with multiple words, including against tags you’ve added to bookmarked pages. There are other tweaks and features that have been added, much of which is geared towards more advanced users, which Edward discusses at length in his blog post.

Developer calendar


  • Mobile Meeting
  • SUMO Meeting
  • General Status Meeting


  • Thunderbird Meeting
  • Firefox/Gecko Meeting
  • Bug Day!


  • Mac Gecko Meeting
  • Performance Infrastructure Meeting
  • Performance/Leaks Meeting
  • Mozilla 2 Meeting


  • Test Day!

Subscribe to the email newsletter

If you would like to get this newsletter by email, just head on over to the about:mozilla newsletter subscription form. Fresh news, every Tuesday, right to your inbox.

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