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Mozilla 0.9.4 Branched -- Behind Schedule & Buggier Than Ever

Mike Angelo -- 5 September 2001 (c)

With more than 100 bugs still targeted to it, the upcoming Mozilla Milestone 0.9.4 edition was branched earlier today from the main development-tree trunk -- five days behind schedule. Moreover, at the time of its branching Mozilla Milestone 0.9.4 had more than 3,000 bugs by conservative estimates and nearly 15,000 bugs by less conservative estimates. That's up about 1,000 bugs from the some 14,000 bugs counted by less conservative estimates on 1 August 2001.

Mozilla pre-1.0 Milestone and daily development builds normally are available for the BSD, Linux, Macintosh, Microsoft Windows, OS/2, Sun, and several UNIX platforms. Source code usually is available if you want to custom compile your own Mozilla builds.

Netscape 6 and Netscape 6.1 are built on the basic Mozilla browser-suite prototype. The underlying Mozilla browser-suite is from where the bugs in Netscape 6 and Netscape 6.1 come. The Mozilla browser-suite is built on top of the cross-platform (XP) and open source Mozilla applications programming framework.

Of course, the lion's share of Mozilla developers are Netscape developers. So Netscape is just as responsible for the bugginess of the Mozilla and Netscape 6.x browser suites as is the Mozilla Organization.

Mozilla 0.9.4 was scheduled to have been branched last Friday (31 August 2001). It is scheduled to be released Friday (7 September 2001). It is not surprising that Mozilla 0.9.4 branched late, considering how buggy Mozilla is even at this time.

The August, Mozilla Organization's Mozilla Development Roadmap document shows that Mozilla 0.9.4 is scheduled for release on 7 September 2001 (please see Figure 1).

Figure 1. August 2001 Mozilla Development Roadmap schedule.

(Excerpted screen shot from Mozilla Development Roadmap, 15 August 2001 revision, The Mozilla Organization, at 23:04 EDT 15 August 2001,)

If the Mozilla developers work to fix all, or even close to all, the bugs targeted to Mozilla 0.9.4 before releasing it, it could take some time. However, if the Mozilla developers follow past practices, they will fix only some of these bugs. Then they will merely sweep the rest under the carpet, so to speak, by re-assigning the remaining bugs to other targets in order to try to maintain schedule.

  • Blocker - Blocks development and/or testing work.
  • Critical - Crashes, loss of data, severe memory leak.
  • Major - Major loss of function.
  • Normal - This is the run of the mill bug.
  • Minor - Minor loss of function, or other problem where an easy workaround is present.
  • Trivial - Cosmetic problem like misspelled words or misaligned text.
  • Enhancement - Request for enhancement.

From Help Using The Bugzilla Query Form. Link in Resouces section,

For example, earlier today there were some 119 assigned, new, or reopened bugs targeted to Mozilla 0.9.4. Three of these bugs were listed as blockers, fifteen as critical, fourteen as major, seventy-three normal, three minor, three trivial, and eight as enhancement.

In addition to the 119 bugs targeted to Mozilla Milestone 0.9.4, there were some 1,105 bugs targeted to 0.9.5, 96 bugs targeted to 0.9.6, 15 bugs targeted to 0.9.7, and 1,688 bugs targeted to Mozilla 1.0 earlier today. That's a total of 3,023 bugs targeted to these five, work-in-progress, Mozilla releases. All those bugs went in to the Mozilla 9.4 branch.

Incidentally, earlier today there were some 4,715 bugs targeted to Future Mozilla releases. All those bugs went in to the Mozilla 0.9.4 branch too.

All the current bugs, regardless of what release to which they might be targeted, are in Mozilla. The bug targeting indicates by which edition of Mozilla those targeted bugs are supposed to be fixed. But they all are in Mozilla until they are fixed.

However, in many cases the bugs are merely swept under the carpet by being re-targeted to later Mozilla editions rather than being fixed. This sweeping bugs under the rug practice is in part why there now are so many bugs in Mozilla and Netscape 6.1. By not fixing bugs and continually re-targeting them to later Mozilla and Netscape releases, the Mozilla and Netscape developers have allowed such a huge number of bugs to pile up.

Of course some of these bugs are requests for enhancements or are trivial bugs. Moreover some of the more serious bugs, although serious, might occur only in rare circumstances.

The point here is that even though there might be lots of bugs in a program, they might not be very noticeable. Of course the fewer the bugs, the better.

The ultimate success or failure of a program is measured by user acceptance. If the overall user experience is a good one and the bugs do not interfere with the user experience, then even somewhat buggy software can be useful and usable.

Despite all the many bugs in Mozilla, the overall user experience generally is a good one. Mozilla is usable.

Nevertheless, that is no excuse to produce buggy software. And right now, Mozilla is very buggy software.

Frankly, we cannot understand why there are any Trivial bugs (Cosmetic problem like misspelled words or misaligned text) at all in Mozilla other than for laziness, poor craftsmanship, or poor quality assurance management. Not immediately fixing such trivial bugs is much like the contractor that does not paint the insides of closets and cabinets when building a house -- poor craftsmanship.

Currently there are some 450 new, re-opened, and assigned trivial bugs listed in Bugzilla. Additionally, there are nearly 1150 minor bugs (Minor loss of function, or other problem where an easy workaround is present) listed in Bugzilla. These trivial and minor bugs ought to be cleaned up forthwith if they really are trivial and minor or upgraded to more severe classifications if they are not.

That does not mean that fixing other bugs should be stopped in order to clean up the trivial and minor bugs. It does mean that the Mozilla Organization should focus and concentrate its full attention on cleaning bugs the trivial bugs and the more severe bugs. It should fix them, not hide them by sweeping them under the rug!

Even the rather conservative bug counting practices we use to track the Mozilla bugs yield high bug counts in Mozilla (in excess of 3,000 bugs). That conservative bug estimate tallies only new, re-opened, and assigned bugs targeted to the 0.9.x Milestone builds and Mozilla 1.0. It does not include the 4,715 bugs targeted to future Mozilla releases. Nor does it include the bugs not targeted to any specific Mozilla Milestone or release.

All the targeted and not-targeted bugs, less requests for enhancements, is nearly 15,000 bugs. However, the broad-based Bugzilla query that yields that count can be misleading and likely is too high. That is why we use the more conservative, specific Bugzilla queries for our daily bug counts, which appear on the right-hand sidebar of the MozillaQuest Magazine front page, and when discussing Mozilla and Netscape 6.x bug counts in articles.

Incidentally, please check the MozillaQuest Magazine front-page (mozillaquest.com) sidebar every now and then for bug count updates and for Mozilla Milestone 0.9.4 progress updates.

Please see our article, Mozilla Roadmap - Mozilla 1.0 Set Back to 2002 - Mozilla 0.9.4 Set for 7 September, for more information about the August 2001 Mozilla Development Roadmap and development schedule revisions. There is lots of bug information in that article too.

If you like, you can grab a copy of the latest Mozilla 0.9.4 branch build from the Mozilla Organization FTP server real. Don't forget to report any bugs you find to Bugzilla.

If you never have tried the Mozilla browser suite, you can download and try Mozilla 0.9.3. Please see our article, Mozilla Milestone 0.9.3 Browser-Suite Released, for more information about 0.9.3 and for download links.

Stay Tuned.


Resources

Download the Latest Mozilla 0.9.4 Branch Build

(Note: At publication time the only 0.9.4 branch builds available are Red Hat Linux RPM builds. More builds should be coming along eventually.)

Related Articles

Mozilla Roadmap - Mozilla 1.0 Set Back to 2002 - Mozilla 0.9.4 Set for 7 September


Mozilla 0.9.x Releases & Download Links

More Mozilla Roadmap & Development Plan Changes: Mozilla 1.0 Pushed Back to Q3 2001 (April Roadmap revisions)

Mozilla 1.0 Release Pushed Back -- Milestone 0.8.1 Inserted into Development Roadmap Schedule (March Roadmap revisions)

Mozilla Organization Revises Development Roadmap and Product Release Schedule (December Roadmap revisions)


Mozilla 0.8.x Releases & Download Links

Lizard On The Move: Mozilla Milestone 0.8.1 Browser-Suite Released

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Mozilla Milestone 0.8 Browser-Suite RPM Builds Released


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For more information about the Mozilla Organization, the Mozilla applications programming framework, and the Mozilla browser, please see:

Please do not forget to report bugs, problems, or suggestions for enhancements to Bugzilla.

For more information about the Mozilla Roadmap & Milestone Plan, please see:

Mozilla Development Roadmap

Copyright 2000, 2001 -- MozillaQuest -- Brodheadsville, Pa..USA -- All Rights Reserved


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