Mozilla Milestone 0.9.9 Branched Behind Schedule
Mike Angelo -- 2 March 2002 (c)
The Mozilla developers cut the 0.9.9 milestone branch yesterday -- a week behind schedule. Mozilla 0.9.9 is the last planned milestone before the scheduled April 2002 Mozilla 1.0 release.
That means that Mozilla developers now are working towards the Mozilla 1.0 release on the development-tree trunk while Mozilla 0.9.9 is being readied on its development-tree branch. If things go well on the branch, Mozilla 0.9.9 might be ready for release next week.
The good news of course is that finally after such an overly-long, four-year, development incubation (and more than 1,000 person-years in development), there will be a Mozilla 1.0 soon. However, some in the Mozilla community question whether the state of Mozilla is such that Mozilla 1.0 should be released in April 2002. Two major concerns are that there are too many open bugs and that Mozilla lacks some essential features.
Yesterday there were 12,137 targeted new, assigned, and reopened Mozilla bugs and 21,199 new, assigned, and reopened bugs (open/unfixed bugs) altogether. However, it appears that only 1,575 bugs are set to be fixed before Mozilla 1.0 is released. (Please see Table 1, below.)
Not including enhancement-request bugs, the Mozilla bug-targeting schema anticipates leaving some 8,600 unfixed, targeted, problem-bugs in Mozilla 1.0 when it is released. If you include bugs that have not been targeted yet, the number of unfixed problem-bugs that will be in Mozilla 1.0 is much larger than the 8,600 unfixed, targeted, problem-bugs estimate.
Table 1, below, is a breakdown of the 12,137 targeted new, assigned, and reopened Mozilla bugs. The 0.9.1 through Mozilla 1.0 targeted new, assigned, and reopened bugs are bugs that the Mozilla developers say they plan to fix by the time they release Mozilla 1.0.
The difference between all targeted bugs and those bugs targeted to be fixed by the time Mozilla 1.0 is released is important. It is the set of targeted new, assigned, and reopened bugs that will be in Mozilla 1.0 when it is released.
Incidentally, that total targeted-bugs count was 11,678 on 4 February 2002, the day Mozilla 0.9.8 was released. That's a net increase of 459 targeted new, assigned, and reopened bugs in less than one month. That means bugs are being added faster than they are being fixed.
Some Mozilla developers and fans say that enhancement requests should not be counted with the problem bugs. There are some pros and cons to that reasoning. However, whether you agree with that or not, many enhancement requests are important and should be adequately resolved before Mozilla 1.0 is released. Also, please note that if an enhancement request is targeted, it means that a Mozilla developer or triager with sufficient Bugzilla permissions decided the requested enhancement should be implemented.
For example, Mozilla Bug 56301 , connect a spellchecker engine for Mozilla, is an enhancement request. Certainly spell checking is an important feature in modern editing software. Of course there are work-arounds. But a work-around is no substitute for having a spell-checker built into Mozilla. Mozilla 1.0 should include a spell checker.
Please notice from Figure 1, below that Bug 56301 is targeted to the post Mozilla 1.0 release, Mozilla 1.01. That means that under the current targeting, the Mozilla 1.0 e-mail, news, and Composer editors will not have spell checking. Que Lastima!
Even though many bugs are being fixed, bugs are cropping up faster than they are being fixed. That's not very healthy program development.
That's not to say that the Mozilla folks have not fixed lots of bugs. They have fixed lots of bugs. However, bugs are cropping up faster than bugs are being fixed. Therein lies the rub.
Mozilla lacks some important features such as a spell checker. That is not to say that the Mozilla folks have not added many new features and improvements to their Mozilla browser suite. They have added many new features and improvements. However, in doing that they added a tremendous number of bugs to Mozilla. Therein lies the rub.
Unfortunately, the Mozilla project's quality assurance practices do not seem to be blocking buggy code from being added to Mozilla.
To the Mozilla Organization's and Mozilla Project's credit they almost have a darn nice browser suite. But they will not have a nice browser suite until they get it right (to-wit, add a spell checker and some other missing essential features and get rid of the bugs, bloat, and memory hogging).
The Mozilla browser-suite is built on top of the cross-platform (XP) and open source Mozilla applications programming framework. It is the basic, prototype, Mozilla-based, browser-suite application upon which other browsers, such as Netscape 6 and Netscape 6.2 are built.
In large part, this is why Netscape 6.x is so buggy. The assorted Netscape 6.x editions were built from the Mozilla code base. Therefore, the bugs in Mozilla went into Netscape.
Some of the Mozilla bugs are in the Mozilla Web browser-suite, which is built on top of the Mozilla application programming framework. However, many of the Mozilla bugs are in that underlying application programming framework -- the Mozilla APIs if you like. That means that any third party developers that build programs on top of the Mozilla application programming framework will be building on top of a buggy foundation -- not a pretty picture.
Currently, Mozilla pre-1.0 Milestone and daily development builds are available for the BSD, Linux, Macintosh, Microsoft Windows, OS/2, Sun, and several UNIX platforms. Source code is available if you want to custom compile your own Mozilla builds. If you would like to give a Mozilla 0.9.9 branch build (release candidate) a try, download a copy and take it for a test drive.
Incidentally, please check the MozillaQuest Magazine front-page (mozillaquest.com) sidebar every now and then for bug-count updates and for upcoming Mozilla Milestone 0.9.9 progress updates. MozillaQuest Magazine will have the Mozilla 0.9.9 final release information and download links as soon as Mozilla 0.9.9 is released. Please check the MozillaQuest Magazine front page regularly for Mozilla 0.9.9 final release news.
Please see our article, Mozilla Roadmap Update: Mozilla 1.0 Set Back to April 2002, for more information about the October 2001 Mozilla Development Roadmap and development schedule revisions. There is lots of bug information in that article too. For the revised post-Mozilla 1.0 development roadmap and plan please see our article, Moz 1.0 April Release Confirmed & Post-1.0 Development Plan Announced.