Thursday, September 29, 2011

Eeekadoodle - Firefox 7.0 out already?!

An Open Letter to the Firefox Developers

Dear Firefox Developers,

While I've been a Firefox user for the past few years, I'm not a fan of Firefox's new "rapid release" strategy, where we're getting major release numbers nearly every month but with hardly any of the "major release gloss" (or seemingly significant features warranting a major release number).

For the nth time today, I booted up my computer looking to quickly check my email before heading off, and boom! I get a prompt that Firefox wants to update itself. Now, unless I'm mistaken, the last time I last had that happen was less than a month ago (for a minor bugfix release), and just over a month since the last version came bursting out.

Unfortunately, the problem with such frequent releases though is that apart from enduring the 10 seconds it takes for the updater to check that all of my addons still work (it seems to make a habit of slowly killing off a few everytime and/or silently breaking a few others), I have to click through a combination of 5-6 UAC prompts in addition to a certain "password bank" software prompts I've never used or found a way to disable, each of which duly takes its ~3 seconds to show up before ~2 seconds of locking up computer and 1 second to dismiss and wait for the next one. Now, if you have to go through this every few weeks when trying to just quickly check on things at the start of a day, then this is a huge annoyance.

While as a software developer, I am slightly predisposed to being interested in new software, this is simply getting excessive. In a way, this smells like the latest space race, except this time, for who can reach the highest version number in the shortest period of time (at last check, Opera was at 11, IE at 9, and Chrome at 15...); hrm.... version number envy...

If you're going to keep pushing out incremental releases like this, please consider one or more of the following things in the immediate future:
  • Make the updating process more invisible - if your main aim is to ensure that everyone gets to use a recent version, do what Chrome does and just install it for them!
  • Make some adaptations to your update processes which allow delta upgrades instead of wholesale reinstalls  - perhaps not truly relevant anymore, but the recent releases have muddled the lines between what the update process does anymore
  • Use smaller version numbers - point releases for the monthly increments you release, and bump major numbers once a year. You're basically doing minor tweaks during these monthly increments anyway, so there's no point for a major bump which signals potential radical UI changes...

PS. for regular readers of this blog, I've since told the updater to "fugg-off" twice today... I've got more interesting things to do than wait for a browser to slowly update itself

1 comment:

  1. We got Firefox at one end and Blender at the other. Why does Blender use such tiny increments? It gives the impression that Blender development is happening at about the speed of Continental Drift.