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  • What's wrong with Firefox's development in a nutshell

    Posted on Ascaris Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Home Forums Outside the box Rants What's wrong with Firefox's development in a nutshell

    This topic contains 6 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  EP 1 month, 2 weeks ago.

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    • #2014494 Reply

      Ascaris
      AskWoody_MVP

      With the release of Firefox 57, an event I like to refer to as the “Quantum leap backward,” the powerful addons that have defined Firefox since its inception were no longer compatible.  One popular (some would say indispensable) addon, Tab Mix Plus, was one of the ones that had not been updated to the new Webextensions format, for a simple reason: It was not possible to do what TMP did, and has done for years, with the weaker Webextensions.

      The developer of TMP asked Firefox users to vote for many feature-request bugs that would have to be fixed to enable TMP to gain more than a tiny bit of its former usefulness, and I did that.  When one votes for bugs, he’s added to the mailing list for each bug, and I got a bunch of updates today.  I decided to have a look at how things were going, and I saw the bug entitled,  “Popup window of WebExtension’s browser_action has hardcoded size limit of 800x600px.”

      The reporter makes a convincing case why the arbitrary limit of 800 x 600 is insufficient in this era of 1080p and larger screens, but then came the responses.

      One individual writes:

      “This limitation was inherited from Chrome, and is intentional.”

      In what way, I wonder, can this be inherited from Chrome, a browser which is, much to the chagrin of Mozilla developers, not the same as Firefox? If I wanted to use Chrome, I would use Chrome.  Why must Google’s design decisions affect people using products that are ostensibly competing with Google’s?

      Another says:

      “Changing the default popup size would result in a lot of extension breakage, and in the absence of a true extension spec, maintaining equivalence with Chrome, in this case, provides a good experience for both developers and users.”

      …and then marks the bug “WONTFIX.”

      I believe the bug reporter asked that the maximum size be raised, not the default size.  Those addons that requested the old maximum of 800×600 would still be able to have that, no problem.  (And since when is Mozilla concerned about breaking extensions?)

      Limiting the screensize of a popup to an arbitrarily small size does not provide a good experience for anyone.  It was an addon developer of one of the most popular addons Firefox ever had that had me involved in this process, and another who filed this bug, as the hardcoded limit prevents the addon he wants to develop from being feasible.  Keeping this rule certainly doesn’t seem to be providing a better experience for either addon dev or the people who would use the addons they would make, if they could.

      A third, trying to make the best of an unfortunate situation, writes:

      “I’ve also raised this on the chromium bugtracker…”

      “Is there some dialogue that could happen here between Mozilla and Chromium devs, as this seems an antiquated limitation which should be either removed or at least increased to current screen resolutions?”

      Isn’t it sad that to fix usability issues with Firefox, it is necessary to convince the developers of a competing product of the wisdom of the change first?  Why are we asking Chrome developers to fix problems with Firefox?  Not directly, of course, but until the Chrome devs bless the increase in maximum size by doing so themselves, Mozilla will act as if they do not have permission to make this change to their own product.

      That, in just a few lines of one bug report, is what is wrong with Firefox. There are many other such examples, but this one is as good as any.

      Group "L" (KDE Neon User Edition 5.17.5).

      1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #2014660 Reply

      wavy
      AskWoody Plus

      “Quantum leap backward,”

      PaleMoon or Waterfox(IIRC) keeps the faith. Why worry about FF, the Moz Devz are lost in their own (or maybe Googles) world.

      🍻

      Just because you don't know where you are going doesn't mean any road will get you there.
      • #2014871 Reply

        Ascaris
        AskWoody_MVP

        PaleMoon or Waterfox(IIRC) keeps the faith. Why worry about FF, the Moz Devz are lost in their own (or maybe Googles) world.

        I use Waterfox myself, but there can be no doubt that without Firefox, there is no Waterfox, and while Pale Moon may stick around, I would have doubts about its continued viability also.  Firefox takes a rather large team of people to develop, and while it is possible for a single dev to backport the security fixes Mozilla releases (as with Waterfox), there’s no way he could write them all himself at the pace they come in.  Just keeping up with the security fixes is far more than a one-person job, and there’s more to browser development than that.

        Waterfox Classic is essentially frozen in time, and while that’s good in terms of reverting Mozilla’s biggest dumb decision to date, it does mean that Waterfox Classic will become less and less useful as new web standards are developed and deployed by various sites.  One thing that’s being worked on now for Firefox is multithreaded web assembly (WASM), which Chrome already has.  It’s one reason why Chrome obliterates Firefox in the Jetstream 2 benchmarks.  In this case, where Chrome is objectively superior to Firefox, it makes sense for Firefox to try to reach parity with the competition.  It’s almost a certainty that Firefox will eventually gain this feature, but it will almost certainly never make it to Waterfox, and while right now it’s feasible to skip WASM altogether (I have it turned off now as a test to see how much, if anything, that breaks), it may not always be so.

        I keep hoping that one day, Mozilla will get a little of that old fire back, the fire they had when they were battling IE6, back when they thought the way forward was to unabashedly build a browser better than the competition.  Now they have no ideas other than copying Chrome in every way, especially in areas where Firefox is better.  They’re deliberately getting worse in every area where they have a better product than the other guys!

        Have they already been vanquished by Google, so that now they (Google) only allow Mozilla to exist because it provides “competition” for Chrome, protecting them against antitrust action by various governments, but with the so-called Mozilla “competition” being required to be careful not to do anything that would make Firefox preferable to Chrome in any way, shape, or form?  It seems like Firefox’s role is not as a genuine competitor, but merely a foil, providing token competition to benefit the corporate giant, while actually supporting the Google hegemony.

        I miss the Mozilla that wasn’t afraid to oppose the corporate giant.  The one we have now is the obedient lapdog of this new corporate giant… we get better opposition from developers of browsers based on Google’s own engine (Vivaldi, Brave, Opera) than we do from Mozilla.  They are trying to carve out a niche based on features added to Chromium that Google won’t provide, while Mozilla is dead set on eliminating those features they have that Chrome does not.

        The people worrying that if Firefox dies, we will have a browser monoculture may have missed this bit… we already have a monoculture.  Google calls the shots, and Mozilla obediently does as it is told, every single time, and that’s been the case for the better part of a decade.  There is no competition here.  It’s all a show for the governments of the world to keep them off Google’s back… competition theater, if you will.  It’s a sad state of affairs.

         

        Group "L" (KDE Neon User Edition 5.17.5).

        • #2015253 Reply

          wavy
          AskWoody Plus

          😢 You are likely right but hope remains.
          It seems we are meant to be cookie cutter shaped. 🥵

          🍻

          Just because you don't know where you are going doesn't mean any road will get you there.
        • #2015255 Reply

          EP
          AskWoody_MVP

          don’t forget Ascaris, Mozilla plans to release new Firefox versions starting in year 2020 EVERY FOUR WEEKS.

          https://hacks.mozilla.org/2019/09/moving-firefox-to-a-faster-4-week-release-cycle/

          that alone makes Microsoft’s “two feature updates a year” for Windows 10 look almost lame compared to what Mozilla will do next year with new Firefox releases.

          • This reply was modified 1 month, 2 weeks ago by  EP.
          • This reply was modified 1 month, 2 weeks ago by  EP.
          1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #2014698 Reply

      samak
      AskWoody Plus

      I stayed on FF56 because some add-ons I really liked wouldn’t work on FF57 onwards. I switched to PaleMoon recently, still have my old add-ons and it’s great.

      W7 SP1 Home Premium 64-bit, Office 2010, Group B, non-techie

      1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2015260 Reply

        EP
        AskWoody_MVP

        NPAPI plugins like Adobe Flash can still be used with Palemoon as PM is not abandoning it unlike new Firefox versions

        1 user thanked author for this post.

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