A Mozilla and Open Source success story

December 14, 2011

There are many success stories like this in open source, but this is such a neat one, I have to call it out. It basically goes like this:

Webdev makes awesome app (I have seen it. It’s is truly awesome. For any app, really, but *especially* for a web app). But awesome app is not as awesome as it could be in places. Webdev investigates. Finds a bottleneck in Firefox. Files bug. Goes through the seven circles of hell (XPCOM). Submits a patch. Goes through several review iterations. Patch gets committed.

Bobby Holley tells the whole story in his blog post. It’s short and worth a read.

This contribution is a testament to open source and Mozilla’s open development style. I wish we had more contributions like this (duh), but you’re probably not surprised to hear that this is pretty rare. Sure, it has to do with the level of complexity of some of the code. But, there are tons of relatively easy-to-approach parts in Firefox.

So I ask, have you ever come across a bug in Firefox that you really wanted to fix but didn’t/couldn’t? If so, what stopped you and what could perhaps have helped you?


9 Responses to “A Mozilla and Open Source success story”

  1. zwol Says:

    Well, the problem for me is almost always that the only qualified reviewer is either massively backlogged, AWOL, or both. Here are some instructive cases:

    629500/693230/702678: need love from someone who knows Windows GUI programming.

    234856/235230/643041: XPCOM interface incorrectly declared as producing an ISO-8859-1 string instead of an UTF-8 string. Still open seven years later because bsmith wants to make other IID-bumping changes to nsIX509Cert at the same time. No word since August.

    536192: NSPR maintainer refused to fix a type safety bug, claiming backward incompatibility.

  2. Justin Dolske Says:

    zwol: there will be movement on those bugs (629500/693230/702678: ) shortly! jwein will be kicking ass on those as soon as he gets builds going.

  3. Josh T. Says:

    I’m only 17 years old, but for a while, I’ve wanted to fix simple CSS bugs. I once tried doing it and I downloaded all the tools like Visual C++ Express, Mozilla Build, etc. But when I tried to open up the Mercurial CLI app, it kept closing immediately. I didn’t know where to go to get help, so I gave up.

  4. Stuart Says:

    I once filed a Bugzilla issue for a bug that annoyed me, and that I was willing and eager to fix. All I wanted was acknowledgement that a sufficiently-good patch would in fact be accepted into the tree.

    Over a year later, my bug was still “unconfirmed” with no responses. I stopped waiting, and ended up working around my problem with some third-party software. That bug remains in Firefox to this day, where it still occasionally bites me and others.

    • philikon Says:

      I agree that the sheer number of unconfirmed bugs we have lingering around isn’t good. Some teams to regular triage, but not enough do. We often rely on contributors to do a lot of the triage because some components have so many. I think *any* response, even if it’s an INVALID/INCOMPLETE/WONTFIX would be better than nothing…

      That said, I’m curious whether you tried rounding up a patch at all? Seems like if the bug is sufficiently annoying, waiting for somebody to confirm the bug seems like a pretty lame excuse ;). Also, a bug with a patch will always get more attention, even if it’s just a work in progress… Out of curiosity, what’s the bug number?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: