May 10, 2002

Mozilla chief: RC2 and what happens after that

- By Grant Gross -

The Mozilla Web browser project has been getting a lot of mainstream ink lately, with the impending release of 1.0. The project that's been over three years in the making is creating a lot of anticipation, from the regular tech media, but also from the likes of Time.com [link is to NewsForge summary; the original Time.com story has moved to its "pay for" archive].
With all this watching for 1.0, we thought it was time to catch up with chief lizard wrangler Mitchell Baker and ask her what's next. Late Wednesday, Baker announced plans for a RC2 release to follow Release Candidate 1, and Mozilla.org has an updated project roadmap that shows where its headed. For another recent Q&A with Baker, with more of a big-picture bent, check out this story from ZDNet.

NewsForge: How did the team decide there was a need for an RC2 release?

Baker: RC1 received very good reviews. It also spurred the identification of a set of issues that we would like to see fixed before Mozilla 1.0. In making the decision to release an RC2 we looked at the bugs nominated by the community for inclusion in RC2. For a subset of those bugs the usefulness of having them fixed outweighed the additional time required before a Mozilla 1.0 release.

NewsForge: Any chance of a RC3 release as well?

Baker: We expect RC2 to be released very shortly, within the week. In the meantime, we have created a tracking mechanism for remaining issues that could possibly be important enough to warrant fixing before Mozilla 1.0. We will ask the community to test RC2 thoroughly and nominate those bugs, if any, that could rise to this importance. Then mozilla.org's project management team (known as "drivers") will evaluate any bugs nominated, using stringent evaluation criteria. So it is possible that something will require an additional release candidate.

NewsForge: How much pressure do you and the team feel about getting a 1.0 release close to perfect?

Baker: We are not striving for perfection, and so this is not a source of great pressure. But there is pressure, and it comes from striving for the right balance between including a small set of additional fixes and finalizing the 1.0 release. We evaluate this constantly and feel the pressure acutely.

NewsForge: What are the issues left before a 1.0 release? And, I have to ask. :-) Any predictions about the date of a 1.0 release?

Baker: The things we care about before Mozilla 1.0 are API and stability issues where a few days will make a noticeable difference in the ease with which people can use Mozilla. RC2 will have only a fraction as many fixes in it as did RC1.We haven't designated a date for Mozilla 1.0.

NewsForge: How important is it for 1.0 to get good reviews from users?

Baker: Mozilla releases are intended for the development community rather than the general consumer market. Mozilla.org is not set up for marketing, distribution or support for the consumer market; we rely on companies building Mozilla products to do that. So we're not expecting millions of consumers to rush out and test Mozilla. The end-user applications in Mozilla (browsing, mail, news and chat) are end-user quality, but we don't have the organization to reach this market. So we're not expecting millions of consumers to download and review Mozilla.

That being said, Mozilla does have an end-user community. It includes both developers who use Mozilla technology for their projects, and people who simply want the browsing, mail news and chat applications we offer. It's important that Mozilla 1.0 be useful both to people who want to use the applications and to people who use Mozilla technology to build products. Good reviews are one measure of this.

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