Archive for the 'Mozilla' Category

Buglist in input order

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

My newest Greasemonkey script, Buglist in input order, lets you sort a bug list according to an order external to Bugzilla.

For example, you can view the list of bugs related to topcrashes sorted by how common each crash is. First, load the list of Firefox 3.5.3 topcrashes. Second, use the "collect buglinks" bookmarklet to view a bug list consisting of the bug numbers listed there. Third, click the "#" added by this Greasemonkey script to sort the bugs by their order on the topcrash page.

Hopefully, this script will allow us to avoid duplicating information between Bugzilla and CrashKill wiki pages, and thus reduce the risk of information in both places becoming out of date.

Crash bug triage day #2

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

Today is the second crash bug triage day. Can we beat the first one's record of resolving 104 crash bugs and identifying several important, valid bugs?

(Short, time-specific blog posts feel weird now. You should follow me on Twitter.)

Making Firefox faster for humans

Sunday, July 26th, 2009

User experience designers Alex Faaborg and Alexander Limi are looking to broaden the scope of efforts to make Firefox faster. Until recently, most of the effort has involved reducing the computation time needed to launch Firefox or render a web page. Faaborg and Limi argue that we should also look for ways to make computation time matter less.

The wiki page Perceived Performance contains a long list of ideas. Don't be fooled by the "perceived" part of the name: although a few of the ideas would merely make Firefox users happier, most of the ideas are aimed at reducing the amount of time users spend waiting for Firefox to do various things.

Common themes include:

Improve handling and feel during input. For example, letting scrolling "accelerate" makes rapid scrolling easier without harming the ability to make fine adjustments.

Give instant feedback in response to input, even if an operation has to continue in the background. In addition to reducing human waiting time, these fixes make the experience feel more like direct manipulation and less like telling Firefox what to do. (See also: "snappiness" bugs.)

Allow users to interact with partially loaded pages sooner. This is especially important with slow connections, which are becoming common again as computing goes mobile. Boris Zbarsky's interruptible reflow work is likely to help, and I added some ideas about making better use of the cache.

Reduce the number of clicks and keypresses needed for the most common interactions.

Give users new tools that let them avoid waiting. The introduction of tabbed browsing made it matter less when pages loaded slowly, by letting users load links in background tabs while continuing to read, but also introduced new problems.

Diminish frustration when slowness can't be helped by making changes to activity indicators, progress bars, and other messages. Give users the impression that Firefox is working hard, and help users make better choices about whether to wait.

What kinds of slowness do you encounter while using Firefox? Where should we focus performance efforts, whether by reducing computation time or through more clever means? Can you think of new ways to apply the themes above, or any other ways to make Firefox faster where it matters?

100 crash bugs resolved

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

Today's crash bug triage day was a success. We resolved 104 crash bugs, mostly as worksforme and incomplete. We identified several old bugs as still valid, even important. We demonstrated that the backlog is not impenetrable.

I was impressed with the volunteers in #bugday: tmyoung, kbrosnan, and SpeedEvil all helped throughout the day.

There will be another crash bug triage day next Tuesday. I'm looking forward to finding out what we can accomplish next time!

Crash bug triage day

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

For the next 14 hours, let's see how large a dent we can make in the crash bug backlog. I'll be in #bugday as Jesse.

Whether you're interested in helping with the overall triage process or just a part of it (such as testing on Windows or making reduced testcases), please join us today to help make Firefox more stable and secure :)

How Mozilla finds crash bugs

Monday, July 20th, 2009

I wrote a post for the Mozilla Security Blog: How Mozilla finds crash bugs. It includes information about tomorrow's crash bug triage day in #bugday.

Language barriers and bugs

Saturday, July 18th, 2009

A text-input bug affecting many Arabic speakers was discovered when we were about make Firefox 3.5 release candidates, and we chose to include a fix in Firefox 3.5.1 rather than delay Firefox 3.5.

The zero-day vulnerability in Firefox 3.5 was a frequent crash on the front page of a top-500 Russian site, but we didn't find out about it until after we shipped Firefox 3.5.

The reason we found out about these bugs late isn't a lack of non-English beta users. 1.8% of English Firefox users are beta users, and 1.6% of Russian Firefox users are beta users. Arabic beta use is much higher, at 3.5%, perhaps because Firefox 3 was such a large improvement over Firefox 2 for rendering Arabic text.

Instead, the reason may be that people who don't know English can't report bugs easily. They can't even search Bugzilla to find out whether their bug is known. They went out of their way to try betas, but beta-testing alone does not keep major problems from making their way into a release.

How can we enable the rest of the world to participate in reporting bugs, or at least ensure that we find out about the most frequent problems in other languages?

New guide to triaging crash bugs

Monday, June 29th, 2009

Last night I posted a new guide to triaging crash bugs.

Reports of crash bugs require a variety of skills to turn into useful bugs: knowing common support issues, tactfully interacting with bug reporters, reducing testcases, finding regression ranges, and knowing how to get each bug to the correct developer(s). I don't expect every triager to be a guru at all of these, so my guide incorporates a workflow that should allow triagers with differing skills to work together efficiently.

I'm going to work with the QA team to organize some "crash bug days" on IRC, but I'm interested in feedback before that as well.