calming the XULRunner waters

Mark had it exactly right: Mitchell’s post about XULRunner (and other things) was not an announcement that we are killing XULRunner. It was a statement about what the Mozilla Foundation is planning with respect to some very specific capabilities and deployment plans, due to our analysis of effort and return with respect to our primary mission.

To help people who might have been confused either by the original post or some of the reactions to it, I offer this summary:

  • The Mozilla Foundation will not be working on the a shared, system-wide XULRunner deployment capability in the Gecko 1.9 timeframe. This means that applications which are built on top of XULRunner will need to ship a copy of XULRunner with their apps, or otherwise ensure presence of an appropriate one (version, build flags, etc.). This is, to be clear, what every XULRunner-based application is doing today. Many applications in fact ship with small patches to XULRunner in their distributions anyway, taking advantage of the open source nature of our platform to make different impact/value trade-offs than we do for Firefox, and on their own schedules. This is not to say, by any means, that we do not see the value in a future that includes a universal XR runtime, with appropriate versioning, update, profile-sharing and other wonderful capabilities. It is to say, rather, that we feel the investment required and the risk of destabilization isn’t appropriate for us to undertake directly during this development cycle.
  • The Foundation will very likely not ship a “reusable” XULRunner as part of Firefox 3. While it’s still quite possible that Firefox 3 will be built on top of a private XULRunner, as outlined above, we will likely not take the schedule impact on Fx3 that would be required to make that private XULRunner usable easily by other applications.
  • The Foundation is interested in supporting the production and distribution of “naked” XULRunner builds suitable for application authors to take, customize, and distribute. This is an area in which virtually any member of the XULRunner community (including those who are apparently very invested) can make a very helpful contribution, as members of the Eclipse AJAX group have done already in providing contributed builds. I believe that the SeaMonkey project, which the Foundation supports not through directly-tasked developers but instead through infrastructure and enormous investment in shared platform work, provides an excellent example. XULRunner’s very origin is from “outside the Foundation” in bsmedberg’s early work, and given the presence in the XULRunner community of funded companies like Songbird and Joost, I am confident that both the interest and ability to assist themselves and others in this area are present.

Other important points from Mitchell’s post, which deserve deeper discussion in other posts, include:

  • A desire and commitment to invest in improving interactions with the entire XUL(runner) development community.
  • A continued commitment to invest in the powerful and valuable shared platform for the web and beyond.
  • A keen interest in improving the process of getting good and appropriate patches and other improvements (hello, docs and tools and build help!) into the common repository or pipeline promptly and predictably. As XULRunner itself is about 1000 lines of code that differs from Firefox, the bulk of the work is likely to be in build, packaging, update and other “meta” areas, I suspect.

2 comments to “calming the XULRunner waters”

  1. entered 16 May 2007 @ 2:00 am

    [...] calming the xulrunner waters [...]

  2. entered 16 May 2007 @ 2:31 am

    [...] Calming the XULRunner Waters [...]