We're members of the global community who develop Firefox. Yesterday we shipped the Firefox 4 release candidate, which we hope to shortly be able to call the final product. At the same time, we're already starting to plan the future of the web with Firefox 5, 6, and 7.

We bet you have questions. We hope to have answers!

We're long time reddit fans, and always wondered y we no reddit - so let's fix that, today. A bunch of us will be checking back here between 10am and 2pm PT (at least) to answer your questions from all over the project: front end development (johnath), product management (beltzner), javascript and platform development (sayrer), privacy and security (sidmoz), mobile (tarendmozilla), open web evangelism (paulrouget), and Mozilla Labs (pfinette).

OMG pics of us _^

Reddit u roxored our soxorz but now we go back to workzors Thanks for all the fun!

Comments: 3113 • Responses: 39  • Date: 

MegaBattleJesus691 karma

My grandma wants to know if she'll "still be able to get the Google" on the new browser. Please advise.

beltzner430 karma

Googling still permitted!

frtdys455 karma

Please, please, please implement chrome's tab closing technique. I.e. when you have a ton of tabs open to the point where the size decreases, closing additional tabs does not change the tab size until the mouse leaves the tab area.

Makes closing multiple tabs so easy.

beltzner309 karma

Yeah, I've wanted to emulate that for a long time now; there's a bug on file, we just didn't get it done in time for this version.

beltzner332 karma

o hai reddit!

beltzner301 karma

So, I'm Mike Beltzner, and have worked on Mozilla since 2004, for Mozilla since 2005, and been part of the Firefox 1.5, 2.0, 3.0, 3.5, 3.6 and 4.0 releases. Call me "historical context," if you will :)

I'm Canadian, and thus, everything I do, I do it for you. (eh? EH?)

Oh, obligatory proof of life!

johnath195 karma

Oh fine, real intros: I'm Johnathan Nightingale, and I run the Firefox Engineering team and have been on Mozilla full time since 2007. I'm Canadian as well, but I think we've had all the Bryan Adams we need on this thread so all I'll add is that yes, the rumours are true, our milk does come in bags.

Also, I exist

johnath184 karma

{{Obligatory charlie sheen reference, to seem hip with the kids}}

dailycavalier131 karma


johnath128 karma

Yes, that will do nicely.

dolske81 karma

Hi, I'm Justin Dolske. You may remember me from such submissions as Firefox Is Made Of Lego and The Best Persona EVAR. Oh, right, and I work at Mozilla too!

sayrer50 karma

sigh, they're just letting anyone in these days...

paulrouget25 karma

Hi guys. Paul Rouget here, tech evangelist. Mozilla volunteer for 5 years, employee for 2 hears.

I'm the HTML5 guys (breaking Firefox, doing demos, talking, hacks.mozilla.org, ...).

Tech Evangelist, Linux user, and redditor ;)

yit321 karma

I found a bug- porn mode is called "Private browsing".

beltzner570 karma

I made it very clear when we shipped that feature that Private Browsing was for the sole and unique purpose of buying engagement rings without your girlfriend noticing.

We made it for the State of Utah, is what I'm driving at.

JustinAiken256 karma

I live in Utah, and I used private browsing when shopping for my engagement ring. AMA. :p

beltzner1094 karma

How many times?

potterarchy274 karma

Hi guys! Just wanted to say - love your browser. Thanks very much for being awesome.

beltzner127 karma

Thanks! We love the web, so always happy to hear that people think we're able to make it a bit more awesome.

You should see the Toronto office. It's like a meme-fest over here. :)

UsernameOfFourWords54 karma

I read that as "Totoro office", which seemed plausible for a moment as I have a Totoro skin for Firefox at the moment. I'd love to visit that office.

beltzner79 karma

My cat looks like Toroto. Kitteh 5

TrueRandom169 karma

Can you add some way to stop external programs from simply shitting their extensions in? Talking about stuff like:

  • Java Console 6.0.xx (About 15 instances of this shit)
  • Skype Extension !!!

sayrer130 karma

Yes, yes we can. We're getting a lot of complaints about this, and they've really accelerated over the past year. We disabled the Skype addon because it was causing so many problems (there's a new one now that seems better).

We'll be doing more to prevent involuntary installs of addons.

MrDamBeaver167 karma

Congratulation on a fine piece of software. I have a few questions, don't need to answer all of them.
1. What has been the biggest effect of Google Chrome on the way you are developing the software? (I see there is going to be version 7 by the end of this year).
2. What is your biggest obstacle right now, or at least the biggest feature/functionality that you would want out asap?
3. I went from FF to Chrome 2 years ago, it is hard to go back, but my last question is: What should I be looking forward in FF4 and most importantly for the rest of 2011 from Firefox? Thanks!

johnath196 karma

You might get a couple answers here (thanks for the kind words!)

1) You know, I'm gonna sound like a hippie here, but mostly having another browser out there trying to build for an open web and supporting things like WebM video is a great thing. We're Mozilla - our job is to make the web a better place - having more browsers competing on open is a great thing.

2) I'll obviously bias engineering here, but you hinted at it in question 1, the biggest shift we have to make right now is shipping faster. Google didn't invent fast, but I bet they did it for the same reasons we want to -- it sucks to have a better product in your dev tree and to not be able to get it to your users and the web. We feel that pressure a lot, and the fix is to start shipping small pieces more often. We know that, we're talking about it nonstop, but it'll be a big change in 2011.

3) You're gonna see us keep leading on the stuff that matters. We're going to push things like sync and social into the browser and we're going to do it in ways that respect your privacy and put you in control. We're going to keep pushing on things like Do Not Track to get users back into the discussion around behavioural advertising. We're going to keep building for a web that's open and royalty-free and hell-damned awesome. And if we're really good at it, we'll keep seeing other browsers copying us (just like we'll happily copy them if they have a good idea), and you'll get it even if you stay in Chrome, which is great.

[deleted]118 karma


beltzner225 karma

Nice to see you, mom!

Wasoomi109 karma

This might sound a little stupid, but how does Firefox make money? I mean the browser is Free, same with Thunderbird (which I use). I am just little confused! Can anyone answer this?

EDIT: I just downloaded FF4 RC and so far, I likey likey

johnath117 karma

Having 400 million users helps.

We build the browser our users want, and that means making some decisions like what to use as the default home page, and what entries to put in the search box. These vary by locale - we use Yandex in Russia instead of Google as the default, for instance - but in cases where one of these search partners has a referral program, we participate in it.

beltzner90 karma

So, basically, the Superman 2 model.

zem62 karma

superman 3, if office space is to be believed!

beltzner67 karma

Crap, I got that wrong. Yes, the Superman 3 model.

Bjoernn99 karma

  1. When will the FINAL version be out?

  2. Why does the downloads have its own download window? Instead of something more integrated. (I find that to be a little annoying some times, sorry).

  3. How do you feel about other browsers? HATE them?

beltzner136 karma

1) Well, we think RC1 is it, really. We're gonna let our 3.5 million beta testers tell us what's what, as well as our QA group. If all goes well, should be "final" in a couple of weeks. We're keeping a close eye on it.

2) There are add-ons to help you, but mostly it lets you keep an eye on it without having the Firefox window open. We also put a download progress meter on the Windows 7 taskbar now - so that's pretty cool.

3) I actually love the variety that's out there, and the fact that we're all pushing each other to be better. It's the other browsers' marketing departments that drive me batty.

CruftRemover85 karma

Please, when does Linux get to be a first-class citizen? T_T

The only thing on my system that crashes is Firefox. In fact, it's always Firefox. The javascript performance on 3.5 and 3.6 is total ass. I love Firefox, but I have to ask... do you hate us Linux users?

johnath36 karma

Many of us are linux users. Hell, I've got a (dusty) RHCE certificate around here somewhere. Have you tried FF4 on your linux machine?

ohaithurqtpi70 karma

I loved Firefox until it started using 800,000k to 1,000,000k of memory, and this was with six to seven tabs open at a time. Any ideas as to why it's doing that? I've tried everything.

beltzner140 karma

try loading about:memory in Firefox 4 - more often than not it's plugins and Flash that are sucking down memory, but be careful: Windows Task Manager reports memory in a ... strange way.

ironfroggy_63 karma

I switched to Chrome for the speed increase of V8, but Firefox is close enough that I am switching back for the better flexibility of extensions and firebug. Was there a sense in the development team of being motivated to regain lost users from Chrome?

beltzner70 karma

There's a sense in the development team to make sure that power-hungry web pages are well served. We sped everything up: JS, DOM manipulation, startup time, UI responsiveness ... fastfastfast.

You can find out more details about the new JS engine, JagerMonkey, on dmandelin's blog

yit61 karma

You can't really ship a digital product, can you?

Also, don't let Chrome get you guys down. Certainly, it may be a little bit faster, but I love all the extensions I have for FF. Also, I can't give Google ALL my info, right?

beltzner62 karma

They would appreciate it if you did, I think!

Coz13156 karma

I am currently a chrome fanboy. What would be your spiel to get us back?

johnath261 karma

You know what? If you're using a modern browser, the web's getting better, and the competition is really healthy for the web. So I'll answer, but I love that you have the choice in the first place. When we released Firefox 1 and IE had 98% marketshare, you didn't. The web is more awesome now.

So you're a fanboy. Let me guess: * Chrome is holy shit fast and you're worried because previous Firefoxes haven't always been * It's got a sleek interface and you don't want a lot of bulk

Totally legit. Zero debate. But you might want to consider that:

  • Firefox 4 is holy shit fast.
  • It's got a very sleek interface - menu bar collapsed into a button, bookmark bar hidden unless you use it, tabs on top - zero bulk.

and then you dig a little deeper...

  • What if you want all your data synced between machines, and to your android phone? Firefox 4 does that, and it does it in a way that is fully encrypted before it leaves your machine - we can't mine that data, it's just an encrypted blob to us. I'd love to see other sync implementations match it, but they don't yet.
  • What if you want to be more performant? Open tabs listed in the awesomebar means you don't duplicate 16 copies of gmail in your tab strip. Smart session restore means your app tabs come up right away and your browser doesn't grind to a halt under a 200 tab session restore. Panorama lets you organize your tabs and manage your world online without having to scan a giant tab list to find the one you want, or hack around it by opening 20 windows.
  • What if you want a browser built for you alone, with things like a Do Not Track header to start pushing advertisers to respect your wishes around tracking, instead of trying to hack around your adblocker?
  • What if you want a massive ecosystem of addons to make the browser anything you want it to be, built on an extension platform which is incredibly powerful and goes all the way into the core of the product instead of lingering around the surface
  • What if you like foxes more than pokemon?

beltzner91 karma

We're building software that's 100% for you and for the benefit of the Web. That's basically our spiel. We make sure it's fast, capable, secure, respectful of your privacy, gives you the ability to customize the way you use the software and the web, and answers to you and you alone.

If that's not enough to convince you, there's not a lot more I can say. Chrome's a good browser. I'd rather you use that than IE, really.

djexploit51 karma

Hi! I've got a couple huge ones that have been on my mind forever.

1) WTF happened when v3 was released? I've always used firefox for its stability and reliability, but there was something VERY wrong with early 3.x versions. FF was crashing 2-3 times a day for a while, and I wasn't the only one. Seems like it's been fine for a long while, but anything you can share on what this was?

2) Why the awesome bar? I have to keep old bar installed because awesome bar is so obnoxious. Am I just being old timey, and there's really a good reason to use it?

beltzner89 karma

1) Good lord, the stories we can tell you about third-party software that calls into Firefox even when you don't have add-ons installed. Thing is, when you release popular software, everyone starts building for it. We didn't realize how many non-toolbar, non-add-on related bits of software were compiling against our binaries. The result when we changed those in version 3? Crashy-crash! So now we do a lot better with that.

2) Yeah, you're being a little old-timey. People love it. Embrace it, dude, it'll change your life.

johnath75 karma

Oh yeah, the awesomebar's world changing once you let it loose - start starring anything you want it to know about (don't worry about filing the bookmarks, just star) and maybe tag if you want it quickly findable, and just let it run your life.

It's how I get to http://johndiesattheend.com/lolcats/sprinkler.jpg in less than a second, whenever needed.


johnath89 karma

Oh snap, I forgot about the cheat codes!

If you want to constrain awesomebar results, you can use special characters, like:

  • only show me bookmarked results - *
  • only show me URLs - @

and in Firefox 4 now:

  • only show me hits from open tabs - %

There are others, but that's all I'ma tell you right now.

HeNeArKrXeRn49 karma

Opera fan here:

You guys should implement the "Clone Tab" option, as well as mouse gestures.

beltzner201 karma

This is a trap, right, so you can swing by and tell us that "Opera did it first!!1!!1lol!!"?

unfriendlyfire45 karma

Thanks for this AMA!

Would you be able to list some add-ons that you guys personally favour/find extremely useful?

beltzner39 karma

F1, Easy App Tabs, Tab Badge, Copy Short URL, Mass Password Reset, Restartless Restart ... oh, wait, a screenshot will be easier

sh1k120 karma

A question that's been nagging me for a while.

Both Chrome and IE (and maybe other browsers, I haven't really tested thoroughly) employ right now a multiprocess execution model to better aid stability (this way, in case one tab/process crashes, it doesn't take the entire browser with it). Will we be seeing this model also employed by Firefox, or do you guys have some black magic Horcrux-type secret you're not telling us that will make Fx more stable while still keeping the single-process model?

beltzner50 karma

Well, we already run the most common cause of browser crashes (plugins) in a separate process with Firefox 4. So that's the first Horacrux.

As you know, though, Voldemort wasn't so careless - there are more ways to keep your Firefox immortal, the way that it's meant to be.

In the future we'll also be moving to a multi-process model for stability, responsiveness and security. The project is called "electrolysis" (we really shouldn't let engineers name things!) or "e10s" and work has begun in earnest. It's a big piece of re-engineering, though, so we're doing it piecemeal. One Horacrux at a time, as it were.

(This metaphor really worked out for me, didn't it?)

Batblib16 karma

So what's the craziest thing that's happened at the office so far?

beltzner16 karma

paulrouget14 karma

We have 6 offices (Mountain View, Paris, Toronto, Japan, China, New Zealand).

Beltzner is the Firefox boss, but he's not in the main office (beltzner works from Canada, the main office is in California). Most of our employee (40% I think?) work from the Moutain View office.

Sooo, Beltzner has a "robot" in that office. A robot he can control. Take a look: http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/article/857967--tele-robot-connects-workers-separated-by-distance

We own a couple of these robots. And sometimes, beltzner has to teach people how to use them.

Look at this robolt-beltzner talking robot-madhava:


[deleted]13 karma


beltzner9 karma

Have you tried Firefox for Android (Beta 5, now in the Android Marketplace). Loads pretty damn quickly on my Nexus One, and lets me synchronize all my history and bookmarks and tabs between it and my desktop ... it's pretty gud!

GamerOfFreedom12 karma

I love my Firefox! I have been a user of Firefox for many years now, but I was a Chrome user on and off for some months during the first 7 betas of Firefox 4, but since Beta 7 I am now a full-time Firefox user again, mostly because of the amazing new design and Labs features such as F1 (love it!).

I feel that Firefox has a better Add-on framework than what Chrome offers.

Though Firefox lacks some HTML5/CSS3 support that Chrome does not.

What was your decision to not remove the search bar? (I myself was using it before Chrome) but just find the shortcuts way easier.

The home button now has a default location to the right of the Awesomebar instead of besides the back and forward buttons, what made you make that decision?

beltzner99 karma

Biggest reason to not remove the search bar was privacy - we weren't comfortable with sending every letter you type in the URL bar to a search provider as you were typing it. Seemed ... creepy ... no?

MrRabbit10 karma

Whom do you see as your main competition these days? Are your sights still set on IE or are you spending more time keeping watch on the Operas and the Chromes of the market and making sure that your advancement outpaces theirs?

beltzner39 karma

I actually don't see other browsers as our main competition. As far as I'm concerned, our main competition is iOS, Adobe Flash/AIR, the Android SDK, etc. It's things which keep people from developing their cool new applications on the web, itself.

App Stores are neat and nifty, and I love all the cool things that an iPhone can do, but there's no real reason why they're not web pages which can be viewed on any device that can be used to browse the web. That's the future as we see it: a web of interconnected pages, applications, people, and innovation. Remixing, mashing up, meming and endlessly creative.

Anyway: as long as other web browsers continue to work together in good faith to promote an open, cross-platform and cross-browser web, they're collabopeters, or something. :)

AndhereKatil9 karma

I know this might be a bit testy, but could you guys consider adding a url search function like Chrome (ie. type in youtube.com hit tab and type query)

johnath70 karma

That's too much typing, we did a hotter thing:

  • right click on any search field anywhere on the web, "Add a Keyword for this Search..." and you can pick whatever (shorter) name you want for it (say, "yt" for youtube).
  • From now on, "yt epic meal time" in the awesomebar will youtube you as hard as possible.