A Mozilla Firefox developer, Jono DiCarlo, has finally found the need to express his feelings as he posted a lengthy and well-written post which has triggered some quite interesting debates and discussions.
DiCarlo, in his blog post, points out that Firefox got it all wrong by trying to mimic the rapid release cycles of Google Chrome, which resulted in some crest-fallen Firefox users who gradually shifted to other browsers; with many of them going to the Chrome and triggering troubles for Firefox.
In DiCarlo’s own words,
Ironically, by doing rapid releases poorly, we just made Firefox look like an inferior version of Chrome. And by pushing a never-ending stream of updates on people who didn’t want them, we drove a lot of those people to Chrome; exactly what we were trying to prevent.
He said that it is the frequent UI (user interface) changes that caused frustration for a large section of Firefox users. Firefox has been bringing in frequent user interface changes after the fast release cycle started rolling out, often ‘copying’ other browsers like Opera and Chrome. Chrome, on the other hand, stuck to almost the same UI from its first major launch.
After years of aspiring to improve software usability, I’ve come to the extremely humbling realization that the single best thing most companies could do to improve usability is to stop changing the UI so often! Let it remain stable long enough for us to learn it and get good at it. There’s no UI better than one you already know, and no UI worse than one you thought you knew but now have to relearn.
DiCarlo’s post has also triggered well-written comments and discussions on Hacker News. Some users there noted that since Chrome users had been used to frequent silent updates to it from the day it was launched, the uncustomary rapid releases didn’t turn off many people, But Firefox had been a different cookie and forced this new change upon its users after building a considerable user-base. Firefox users had been used to its older release cycles, which had been blown away by the rapid release cycles from Firefox 4. Thus, though some Firefox fans still maintain that Firefox 4 was a major milestone for Firefox, many others found Firefox 4 to have blown the whistle of death for Firefox.
DiCarlo’s website is down as of when I am writing these words and it has been reported by Wired that it has been going up and down throughout (probably due to an spike in traffic). Google’s cache of the page doesn’t also seem to available at the moment. So feel free to express your thoughts on dotTech; don’t forget to share your views on the rapid release cycles of Firefox with us in the comments below.