It has been about a month since I started at Mozilla and worked on Mobile. We have now reached the point where we have specific goals for Mobile (they are also on the Mobile wiki). The overall goals for Mobile are:
- provide Mozilla’s standards-based open-source browser engine, optimized for mobile, that can be embedded by device manufacturers and others;
- a full-featured mobile browser including support for XUL-based add-ons, delivering on Firefox’s key principles of ease-of-use, security and accessibility;
- grow the Mozilla community in the mobile space;
- provide tools and documentation to help developers develop, debug and deploy web applications;
- do all of this work in the shared Mozilla source repositories so all platforms, desktop and mobile benefit each other
- get automated builds up for the Linux/ARM platform (check out “1.9-browser-chinook-armel” on tinderbox)
- integrate the awesome work Nokia has done on the N810 in the main 1.9 CVS tree
- create build targets and instructions, so that anyone can pull from CVS and target Linux or Windows Mobile platforms (Linux Maemo build instructions already available)
- continue the memory and performance profiling work to identify specific areas to focus on in the next phases including ARM specific work.
- build and test beta versions of the whole stack up to XULRunner on our target platforms (see below) to enable User eXperience (UX) experiments
We will first focus our efforts on two platforms/devices running on ARM11 processors (ARM v6):
- Linux – first device working already is the Nokia N800 (possibly update to N810) running Linux (maemo)
- Windows Mobile 6 – a good first device is the HTC S730
These platforms are either already up and running or will be soon – and will allow our community to start testing UX with different hardware characteristics e.g. screen size (N800/N810: 800×480 vs. HTC S730 320×240) and touch-screen vs. non-touch-screen.
As many people will quickly notice there is no Symbian version here. We are aware of the millions of Symbian devices in the world and this is just a start and a good area to focus. We’d love help on Symbian if anyone is interested.
On the UX side we have already started to develop a Firefox extension that will allow you to play with XUL on a limited size screen (link to extension will be posted shortly). We are exploring a variety of ways to improve the current browsing experience:
- alternative layout options accessible through XUL
- explore navigation options e.g. spatial navigation, directional tabbing, panning, mini map, allow extensions to control navigation, software cursor.
- integration with devices around text input (e.g. how do you design a UX that allows the use of Password Manager, Form Manager, the device dictionary and T9 in a form field?) and device widgets
- deal with security issues
- is there a way we can get a standard across devices?
We are also committed to improving the tools for mobile content developers
and people working on embedding Gecko in their own browser. In consideration right now is:
- mobile version of airbag (now breakpad) to assist with stack traces, memory dumps, ….
- debug device remotely though desktop Firefox (extension)
- improve packaging/deployment/debugging of XUL apps
- tools to assist content developers in measuring performance/code size
How do I get involved?
Come join us on irc at #mobile, on our weekly meetings or send me an email (christian at mozilla dot com). This is your opportunity to shape the browsing experience on mobile devices. Anyone can participate in the project and we are hiring a small team of full time contributors – email me if interested.