Mobile Goals

Goals

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:

  1. provide Mozilla’s standards-based open-source browser engine, optimized for mobile, that can be embedded by device manufacturers and others;
  2. 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;
  3. grow the Mozilla community in the mobile space;
  4. provide tools and documentation to help developers develop, debug and deploy web applications;
  5. do all of this work in the shared Mozilla source repositories so all platforms, desktop and mobile benefit each other

Next Steps

  • 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

Target Platforms

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.

UX

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
  • expose device capabilities (contacts, camera, etc.) through Javascript
    • deal with security issues
    • is there a way we can get a standard across devices?

Tools

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.

48 Comments

  1. Henrik Gemal · November 20, 2007 Reply

    “integrate the awesome work Nokia has done on the N810 in the main 1.9 CVS tree”

    I’m looking forward to this. Any idea on what we can expect? I mean in what areas has Nokia improved the code base?

  2. Basil Hashem · November 20, 2007 Reply

    I have to concur on the need for the mobile platform to be an open environment for experimentation and development. I’d like to understand if you have specific requirements for addons.mozilla.org in terms of what would need to happen in order to support widgets and XUL-based addons for mobile devices.

  3. David Bolter · November 20, 2007 Reply

    So glad to hear you explicitly mention accessibility in Goal #2. Excellent. I’m looking forward to getting my (almost free) N810 and checking out the accessibility siutation on these devices.

  4. miro · November 22, 2007 Reply

    I just wonder why this initiative took that long. Opera is leading in this sector, I’m pretty sure it could be vise versa, if that decision was made at some earlier point

  5. christian · November 23, 2007 Reply

    @Henrik
    The majority of the work from Nokia relevant for the 1.9 tree has been around performance and build configuration.

    @Basil
    We don’t have specific requirements yet as our goal is to be able to use “normal” widgets and XUL-based addons.

    @miro
    It is true it has taken a while to get to this point. Schrep blogged about this a while ago here

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  14. dmm · November 26, 2007 Reply

    I’d also like to see Firefox for (one or more versions of) Palm OS–either Garnet or Palm’s new Linux-based OS once that’s out. ACCESS Linux Platform too.

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  17. Tor Arntsen · November 27, 2007 Reply

    In what way, if any, is this related to the Mozilla-based MicroB browser which Nokia provides for the N800 and N810? Is it a different effort?

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  19. christian · November 27, 2007 Reply

    @dmm
    One of our target platforms is Linux, so it might be possible with little effort to get the browser up and running on other Linux platforms including Palm’s or ACCESS’s platforms. If somebody wants to try please let me know how it goes.

    @Tor
    The MicroB browser provided by Nokia is based on the same code base we use, and Nokia is actively participating in the community submitting patches from their work back to the code base. More specifically the rendering engine used by the MicroB browser is Gecko and the UI on top of it is developed by Nokia.

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  21. Tor Arntsen · November 27, 2007 Reply

    Christian,
    Thanks. So, the same engine but If I understood it correctly it’s a different effort in that this one’s using a Mozilla UI? As soon as I get my Chinook scratchbox set up I’ll try building it anyway.

  22. christian · November 27, 2007 Reply

    @Tor
    Yes, same engine, different UI. In case you don’t already know, there is a post here on the Mobile wiki describing how to setup and build on scratchbox.

  23. cnewtonne · November 27, 2007 Reply

    disappointed not to see Palm OS mentioned, but I understand. Why blame developers if the company who made it has abandoned it. Please consider this OS for your future development of mobile FF.

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  25. Tam Hanna · November 27, 2007 Reply

    Dear Christian,
    just featured you on TamsPPC.

    I would be very thankful if you would be able to take the time to answer a few questions for me – please tell me where I can e-mail them to!

    Best regards from Vienna
    Tam Hanna

  26. masa · November 28, 2007 Reply

    Hello

    It’s very interesting. I’m exciting to test it on my HTC Touch. I will hope it is a good alternative for PIE or Opera 😉

    j@ne
    cedric

  27. Jorge Horton · November 29, 2007 Reply

    Hi,
    Interesting work, but I have a very hard time to understand the choice of prioritized platforms. WM is really the dark side. And there are almost no phones in reality on Linux, and those that do exist is absurdely enough not at all open (except for a few odd ones in China and pure developer phones like OpenMoko). By the way, that goes for Google Android too.

    The only really relevant platform to start with should be Symbian. And perhaps especially UIQ. The volumes are not there yet, but it does need a better browser. Opera has done a lousy job for UIQ. On S60, the webkit browser is quite good.

    I also think UIQ is based close to Copenhagen, so a co-operation should be easy.

    //jorge

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  31. Sawoppowl · December 12, 2007 Reply

    I’d prefer reading in my native language, because my knowledge of your languange is no so well. But it was interesting!

  32. Sawoppowl · December 17, 2007 Reply

    I’d prefer reading in my native language, because my knowledge of your languange is no so well. But it was interesting! Look for some my links:

  33. music · January 7, 2008 Reply

    very interesting.
    i’m adding in RSS Reader

  34. Emmmanuel · January 9, 2008 Reply

    Hi. I would like to know if Firefox for Mobile will be usable on a desktop computer. That would allow aging computers to remain usable, since the alternatives for a light-weight browser are usually limited (for instance, Dillo is very light and fast but doesn’t support CCS positionning, so it’s difficult to understand pages).

  35. christian · January 9, 2008 Reply

    @Emmmanuel:

    As you might have seen in Mobile Goals we are not targeting desktop computers, but it could be an interesting project for someone to look at.

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  37. Harald Walker · March 1, 2008 Reply

    Are there any plans for a mobile version of Thunderbird? The email experience on mobile devices could be improved as well.

  38. christian · March 1, 2008 Reply

    @Harald:

    You should get in touch with David Ascher who is heading up Mozilla Messaging.

  39. Alex · June 12, 2008 Reply

    You write:

    “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.”

    I am really sorry to say that, but you definitely focus on the wrong OS. I love Linux on desktops and servers, but on smartphones, it’simply unimportant at the moment. So I am very, very, very disappointed that there will be no version of Firefox mobile for Symbian. You seem to underestimate Symbian’s importance on smartphones, especially on business smartphones! There are only a few non-experimental Linux smartphones. They are all still useless for productive business purposes. On the other side, there are many, many, many Symbian business smartphones, probably even more than Windows Mobile smartphones! As you seem to know that there are “millions of Symbian devices”, why don’t you focus on them instead of Linux?

    Alex

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  41. christian · June 17, 2008 Reply

    @Alex: We haven’t decided whether to do a Symbian version or not yet, so please stay tuned.

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  43. Christine Smith · January 23, 2009 Reply

    Hey I hope they are working on making the browser to work with samsung sch-i910 smart phone through verizon. I use the phone ALOT for school and even do homework and tests on the phone, however my school uses the fire fox browser and some of the quizes will not show the 2nd third and 4th pgs of the exams on the phone…any suggestions till april?

  44. kookimebux · February 1, 2009 Reply

    Hello. And Bye. 🙂

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