Why Do Companies Need Time to Deploy Browsers?

To be clear, I mean browsers that have some level of change to them BESIDES JUST SECURITY FIXES. When it comes to security fixes, I've seen companies deploy those changes immediately.

Throughout the discussion on my previous post, the focus has been on web applications and web compatibility. I thought I'd take some time to bring up all the other issues that go around deploying browsers in an organization.

There was a statement in John Walicki's comment that was missed by most:

Education programs, documentation updates, communications all are planned.

While these changes were between Firefox 3.6 and Firefox 4 which contained major visual updates, there is no promise that these "minor updates" won't include these kind of changes as well. And these changes require all of the internal documentation to be updated as well.

IBM has hundreds of support documents, including walk throughs, screen captures, webcasts, etc. that all reference the user interface of the browser. Every single one of these had to be redone for Firefox 4 (and probably done twice because Mac and Windows Firefox are so different now). And with the new release process, changes like these could happen with as little as 7 weeks to remedy the situation.

There's also the issue of training. As I said in my last post, many companies that use these browsers are NOT technology companies. So the assumption that users will figure out how to use the browser when it changes are simply wrong. When people see things they haven't seen before, or things don't work like they did before, they call support.

Repacking for deployment takes time as well. Most companies would not want an outside entity like Mozilla to deploy software to their machines. So they have to package and certify the application. A lot of changes are also staged, so just because the browser was released on a certain date doesn't mean it will make it down to the user's machine immediately.

There are probably lots of other issues that companies run into in trying to deploy software every six weeks. I'll leave that to other folks to talk about in the comments.

CCK Wizard for Firefox 5

I've updated the CCK Wizard for Firefox 5 and placed it here.

The main change is that you can now explicitly specify the Firefox min and maxVersion when you create your XPI. It defaults to * for maxVersion so it will work on all future versions of Firefox.

Better Firefox Add-on Versioning

So I've been thinking about add-on versioning for Firefox going forward and I'm starting to think that maybe it's being done backwards.

Right now we have to change either our add-on, an updateURL or AMO every time a new Firefox is released (every 6 weeks). Wouldn't it make more sense to mark an add-on as compatible with every future version of Firefox (maxVersion of *)? Then you'd only need to do anything if you realize your add-on is NOT compatible, not change something for every version of Firefox...


Don't Second Guess Your Life Redux

It's been exactly one month since I shut down my blog and dropped Twitter and Facebook. While it has been kind of peaceful in that month, I realized that I was effectively punishing myself for something that I didn't do. So I'm bringing everything back as it was before, although some posts will remain removed.

The impetus of this decision was my preparation for the message I delivered at church today, Don't Second Guess Your Life. Feel free to give it a listen. Here's the summary:

  • Don’t spend too much time looking back
  • Don’t worry about what other people will think
  • Don’t be afraid to make a mid-course correction
  • Don’t underestimate the impact of one person
  • Don’t overestimate the effect of one decision
  • Don’t keep making the same mistakes
  • Don’t just make good decisions, make wise decisions

Also, in case it hasn't been clear, we moved the family back to Texas. There's more information about that in the message.

We're glad to be home.

Social Media Shutdown

Immediacy and reach.

When it comes to things like unrest in Egypt or tsunamis in Japan immediacy is incredibly important. We want to know what's happening and we want to know it now. And reach means that everyone in the world gets to hear and see what's going on.

But when it comes to our personal lives, maybe immediacy and reach isn't all it's cracked up to be.

All of us have moments where we have the impulse to say something that probably isn't the wisest decision. With the advent of the internet, blogging and social media, we are all given a platform from which to say these things. Immediacy means that we can say things quickly (usually without much thinking) and reach means that everyone can see it (whether we want them to or not). People have created entire sites based on this concept like Failbook. When you combine the immediacy and reach with the permanence of the internet, you have a recipe for failure. For that you have to look no further than FAILBlog.

My personality is such that when I have an opinion, I want to tell everyone. That's not necessarily a good thing. Besides my post this week, I've posted some pretty inflammatory things that I've regretted later. One of my goals this year was to be more less negative, and having a platform where I can easily post my negative opinions simply doesn't work for me. It's too easy. I know you're thinking I should just have some self-control, but it's not just about that.

I don't want the platform. And I want back the time that I waste interacting with platform.

So I'm swearing off social media for a while.

Not only am I stopping this blog, but I'm going to stop subscribing to blogs. The only blog I'll continue reading is planet Mozilla because it's job related.

I've unfollowed everyone on Twitter. I'll no longer be posting to Twitter. I tried to remove all my tweets, but Twitter doesn't make that easy.

I've removed all of my content from Facebook. I haven't unfriended everyone because I wasn't sure if I wanted to go that far. I'll probably just use the option that turns off all comments.

I'm leaving LinkedIn alone primarily because I don't interact with it and it has potential employment implications.

Note I'm not going to actually remove these accounts because I want to keep the names just in case I use them in the future, and also they are used for authentication.

So basically I'm going off the social media grid for a while. If you need to get a hold of me just send me an email. Anything at kaply.com will get to me.

This post will self destruct on midnight on April 15.

Displaying a Web Page for Your Add-on Options

Update:I just want to clarify when this method can be used. Obviously a web page can't update preferences in Firefox. We had a unique situation where a web page notified the browser of a change that allowed us to update a preference. It wasn't a lot of preferences. There is a lot of debate over having web pages message add-ons in this manner.

A few of the add-ons I've developed use web pages for their options rather than having them in a dialog. Unfortunately, when you use a regular web page as an optionsURL in your install manifest, it's opened up in a separate window that doesn't have scroll bars and doesn't work properly. Here's a workaround.