Archive for July, 2005

New People and Roles

July 28th, 2005

We have added some new people and management capabilities to the Mozilla Foundation engineering organization recently and I’d like to let people know how they fit together.

First, Mike Schroepfer has joined the Mozilla Foundation as director of engineering. We’ve talked many times about the need to integrate overall product goals, specific engineering goals, technology goals, resource planning, engineering coordination and management much more fully in our development process, and to have someone chartered to guide the overall engineering effort. We’ve talked about this among employees, and I’ve received mail from a set of other community members noting the need for more organization, communication and planning as we grow. Mike is the person the Mozilla Foundation has asked to do this. We’ve consistently identified organization and knowing what other people are doing as areas needing improvement. So we’ve asked Mike to focus initially on product planning and delivery. We have planning efforts underway for specific areas, such as graphics, layout, content, toolkit, XULrunner, Firefox, Thunderbird, Firefox 1.1, Gecko 1.9, etc. We have asked Mike to lead the effort to bring these into a coordinated whole and to drive our efforts into cohesive product releases.

Mike will also take on the classic people management functions for those people who are employees of the Mozilla Foundation.

Chris Hofmann has picked up a number of special projects in the last 18 months that need more attention. Having Mike Schroepfer on board means Chris Hofmann will now focus on these projects. The two most active projects today are working with organizations interested in understanding how to integrate with our technical development team; and the security work.

There are a number of organizations that want to understand how to work with us. These include the companies who have engineering groups working on Mozilla, companies wanting to use Mozilla technology, companies thinking about support for Mozilla projects, to name a few. These needs have gone up dramatically in the last 6 months and we need more focus in this area. On the security side, Chris has been working with Secunia, our security group and interested parties. He’s been tracking security issues, proposed fixes, what those might mean for the web and so on. He’s been helping those who find bugs understand our process and figuring out good ways to work together. Security is a topic that will require even more attention in the future. Chris also has an enormous amount of information about our engineering and release processes; he’ll be spending a chunk of time initially making sure that information is dispersed throughout the organization.

Mike Shaver is now officially working with the Mozilla Foundation. We’ve asked him to help identify and investigate technical domains which we should understand, and to help figure out and drive implementation of what we should do in these technology domains — should we build our own offering, partner with an offering from another source? Examples of the kinds of technologies that Mike might investigate include “identity,” “presence”, VOIC, XMPP / instant messaging. Mike will work very closely with Brendan in these areas.

We’ve also asked Mike to help us bring out “platform” strategy and our product focus into crisper alignment, and to help us think of our platform technologies in more product-like terms, requiring not only technical excellence, but also an understood scope and good delivery mechanisms.

Brendan Eich will continue in his role as the guiding voice of our technical development. No changes here, I include Brendan so no one wonders why I’ve left him out.

These changes also allow Chris Beard to focus more on products, helping bringing a product focus to our engineering efforts. We’ve done some work in this area, but a great deal needs to be done and it’s a big step forward to be able to give Chris Beard time to do this. Chris has done a remarkable job at filling many roles, I’m very excited to be able to offload some of the operational and other tasks to have allow him to think in a much more focused way about our products, and to make sure that this thinking is closely tied with our technology and engineering plans.

Needless to say, everyone will be working closely with each other and with the engineering mechanisms the project has developed — drivers, module owners, reviewers, etc. And there is always a fair amount of “doing what needs to be done” so flexibility remains key.

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