Rapid Release Process

August 25th, 2011

Recently Mozilla implemented a rapid release process, where we release a version of Firefox every 6 weeks. This has involved changing a number of our processes.  It’s also raised some new issues. For example, some enterprises find the idea of rapid browser change to be disconcerting at best and potentially unmanageable at worst.  Add-on compatibility is another.  I acknowledge these issues are complex and difficult.   There is work to be done to make the rapid release process smoother and hopefully more useful to more of our userbase.   I’d like to describe why I believe the rapid release process is important enough to pursue despite these difficulties.

Before Mozilla instituted the rapid release process, we would sometimes have new capabilities ready for nearly a year before we could deliver them to people.  Web developers would have to wait that year to be able to make their applications better.

A browser is the delivery vehicle for the Internet.   And the Internet moves very, very  quickly.    Philosophically, I do not believe a product that moves at the speed of  traditional desktop software can be effective at enabling an Internet where things happen in real time.    If we want the browser to be the interface for the Internet, we need to make it more like the Internet.  That means delivering capabilities when they are ready.  That means a rapid release process. If we don’t do something like this the browser becomes a limiting factor in what the Internet can do.

Sometimes we can address this problem without a new release of code.   For example,  if one goes to the Firefox Menu Item for “Add-ons” the content one sees is a web page.  This part of the browser enjoys all the benefits of the web.  It can be managed in the ways people have come to expect of a web experience.  The rapid release process is another technique we’ve adopted to allow the browser to deliver new capabilities quickly.

As my colleague Brendan is fond of saying, “There is no free lunch.”    This means we need to listen carefully to those who are experiencing difficulties.  We need to be creative and try to find practical ways of alleviating these difficulties if we can.   This is true for the enterprise use case, and it’s true for the add-on experience.  I know that’s not a perfect answer, and it’s not a promise that we can meet everyone’s needs perfectly.  Despite this, I believe the rapid release process is the right direction.

178 comments for “Rapid Release Process”

  1. 1

    Jacob Lane said on February 3rd, 2012 at 2:27 am:

    “If it aint broke, don’t fix it.”

    Like hundreds of you, I am also greatly annoyed that Mozilla has decided to institute this so-called “rapid release” program, wherein I get a “new” browser few weeks. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for new and innovative ideas for creating better technology, and the core concept of the RR program is not without merit. like a lot of things, however, the problem is with the implementation. As one commenter said, was there no middle ground between wanting to push year-old features and full version releases for a couple of bug fixes? How about a discussion with the community before getting all crazy like?

    When dealing with a widely adopted community software package like FF, forcing global overnight adoption of a new approach to releasing software is not a bright idea. Especially when it breaks several existing things, like Add-Ons. You are just going to confuse people and disillusion your loyal supporters. In his original blog post, Mitchell says, ” …the Internet moves very, very quickly.” This also applies to user adoption of the technology they use to interface with the Internet. Fortunes and made and lost overnight, and don’t think lifelong FF users won’t switch to an alternative if you keep this up. Look what happened to MySpace once Facebook came on the scene, etc.

    Also, I concur that this smells like a marketing ploy. IE is up to version 10, Chrome is at version 16, and who knows/cares where the others are at. So, here we are … FF v 10.0 … you have your double-digit version number. You can finally get the respect you deserve when chatting up the ladies at the bar. Can we stop the madness now and take a breather to re-evaluate this release model? If you feel the same, Twitter #StopFFat10.

  2. 2

    iknasi said on February 7th, 2012 at 1:06 am:

    You’re destroying Firefox. Is Google paying somebody to do so?

    If you issue not finished software, before to try it properly then the user experience is bad and people will start to migrate to other solutions like Chrome.

    Just like me, how can you issue version 10.0? I cannot use it!

    Guys, I hope you know what you’re doing.

  3. 3

    Chris said on February 18th, 2012 at 9:50 am:

    Tired of the rapid release concept. Maybe one of your rapid releases can address why the browser, with this page alone open, is taking up 188MB of RAM or that I frequently end up finding the FireFox browser has 1.5 GB of committed memory.

    Opera and Chrome are looking like attractive alternatives. So sorry to say this. But there is a time I have to cut ties in a relationship, and this is coming close. There are prettier girls flirting with me, and I’m coming increasingly dissatisfied in my current relationship.

    Honestly, I think someone should call for your resignation.

  4. 4

    Chris said on February 18th, 2012 at 9:54 am:

    And one other thing – I find it really freaking creepy that you pull in my avatar by associating it with my e-mail address that “will not be published”.

  5. 5

    Unhappy User said on March 14th, 2012 at 10:11 pm:

    I have always welcomed software updates and I appreciate new or better functionality anyhow what Mozilla is doing is simply insane. The company I work for has come to rely on FireFox and ThunderBird for a variety of reasons and while the updates fix issues, they also cause major issues by breaking compatibility with add-ons and plug-ins that are necessary to us. Developers of such useful add-ons must be super annoyed and reluctant to put any work into updating their software if you will keeping making it incompatible with every release. Please don’t alienate developers that gravitate around your platform… find a way to ensure compatibility of their tools with newer versions of your software or myself and many other are sure to move away from your software… forever!

  6. 6

    JBR said on March 16th, 2012 at 8:27 pm:

    It’s incredible. Firefox is now on version 11. This misguided policy will be the unfortunate death of FF, and it’s a shame nobody in power ever bothered to read the comments on this post to understand why… or change from the blind course.

    The saddest part is this death is unnecessary, and self-inflicted. Change for the sake of change only is always the wrong approach… just ask Mr. Softee. (Chrome can only make this sort-of work because the updates all happen seamlessly behind-the-scenes with no prompting.)

    R.I.P. Firefox, I knew ye well.

  7. 7

    Keith Kie said on March 17th, 2012 at 11:06 am:

    Seriously FireFox, get with the program! Breaking add-on’s, jumping version numbers like mad, its INSANE, I am one breath away from going to Chrome and never looking back. Version 11 better be the last “major” update or I am gone. If not, then i’m off FireFox in 6 weeks.

    Rapid release my ass, this is KILLING the FireFox community.

  8. 8

    required said on March 21st, 2012 at 1:45 am:

    I’m fed up with all those “major” update too. I like firefox but I definitively don’t need new features every 6 weeks. So many update are just a pain in the a…

  9. 9

    DW said on March 23rd, 2012 at 2:05 am:

    Last hope – just switched to Firefox ESR to avoid all of the constant updating and version changes. If you start messing around with that, or try to sneak in updates to the ESR edition without letting users know (the so called silent update “feature,”) then I will be gone completely.

  10. 10

    jimbo said on April 1st, 2012 at 11:41 am:

    I’ve switched to Chrome. So, some people wanted to tell the world that Firefox was under new management – why else would this happen?

  11. 11

    LegendsOfBatman said on April 25th, 2012 at 7:46 pm:

    “And the Internet moves very, very quickly. Philosophically, I do not believe a product that moves at the speed of traditional desktop software can be effective at enabling an Internet where things happen in real time. If we want the browser to be the interface for the Internet, we need to make it more like the Internet. That means delivering capabilities when they are ready.”

    The problem with this philosophy is is that it is updating TOO rapidly, that software makers AND the supposed “internet speed” is not working. My anti-virus add-on ($80 version of Kaspersky) could not keep up with the nonsensical updates, rendering it’s browser features useless.

    Do people understand that there is a balance? Waiting a year for features to catch up, is in fact stupid, and holds technology back. However, rendering valid software useless every six weeks is just as stupid.
    Mozilla needs to work with vendors, and create balance. Having 8 updates in a year is ridiculous. And, it is frustrating to us.

  12. 12

    Maksim said on May 3rd, 2012 at 5:44 pm:

    This tipe of updating is like mental challenged rule the project.

    The browser only was good, but with updetes it strts eat the memory faster and faster.
    Addon`s autors can`t update addods permanently. Why shoud I need to view @updated@ browser without addons became usual foe me?

  13. 13

    Jeffrey Piter said on May 6th, 2012 at 9:09 am:

    Since ver. 9 things some web sites no longer work properly. Ver. 11 is very unstable, going down once an hour or more frequently. Are we all ß testers for these insane version hikes?
    Once Roboform fully functions with Chrome, Firefox will become the alternate.

  14. 14

    jack said on May 11th, 2012 at 11:45 am:

    The rapid release process totally sucks. Please stop! You are throwing rocks in the faces of your fan base. Seriously, why do you think people want to be bugged all the time about ANOTHER upgrade? All add-ons are having trouble keeping up, and it doesn’t make any sense. Fix it before you lose all your market share, because most disgruntled people will just switch to another browser, as I have, without actually telling you. That seems to be your choice, fix it or goodbye firefox….

  15. 15

    David N. Jafferian said on May 14th, 2012 at 6:44 am:

    This is the sort of thing which happens when a lawyer drives software development. A browser is an interface to the World Wide Web. It is not the interface to the Internet. And it is certainly not well suited to be a delivery vehicle for the Internet.

  16. 16

    ZEfiPvakJxp said on May 21st, 2012 at 7:34 am:

    michael kors handbag RBdsYotdDmi

  17. 17

    QPaiPmwxVvg said on May 21st, 2012 at 9:19 am:

    michael kors sale ZWxaUlgyZxd

  18. 18

    michael kors purses said on May 23rd, 2012 at 9:31 pm:

    michael kors purses

  19. 19

    michael kors sale said on May 24th, 2012 at 9:41 am:

    michael kors

  20. 20

    michael kors handbags outlet said on May 24th, 2012 at 11:03 am:

    michael kors bag michael kors tote michael kors handbag

  21. 21

    pavtvygiw said on June 2nd, 2012 at 3:50 am:

    Utstcarb coach outlet online

  22. 22

    moisiyrpx said on June 2nd, 2012 at 10:36 am:

    Zlrhksuew coach outlet

  23. 23

    Roofing said on June 2nd, 2012 at 11:38 pm:

    You have a really good blog. Very interesting read. I will be back to look for more posts, keep it going.

  24. 24

    Injundeldeple said on June 6th, 2012 at 1:27 pm:

    Search inquiries, the words in which consumers sort in to the search container, hold remarkable benefit. Encounter shows that search results targeted traffic may make (or split) an company’s achievement. Site visitors to your internet site can offer promotion, profits, as well as exposure like few other channel of selling. Buying Search engine optimisation, whether or not over time or perhaps finances, may have a fantastic fee involving give back in comparison to other sorts of marketing and advertising and also advertising.

  25. 25

    KiteGuerbmurik said on June 7th, 2012 at 8:52 am:

  26. 26

    miko said on August 11th, 2012 at 4:23 am:

    if you want continue to be the Web Browser please stop changing the releases so frequently. I really hate to upgrade the FireFox so often! Can’t you settle at least some release cycle? maybe like the one Ubuntu has? Or maybe you could have two versions like: stable one and cutting edge one? I already post this message from Chrome which normally I do not prefer.

  27. 27

    Pingback from Hydroxycut Pro Clinical, 72 Rapid Release Caplets | health and nutrition advice, nutrition and health, health and nutrition

    […] Rapid Release Process […]

  28. 28

    Kirby said on October 15th, 2012 at 12:07 pm:

    The rapid release cycle is really starting to become a problem for Firefox. I spoke with people just today who have made the switch to Chrome simply because they’re tired of the constant updates. As a computer technician who installs Firefox on customer’s computers, so am I. Chrome has already begun to overtake the market. Yes, you have to appease the content developers, but first and foremost you have to appease your target market, which is the end user. What can Firefox 16 do that Firefox 4, released less than 2 years ago, not do? Lots of wonderful things, I’m sure. But does the change affect the daily lives of the vast majority of your users? And with the latest release being taken down within a day of release for a major security issue maybe it’s time to slow things down a bit. I can tell you that I am a few updates away from switching, and not just on my computer, but on the computers of all of my customers, too. Enough, already. A new Firefox release used to be an exciting thing, and not that long ago. I remember when I couldn’t wait for the new Firefox release. Now a new Firefox release is tedious and annoying.

Skip past the sidebar