Eventually after years of waiting FF got fast enough and the devtools were good enough (and chrome got creepy enough: the automatic browser sign-in made clear chrome was tightening the noose of browser/web/google lock-in). So I switched back a year or two ago and have been quite happy with it! This news indicates it won't be long before I have to switch again.
Mozilla's strategy seems so incoherent, at least from the outside. Who is their target demographic? Perhaps "power users" & developers like me are too small a demographic to be worth competing for (see also: the toyification of the macbook pro). But I seriously wonder if Mozilla as a nonprofit has a path forward without keeping some of the "power users", (casual) privacy nerds, and FOSS folks in the fold. Are they planning to compete with Google for casual users as "just another browser"? I really don't see how they plan to beat google in this arena.
EDIT: In Mozilla's defense, no I have not donated anything to the organization to keep FF or MDN development running (though I have contributed to MDN & FF in small ways) so perhaps I share some of the blame here. TBH I'd donate if I knew it was going to FF & MDN and not one of the two thousand other little projects Mozilla keeps starting and killing.
You'd be donating to the Mozilla foundation, not the Mozilla corporation, which develops Firefox.
P.s the Mozilla foundations CEO makes 2.5 million dollars a year, and said "it would be too much a financial burden to cut C suite salaries to 500k"
> Here's what I mean by mitigate: we ask our executives to accept a discount from the market-based pay they could get elsewhere. But we don't ask for an 75-80% discount. I use that number because a few years ago when the then-ceo had our compensation structure examined, I learned that my pay was about an 80% discount to market. Meaning that competitive roles elsewhere were paying about 5 times as much. That's too big a discount to ask people and their families to commit to.
I'm aghast. How could anyone survive on $500k?! Everybody at the yacht club would laugh at you. It would be simply beastly.
I know they play this game against the likes of Google and Microsoft but they have favour with people because they're not Google or Microsoft, because their product is driven by engineering, not repeatedly tainted by management.
These job losses shouldn't be at product level, they should clean out management, restructure to bring engineering up to board level, kick out the suits that are only there for the cheque.
Do you know of a good source of neutral information on Mozilla's Foundation/Corporation split? I've heard claims everywhere from "it's an accounting thing with no practical implications" to "Mozilla is now 100% for-profit and evil", and have no idea who's right.
The Mozilla foundation is a non profit which owns all of Mozilla corporation. Because foundation is a non profit, donations to it are tax deductible. They also cannot funnel money into corporation, either, as a result. It's not that easy to be a tax evasion vehicle.
It does mean that the corporation is not beholden to external equity owners; its just beholden to the foundation. But the corporation is also 100% for profit, although they evidently struggle to earn said profit.
Mozilla isn't quite a non profit nor a for profit company in aggregate as a result.
Ditto. If Mozilla were on fire and I had time to save one thing, my selfish but unhesitating choice would be MDN.
I figured they'd shrink and, given their long-standing apparent mismanagement and bafflingly bad strategic choices, plus massive payroll/headcount bloat, eventually suffer a collapse, but I didn't expect it to be so fast. I hope something good survives this but is sure looks like they're rushing to destroy the good parts to save the bad, so, maybe not.
A browser whos development costs are funded by privacy and security services. Partnering with the best of the best, throwing Firefox branding over the top of things, and creating a bundle/payment management for a bunch of services. HIBP, Mullvad. Even Pocket.
On the branding front they have a bit of a problem. It's just like Microsoft past troubles deciding if a product gets a Microsoft, Windows, or Office prefix. VPN is Mozilla, Pocket is Pocket, and Monitor Send and Lockwise are Firefox. They need to Creative Cloud or Office 365 this and make it simple for the consumer to dive right into the entire experience. They need more services in their bundle. The name Firefox needs to mean "we vetted the underlying provider and they meet our seal of approval." This dynamic can also function as consumer protection, in that, when they switch providers, for example from ProtonVPN to Mullvad, the user experience is a seamless transition.
Their target market should be "people who want a first class internet experience, but dont have the time or understanding to research the litany of tools they would need to employ to get it.
Why wouldn't these people just use google? If privacy and/or "freedom" aren't part of your requirements, you'd be crazy to choose FF/Moz over google. What am I missing?
To be honest, I would be more than willing to pay a reasonable monthly subscription fee to access their docs.
Quality - good enough for most things. The newer stuff is not that bad and usually more practical(read quicker to grok for someone in a hurry) that the more thorough MDN docs.
Dirty trick - association with w3 standards body (none in reality)
Lots of functionality in the spec that isn't even possible to find on MDN or W3 Schools.
Those could use some work.
Wikipedia makes this very difficult as well. I had to submit a small update to sales numbers for the best-selling video game franchises of all time THREE times because two separate admins reverted my edits for the most stupid reasons possible. Then they had some hand-wringing about the lack of sources (even though most of the data there wasn't sourced any better) before they stubbornly decided to stop reverting my edits. A less stubborn person would've given up editing Wikipedia after the first or even the second reversion.
MDN just has more accessible writing and notes on best practice.
W3 docs started out, and I would argue, continues to be most relevant to people whose work it is to implement a browser.
Certainly, you can use them to learn how to use the various HTML, CSS, and JS standards, but this is where MDN - and even the Chromium and Webkit resources - are leaps ahead with practical examples you can use in your own code.
I was thinking more of a story I heard on an old episode of Hypercritical where John described first learning HTML and the rest through a combination of (mostly) O'Reilly books and reading the specs themselves.
While I suppose this passed muster in the early/mid 90's, I would repeat my earlier claim that the specs nowadays are more for implementers, and not something really well suited to teach you how to use the various languages and tools.
Potentially losing what is perhaps the most approachable reference for this purpose would be terrible for everyone.
Right... but that's not what anyone here means when they talk about the w3 compared to MDN. They mean w3schools.
I understand why Mozilla wants to make more money new ways. I think everyone does. I was going to get their VPN as soon as it became available on Mac. I also completely understand that they can't monetize Firefox, at least not in its current state. Users would obviously rebel against any kind of proprietary features that live behind a commercial license, and I don't think they can make any compelling hosted services that integrate with Firefox either. But I don't understand why Mozilla seems to be trying to speed along its death.
But this is all subjective anyway, huge fan of Chrome dev tools here.
And yet, in the last 5 years we've seen some of the greatest leaps in Firefox in the form of adopting technologies in Servo. And that's ignoring the growth of Rust adoption and so forth.
But you're right. Obviously the problem is the technologists aren't in control.
It's definitely not monopoly abuse on dominant platforms, the fact that browsers don't make money (even Microsoft couldn't do it), the lack of diversification in their revenue models...
If they just got the tech right it'd solve everything!
The deeper reason why bundled IE was such an existential threat to Netscape, then to Mozilla, and, more generally, a Web that wasn't under the thumb of any one corporation, was that the surest way to squash your competitors is to take away their ability to make money.
With Chrome, it's ads and Google One.
Netscape/Mozilla/Firefox has no way to make money on the browser. There's passing a hat, but that was never going to make for a sustainable business. Not if the only people who really care enough to toss some money in, developers, are going to continue to stick with Chrome. Which they clearly are. So they need to pivot to survive. Even if they lose some goodwill with techies. Most employees won't accept simple gratitude as a form of payment.
Frustratingly, Mozilla has made it all but impossible to contribute financially to the development of Firefox itself. You can donate to the Mozilla Organization but there's no guarantee any of that money will be spent on Firefox development.
I would absolutely pay for Firefox if they'd let me.
Chrome was largely a defensive move to prevent Google's ads from being disintermediated. It continues to serve its purpose.
Like, say, Brendan Eich? Is this a case of get woke, go broke?
How is the Google monopoly forcing them to make developer experience worse?
> the fact that browsers don't make money (even Microsoft couldn't do it)
Microsoft didn't even try. Microsoft wanted control, not monetization of the Browser itself. I'm pretty sure that Browsers can make money, especially from developers. JetBrains makes money building developer products, and people pay them, because their products are that much better than e.g. vscode.
Turn Firefox into a great developer browser that saves developers time and annoyance, and they'll happily give you money. Turn developers away, and they'll use a Browser that saves them time and annoyance. And at some point they'll stop testing in Firefox, just like they don't test in IE6.
My statement was a broader one about Mozilla's overall struggles in the market, not about this specific decision.
> Turn Firefox into a great developer browser that saves developers time and annoyance, and they'll happily give you money.
Just to state the obvious: Developers are not any browser's primary target user base. Not by a longshot.
I agree that appealing to developers is important. Microsoft had to learn that the hard way through the early aughts.
But appealing to developers and power users isn't going to fill the gaping financial hole left behind after the Google deal got cancelled. Developers are notoriously cheap. If they have the option of Firefox with paid dev features, or a free Chrome, I'm pretty confident I know which one they'll choose.
> And at some point they'll stop testing in Firefox, just like they don't test in IE6.
And they'll do so because their users aren't using the browser and so it's not worth their time. For Firefox to remain relevant it needs marketshare. Heck, I'll bet the reason Google felt comfortable cancelling the search partnership is because Firefox' marketshare fell so far that the benefits were no longer worth the cost.
Hence my comments about monopoly abuse and so forth.
I don't think that's obvious at all. JetBrains is making plenty of money ($230M in 2018 according to Wikipedia), even though there are free IDEs (one of them sponsored by Microsoft no less). Theirs are just that much better.
You're right that hobby developers are cheap, but the professional market is quite different, and even more so when you sell to enterprises. $100/yr is nothing compared to developer salaries and for all web developers, designers etc, the Browser is the major tool.
> For Firefox to remain relevant it needs marketshare.
My impression is that developers are pretty much the remaining users of Firefox. And they're kicking them out.
JetBrains isn't up against a monopolist who's willing to offer the same features for free to any comers.
Also, worth noting, the now-cancelled Google deal was worth $375M to their bottom line. So even if they could hit JetBrains' numbers (which I highly doubt), it still wouldn't fill the hole left behind.
If anything, what this says to me is that Mozilla shedding staff makes sense. If JetBrains can be profitable producing a complex IDE with half the spend (Mozilla 2018 spend was $451M), it makes me wonder just how efficient Mozilla is with their staffing.
Exactly. Especially since Firefox is one of the only non-Chromium based browsers left. If you pivot towards only courting developers and make it a paid product, you now have a product that no longer at all represents the browsers (and rendering engines) that users are using. Why test on Gecko when (now that it's paywalled) no one is actually using Gecko?
Monopolies tend to suck the revenue streams from a market. While Google may not be directly responsible their market dominance does make it harder for other competitors to make money.
Can you explain why? What does this CEO do that is worth this much money? At the very least a CEO shouldn't be earning millions when the company is slowly dying. Have a sane base salary and give the CEO bonuses tied to the performance of the company if you must, anything else is plain ridiculous.
A salary of 2M is not even 1% when it comes to the labor costs of the people they fired.
Maybe they dont need the CEO in the first place but that's an entirely different discussion.
I know of no country/city where someone needs 2M to live comfortably, but I haven't even called it ridiculous. What I called ridiculous is that seemingly this CEO does not have their salary tied to the performance of this company.
Anyway I find your analogy ridiculous. Lets just not hire CEOs or upper management at all. It will work for some and fail for some others but it does not prove your point.
Now that's ridiculous, it feels like you're misunderstanding me completely. I never suggested that CEOs or upper management shouldn't exist. I just think that in some cases they do not deserve the massive salary they are getting, millions per year is a crazy amount of money to earn anywhere, how can you possibly argue that it's not?
No it isn't. And maybe it's time for these executives at the top to take a pay cut given the state of their business, in order for the latter to survive.
Only in very specific locations and roles.
I'm not saying I agree with it morally — I think CEO's are paid an insane wage and the wealth disparity in the United States is disgusting — but those are the unfortunate economics.
Is it? I bet you'd get plenty of great candidates for a 250k salary.
there are plenty of capable people, but vetting those without experience is risky, and the wrong choice could be a death sentence. so everyone (except Kraft Heinz) chooses the safe low risk choice. what that risk calculation leaves out is the risk of buying an expensive ceo, having the company stagnate, and being irrelevant in a couple years.
So that CEO's salary represents half of one percent of their total spend.
They could cut exec salaries to zero and they'd still be bleeding to death.
it's an entitled mentality i find exist here on HN about open source. It seems that there are many here who expect a high quality, free project. And apparently, the donations should be enough to sustain it.
It's not wise to assume a browser that's funded and developed by Google will respect the user's privacy. People who depend on advertising will never do or say anything that offends the advertisers. Scientific articles published by the pharmaceutical industry are regarded as suspect.
Open source developers on some corporation's payroll have the same problem. Are they adding this feature because it's good or because the company wants it? Why they're working on the project matters. What's their priority? Good technology above all else, or meeting the needs of their current employer?
If they're doing it for money, good technology will eventually be sacrificed in the name of profit. People will commit hacks that happen to work at their jobs and next thing we know we're stuck with them and have to maintain the stuff forever. And that's what happens when there's no malicious intent involved.
Donations are regarded favorably here precisely because they don't create any obligations for the developer who receives them. They don't create a conflict of interest.
This is a massive blow to Internet as we know it. It will mean that WebKit / Blink will now be the de facto Internet standard. In about 5 years Blink-based browsers will be the only relevant target for web development and all remaining users will be urged to switch to Chrome/Edge/Safari or have to suffer broken sites.
With Google pushing Chromium to make life for ad blockers difficult, I would really hope an open source project for a new Blink-based privacy-respecting browser to emerge. (As far as I know the Brave Browser is financed by ads that are hard-coded in the browser.)
It's pretty clear Mozilla was never planning to have Servo completely supplant Gecko. Their approach has been to treat Servo as a research project and then fold technologies (like Rust and Quantum) into Gecko as appropriate.
Through that lens, you should ask yourself if it makes sense for Mozilla to fund an R&D effort like that given they're operating on a shoestring (especially with at least 75% of their revenues about to evaporate thanks to the Google deal not getting renewed).
I think you could argue either way, and I don't think I have a strong opinion. But I think your framing is overly hyperbolic and doesn't reflect what Servo actually was and how it fit with Mozilla's overall strategy.
If we can learn anything from when IE6 reached monoculture in early 2000s (e.g. 96% market share in 2002), its development velocity sharply increased and the web site developers adopted the resulting IE-only features in abadon (stuff like XMLHttpRequest date from this era.) Some of these features were later standardized, but large swaths of the web remained IE-only for the next decade and more, even as competing browsers surpassed IE in performance and features.
I am afraid Blink development will likewise accelerate and web site developers will adopt these Blink-only features as if they were web standards. Only this time, building a competing web engine looks unlikely due to the sheer complexity to ever achieve feature parity with Blink.
MDN paved the way for having online developer info available for the web platform. I use it every day. In fact, I go out of way to look things up on MDN because if I just search "Google" I get spammy and sometimes wrong results that are crammed with ads, often poorly written, etc.
It is sad that good documentation can't pay for itself. It's like "the truth is paywalled but the lies are free".
Tip: use DuckDuckGo's searchbangs. I reach for !mdn everyday.
MDN is good, especially as a reference to refresh something I once knew but haven't used in a while, or to deepen my knowledge of some part of something I do know fairly well.
But when it comes to learning something new and big, I often get lost on MDN. After I finish reading one page, it can be unclear what page I should read next. After I've made a few such choices and seem to have reached the end, it is often not clear if I've really covered the topic or there might be more if I go back several steps and make a different choice.
In the O'Reilly days, to learn topic X I could just get "Learning X" to get the basics, then "Programming X" to get a deeper understanding, "X Cookbook" for a ton of examples, "Advanced X" to go even farther, and maybe they would also have some more specialized books covering the use of X in specific applications. There might also be more books between beginner and advanced for some topics. And maybe an "X Reference". (There was also for some topics "X: The Definitive Guide" which tended to be a massive book that kind of tried to cover from beginner to advanced in one volume).
There would be an O'Reilly book aimed for people at whatever my current level of X understanding was, and reading that book would take me up a level.
There's no reason a website can't do that too, but it doesn't happen automatically. The website needs to provide guidance to lead the reader through in a page by page sequence that will take them through some topic in a way that makes sense and is complete. It's way too easy for a site to end up with a lot of ways to wander off such a path and end missing things or getting things in a confusing order.
Mozilla is not alone in maintaining MDN
This tells a lot about fact that stock prices are bad measurement of situation we're in. It's funny to observe that S&P and Nasdaq are at the February all time high, pre-covid levels. Let that thought sink in.
Of course some companies will struggle during covid. There are others though that have grown and are beating their forecasts. The covid proof tech companies will absorb this talent and grow larger.
funny fact: I'm using (as we're hiring) 'What do you think of covid' as nice and quick question to judge reasoning ability.
Flu like? bam.
ends in a month? bam.
I can’t imagine how I would respond if a family member or someone I’d known had just passed because of the virus.
I switched back to Firefox as my personal browser a year or two ago when they had the big rendering overhaul (I think "Quantum" or something? when they included the rust code to do layout in parallel, or something like that). It seemed like Firefox was finally moving in the right direction!
But now with the news that they let go of the dev tools team and Servo, I worry about the future of Firefox. I, personally, don't care about Mozilla other than Firefox, so this seems bleak. I'll continue to use the browser because I like it so much, but I imagine eventually it will fall behind newfangled CSS/JS features that developers will use and I'll have to switch eventually.
Honestly, I just really don't want to think of the alternatives without MDN. I don't think ANYONE wants to go back to w3schools.
I think a version of MDN that solicits donations from the companies and individual developers that make use of it could be great. Mozilla being propped up by money Google gave them from the search bar always felt fragile.
And I think a lot of people/businesses would as long as they market it well enough and make it easy enough.
Pale Moon, Waterfox, SeaMonkey and IceWeasel to Firefox: "Your First Time?"
Economically, Mozilla never had stood a chance against the major browser competition given that it was also being 'kept alive' by its main competitor for decades. The open-source alternatives also had no chance of competing and are eternally relying on donations.
The moment Google entered with their own browser and Microsoft, Opera, Qt and Electron crowd all jumped into the Chromium boat, Mozilla only had 'Firefox' as the only reason why they are still relevant and that's it. Not even Mozilla cares about the greatness Rust brings. It's just another open source tool which everyone is saying: "tank u, gimme dat 4 free". Here's another way to make money: Mozilla could also easily have been the Rust equivalent of "Erlang Solutions Ltd.".
We all know that no-one would go for their non-competitive VPNs or premium bookmark service. The reality is, Mozilla has to stand on its own and pivot to something else other than Firefox to generate revenue if it wants to stay true to its mission statement which is essentially privacy. Not sure how they have the balls to support "privacy" (on their frontpage)  and then tell us that they have a contract with Google to fund them  as the default search engine choice at the same time.
(fwiw I found out by way of John Gruber: https://daringfireball.net/linked/2020/08/11/mozilla-layoffs)
At minimum, I think it spells trouble. Would love to be wrong.
Edit: Since anything can happen, I personally wouldn’t have written the sentence with as much certainty as the GP, but I don’t think they were far off.
> Mozilla and Google are expected to extend their current search deal for another three years, multiple sources have told ZDNet.
> Furthermore, Mozilla's contract with Google to include Google as the default search provider inside Firefox is set to expire later this year, and the contract has not been renewed. The Google deal has historically accounted for around 90% of all of Mozilla's revenue, and without it experts see a dim future for Mozilla past 2021.
As an independent research project, more or less I think. I suppose it might continue as an open source project. We'll see.
> What about webrender and wasm-related stuff?
Webrender and related projects will continue as part of Firefox I think. But I guess Mozilla won't be doing any further experimental work.
Does this imply that won’t be maintained anymore?
Please don't assume the worst by default.
Is there way open source community could save these projects? I would gladly sponsor further development of Firefox DevTools.
Safari and Chrome are much faster, Mozilla should have shipped servo in a product by now instead of investing in legacy tech for a declining product.
Noticed that this girl is helping them in some way. https://twitter.com/abinaya_rl/status/1293237589202178048