May 292007

We’re starting to seriously ramp up our efforts to prepare for Firefox 3, with the goal being to have the most crucial documents in useful (if not complete) form in time to allow web and extension developers to be ready for Firefox 3 by the release of beta 1 (currently scheduled for mid-July or so).

Presently, the documents we’re going to be prioritizing are focused around Places and the updated Password Manager.  We’d like to hear input as to other topics that may be of critical importance; in particular, anything that has changed that may break existing extensions or web sites.  These are the things that most need to be documented in order for people that hope to start using Firefox 3 extensively as the beta period begins to be able to do so comfortably.

Also, we’ll be launching start pages for web developers as well as extension developers very soon (within the next week or two); these pages will provide one-stop shopping (so to speak) for developers that want to be ready for Firefox 3.  With schedule information, links to articles providing information on updating to ensure Firefox 3 support, and so forth, we hope these will make the transition even smoother than our Firefox 1.5 to Firefox 2 transition went.

If you have thoughts about ways MDC can make the transition better, please let me know!

 Posted by at 1:35 PM
May 292007

Got most of my web site type stuff back up and running again now.  Not everything, but most of it.  Email is now being received on the new host, but I’ve not reconfigured my mail software to actually pull from there yet because, well… dunno.  Just didn’t feel like dealing with it over the holiday weekend, I guess.

Today I’ll get that done, and I think I’ll get back to work on MDC back-end stuff that needs working on.  However, I’ve got this niggling feeling in the back of my brain that I’m forgetting something else that more urgently needs to be worked on, so by the time I’m actually done with my morning daddy-daughter time I may have totally different plans for the work day.

MDC was struck by another round of bot attacks over the weekend, but thanks to some of our most excellent European MDC folks (thanks, Ptak82 in particular!), things were cleaned up — mostly before I was even at my desk to notice it had happened.

Turns out the “turn on email confirmation for new user signups” step of our MediaWiki upgrade didn’t get done.  Oops.  Now it has been, so hopefully we’ll be bot-nonsense free at least for a while.

 Posted by at 8:26 AM
May 262007

Ran into trouble with my previous web hosting company (DreamHost) and am in the process of migrating to a new one (Site5).  I’ve just imported this database saved from the old server.  It looks mostly okay, except for a number of places where periods are followed by “?” for no apparent reason.  I’ll see about fixing that later, but right now I just need to get all my stuff back online properly.

 Posted by at 6:44 PM
May 232007

I’ve posted the initial documentation plan working page on the Mozilla wiki. It’s not yet a real documentation plan; rather, it’s a table listing the various topics that need covering, who has expressed an interest in leading the writing effort on each topic, and space for notes and estimates on the amount of time each topic will take to complete.

Please feel free to review the list, make corrections if any are needed, add references to specifications or bugs where appropriate (and not already there), and so forth. Also, if you know a lot about a subject, please feel free to stake a claim to a topic by adding your name to the “lead writer” column, and place in the “est. person-hours” column a guess as to how many hours of work will be involved in writing that content.

In addition, if you are — or know who is — the #1 best person to talk to about a given subject, add their name to the notes column.

Getting this information all sorted out and in one place will make it much easier to avoid missing anything as we proceed into the real writing phase for Firefox 3 documentation.

 Posted by at 5:40 PM
May 182007

I was starting to poke at the documentation plan for Firefox 3 today, and got to some content that had already been written. I was looking it over, making a few fixes (mostly adding our new, spiffy “New in Firefox 3″ templates as appropriate, when I realized that the new attributes added to the textbox XUL element in some cases overlap in name with attributes that already exist.

Previously, we would have to create multiple pages of documentation for that attribute, but now that we have the ParserFunctions MediaWiki extension installed, it’s possible to do conditional pages that look at the title of the page being built and adjust the text to match.

The attribute pages (such as this one for the min attribute) are included by the pages that describe the elements that support them. MediaWiki’s PAGENAME variable tells us the name of the page that’s being described. The cool thing is that it tells us the name of the master element page that’s being rendered — not the name of the included attribute’s page.

That means we can use PAGENAME as a condition for deciding what text to display in the article. For example, the min attribute’s body text looks like this in an editor:
The minimum value that the {{#switch: {{PAGENAME}} |
XUL:textbox = number box |
XUL:scale = scale | scale or number box}}
may be set to. The default value is 0.

When this is rendered by visiting the attribute’s page directly, the text reads “The minimum value that the scale or number box may be set to. The default value is 0.”

If it’s included from the textbox page, the result is “The minimum value that the number box may be set to. The default value is 0.”

From the scale page, the result is “The minimum value that the scale may be set to. The default value is 0.”

This is a very powerful capability we have now, and I think we’re going to find a lot of valuable applications for it going forward.

 Posted by at 6:47 PM
May 162007

Every once in a while, you do something that leaves your computer a quivering slag of goo.

After running every disk and hardware testing utility I have, I’ve come to the conclusion that the problem with my iMac is, well, me.

I tend to install lots of beta software to play with, and I suspect something bit me. Files are vanishing more or less at random (today my keychain went bye-bye, among others).

Time to reinstall Mac OS X and start with a clean slate of applications.

Fortunately, I’ve done a much, much better job of maintaining decent backups the last few months, so the downtime should be relatively minimal.

Once I get the installs going, I’ll be on my laptop working for the rest of the day, with periodic runs to the iMac to swap disks around and start up another installer.

 Posted by at 11:37 AM