Bringing Android Native Firefox to Beta

I like trains. Last year, we put Firefox on a train-based release model: every six weeks, another train leaves the station. When a feature catches the train it moves through iterative testing on our Nightly, Aurora and Beta channels and, if that testing confirms its stability and general excellence, it goes out to hundreds of millions of Firefox users. If testing reveals an issue, we pull the feature out for another round of review, and let it catch a later train. The trains have run on time ever since, and the results have been incredible. Firefox improvements reach our users regularly, faster than ever before.

However, when we decided to rebuild Firefox for Android using Native UI, we recognized that the first release couldn’t ride the trains. The iterative release model that serves us so well with Firefox works best when most changes are incremental and independent. Building a new high-performance front end for Firefox on Android, by contrast, involves many interconnected pieces being rebuilt in tandem.

Right now, the engineering team is focused on building an amazing browser for Android phones, and we’ll have a beta to show you in the coming weeks. It might coincide with one of our regular 6 week trains, but it’s quite possible it won’t. If it doesn’t, don’t worry. It’s cool. Firefox for Android will get back on the trains once the native UI rebuild is finished, but for a change this major we have extra work we want to do before we send it out the door. We’ll only ship it once we’re happy with its quality and performance. If you can’t wait that long, check us out on tablets or try our early release Aurora builds. I think you’ll be pleased.

[This post originally appeared on the Future of Firefox blog]

6 comments

  1. Latest Aurora builds are unusable at all. Trying on Asus Transformer (first model).

  2. @Eugene Savitsky

    Native widget Firefox for Android is really focused on phones, not tablets. That said, please file bugs for the tablet issues you see.

  3. The problem here is that although the native version might not be ready, the move everyone form the xul based nightly and aurora builds to the native ones to get more test coverage on the native builds has resulted in very few (if anyone other than me) testing the xul builds.

  4. To be fair, it actually rides the train, but we’re deciding to pick up mail, passengers and cargo while the train is on the go, which can be tricky but we manage. And we’ll be extra careful with Beta and Release (i.e. we’ll see when the train pull into those stations).
    But that said, there will no special effort for it to “get back on the trains”, we only need to stop picking up things while the train is going. 🙂
    The fun is, we’re not stopping trains, we’re just doing some unconventional things with them, just like you see in the movies. And given what comes out of all this, let’s hope it’ll be an action-packed, awesome movie with a strong and happy ending! 😉

  5. I so miss those times. Little did I realize how quickly they would disappear.
    That and a wife but that is another story.

    David

  6. […] scheduled to go to beta and then final release pretty soon. For this special release we have went away from the train model of regular Firefox releases and went to a system where we have release criteria and functionality […]