Firefox OS Rant

I have to admit that I am a little bit frustrated with Firefox OS, so here comes my RANT. I am not complaining that the system is at a very early stage with lots of issues, this has to be expected. I am complaining that the project is making it really hard to find out what’s going on.

Firefox Peak – First impressions

The Firefox OS phones were advertised with “daily updates”, but there hasn’t been a single update since the end of April. That’s why I started my hunt for information.
Searching for Firefox OS roadmap quickly brings you to this page:

Too bad, this roadmap is from 2012. At least that is what it’s saying. Maybe just a typo? No, it says: “Detailed Milestone tracking was here” for Milestone 3, Target Date 6/1/2012. To my knowledge the verb form “was” indicates the past.

So I started to look for builds. Hooray, Firefox OS nightly builds gain a top ranking in the search results. However, it is only a directory listing of builds. There are instructions on how to install the OS into a simulator and onto an Android phone, but no info about getting it on the Peak device. I am sure spending a few additional hours will get me there, but why do I and likely hundreds or even thousands of developers need to waste this time? Being able to choose between a milestone and a nightly update channel seems a straightforward solution for this issue – and would enable the feedback the Firefox OS developers are looking for.

As I couldn’t believe that there is no roadmap, I went back to looking for one and landed on the Schedule_Roadmap page again. Following the link to the past detailed milestone tracking revealed two surprises: The development of the milestone is under full steam (so it is current) and the tracking is done in a couple of google spreadsheets. While it is great to see that there is a lot of stuff going on, I find the choice of tools inadequate.

From my point of view, running an open source project the way that Firefox OS is run is problematic. I agree that writing code has the highest priority, but if you fail to create an “architecture of participation” you severely limit your chances of success.

The Mozilla Foundation has proven that they can run projects in a way that enables early feedback. Please, Firefox OS team, let a few features slip for the next milestone and allow us to participate more.