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Mozilla's interim CEO: Chris Beard

Mozilla's interim CEO: Chris Beard

Posted Apr 15, 2014 18:50 UTC (Tue) by b7j0c (guest, #27559)
Parent article: Mozilla's interim CEO: Chris Beard

Totally beyond "moving past" the cultural controversy, I would like to see a new CEO move Mozilla past another position I treat as controversial - the notion that the web is the platform of the future and that javascript is the foundation of this future.

Eich forwarded this position and was very dogmatic about it, even though it seems very clear that native mobile is quite obviously proving Eich wrong. Mobile is the future - nine out of ten devices sold today to connect to the internet will run a mobile OS. On those platforms, no one seriously considers the web to be the deployment mechanism of choice for anything beyond simple document delivery (for which the web still rules). Mozilla is the only org left that really thinks HTML5 is a competitive deployment platform, even though it is years behind native platform development and always will be.

I recommend a new CEO accept what is obvious - HTML5 is inferior to native mobile development. If Mr. Beard wants FirefoxOS to be a hit, I recommend making C++ a first-class choice for developers.


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Mozilla's interim CEO: Chris Beard

Posted Apr 15, 2014 19:00 UTC (Tue) by dlang (subscriber, #313) [Link]

given that the vast majority of apps are little more than a website packaged as an app (which still needs to go out to the Internet to do anything useful), I'm not sure that 'native development' is the answer for everything.

Mozilla's interim CEO: Chris Beard

Posted Apr 15, 2014 19:18 UTC (Tue) by b7j0c (guest, #27559) [Link]

The apps that people actually care about are nothing like you describe.

Looking just at the top free, paid, and highest grossing android apps, I don't see much in the way of web wrappers.

Even in those situations where the web would seemed to have sufficed (Facebook), ultimately native still won.

Mozilla's interim CEO: Chris Beard

Posted Apr 15, 2014 19:22 UTC (Tue) by dufkaf (guest, #10358) [Link]

Mozilla is not the only org pushing html5 as a platform. What about ChromeOS + Chrome browser? Google is pushing it for delivering apps on all platforms including Android. The gap is becoming smaller and eventually it will succeed as good enough solution IMO.

Mozilla's interim CEO: Chris Beard

Posted Apr 15, 2014 19:31 UTC (Tue) by b7j0c (guest, #27559) [Link]

Chrome apps are not fully expressed as HTML5: they couple native access with the web stack for some rendering.

Chrome apps prove the point: HTML5 is not enough.

Mozilla's interim CEO: Chris Beard

Posted Apr 15, 2014 21:30 UTC (Tue) by khim (subscriber, #9252) [Link]

We could discuss “what if” scenarios till we are blue in face (what if Mozilla supported NaCl when it was first presented? what if Google have not tried to rebuild everything in PPAPI? what if asm.js arrived in 2009, not 2013?), but the end will not change: Android have won, web have lost. And Google is very pragmatic, you know.

It's true that Google's CEO promised that eventually Eventually they [Android and ChromeOS] may merge even closer but if you assume that it may only happen in one direction (ChromeOS apps on Android) then you are wrong. Dead wrong. In fact I'm quote surprised that Google have not made it possible to run APKs on ChromeOS already, but if this situation will not be rectified in a next few years then this will not be “victory” of web platform, it'll death of ChromeOS. Plain and simple.

Mozilla's interim CEO: Chris Beard

Posted Apr 15, 2014 22:18 UTC (Tue) by b7j0c (guest, #27559) [Link]

I don't even think that asm.js changes the final verdict. All asm.js does is optimize javascript. But where are the HTML5 apis to control all of the features of my hardware device? They either (1) don't exist, (2) are half-baked, or (3) require hacks since browsers don't support them in a standard fashion. Faster javascript is irrelevant if I can't call the apis or access the device that I want to.

Even use patterns on mobile have bypassed HTML5 on mobile. Ask any teenager to search for popular game on their iPhone or Android phone and they will go to the app store to look for it, not a web search.

I really wish Mozilla would accept reality on this...Eich really was the architect of the failed "open web" push and now that he is gone I would expect them to see the world for how it is and stop trying to take javascript past its sell-by date.

Mozilla's interim CEO: Chris Beard

Posted Apr 16, 2014 1:35 UTC (Wed) by khim (subscriber, #9252) [Link]

You are in violent agreement with me. As I've said: asm.js presented in today's form in 2009 could have allowed web to continue to be a viable contender. Or quick and fast acceptance of NaCl and Pepper (not PPAPI, but original version of Pepper). Or may be something webOS-based. But something was needed in 2009 or may be in 2010. Instead people forgot lessons of the past and started building “perfect” solutions. “Don't break the web” was the guiding mantra. Google went on with the wild goose chase for the perfect non-blocking API, Mozilla went on to invent asm.js, all the relevant APIs exposed in FirefoxOS, etc. In the end they succeeded: web is not broken. It's just irrelevant. Developers of “heavy” programs have left it.

Ultimately Google with Chrome is in much better position: one can use NaCl and PPAPI to drive runtime for APK execution and since Google also controls Android it can keep such emulation layer in usable state. Mozilla has no such luxury. I don't know what they could do at this point, though: even if FirefoxOS will introduce C++ support it'll not immediately make it popular target for developers (witness ChromeOS with NaCl). .APK replaced .EXE and web was left behind. I guess they could try to use asm.js to run APKs but it'll be much bigger and harder undertaking than in case of NaCl: there are tons of missing functionality, it's not just about APIs to access camera or accelerometer.

Mozilla's interim CEO: Chris Beard

Posted Apr 16, 2014 6:14 UTC (Wed) by b7j0c (guest, #27559) [Link]

agreed on all points, but i still hate to see mozilla become irrelevant because i still feel it is important for some entity that is superficially non-corporate to participate on behalf of users....but they've missed the boat entirely. its a testament to how culty these organizations can be...every commenter i run into that is associated with mozilla seems fully on board with firefoxOS even though it is obviously DOA

its not too late for them to take a risk and forge some kind of new vision. they are a non-profit after all, its not like they have to deliver quarterly profits.

Mozilla's interim CEO: Chris Beard

Posted Apr 16, 2014 12:39 UTC (Wed) by khim (subscriber, #9252) [Link]

I'm not sure it'll become irrelevant. The web is still there, people are still using it and will continue to use it. What we are starting to lose are complex, dynamic, web-applications. But these were never part of the HTML/JavaScript web. One may like Google Maps interface on maps.google.com or hate it, but in the end it's just an app. You can not script it (you can probably try, but this is hard to do and your hacks will be permanently broken), you can not link into it (except via hack where it offers you some kind of “persistent link” which you grab from special control and not from location field of your browser), you can not link out of it (except where it offers such capability explicitly).

From user's POV it's not any different than itunes or skype (which also can interact with the web pages in similar manner). Why not accept this fact and not build a web where pieces which you see in browser are only parts of the whole? Develop some standard which will make it possible to build better native programs which work with web, perhaps develop easily embeddable controls (like CEF), etc. Sure, this will make browser not as relavant and not as visible, but, well, Mozilla's mission is not to push HTML and JavaScript, but to keep the Internet alive and accessible!

DOA?

Posted Apr 20, 2014 11:20 UTC (Sun) by man_ls (guest, #15091) [Link]

Perhaps the Firefox OS terminals in the market are not the best, but there is definitely a niche. If the underlying idea is sound then they have a chance: running HTML5 apps on bare metal saves resources, since there is no OS to manage, and terminals can be much cheaper.

Personally I doubt it is a good idea. Look at how Android has taken the market by storm with a weird stack made of Linux + a custom Java interpretation layer, both quite wasty in resources. Apparently bare metal is not so bare these days. But the strategy is sound: it remains to be seen if a good implementation can storm the market from the bottom up, as such revolutions usually happen.

I hope Mozilla does not try to build "chips that run JavaScript natively" as the next logical step: it did not work for Sun either.

DOA?

Posted Apr 20, 2014 14:11 UTC (Sun) by khim (subscriber, #9252) [Link]

Look at how Android has taken the market by storm with a weird stack made of Linux + a custom Java interpretation layer, both quite wasty in resources.

Where have you gotten that idea? Android's custom Java interpretation layer may be slow but it's one of the most lightweight interpretation layers. It's most definitely less wasteful than HTML5. As for Linux and other below-Dalvik components—most are in FirefoxOS as well.

Remember that first Android prototype had just 64MB of RAM and even first commercial Android phone had 192MB of RAM where FirefoxOS developers boast is that “we already run great with 256MB RAM” (of course they claim that “we are aiming at working well with 128MB RAM and will hit that soon”, but it's not yet realized).

FirefoxOS is only “lightweight” compared to latest and greatest versions of Android, if you compare it to the version of Android which “took market by storm” then it's a pig. And, well, even today if you don't need support for latest and greatest Android goodies then you can just go and pick old version of Android, there are no need to play with untested and unproven OS.

Mozilla's interim CEO: Chris Beard

Posted Apr 15, 2014 22:26 UTC (Tue) by jb.1234abcd (guest, #95827) [Link]

Would this counter your suggestion:
web open standards vice proprietary native technologies ?

This man begs to differ:
http://andreasgal.com/2013/01/08/why-the-web-is-going-to-...

Mozilla's interim CEO: Chris Beard

Posted Apr 15, 2014 22:32 UTC (Tue) by b7j0c (guest, #27559) [Link]

Its amusing he uses Facebook as an example at the end of his article, given that Facebook undertook a huge effort to tailor a mobile web experience and then threw in the towel and just built what people actually wanted: a native app.

Users trump developers, yet again.

The article also touts Shumway, which is still not ready for production nearly a year and a half later. The author also trashes the standardization process for tools like C++ without looking at the joke that is the HTML5 standardization process.

So...sorry, but no.

Mozilla's interim CEO: Chris Beard

Posted Apr 16, 2014 1:19 UTC (Wed) by kripkenstein (guest, #43281) [Link]

> I recommend a new CEO accept what is obvious - HTML5 is inferior to native mobile development. If Mr. Beard wants FirefoxOS to be a hit, I recommend making C++ a first-class choice for developers.

Maybe I am misunderstanding what you're saying, but Mozilla is a nonprofit whose only purpose is to promote the web as an open platform, so even if what you're suggesting might help FirefoxOS succeed, it can't happen. In other words, even if HTML5 is inferior in some ways, it is what Mozilla is working to improve, not as a tactic, but as the whole point of Mozilla's existence.

I am also skeptical that it would help FirefoxOS. No one is going to develop for yet another proprietary native platform. The only reason FirefoxOS has any chance at all is that its apps are web apps, which are mainly normal websites people created anyhow, or ones with a little tailoring for the phone form factor.

Mozilla's interim CEO: Chris Beard

Posted Apr 16, 2014 3:26 UTC (Wed) by b7j0c (guest, #27559) [Link]

They already produce lots of non-web stack code (e.g. rust) so I'm not sure where you got this notion that they had formed a suicide pact with the open web.

With a new CEO they can take whatever direction they want.

Mozilla's interim CEO: Chris Beard

Posted Apr 16, 2014 3:29 UTC (Wed) by rahulsundaram (subscriber, #21946) [Link]

Rust was created as a personal project by a single developer and adopted later by Mozilla as a formal project essentially to explore a better replacement for C++ only because they wanted "Servo". It is for them just a tool to create a faster and open web.

Mozilla's interim CEO: Chris Beard

Posted Apr 16, 2014 3:39 UTC (Wed) by kripkenstein (guest, #43281) [Link]

> They already produce lots of non-web stack code (e.g. rust) so I'm not sure where you got this notion that they had formed a suicide pact with the open web.

The entire history of Mozilla is based on browsers and the web, from its founding, and the mission statement reflects that: http://www.mozilla.org/en-US/mission/

Mozilla's interim CEO: Chris Beard

Posted Apr 16, 2014 4:29 UTC (Wed) by khim (subscriber, #9252) [Link]

Really? Where exactly does it talk about “browsers”, “HTML”, or “JavaScript”?

Yes, it talks about “contributors and creators of the Web” and mentions that “we are best known for creating the Mozilla Firefox web browser”, but that's it. In fact short mission statement talks about web a bit but full-blown manifesto does not do that. Something like android (with NDK) will not contradict it. Well, perhaps not “develop everything behind the closed doors, drop source releases from time to time” part of it, but all other pieces fit just fine.

Mozilla's interim CEO: Chris Beard

Posted Apr 16, 2014 4:41 UTC (Wed) by b7j0c (guest, #27559) [Link]

Their manifesto says hardly anything about browsers beyond mentioning that they are proud of their past contribution with Firefox.

I still don't get where this blood-oath to the web stack is coming from...the can write whatever software they want. It was only Eich's dogmatism that pushed them into the increasingly irrelevant position of promoting javascript uber alles.


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