I saw that title on Twitter about this article and I thought that can be a good idea to start an article (required few time) about Firefox.
Just as intro I am a Mozilla volunteer since 2013, Mozilla Reps since 2015 (twice in the Reps Council), Mozilla TechSpeaker since 2016, I develop browser extensions for Firefox, leading the Mozilla Italia community for the participation side, doing talks and stuff, joined 7 times the Mozilla All Hands and many other things.
I am not pro-Google, I use LineageOS for my phone with no Chrome, no Google Contact/Calendar but my Nextcloud instance also for my files, duckduckgo for my searches and so on.
Why Mozilla lost the war?
For Google there is a project that gather all the products that was killed by Google, this list is something like that but also include the various fails where other competitors instead achieved something that moved Mozilla less important in the tech market.
Just as note as volunteer since 2013 I can consider myself a veteran, also I often saw that volunteers remember better this list compared to the Mozilla employees that often stay inside the company/foundation for few years and not so much time like a volunteer.
- The new Lazy Loading that will be implemented in WordPress but is supported only by the Chrom* ecosystem and is not a standard yet, Firefox 75 got that feature.
- Jitsi is not supported in Firefox because some APIs for WebRTC are missing, so in this situation of a lot of people switching to remote solution (the coronavirus stupid pandemia) the red panda is not offering a very good experience.
- WebReplay is now a Firefox fork because for Mozilla this dev feature is not important anymore maybe for the last changes of layoffs…
- Electron conquered the world but the Mozilla alternative was abandoned. If Gecko was embeddable in the right moment maybe the web won’t so Chrom* centric.
- Firefox OS is just a big example of a lot of huge promises and results that wasn’t realistic.
- Mozilla Backpack with the Mozilla portal for volunteers badges (yes maybe I am the only one remembering it but LibreOffice community are using it badge as recognition) was the first step to promote the badge technology in the learning world and now died (migrated to another service).
- Firefox Hello started and later killed but maybe if Mozilla still worked on that the WebRTC technology was more privacy friendly.
- Mozilla WebExtension changed the ecosystem a bit as you can see from the Chrome blog in the extensions category, 2013-2018 with no posts in a very huge time frame. The Addon ecosystem changed in Mozilla (recently also in Thunderbird) but didn’t affect anyway the Chrom* APIs also with the Manifest V3 changes.
- Thimble started during the Web Literacy after the dead of Mozilla Webmaker, and now closed.
- Popcorn Maker was a cool project to do interactive video with Web technology but shutdown like the others.
- The Mozilla Learning Network started during the effort of Web Literacy that Mozilla chosen to close also if it is still a hot topic and other realities are now moving on this, the difference is the scale that Mozilla achieved is not reached by anyone now. At least the portal is still alive with all the content…
- WebUSB started as project by Google but because is not a standard now is dead, Mozilla is still behind on adopting new API like WebMidi. This means that there are no way that Mozilla start to look on these proposals and do something to help on becoming standards.
- Debugger.html, that started as a project to run the debugger outside Firefox but is now stopped also if there are nice debugger examples.
- Google is now doing things for web literacy (like this one to tests users’ abilities on identify phishing) when was the first goal in Mozilla few years ago (excluding the mozilla club program) with Encrypt campaign, Take back the web campaign (there aren’t anymore official links to that), Codemoji (to learn cyphers), WebWeWant campaign. Instead, is doing other things like privacynotincluded that in my personal opinion don’t compete with the scale of the others campaigns.
- Warn when downloading executable files over HTTP now is supported in Chrome 82 but not in Firefox. Last comment of an user “Firefox could have been a pioneer, instead it looks like Chrome will get there first.”
(Mozilla) Firefox is not a Pioneer anymore
How many pioneering technologies Mozilla is doing now? Maybe A-frame, Rust, Picture-in-picture mode for Firefox,WebAssembly, Mozilla Iot, the YouTube Mozilla channel or the new Mozilla Developer portal?
PS: Rust is not considered anymore part of the Mozilla community or ecosystem beucase is moving around with the help of a new community, different sponsors and so on.
Mozilla has no relevance for the real tech stuff right now because is not producing any new technology (that is used outside the Mozilla Foundation). The usual Mozilla behavior is create a new technology and a new community that is not managed anymore by Mozilla (only if there are the resource from that community or the project will be closed). Yes this of course it is very cool compared to projects like Android but the point is that is not attractive to developers.
This can explain why there is the new Mozilla Developer portal, to gather the Mozilla technologies for developers but for a company/foundation that fought in the browser war, revolutioned the web is like the last swan song.
So the people say this:
Useful new feature lands in Google Chrome. WordPress core developer (admittedly: employed by Google)00 starts implementing it for WordPress core. Other browsers follow:https://t.co/IdAtVLsXkb
Ladies and gentlemen: the power of a large platform is shown.
— Joost de Valk (@jdevalk) February 15, 2020
If you saw this like 5-6 years there was a huge fight like everywhere on the internet, instead now there is a big silence because Mozilla is slow and is not caring of the health of the Web Standards that is the core but focusing on something that is not clear (atleast for me).
Personal opinion: Mozilla uses to telemetry a lot of things and based on that numbers drop features (or services) that are not used so much, maybe is something reasonable but I don’t think that is the right way for everything. There are features that can have sense sometimes and not every day like for Firefox Screenshot where there was the feature to host the files or also draw on them.
Probably Mozilla since the dead of Firefox OS is trying to find a place in the Tech world where can be a leader like in the past, looking to the many experiments of the past it still not found a spot.
Why Mozilla is ignored by the real Tech world?
With real world I mean the developer world, where everything started, now is focusing just on fancy things or discussions on like the usage of internet.
This means that is not attractive to the developers, but let me explain what this means for who is not a developer.
Developers build things because there is the opportunity to do so, like Firefox that started from the Netscape code because is available as open source. If there is space for them, they can change the world but if you are not building the roads or not doing the best ingredients you cannot be sure of the results or help to create new things.
Why a developer should use Firefox compared to Chrome if the majority of the world is Webkit centric? It is like be a Rome pizza maker but everyone is asking for Naples pizza, they are similar but not the same thing. If a company is hiring a sysadmin for CentOS linux instead got one skilled with Debian linux, you cannot be sure that has the right skills for what you need just because the name include Linux.
At the same time Firefox doesn’t have the same APIs available (compared to Chrome) to the developers to experiment new things and create new opportunities, also tools.
It is clear for a developer that the world is Webkit centric so the other browsers are fine to be supported but you don’t need to put so many efforts (and money) to get your business working.
As volunteer and contributor it is difficult for me to find something cool to do with Firefox, compared with the past and is very sad.
What Mozilla can do?
Just listen developers, not to know what is the best feature missing in the dev tools or to do a new logo (that is not clear for a lot of people including me).
What is offering Firefox to the developer ecosystem?
Listen also your users when there are complaints and when Firefox is behind Google about some implementations, fight back when there are bad standards like in the past. Often as volunteer I feel that Mozilla is a traitor because now is not fighting for an open web at 360 grades.
Let me know what do you think in the comments section.