Month: August 2011

Well, thanks to the Firefox 6 update I was just asked (nagged) to install, none of my plug-ins work. So much for not breaking users.

At the same time, the Firefox team completely failed to give me any compelling reason to stick with Firefox 6 until plug-in developers get around to fixing their code to work with the new browser. The tagline for the release is, “a new look, super speed, even more awesomeness.” Pheh! Seriously?? “awesomeness”? Who are they trying to market to, skate-punks?

So – I made a decision, nearly immediately, to switch to Chrome, where all my plug-ins work, where I can roam my plug-ins and settings between installations, and where the browser is seemingly as fast as any other at the moment.

I might switch back someday, but getting burned like this leaves a super-bad taste in my mouth, especially since I came of age in the software industry working for Dave Winer. At UserLand, Rule 1 was “No breakage”. Sadly, “no breakage” seems to be a lost religion these days. But at least some users will have this reaction whenever something that used to work, stops after an “upgrade”. It’s as if I took my car in to get a tune-up, and now my aftermarket in-dash GPS doesn’t work anymore.

It’s not rocket-science, guys. The software industry, especially the Web, needs to understand that users justifiably and rightly expect things that work right now to keep on working. And if you must break your users, you’d better give them a good damn reason.

Mozilla could easily have fixed this. They just did their 5.0 release, so it’s not as if users are chomping at the bit for the next big release. If they’d taken some time to do some testing on the most popular plug-ins, and then work with plug-in developers to fix breakage and get compatible before releasing 6.0, I would likely still be a Firefox user. It’s probably even the case that most plug-ins which are “incompatible” are just not verified to work on the latest version, so it’s probably not even a code issue for most developers.

But since they didn’t do this work ahead of time, the work that they did, and whatever value it added to the product is now lost on me, and likely many others. This is not the way to keep, much less gain market-share. This is the way to cede a market to a cadre of powerful competitors by being shortsighted and careless — even perhaps reckless.

Web