Long. Overdue. Upgrade.
I bought a Dell XPS13 as my new portable workstation for Linux and GNOME. This is the model 9360 that is currently available as in a Developer Edition with Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (project Sputnik for those who follow). It satisifies all I was looking for in a laptop: lightweigh, small 13", 16 GB of RAM (at least), core i7 CPU (this is a Kaby Lake) and must run Linux well.
But I didn't buy the Developer Edition. Price-wise the Developer Edition is CAD$150 less than the Windows version in the "business" line and CAD$50 less than the Windows version in the "home" line (which only has that version). Exact same hardware. Last week, it was on sale, CAD$500 off the regular price, so it didn't matter. I got one. I had delayed so long for getting one, this was the opportunity for a bargain. I double checked, and unlike the previous Skylake based model that didn't have the same wifi card, this one is really the same thing.
I got a surprise door bell ring, from the delivery person (the website didn't tell me it was en route).
It came in a box that contain a cardboard wrap and a nice black box. The cardboard wrap contain the power brick and the AC cord. I'm genuinely surprised of the power adapter. It is small, smaller than what I'm used to. It is just odd that it doesn't come in the same box as the laptop (not a separate shipping box, just that it is boxes in a box, shipped to you at once). The nice black box only bear the Dell logo and contain the laptop, and two small booklets. One is for the warranty, the other is a getting started guide. Interestingly it mentions Ubuntu as well, which lead me to think that it is same for both preloads. This doesn't really matter in the end but it just show the level of refinement for a high-end laptop, which until the last Apple refresh, was still more expensive than the Apple equivalent.
Fiddling with the BIOS
It took me more time to download the Fedora live ISO and flash it to the USB stick than the actual setup of the machine, minus some fiddling. As I had booted, Fedora 25 was installed in 20 minutes. I did wipe the internal SSD, BTW.
Once I figured out it was F2 I had to press to get the BIOS upon boot, to set it to boot off the USB drive, I also had to configure the disk controller to AHCI instead of RAID, as without that the Fedora installed didn't find the internal storage. Note that this might be more troublesome if you want dual boot, but I didn't want. also I don't know what's the default setup in the Developer Edition either.
Nonetheless, the Fedora installer worked well with mostly defaults. HiDPI is managed, which that I finally have a laptop with "Retina Display".
The laptop is small, with a HiDPI screen, a decent trackpad that works out of the box with two finger scrolling. An aluminium shell with a non glowing logo in he middle, a black inside with keyboard, and glass touch screen. The backlit keyboard has a row of function keys at the top, like it should be, row that dub as "media" button with the Fn key or actually without. Much like on a MacBook. The only difference that will require me to get used to is the Control key is actually in the corner. Like it used to be... (not sure if that's on all Dell though, but I remember hating not have control in the corner, then got used to to it like there was no option, and that was more than a decade ago). That will make for a finger reeducation, that's sure. The whole laptop a good size, it is very compact. Light but solid.
As for the connectivity, there is a SD card reader, 2 USB 3.0 port (A type) and a USB 3.1 Type-C that carries HDMI and Thunderbolt. For HDMI looks like a CAD$30 adapter, but it seems to be standard so might not be a huge problem.
I am happy with it. GNOME is beautiful in HiDPI, and it is all smooth.
To help facilitate more mutual support among developers migrating and porting to WebExtensions, we asked the add-on developer community to sign up for blocks of time when they can be available to assist each other. This week, we published the schedule, which shows you the days and hours (in your time zone) when people are available to answer questions in IRC and the add-on forum. Each volunteer helper has indicated their specialties, so you can find the people who are most likely able to help you.
If you’d like to get help asynchronously, you can join and email the webextensions-support [at] mozilla [dot] org mailing list, where more people are on hand to answer questions.
If you have any knowledge in or expertise with add-ons, please sign up to help! Just go to the etherpad and add your IRC handle, times you’re available, and your specialties, and we’ll add you to the schedule. Or, join the mailing list to help out at any time.
The post Office Hours Support for Transitioning and Porting to WebExtensions appeared first on Mozilla Add-ons Blog.
We Believe in Equal Rating Mozilla seeks to make the full range of the Internet's extraordinary power and innovative potential available to all. We advocate...
Some speakers love Q & A. Others dread it. No matter which group you are in, this session will share tips for how to plan...
We Believe in Equal Rating Mozilla seeks to make the full range of the Internet's extraordinary power and innovative potential available to all. We advocate...
This is a weekly call with some of the Reps to discuss all matters about/affecting Reps and invite Reps to share their work with everyone.
We Believe in Equal Rating Mozilla seeks to make the full range of the Internet's extraordinary power and innovative potential available to all. We advocate...
“Are you passionate about the Open Web? Do you want to help protect the Internet’s tremendous socioeconomic benefits through policy and advocacy?”
Mozilla is looking for an Internet Policy Manager, to work with the wonderful Raegan in the EU. If you know anyone who might be suitable, please encourage them to apply :-)
CC BY-SA 3.0 Nick Youngson
TL;DR We need you! There are 3 ways to give feedback on the draft of Mozilla’s Community Participation Guidelines. The draft is available in both English and Spanish (and yes, more languages will be included in future!).
1. By joining our #Mozillians Telegram Group or on Twitter tomorrow, Thursday March 9th at 7 AM PST (your time).
2. Directly on Discourse – English or Spanish.
3. Via the Activate Campaign (which comes with recognition of completion) – English or Spanish
D&I lead at Mozilla Larissa Shapiro, and her team have been working very hard on a 2.0 version of our Community Participation Guidelines, you can find the current version online here.
Why are we revisiting and improving our guidelines.
Diversity is the mix of people, and Inclusion is getting the mix to work well together.
The Community Participation Guidelines draft is intended to support a diverse and inclusive Mozilla by laying out expected behavior, consequences and reporting. Please help us make this resources one that enriches our experiences – making Mozilla an empowered, safe and rewarding place to be.
There are 3 ways to give feedback (and hear from others)
- By joining our #Mozillians Telegram Group or on Twitter tomorrow, Thursday March 9th at 7 AM PST (your time).
- Directly on Discourse – English or Spanish.
- Via the Activate Campaign (which comes with recognition of completion) – English or Spanish
Up until recently, anytime you pushed a patch series to MozReview, a single attachment would be created on the bug associated with the push.
That single attachment would link to the “parent” or “root” review request, which contains the folded diff of all commits.
We noticed a lot of MozReview users were (rightfully) confused about this mapping from Bugzilla to MozReview. It was not at all obvious that Ship It on the parent review request would cause the attachment on Bugzilla to be r+’d. Consequently, reviewers used a number of workarounds, including, but not limited to:
- Manually setting the r+ or r- flags in Bugzilla for the MozReview attachments
- Marking Ship It on the child review requests, and letting the reviewee take care of setting the reviewer flags in the commit message
- Just writing “r+” in a MozReview comment
Anyhow, this model wasn’t great, and caused a lot of confusion.
So it’s changed! Now, when you push to MozReview, there’s one attachment created for every commit in the push. That means that when different reviewers are set for different commits, that’s reflected in the Bugzilla attachments, and when those reviewers mark “Ship It” on a child commit, that’s also reflected in an r+ on the associated Bugzilla attachment!
I think this makes quite a bit more sense. Hopefully you do too!
I’m on vacation this week, but the show must go on! So I pre-recorded a shorter episode of The Joy of Coding last Friday.
I demo the tool, and then I explain how it works. After I finished the episode, I pushed to repository to GitHub, and you can check that out right here.
So I’ll see you next week with a full length episode! Take care!
Which, several times, I mistakenly refer to as the 15th episode, and not the 16th. Whoops. ↩
Common (excluding Website bugs)-specific: (23)
- Fixed: 768207 – Make the cache checkbox default-on in the new calendar dialog
- Fixed: 1049591 – Fix lots of strict warnings
- Fixed: 1086573 – Lightning and Thunderbird disagree about timezone support in ics files
- Fixed: 1099592 – Make JS callers of ios.newChannel call ios.newChannel2 in calendar/
- Fixed: 1149423 – Add Windows timezone names to list of aliases
- Fixed: 1151011 – Calendar events show up on wrong day when printing
- Fixed: 1151440 – Choose a color not responsive when creating a New calendar in Lightning 4.0b1
- Fixed: 1153327 – Run compare-locales with merging for Lightning
- Fixed: 1156015 – Email scheduling fails for recipients with URN id
- Fixed: 1158036 – Support sendMailTo for URN type attendees
- Fixed: 1159447 – TEST-UNEXPECTED-FAIL | xpcshell-icaljs.ini:calendar/test/unit/test_extract.js
- Fixed: 1159638 – Getter fails in calender-migration-dialog on first run after installation
- Fixed: 1159682 – Provide a more appropriate “learn more” page on integrated Lightning firstrun
- Fixed: 1159698 – Opt-out dialog has a button for “disable”, but actually the addon is removed
- Fixed: 1160728 – Unbreak Lightning 4.0b4 beta builds
- Fixed: 1162300 – TEST-UNEXPECTED-FAIL | xpcshell-libical.ini:calendar/test/unit/test_alarm.js | xpcshell return code: 0
- Fixed: 1163306 – Re-enable libical tests and disable ical.js in nightly builds when binary compatibility is back
- Fixed: 1165002 – Lightning broken, tries to load libical backend although “calendar.icaljs” defaults to “true”
- Fixed: 1165315 – TEST-UNEXPECTED-FAIL | xpcshell-icaljs.ini:calendar/test/unit/test_bug759324.js | xpcshell return code: 1 | ###!!! ASSERTION: Deprecated, use NewChannelFromURI2 providing loadInfo arguments!
- Fixed: 1165497 – TEST-UNEXPECTED-FAIL | xpcshell-icaljs.ini:calendar/test/unit/test_alarmservice.js | xpcshell return code: -11
- Fixed: 1165726 – TEST-UNEXPECTED-FAIL | /builds/slave/test/build/tests/mozmill/testBasicFunctionality.js | testBasicFunctionality.js::testSmokeTest
- Fixed: 1165728 – TEST-UNEXPECTED-FAIL | xpcshell-icaljs.ini:calendar/test/unit/test_bug494140.js | xpcshell return code: -11
Sunbird will no longer be actively developed by the Calendar team.
- Fixed: 401779 – Integrate Lightning Into Thunderbird by Default and Ship Thunderbird with Lightning Enabled
- Fixed: 717292 – Spell check language setting for subject and body not synchronized, but temporarily appears so when changing language and depending on focus (confusing ux)
- Fixed: 914225 – Support hotfix add-on in Thunderbird
- Fixed: 1025547 – newmailaccount/jquery.tmpl.js, line 123: reference to undefined property def
- Fixed: 1088975 – Answering mail with sendername containing encoded special chars and comma creates two “To”-entries
- Fixed: 1101237 – Remove distribution directory during install
- Fixed: 1109178 – Thunderbird OAuth implementation does not work with Evernote
- Fixed: 1110166 – Port |Bug 1102219 – Rename String.prototype.contains to String.prototype.includes| to comm-central
- Fixed: 1113097 – Fix misuse of fixIterator
- Fixed: 1130854 – Package Lightning with Thunderbird
- Fixed: 1131997 – Adapt for Debugger Server code for changes in bug 1059308
- Fixed: 1135291 – Update chat log entries added to Gloda since bug 955292 to use relative paths
- Fixed: 1135588 – New conversations get indexed twice by gloda, leading to duplicate search results
- Fixed: 1138154 – Plugins default to “always activate” in Thunderbird
- Fixed: 1142879 – [meta] track Mozilla-central (Core) issues that we want to have fixed in TB38
- Fixed: 1146698 – Chat Messages added to logs just before shutdown may not be indexed by gloda
- Fixed: 1148330 – Font indicator doesn’t update when cursor is placed in text where core returns sans-serif (Windows). Serif and monospace don’t work (Linux).
- Fixed: 1148512 – TEST-UNEXPECTED-FAIL | mailnews/imap/test/unit/test_dod.js | xpcshell return code: 0||1 | streamMessages – [streamMessages : 94] false == true | application crashed [@ mozalloc_abort(char const * const)]
- Fixed: 1149059 – splitter in compose window can be resized down to completely obscure composition area
- Fixed: 1151206 – Using a theme hides minimize, maximize and close button in composer window [Mac]
- Fixed: 1151475 – Remove use of expression closures in mail/
- Fixed: 1152299 – [autoconfig] Cosmetic changes for WEB.DE config
- Fixed: 1152706 – Upgrade to Correspondents column (combined To/From column) too agressive
- Fixed: 1152796 – chrome://messenger/content/folderDisplay.js, line 697: TypeError: this._savedColumnStates.correspondentCol is undefined
- Fixed: 1152926 – New mail sound preview doesn’t work for default system sound on Mac OS X
- Fixed: 1154737 – Permafail: TEST-UNEXPECTED-FAIL | toolkit/components/telemetry/tests/unit/test_TelemetryPing.js | xpcshell return code: 0
- Fixed: 1154747 – TEST-UNEXPECTED-FAIL | /builds/slave/test/build/tests/mozmill/session-store/test-session-store.js | test-session-store.js::test_message_pane_height_persistence
- Fixed: 1156669 – Trash folder duplication while using IMAP with localized TB
- Fixed: 1157236 – In-content dialogs: Port bug 1043612, bug 1148923 and bug 1141031 to TB
- Fixed: 1157649 – TEST-UNEXPECTED-FAIL | dom/push/test/xpcshell/test_clearAll_successful.js (and most other push tests)
- Fixed: 1158824 – Port bug 138009 to fix packaging errors | Missing file(s): bin/defaults/autoconfig/platform.js
- Fixed: 1159448 – Thunderbird ignores proxy settings on POP3S protocol
- Fixed: 1159627 – resource:///modules/dbViewWrapper.js, line 560: SyntaxError: unreachable code after return statement
- Fixed: 1159630 – components/glautocomp.js, line 155: SyntaxError: unreachable code after return statement
- Fixed: 1159676 – mailnews/mime/jsmime/test/test_custom_headers.js | run_next_test 0 – TypeError: _gRunningTest is undefined at /builds/slave/test/build/tests/xpcshell/head.js:1435 (and other jsmime tests)
- Fixed: 1159688 – After switching/changing the window layout, dragging the splitter between threadpane and messagepane can create gray/grey area/space (misplaced notificationbox)
- Fixed: 1159815 – Take bug 1154791 “Inline spell checker loses red underlines after a backspace is used – take two” in Thunderbird 38
- Fixed: 1159817 – Take “Bug 1100966 – Inline spell checker loses red underlines after a backspace is used” in Thunderbird 38
- Fixed: 1159834 – Consider taking “Bug 756984 – Changing location in editor doesn’t preserve the font when returning to end of text/line” in Thunderbird 38
- Fixed: 1159923 – Take bug 1140105 “Can’t query for a specific font face when the selection is collapsed” in TB 38
- Fixed: 1160105 – Fix strict mode warnings in protovis-r2.6-modded.js
- Fixed: 1160106 – “Searching…” spinner at the bottom of gloda search results never goes away
- Fixed: 1160114 – Strict mode warnings on faceted search
- Fixed: 1160805 – Missing Windows and Linux nightly builds, build step set props: previous_buildid fails
- Fixed: 1161162 – “Join Chat” doesn’t focus the newly joined MUC
- Fixed: 1162396 – Take bug 1140617 “Pasting an image loses the composition style” in TB38
- Fixed: 1163086 – Take bug 967494 “changing spellcheck language in one composition window affects all open and new compositions” in TB38
- Fixed: 1163299 – “TypeError: getBrowser(…) is null” in contentAreaClick with Lightning installed and started in calendar view
- Fixed: 1163343 – Incorrectly formatted error message “sending failed”
- Fixed: 1164415 – Error in comment for imapEnterServerPasswordPrompt
- Fixed: 1164658 – TypeError: Cc[‘@mozilla.org/weave/service;1’] is undefined at resource://gre/modules/FxAccountsWebChannel.jsm:227
- Fixed: 1164707 – missing toolkit_perfmonitoring.xpt in aurora builds
- Fixed: 1165152 – Take bug 1154894 in TB 38 branch: Disable test_plugin_default_state.js so Thunderbird can ship with plugins disabled by default
- Fixed: 1165320 – TEST-UNEXPECTED-FAIL | /builds/slave/test/build/tests/mozmill/notification/test-notification.js
MailNews Core-specific: (30)
- Fixed: 610533 – crash [@ nsMsgDatabase::GetSearchResultsTable(char const*, int, nsIMdbTable**)] with virtual folder
- Fixed: 745664 – Rename Address book aaa to aaa_test, delete another address book bbb, and renamed address book aaa_test will lose its name and appear deleted after restart (dataloss! involving localized names)
- Fixed: 777770 – get rid of nsVoidArray from /mailnews
- Fixed: 786141 – Use nsIFile.exists() instead of stat to check the existence of the file
- Fixed: 1069790 – Email addresses with parenthesis are not pretty-printed anymore
- Fixed: 1072611 – Ctrl+P not working from Composition’s Print Preview window
- Fixed: 1099587 – Make JS callers of ios.newChannel call ios.newChannel2 in mail/ and mailnews/
- Fixed: 1130248 – |To: “firstname.lastname@example.org” <email@example.com>| becomes |”firstname.lastname@example.org”@example.com| when I compose mail to it
- Fixed: 1138220 – some headers are not not properly capitalized
- Fixed: 1141446 – Behaviour of malformed rfc2047 encoded From message header inconsistent
- Fixed: 1143569 – User-agent error when posting to NNTP due to RFC5536 violation of Tb (user-agent header is folded just after user-agent:, “user-agent:[CRLF][SP]Mozilla…”)
- Fixed: 1144693 – Disable libnotify usage on Linux by default for new-mail notifications (doesn’t always work after bug 858919)
- Fixed: 1149320 – fix compile warnings in mailnews/extensions/
- Fixed: 1150891 – Port package-manifest.in changes from Bug 1115495 – Part 2: PAC generator for browsing and system wide proxy
- Fixed: 1151782 – Inputting 29th Feb as a birthday in the addressbook contact replaces it with 1st Mar.
- Fixed: 1152364 – crash in Address Book via nsAbBSDirectory::GetChildNodes nsCOMArrayEnumerator::operator new(unsigned int, nsCOMArray_base const&)
- Fixed: 1152989 – Account Manager Extensions broken in Thunderbird 37/38
- Fixed: 1154521 – jsmime fails on long references header and e-mail gets sent and stored in Sent without headers
- Fixed: 1155491 – Support autoconfig and manual config of gmail IMAP OAuth2 authentication
- Fixed: 1155952 – Nesting level does not match indentation
- Fixed: 1156691 – GUI “Edit filters”: Conditions/actions (for specfic accounts) not visible
- Fixed: 1156777 – nsParseMailbox.cpp:505:55: error: ‘do_QueryObject’ was not declared in this scope
- Fixed: 1158501 – Port bug 1039866 (metro code removal) and bug 1085557 (addition of socorro symbol upload API)
- Fixed: 1158751 – Port NO_JS_MANIFEST changes | mozbuild.frontend.reader.SandboxValidationError: calendar/base/backend/icaljs/moz.build
- Fixed: 1159255 – Build error: MSVC_ENABLE_PGO = True is not permitted to be used in mailnews/intl/moz.build
- Fixed: 1159626 – chrome://messenger/content/accountUtils.js, line 455: SyntaxError: unreachable code after return statement
- Fixed: 1160647 – Port |Bug 1159972 – Remove the fallible version of PL_DHashTableInit()| to comm-central
- Fixed: 1163347 – Don’t require scope in ispdb config for OAuth2
- Fixed: 1165737 – Fix usage of NS_LITERAL_CSTRING in mailnews, port Bug 1155963 to comm-central
- Fixed: 1166842 – Re-enable binary extensions for comm-central
You might have noticed that I had no “Things I’ve Learned This Week” post last week. Sorry about that – by the end of the week, I looked at my Evernote of “lessons from the week”, and it was empty. I’m certain I’d learned stuff, but I just failed to write it down. So I guess the lesson I learned last week was, always write down what you learn.How to make your mozilla-central Mercurial clone work faster
I like Mercurial. I also like Git, but recently, I’ve gotten pretty used to Mercurial.
One complaint I hear over and over (and I’m guilty of it myself sometimes), is that “Mercurial is slow”. I’ve even experienced that slowness during some of my Joy of Coding episodes.
This document did not exist when I first started working with Mercurial – back then, I was using mq or sometimes pbranch, and grumbling about how I missed Git.
But there is some gold in this document.
gps has been doing some killer work documenting best practices with Mercurial, and this document is one of the results of his labour.
watchman is a tool that some folks at Facebook wrote to monitor changes in a folder. hgwatchman is an extension for Mercurial that takes advantage of watchman for a repository, smartly precomputing a bunch of stuff when the folder changes so that when you fire a command, likehg status
It takes a fraction of the time it’d take without hgwatchman. A fraction.
Here’s how I set hgwatchman up on my MacBook (though you should probably go by the Mercurial for Mozillians doc as the official reference):
- Install watchman with brew: brew install watchman
- Clone the hgwatchman extension to some folder that you can easily remember and build it: hg clone https://bitbucket.org/facebook/hgwatchman cd hgwatchman make local
- Add the following lines to my user .hgrc: [extensions] hgwatchman = cloned-in-dir/hgwatchman/hgwatchman
- Make sure the extension is properly installed by running: hg help extensions
- hgwatchman should be listed under “enabled extensions”. If it didn’t work, keep in mind that you want to target the hgwatchman directory
- And then in my mozilla-central .hg/.hgrc: [watchman] mode = on
- Boom, you’re done!
Congratulations, hg should feel snappier now!
On Firefox Hello, we recently added the eslint linter to be run against the Hello code base. We started of with a minimal set of rules, just enough to get us something running. Now we’re working on enabling more rules.
Since we enabled it, I feel like I’m able to iterate faster on patches. For example, if just as I finish typing I see something like:
Now I think about it, I’m realising it has also helped reduced the amount of review nits on my patches – due to trivial formatting mistakes being caught automatically, e.g. trailing white-space or missing semi-colons.
Talking about reviews, as we’re running eslint on the Hello code, we just have to apply the patch, and run our tests, and we automatically get eslint output:
Hopefully our patch authors will be running eslint before uploading the patch anyway, but this is an additional test, and a few less things that we need to look at during review which helps speed up that cycle as well.
I’ve also put together a global config file for eslint (see below), that I use for outside of the Hello code, on the rest of the Firefox code base (and other projects). This is enough, that, when using it in my editor it gives me a reasonable amount of information about bad syntax, without complaining about everything.
I would definitely recommend giving it a try. My patches feel faster overall, and my test runs are for testing, not stupid-mistake catching!
Want more specific details about the setup and advantages? Read on…
You need to have eslint installed globally, or at least in your path, other than that, just follow the installation instructions given on the SublimeLinter page.
One configuration I change I did have to make to the global configuration:
- Select “Preferences” -> “Settings – More” -> “Syntax Specific – User”
- In the file that appears, set the configuration up as follows (or whatever suits you):
I’ve uploaded my global configuration to a gist, if it changes I’ll update it there. It isn’t intended to catch everything – there’s too many inconsistencies across the code base for that to be sensible at the moment. However, it does at least allow general syntax issues to be highlighted for most files – which is obviously useful in itself.
I haven’t yet tried running it across the whole code base via eslint on the command line – there seems to be some sort of configuration issue that is messing it up and I’ve not tracked it down yet.
Firefox Hello’s Configuration
The configuration files for Hello can be found in the mozilla-central source. There’s a few of these because we have both content and chrome code, and some of the content code is shared with a website that can be viewed by most browsers, and hence isn’t currently able to use all the es6 features, whereas the chrome code can. This is another thing that eslint is good for enforcing.
Our eslint configuration is evolving at the moment, as we enable more rules, which we’re tracking in this bug.
Last week I gave a talk at the Philly Tech Week 2015 Dev Day organized by the delightful people at technical.ly on some of the tricks/strategies we use in the Firefox OS Gaia Email app. Note that the credit for implementing most of these techniques goes to the owner of the Email app’s front-end, James Burke. Also, a special shout-out to Vivien for the initial DOM Worker patches for the email app.
I tried to avoid having slides that both I would be reading aloud as the audience read silently, so instead of slides to share, I have the talk script. Well, I also have the slides here, but there’s not much to them. The headings below are the content of the slides, except for the one time I inline some code. Note that the live presentation must have differed slightly, because I’m sure I’m much more witty and clever in person than this script would make it seem…
Cover Slide: Who!
Hi, my name is Andrew Sutherland. I work at Mozilla on the Firefox OS Email Application. I’m here to share some strategies we used to make our HTML5 app Seem faster and sometimes actually Be faster.
What’s A Firefox OS (Screenshot Slide)
Here are some screenshots. We’ve got the default home screen app, the clock app, and of course, the email app.
It’s an entirely client-side offline email application, supporting IMAP4, POP3, and ActiveSync. The goal, like all Firefox OS apps shipped with the phone, is to give native apps on other platforms a run for their money.
And that begins with starting up fast.
Fast Startup: The Problems
But that’s frequently easier said than done. Slow-loading websites are still very much a thing.
The good news for the email application is that a slow network isn’t one of its problems. It’s pre-loaded on the phone. And even if it wasn’t, because of the security implications of the TCP Web API and the difficulty of explaining this risk to users in a way they won’t just click through, any TCP-using app needs to be a cryptographically signed zip file approved by a marketplace. So we do load directly from flash.
It adds up in the form of event loop activity and competition with other threads and processes. With the exception of Promises which get their own micro-task queue fast-lane, the web execution model is the same as all other UI event loops; events get scheduled and then executed in the same order they are scheduled. Loading data from an asynchronous API like IndexedDB means that your read result gets in line behind everything else that’s scheduled. And in the case of the bulk of shipped Firefox OS devices, we only have a single processor core so the thread and process contention do come into play.
So we try not to be a naive.
Seeming Fast at Startup: The HTML Cache
If we’re going to optimize startup, it’s good to start with what the user sees. Once an account exists for the email app, at startup we display the default account’s inbox folder.
What is the least amount of work that we can do to show that? Cache a screenshot of the Inbox. The problem with that, of course, is that a static screenshot is indistinguishable from an unresponsive application.
Local Storage: Okay in small doses
We implement this by storing the HTML in localStorage.
Important Disclaimer! LocalStorage is a bad API. It’s a bad API because it’s synchronous. You can read any value stored in it at any time, without waiting for a callback. Which means if the data is not in memory the browser needs to block its event loop or spin a nested event loop until the data has been read from disk. Browsers avoid this now by trying to preload the Entire contents of local storage for your origin into memory as soon as they know your page is being loaded. And then they keep that information, ALL of it, in memory until your page is gone.
So if you store a megabyte of data in local storage, that’s a megabyte of data that needs to be loaded in its entirety before you can use any of it, and that hangs around in scarce phone memory.
To really make the point: do not use local storage, at least not directly. Use a library like localForage that will use IndexedDB when available, and then fails over to WebSQLDatabase and local storage in that order.
Now, having sufficiently warned you of the terrible evils of local storage, I can say with a sorta-clear conscience… there are upsides in this very specific case.
The synchronous nature of the API means that once we get our turn in the event loop we can act immediately. There’s no waiting around for an IndexedDB read result to gets its turn on the event loop.
This matters because although the concept of loading is simple from a User Experience perspective, there’s no standard to back it up right now. Firefox OS’s UX desires are very straightforward. When you tap on an app, we zoom it in. Until the app is loaded we display the app’s icon in the center of the screen. Unfortunately the standards are still assuming that the content is right there in the HTML. This works well for document-based web pages or server-powered web apps where the contents of the page are baked in. They work less well for client-only web apps where the content lives in a database and has to be dynamically retrieved.
The two events that exist are:
“DOMContentLoaded” fires when the document has been fully parsed and all scripts not tagged as “async” have run. If there were stylesheets referenced prior to the script tags, the script tags will wait for the stylesheet loads.
“load” fires when the document has been fully loaded; stylesheets, images, everything.
But none of these have anything to do with the content in the page saying it’s actually done. This matters because these standards also say nothing about IndexedDB reads or the like. We tried to create a standards consensus around this, but it’s not there yet. So Firefox OS just uses the “load” event to decide an app or page has finished loading and it can stop showing your app icon. This largely avoids the dreaded “flash of unstyled content” problem, but it also means that your webpage or app needs to deal with this period of time by displaying a loading UI or just accepting a potentially awkward transient UI state.
(Trivial HTML slide)<link rel=”stylesheet” ...> <script ...></script> DOMContentLoaded!
This is the important summary of our index.html.
We reference our stylesheet first. It includes all of our styles. We never dynamically load stylesheets because that compels a style recalculation for all nodes and potentially a reflow. We would have to have an awful lot of style declarations before considering that.
Then we have our single script file. Because the stylesheet precedes the script, our script will not execute until the stylesheet has been loaded. Then our script runs and we synchronously insert our HTML from local storage. Then DOMContentLoaded can fire. At this point the layout engine has enough information to perform a style recalculation and determine what CSS-referenced image resources need to be loaded for buttons and icons, then those load, and then we’re good to be displayed as the “load” event can fire.
After that, we’re displaying an interactive-ish HTML document. You can scroll, you can press on buttons and the :active state will apply. So things seem real.
Being Fast: Lazy Loading and Optimized Layers
But now we need to try and get some logic in place as quickly as possible that will actually cash the checks that real-looking HTML UI is writing. And the key to that is only loading what you need when you need it, and trying to get it to load as quickly as possible.
There are many module loading and build optimizing tools out there, and most frameworks have a preferred or required way of handling this. We used the RequireJS family of Asynchronous Module Definition loaders, specifically the alameda loader and the r-dot-js optimizer.
One of the niceties of the loader plugin model is that we are able to express resource dependencies as well as code dependencies.
RequireJS Loader Pluginsvar fooModule = require('./foo'); var htmlString = require('text!./foo.html'); var localizedDomNode = require('tmpl!./foo.html');
The standard Common JS loader semantics used by node.js and io.js are the first one you see here. Load the module, return its exports.
But RequireJS loader plugins also allow us to do things like the second line where the exclamation point indicates that the load should occur using a loader plugin, which is itself a module that conforms to the loader plugin contract. In this case it’s saying load the file foo.html as raw text and return it as a string.
But, wait, there’s more! loader plugins can do more than that. The third example uses a loader that loads the HTML file using the ‘text’ plugin under the hood, creates an HTML document fragment, and pre-localizes it using our localization library. And this works un-optimized in a browser, no compilation step needed, but it can also be optimized.
We then also run the optimizer against our other important cards like the “compose” card and the “message reader” card. We don’t do this for all cards because it can be hard to carve up the module dependency graph for optimization without starting to run into cases of overlap where many optimized files redundantly include files loaded by other optimized files.
Plus, we have another trick up our sleeve:
Seeming Fast: Preloading
Preloading. Our cards optionally know the other cards they can load. So once we display a card, we can kick off a preload of the cards that might potentially be displayed. For example, the message list card can trigger the compose card and the message reader card, so we can trigger a preload of both of those.
But we don’t go overboard with preloading in the frontend because we still haven’t actually loaded the back-end that actually does all the emaily email stuff. The back-end is also chopped up into optimized layers along account type lines and online/offline needs, but the main optimized JS file still weighs in at something like 17 thousand lines of code with newlines retained.
So once our UI logic is loaded, it’s time to kick-off loading the back-end. And in order to avoid impacting the responsiveness of the UI both while it loads and when we’re doing steady-state processing, we run it in a DOM Worker.
Being Responsive: Workers and SharedWorkers
DOM Workers are background JS threads that lack access to the page’s DOM, communicating with their owning page via message passing with postMessage. Normal workers are owned by a single page. SharedWorkers can be accessed via multiple pages from the same document origin.
By doing this, we stay out of the way of the main thread. This is getting less important as browser engines support Asynchronous Panning & Zooming or “APZ” with hardware-accelerated composition, tile-based rendering, and all that good stuff. (Some might even call it magic.)
When Firefox OS started, we didn’t have APZ, so any main-thread logic had the serious potential to result in janky scrolling and the impossibility of rendering at 60 frames per second. It’s a lot easier to get 60 frames-per-second now, but even asynchronous pan and zoom potentially has to wait on dispatching an event to the main thread to figure out if the user’s tap is going to be consumed by app logic and preventDefault called on it. APZ does this because it needs to know whether it should start scrolling or not.
And speaking of 60 frames-per-second…
Being Fast: Virtual List Widgets
…the heart of a mail application is the message list. The expected UX is to be able to fling your way through the entire list of what the email app knows about and see the messages there, just like you would on a native app.
This is admittedly one of the areas where native apps have it easier. There are usually list widgets that explicitly have a contract that says they request data on an as-needed basis. They potentially even include data bindings so you can just point them at a data-store.
But HTML doesn’t yet have a concept of instantiate-on-demand for the DOM, although it’s being discussed by Firefox layout engine developers. For app purposes, the DOM is a scene graph. An extremely capable scene graph that can handle huge documents, but there are footguns and it’s arguably better to err on the side of fewer DOM nodes.
So what the email app does is we create a scroll-region div and explicitly size it based on the number of messages in the mail folder we’re displaying. We create and render enough message summary nodes to cover the current screen, 3 screens worth of messages in the direction we’re scrolling, and then we also retain up to 3 screens worth in the direction we scrolled from. We also pre-fetch 2 more screens worth of messages from the database. These constants were arrived at experimentally on prototype devices.
We listen to “scroll” events and issue database requests and move DOM nodes around and update them as the user scrolls. For any potentially jarring or expensive transitions such as coordinate space changes from new messages being added above the current scroll position, we wait for scrolling to stop.
Nodes are absolutely positioned within the scroll area using their ‘top’ style but translation transforms also work. We remove nodes from the DOM, then update their position and their state before re-appending them. We do this because the browser APZ logic tries to be clever and figure out how to create an efficient series of layers so that it can pre-paint as much of the DOM as possible in graphic buffers, AKA layers, that can be efficiently composited by the GPU. Its goal is that when the user is scrolling, or something is being animated, that it can just move the layers around the screen or adjust their opacity or other transforms without having to ask the layout engine to re-render portions of the DOM.
When our message elements are added to the DOM with an already-initialized absolute position, the APZ logic lumps them together as something it can paint in a single layer along with the other elements in the scrolling region. But if we start moving them around while they’re still in the DOM, the layerization logic decides that they might want to independently move around more in the future and so each message item ends up in its own layer. This slows things down. But by removing them and re-adding them it sees them as new with static positions and decides that it can lump them all together in a single layer. Really, we could just create new DOM nodes, but we produce slightly less garbage this way and in the event there’s a bug, it’s nicer to mess up with 30 DOM nodes displayed incorrectly rather than 3 million.
But as neat as the layerization stuff is to know about on its own, I really mention it to underscore 2 suggestions:
1, Use a library when possible. Getting on and staying on APZ fast-paths is not trivial, especially across browser engines. So it’s a very good idea to use a library rather than rolling your own.
2, Use developer tools. APZ is tricky to reason about and even the developers who write the Async pan & zoom logic can be surprised by what happens in complex real-world situations. And there ARE developer tools available that help you avoid needing to reason about this. Firefox OS has easy on-device developer tools that can help diagnose what’s going on or at least help tell you whether you’re making things faster or slower:
– it’s got a frames-per-second overlay; you do need to scroll like mad to get the system to want to render 60 frames-per-second, but it makes it clear what the net result is
– it has paint flashing that overlays random colors every time it paints the DOM into a layer. If the screen is flashing like a discotheque or has a lot of smeared rainbows, you know something’s wrong because the APZ logic is not able to to just reuse its layers.
– devtools can enable drawing cool colored borders around the layers APZ has created so you can see if layerization is doing something crazy
There’s also fancier and more complicated tools in Firefox and other browsers like Google Chrome to let you see what got painted, what the layer tree looks like, et cetera.
And that’s my spiel.
The source code to Gaia can be found at https://github.com/mozilla-b2g/gaia
The email app in particular can be found at https://github.com/mozilla-b2g/gaia/tree/master/apps/email
(I also asked for questions here.)
It’s that time of year again, we have a new major release of Lightning on the horizon. About every 42 weeks, Thunderbird prepares for a major release, we follow up with a matching major version. You may know these as Lightning 2.6 or 3.3.In order to avoid disappointments, we do a series of beta releases before a such major release. This is where we need you. Please help out in making Lightning 4.0 a great success.Time flies when you are preparing for releases, so we are already at Thunderbird 38.0b3 and Lightning 4.0b3. The final release will be on May 12th and there will be at least one more beta. Please download these betas and take a moment to go through all the actions you normally do on a daily basis. Create an event, accept an invitation, complete a task. You probably have your own workflow, these are of course just examples.
Here is how to get the builds. If you have found an issue, you can either leave a comment here or file a bug on bugzilla.
- Thunderbird Beta: https://www.mozilla.org/thunderbird/all-beta.html
- You can directly select the beta version for your language on this page
- Lightning Beta: https://addons.mozilla.org/thunderbird/addon/lightning/
- Scroll down to the “Developer Channel”, expand the box and click on the download button
You may wonder what is new. I’ve gone through the bugs fixed since 3.3 and found that most issues are backend fixes that won’t be very visible. We do however have a great new feature to save copies of invitations to your calendar. This helps in case you don’t care about replying to the invitation but would still like to see it in your calendar. We also have more general improvements in invitation compatibility, performance and stability and some slight visual enhancements. The full list of changes can be found on bugzilla.
Although its highly unlikely that severe problems will arise, you are encouraged to make a backup before switching to beta. If it comforts you, I am using beta builds for my production profile and I don’t recall there being a time where I lost events or had to start over.
If you have questions or have found a bug, feel free to leave a comment here.
I guess that mostly comes from the impression that the whole story is our government watching (over) us and the worst thing that can happen is incrimination. While that might threaten some things, most people do nothing that is really interesting enough for a government to go into attack mode over it (or so they believe, and very firmly so). And I even agree that most governments (including the US and EU countries) actually actively seek out what they call "terrorist activities" (even though they often stretch that term in crazy ways) and/or child abuse and similar topics that the vast majority of citizens agree are a bad thing and are not part of - and the vast majority of politicians and government workers believe they act in the best interest of their citizens when "obviously fighting that" via their different programs of privacy-undermining surveillance. That said, most people seem to be OK with their government collecting data about them as long as it's not used to incriminate them (and when that happens, it's too late to protest the practice anyhow).
A lot has been said about that since the "Snowden leaks", but I think the more obvious short-term and direct threat is in corporate surveillance, which has been swept under the rug in most discussions recently - to the joy of Facebook, Google and other major players in that area. I have also seen that when depicting some obvious scenarios resulting of that, people start to think about it much more promptly and realize the effect on their daily lives (even if those are minor issues compared to government starting a manhunt against you with terror allegations or similar).
So what I start asking is:
- Are you OK with banks determining your credit conditions based on all his comments on Facebook and his Google searches? ("Your friends say you owe them money, and that you live beyond your means, this is gonna be difficult...")
- Are you OK with insurances changing your rates based on all that data? ("Oh, so you 'like' all those videos about dangerous sports and that deafening music, and you have some quite aggressive or even violent friends - so you see why we need to go a bit higher there, right?")
- Are you OK with prices for flights or products in online stores (Amazon etc.) being different depending on what other things you have done on the web? ("So, you already planned that vacation at that location, good, so we can give you a higher air rate as you' can't back out now anyhow.")
- And, of course, envision ads in public or half-public locations being customized for whoever is in the area. ("You recently searched for engagement rings, so we'll show ads for them wherever you go." or "Hey, this is the third time today we sat down and a screen nearby shows Viagra ads." or "My dear daughter, why do we see ads for diapers everywhere we go?")
And, of course, they are true to a degree even now. Banks are already buying data from Facebook, probably including "private" messages, for determining credit scores, insurances base rates on anything they can find out about you, flight rates as well as prices for some Amazon and other web shop products vary based on what you searched before - and ads both on your screen and even on postal mail get tailored to a profile built on all kinds of your online behavior. My questions above just take all of those another step forward - but a pretty realistic one in my opinion.
I hope thinking about questions like that makes people realize they might actually want to evade some of that and in the end they actually have something to hide.
And then, of course, that a non-profit like Mozilla, which doesn't seek to maximize money, can believably be on their side and help them regain some privacy where they - now - want to.
The next major release of Thunderbird, version 38, is now in beta and available for testing. You may download Thunderbird 38.0b1 here.
This version of Thunderbird is the first that is mostly managed by volunteer community members rather than by Mozilla staff. We have many new features, including:
- Message filtering when a message is sent or archived
- File-per-message local storage available for new accounts (maildir)
- Contact search over multiple address books
- Internationalized domain names for RSS feeds
- Allow expanded columns to the folder pane for folder size and counts
Release notes are available here.
There are still a couple of features missing from this beta that we hope to ship in the final version of Thunderbird 38. Those are:
- Ship Lightning calendar addon with Thunderbird with an opt-out dialog
- Use OAUTH authentication with Gmail IMAP accounts
The primary fear, it seems, is that knowledge that the largest open-source email client was still receiving regular updates would impel its userbase to agitate for increased funding and maintenance of the client to help forestall potential threats to the open nature of email as well as to innovate in the space of providing usable and private communication channels. Such funding, however, would be an unaffordable luxury and would only distract Mozilla from its central goal of building developer productivity tooling. Persistent rumors that Mozilla would be willing to fund Thunderbird were it renamed Firefox Email were finally addressed with the comment, "such a renaming would violate our current policy that all projects be named Persona."