Somehow I have the bad habit of thinking of ideas for blog posts but then leaving them for later until they are no longer interesting (except when it’s a stupid post, then I publish it within minutes ;)). Anyway, before this happens again, here you have some random comments about what I remember from Mozilla Camp Europe, where I was the previous month.
But first of all, here’s a little disclaimer: some of the stuff I describe in this article were only prototypes or even just ideas. They may be available in future versions of Mozilla products, or they may not.
During one of the first keynotes we saw a demonstration of how a development version of Thunderbird 3 (including stuff which isn’t in trunk yet) looked like and I can say it looked really cool, although I personally prefer web based clients. What I liked most myself was that e-mails were displayed in an HTML widget, which allows a better layout and showing many different e-mails one after another (like viewing an entire thread at once, as in GMail), and other stuff like timelines and new ways to search for messages; if you can’t wait for all this functionality, it is available as an extension. At the Thunderbird User Experience session next day I learned that the address list was going to get a lot of attention, so if you are unhappy with how it currently works be sure to try out Thunderbird 3 once it’s released.
I’ve written about Ubiquity before, but there Aza Raskin showed us some slides of how future versions could look like that really rocked my socks off. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the mock-ups online anywhere, but to briefly summarize them, they showed stuff like integration into the awesome bar or a page which could be displayed when you open a new tab and would show actions you may want to do (if you selected some text before opening the new tab) and quick links to the most visited pages.
For those who don’t know it, Fennec is the Mozilla browser for mobile devices. I like the simplistic interface that they manage to create for it, but it still needs lots of works, as I could see when Albert Astals tried it on his N810, where it took over one minute to open and was unusable because of its slowness. It was also announced that there are no plans to create a version for it neither for Android (they said that this would require a complete rewrite) nor for the iPhone (“it already has a good enough browser”) in the near future.
Community and Translation
The Community session at Sunday afternoon was really interesting, too. It’s great to see that there are so many people working to get Firefox (and other Mozilla applications) out to the people and how enthusiastic all those are. I want to use this chance to say a big “thank you” to all those, for spreading the word about Free Software and showing the world that computing can be a better experience than it currently is for many people, and also to all translators for the hard work their are doing to ensure that those applications can be used by everyone all over the world. There was also a session about Babelzilla, which seems to be a great way for new people to get involved and help translating.
About the “How to start a community website?” scheduled just after the Community one, the Mozilla crew showed use the new Documentation page on how to get involved and also described a set of themes, modules, etc. for CMS’ (like Drupal) which can (but don’t need to) be freely used by contributors, thanks to which creating new pages related to Mozilla will be a walk in the park. Further, they said that if someone wants to create a website which in some way reflects the ideas of Mozilla (so, it doesn’t necessarily need to be about some of their products) he/she can get in touch with them and they may eventually host and pay the domain for it.
Well, those are just some of the impressions I got from the event. I really enjoyed it and I could not only meet some known faces there but I also made several new acquaintances.
And best of all: now I’ve got a veeery big “Don’t hurt the web” and a veeery big “Victory” poster, amongst other cool merchandising! :P