June 21st, 2010

Paper Cuts & Firefox 4

Update on activity in Paper Cut bugs for Firefox 4

A while back, I gave a presentation here at Mozilla based on feedback from a question thread posted to the Reddit web site: “I work on the Firefox User Experience team, and this is your chance to tell me about your pet peeves.”

We got over 2 000 — yeah, that’s two thousand — replies, and spent some time analyzing and grouping the feedback into actionable bug reports and general focus areas, which was then presented to the Mozilla team and worldwide community in a talk here in Mountain View & broadcast on Air Mozilla.

Unfortunately, the video recording was broken that day, but you can view the presentation slides in HTML5 format here. Copious amounts of presenter notes were added after the presentation was given, so you should be able to follow it even if you can’t see the recording.

The result of this presentation was that a number of bugs were filed under a “Paper Cuts” umbrella — in other words, the small, annoying issues that you encounter every day in any software — and an effort was started as part of the Firefox 4 effort to eliminate as many of these as we can during the beta period. They are similar in nature to what was called “polish” bugs in the Firefox 3 release cycle, but intentionally narrowly scoped, and managed aggressively to ensure that we have a smaller list that can be worked on.

What’s so special about Paper Cut bugs?

I’m glad you asked! The paper cut bugs are issues that are of particular importance to the User Experience team, and as such, we will give priority to help you fix these bugs. It means that we’ll go the extra mile to try and support anyone that helps us with fixing them — so please have a look at the list and see if there’s anything you think you’re capable of fixing, and feel free to contact me directly or post questions in the bugs themselves if you need clarifications or help.

Some paper cut bugs are complicated and require some re-architecting — for instance, the modal dialog issues currently being handled by Justin Dolske & others — but a lot of them are small, self-contained, and the perfect thing to work on while you’re waiting for review for other projects.

Our overall priorities

Of the 7 focus areas identified in the presentation, we chose to focus on two areas in particular for Firefox 4:

This doesn’t mean that the other bugs are any less important — but we obviously have to pick our battles to get stuff done. Don’t let this discourage you from handling bugs in the other focus areas, though!

Our current Paper Cut Heroes

Several of the bugs have seen significant activity over the past month, and I’ll try to call out progress and general awesomeness over the coming weeks. Currently, excellent work is being done on:

…and lots of other issues, more updates to come in the next few weeks.

Want to help out?

This week’s selection of paper cuts that we are currently looking for help in resolving:

If none of these issues tickled your fancy, take a look at the full list of paper cut bugs (tree view) — and pick something to fix!

Overview of paper cuts

Here’s a quick overview of the focus areas we are trying to fix, along with links to the bugs that collect these in focus areas:

Focus issues

Tracked in bug 565510, contains items such as:

Startup Experience*

*Not what you think, focus on perceived performance instead of milliseconds for startup time.

Tracked in bug 565511, contains items such as:

Being in Control

Tracked in bug 565512, contains items such as:

Add-ons & Plug-ins

Tracked in bug 565513, contains items such as:

Tab Behaviors

Tracked in bug 565515, contains items such as:

UI Cruft & Consistency

Tracked in bug 565517, contains items such as:

OS Integration

Tracked in bug 565518, contains items such as:

Alex Limi is VP of Product Design at Highfive , a company that is transforming the way you work. Previously head of Firefox UX & Product Design Strategy at Mozilla , designer at Google & co-founder of Plone .

“No amount of genius can overcome a preoccupation with detail.” —Marion Levy