Australis-Styled Widgets Presentation

4 December, 2013 § 3 Comments

I’ve been pretty quiet this semester about the work that a team of students have been focused on. However, don’t let my quietness be a representation of how hard they have worked.

We’re now reaching the end of the semester and the students have put together a video of their work throughout the semester. The students were tasked with creating three add-ons for the upcoming Australis version of Firefox.

The goal of the project was to get feedback on the new Australis add-on APIs before it became too late to make significant changes. Through the process some bugs were filed, but none that caused us to have to go back and rethink our initial direction.

The three add-ons that the students were asked to create were a weather add-on, music add-on, and Bugzilla add-on. Please watch the video below to get an overview of their capabilities.

Video

You can view the source code for the Weather widget and the Bugzilla widget online.

Download a Holly nightly today

4 December, 2013 § 1 Comment

Continuing with the Australis work that much of the Firefox front-end team has been laser-focused on recently, we now have automatically updating nightly builds of Holly (Windows, OS X, Linux).

Firefox Holly

Holly is the version of Nightly that doesn’t include the Australis changes. We are running this special “backout” branch of Nightly because Australis won’t be ready to make the move to Firefox Aurora by the December 9th merge date.

We will continue to work on Australis in the Nightly 29 train, with the goal of Australis merging to Firefox Aurora 29. In the meantime, the Holly branch is what will be merged to Firefox Aurora 28.

It is very important that we have nightly testers who use Holly to help the Firefox community make sure that we have good code coverage over the changes that will be making their way to our Aurora population.

If you’d like to help test out the Holly branch, you can now download an auto-updating nightly build of Holly (Windows, OS X, Linux). Again, these will be very similar to the official Firefox Nightly builds with the exception that they don’t include the Australis user interface changes.

Running a backout branch with Mercurial

21 November, 2013 § 3 Comments

As mentioned in an earlier post, we are running a special branch of Firefox that is made of the Nightly (mozilla-central) trunk minus the Australis changes. This branch will be the source of our Aurora (mozilla-aurora) builds in a few weeks.

As we were planning this work, we found that there weren’t many resources on the internet that described how to do what we wanted.

Basically, we have our trunk that will have a large and invasive feature being built on it. However, we also want to have a branch that doesn’t include this work.

To get started, we created a separate repository (holly) that was cloned from mozilla-central prior to the feature branch being merged in to mozilla-central. When the feature branch was merged in to mozilla-central, we merged over mozilla-central to holly again. At this point we ran a reverse diff of this merge (which only consisted of the feature branch changes). This reverse diff was then applied and committed to essentially back out all of the feature branch on this new holly repository.

Getting started was the easy part. Of course, software is never finished and we needed to figure out how to handle future changes to the feature.

We kicked around many ideas as we were trying to figure out how we wanted to run the backout branch, and I feel that we have settled on a pretty simple route that so far has worked smoothly.

Each time that we want to merge from mozilla-central to holly we do the following:

  1. cd /mozilla-central
  2. hg pull -u
  3. cd /holly
  4. hg pull -u
  5. hg pull /mozilla-central -r mozillaCentralChangeset
  6. if the set of changes between holly tip and mozillaCentralChangeset include changes that need to be backed out:
    1. hg up -r mozillaCentralChangeset
      • to switch heads to the mozilla-central-based head
    2. hg qbackout -r rev1+rev2+rev3
      • from oldest to newest, where rev* are the revisions that need to be backed out)
    3. hg qfin -a
    4. hg up -r hollyTipChangeset
      • to switch heads back to the holly-based head
  7. hg merge
  8. hg commit -m "merge mozilla-central to holly"
  9. hg push

qbackout is a Mercurial extension written by some Mozillians to make backing changesets out much easier. It uses Mercurial Queues and generates reverse diffs instead of creating a full backout branch like hg backout does. I highly recommend it.

I hope this post will help others who want to do something similar.

Australis landing plans

8 November, 2013 § 38 Comments

Australis

The team working on the new Australis version of Firefox (myself included) is starting to get close to merging to mozilla-central. We’re too far from being able to say exactly when this code will merge, but I want to go over our backout plan for Australis.

As you may or may not know, Australis is a project to provide an updated visual design, streamlined tab strip, new Firefox menu and improved customization capabilities.

Australis

Due to its large scope, Australis couldn’t be implemented with the ability to toggle its presence via an about:config preference. This unfortunately carries with it a more burdensome plan to undo the changes should there be issues that lead us to delay the release of Australis.

When Australis (currently located on the UX branch) merges to mozilla-central, the Australis team will manage a special project branch that mirrors mozilla-central but excludes the Australis changes. This branch is located in the temporary Holly project.

In the likely chance that we choose to hold Australis on the Nightly train for an extra release cycle, we will use Holly to merge to mozilla-aurora. This will allow the mozilla-central changes not related to Australis to continue moving along with the release trains.

This also presents an issue in that the code that reaches Aurora will have a tiny fraction of the testing hours on it compared to the Nightly builds. To work around this, I’m asking that users who aren’t interested in Australis use the Holly branch for their Nightly builds. This will help spread out some of the testing hours and make sure to catch any potential merge bustage faster. I’ll be posting a link to download Holly nightlies once we merge from UX to mozilla-central.

In the meantime, if you are looking to help test Australis you can download a build from the UX branch.

Determining when an element is scrollable in Gecko

16 October, 2013 § 1 Comment

As a web developer, there are often times where it’s necessary to know if an element on a page is scrollable. One way of checking this would be to find the difference of element.scrollWidth and element.clientWidth. If the difference between these two properties is non-zero, then the element is scrollable. However, this doesn’t work for all cases.

In particular, element.scrollWidth and element.clientWidth clamp their values to integers. If the difference between the scrollWidth and clientWidth is less than zero, then the computed difference between the two will result in zero. This is less than good.

Starting in Firefox 16 [1], there is a new property element.scrollLeftMax which returns the difference of scrollWidth and clientWidth, including the fractional component. Also introduced is the companion element.scrollTopMax for use in determining vertical scrolling availability.

Hopefully these properties will find their way in to the other layout engines.

[1] These properties were implemented in bug 766937.

Student project: Australis-styled widgets

11 September, 2013 § 2 Comments

A couple weeks back, Gijs Kruitbosch and I began mentoring a group of students on a new student project focused on building some new Australis-styled widgets.

Team MSUThe team is comprised of students from Michigan State University’s Computer Science program. Pictured from left to right are Dan Poggi, Eric Proper, Eric Slenk, and Dave Thorpe.

The goal of the project will be to create four independent widgets using the Add-on SDK and new Australis widget API:

  1. A weather widget that can show the weather for a selected location as well as up to 5-7 additional locations. This will need to use a public and free weather API.
  2. A music playing widget that will play music located on the user’s local machine. The user can select a folder on their machine and the widget will play any media files that it can find within that folder or in that folder’s children. We may need to limit the recursive depth to 2 folders.
  3. A Bugzilla widget that will show the assigned bugs, review requests, etc. This will be based on Heather Arthur‘s excellent Bugzilla Todos dashboard.
  4. A Spartan Scoreboard widget that will show the date, opponent, and location of the next MSU sporting event, as well as the score of the previous game. It should also include a link to get more information.

Eric Proper, Eric Slenk, and David Thorpe have begun blogging about their progress. You can follow along and get more details on their respective blogs. Eric Proper has an amazing amount of detail already on his blog. I’m looking forward to seeing the blogs from Dan Poggi and Dave Thorpe.

We will be meeting weekly at 9:00am Eastern time on Thursdays throughout the Fall semester.

Backing up your contacts on FirefoxOS

25 July, 2013 § 21 Comments

I’ve been helping beta test B2G and subsequently FirefoxOS since October 2012.  Once in a while I’ve come across a bug that requires me to reset the phone back to its factory state. Unfortunately at this early stage there isn’t a built-in way to back up your data from a FirefoxOS phone. I’m sure it’s on a roadmap, but as with all v1 products you have to make some tough calls when it comes to feature prioritization.

This tutorial provides a step-by-step walk through of how to backup and restore your contacts on a B2G or FirefoxOS phone. It’s not supported so it may stop working in the future, but for now it works :)

To complete this tutorial you’ll need a B2G/FirefoxOS phone, a USB cable to connect your phone to your computer, and the Android Debug Bridge installed (referred to as `adb` later in the tutorial).

1. Start up your FirefoxOS phone and go to Settings.

step1

2. Go to Device Information

step2

3. Go to More Information

step3

4. Go to Developer

step4

5. Enable “Remote Debugging”. This will allow you to use ADB to pull data off of the phone.

step5

6. Connect your phone to the computer using the USB cable.

7. In your console, type `adb devices` to check that the phone has connected properly. You should see your phone listed as an attached device. At this point you can now use `adb shell` to browse through the system files on the phone.

8. Type `adb pull /data/local/indexedDB/chrome/3406066227csotncta.sqlite .` This will pull the contacts IndexedDB database off of your phone and in to your local working directory. If you are curious about the contents of the database, you can install the IndexedDB Browser add-on for Firefox which will let you open up the database.

2013-07-23_2109

And you are now done with backing up your contacts. If you need to reset your phone in the future, you can just follow these steps again but replace step 8 with the following: `adb push 3406066227csotncta.sqlite /data/local/indexedDB/chrome/3406066227csotncta.sqlite`. This will push your backed-up contacts database back on to the device.

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