Firefox Roadmap

Ben notes that he has updated the Firefox 2.0 Roadmap.

This part doesn’t make sense to me:

We’re going to replace the existing nomenclature for pre-releases from alpha and beta to “Developer Preview” and “Preview Release” to more solidly differentiate them. The reason: for some time people have associated Firefox Preview – Releases with high quality and we want to make sure there are no guarantees made of any pre-release we offer. We also want to make it clear that Developer Previews in no way represent final or feature-complete code.

He seems to be saying:

  • People have historically associated “Firefox Preview Release” with high quality
  • Future preview releases may not have that quality
  • So, instead of calling them “alpha” and “beta”, we are calling them “Developer Preview” and “Preview Release”.

Surely that’s completely backwards? If they aren’t going to have the quality associated with “Preview”, we should be avoiding calling them “Preview” anything at all costs!

Or have I misunderstood?

9 thoughts on “Firefox Roadmap

  1. I agree. “preview” implies just a few bug fixes left. “Developer Previews in no way represent final or feature-complete code” says it’s far from a Developer Preview…

    IMHO just call it a milestone.

  2. Hopefully, Ben has just a change of the nomenclature in his mind. In other words, its purpose is merely marketing effect, the way public preceivs mozilla products, I think. I’m, personally, not affraid of a slip in the quality. Still the same things, under new names.


  3. I fully agree with you Gervase, ben has it backward.

    If people are expecting to much in quality from preview releases and continue using them after the final releases is out, stop using the word, don’t deliberately use it for lesser quality releases which will have a very bad impact on those people.

  4. Because so much “high quality” products bear the word “Beta”, e.g. Gmail Beta, Google Groups Beta, MSN Search Beta…

    The words “alpha” and “beta” are abused… :-/

  5. If we stick with his proposed nomenclature, then I only hope the Developer Preview will _not_ be featured on the main page, as that would be suicide.

    Now that we have a stable 1.0 release, there won’t be any real incentive for people to upgrade to a “newer” preview release as happened with 0.10, as they now have a deemed stable (AKA non-beta) product (at the time, we went from beta to beta, so it didn’t really matter).

    I think that however we call them from now on, the only releases that should be made really apparent on the Web site are the final ones. We don’t want to push a version of Firefox which will likely be less stable than 1.0 to the general masses. We simply should wait until 1.1 is ready to ship before making any kind of annoucement on the front page.

    If we do put a small mention of Preview Releases, then just make sure there’s really bold and evil red text next to any download link, to warn people that they use it at their own risk.

  6. It seems to me that it is a switch from terms with clear, accepted meanings (Alpha: “don’t touch it unless you’re really, really brave!” Beta: “still not quite ready, but it shouldn’t bite so much if you do touch it”) to vague, undefined terms (or marketing-speak). It does seem backwards…

  7. Perhaps if they were called Develop*ment* Previews, meaning, “here’s a preview of what’s still under development?” But this meaning is hardly obvious, and not as well known as “alpha” or “beta”. Even “milestone” suggests some kind of project management event and not a stable release.

    I do agree that Ben’s reasoning seems to contradict itself. The suggestion that these interim releases be called “unstable” makes more sense, if “preview”, “alpha” and “beta” are considered tainted…