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Mozilla wants to ditch Firefox version numbers!

Ditching Firefox version numbers is a bad idea (public poll)


  • Total voters
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qubit

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#1
Mozilla has created a stir in the Firefox community by suggesting that the version number ought to be eliminated. The version number currently shown in Firefox’s "About" dialog has been filed as a bug. Instead of a version number Mozilla simply wants the box to read something like "Firefox checked for updates 20 minutes ago, you are running the latest version." Mozilla believes that eliminating the version number will reduce user confusion.

As is witnessed by an increasingly hostile thread in the mozilla.dev.usability group, pretty much everyone outside Mozilla seems to think eliminating the version number is a bad idea. After all, even Google Chrome, the browser from which Firefox has borrowed much of its new look and its new rapid release cycle, still offers a version number.

So why does Mozilla want to ditch the version number? In the words of Asa Dotzler, director of Firefox, "we’re moving to a more web-like convention where it’s simply not important what version you’re using as long as it’s the latest version. We have a goal to make version numbers irrelevant to our consumer audience."

We have a news flash for Mozilla: version numbers have always been irrelevant to your consumer audience. They have, however, always been very relevant to your developer audience. And version numbers are, whether it’s Windows, OS X or Linux, found in the About dialog. As Barry Able writes at one point in the now very lengthy thread, "I’d like to paraphrase the country song and ask, ‘What part of ‘about’ don’t you understand?’ This box is named ‘About’ because it provides information ‘about’ the application."

Developer Dave Garrett responded to Dotzler writing, "I don’t claim that showing the version number is the most important thing in the world, just that the about dialog is where it belongs and trying to change that feels to some of us like a fight…that doesn’t need to be."

Indeed removing the version number from the About dialog isn’t the point, but that small change is part of a larger goal — burying the version number so that Firefox users never know which version they’re using — and that goal is angering many Firefox users. The versionless software model works well for web apps — like Gmail or Facebook — but Firefox is not Gmail. No matter how much Firefox wants to ape web apps, it’s not a web app. In the eyes of most users installed software is judged by a different set of standards.

Even many who aren’t bothered by the move to the rapid release schedule Mozilla has adopted from Chrome, stop short of embracing a completely versionless Firefox. "While I understand that the UX team wants to make version numbers less important," writes Tyler Downer, "removing them from the About window is not the answer."

So what is the answer? Maybe the Chrome web browser.

Increasingly that seems to be where web developers are going, leaving Firefox for Chrome or Chromium (the open source version of Chrome). According to StatCounter, Firefox’s worldwide usage stats have been slightly, but steadily, declining since September 2010.

Here at Webmonkey Firefox has been falling much faster of late, losing roughly 3 percent every month for the last three months (with Chrome picking up the majority of those users). Three months ago happens to roughly correspond to Mozilla’s first rapid release cycle offering, Firefox 5.

With Firefox losing ground to Chrome across the board, snubbing anyone, let alone the web developers who were no small part of Firefox’s initial success, seems like a misguided strategy. But misguided or no, it seems to be the strategy Mozilla is embracing.
I think ditching version numbers is nuts. :shadedshu What do you think?

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#3
I actually mentioned this in another thread last week. My comment was something along the lines of "Mozilla have listened to our complains regarding the version number inflation, and have decided to do away with version numbers alltogether!"

Dumb as fuck, if you ask me...

Here at Webmonkey Firefox has been falling much faster of late, losing roughly 3 percent every month for the last three months (with Chrome picking up the majority of those users). Three months ago happens to roughly correspond to Mozilla’s first rapid release cycle offering, Firefox 5.
Stupid people (read=majority of users) HATE major versions. It implies compatibility issues (which they think is happening with their adddons, when it's just the addon seeing the new version number and committing suicide), bugs and general instability. I've heard of people who refuse point blank to upgrade service packs in Windows for this very reason. Then I laugh and watch them get assraped by viruses.
 

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#4
There is no real reason to keep them when you look at how it's being used currently, a few fixes here and there nets you a whole new major release.........It's just like all the """"pre alpha""" footage and gameplay demos that are rampant in the games industry now.
 

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#5
They should have animals instead of version names. I support this because nobody ever gets confused: IE Mozilla Firefox: Wet Walrus, kinda like how Ubuntu is done. Nobody ever forgets. Ever.
 
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#6
Oh god, who's the idiot innovator at Mozilla? I understand the term "simplification", but they went beyond that point with Firefox 5. This latest idea is just crazy and an absolute nightmare for developers and admins or freelance tech support.

Imagine this scenario:

User: I don't have an X function
Support: Ok, can you find it under X by clicking on Y
User: I can't see Y
Support: Apparently you're using an older version
User: How do i know what version do i have?
Support: Erm (now they'll have to ask the user what they have and don't have as features to even identify the version)*

*where it could be easier to just fork the version number and look up by themselves.

I also can't imagine how will extensions work without version numbers. They have idiotic problems even now and they still have versions, it's just that they jump major versions in large chunks that make most of extensions useless (especially FireGestures is dead after every friggin update).

I really don't get it why are the suddenly hammering with their heads through a double concrete and extra bricked wall if old numbering system worked just fine (prior version 4.0). I mean why the hell are they complicating their lives and development with such stupid things. Artificially larger numbers didn't accelerate the development of Firefox. Programmers doing their job did. Firefox could have the same functionality with version number 4.3 or 4.5. But no, they want Firefox 4565757 by the end of the year. WHY!? It won't be any better than Firefox 4.5 would be if they used the old version scheme. So what's the point? Leave the stupid Chrome alone and work with your product. Follow the competition but don't go into dumb decisions like this.

Naming Firefox after animal names is a good idea but would not work in real world. You could follow them alphabetically (Antilope, Baboon, Caracal, Dingo etc) but you'd run out of them quickly. And you'd have to have a list of all of them to track their progress.
 

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#7
I think when Mozilla is using the Version numbers in the way they currently are, as a marketting tool and not as an actual version tracking tool, I couldn't care less if they get rid of them.
 
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#8
They will ditch commercial version numbers, but keep it like chrome.
 

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#9
You have no way to qualify "latest version" without version numbers. That's why they exist--to update.


The reason why versions don't exist on most web pages is because there is only one version available at any given time and it is only available from that single server. It is a live access copy and what is downloaded by web browsers is usually considered obsolete by nature. The argument Mozilla is trying to make would only be true if the browser was 100% cloud based. Until then, their argument is baseless.
 
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qubit

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#10
I see the Yes votes are running away with it and I'm not really surprised.

Come on people, keep voting and commenting. I especially want to hear from you if you think getting rid of version numbers is a good idea. :)
 

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#11
I think when Mozilla is using the Version numbers in the way they currently are, as a marketting tool and not as an actual version tracking tool, I couldn't care less if they get rid of them.
its a marketing tool like MS n Google Use and it was the same with Netscape
 
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#12
Really? There's a debate about this? A huge thread? This takes all of 3 seconds to figure out. Remove the version number from the exe name, leave the program alone. Hides it from the average user and not from anyone who cares.
 

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#13
What's the difference really? When I used Chrome, it auto updated. Unless I specifically looked in the help tab, I never knew what version I had anyways. It didn't make it work any different;)
 

qubit

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#14
You have no way to qualify "latest version" without version numbers. That's why they exist--to update.


The reason why versions don't exist on most web pages is because there is only one version available at any given time and it is only available from that single server. It is a live access copy and what is downloaded by web browsers is usually considered obsolete by nature. The argument Mozilla is trying to make would only be true if the browser was 100% cloud based. Until then, their argument is baseless.
A good example of cloud based computing is the Steam client and the apps that run off it. However, version numbers for everything are still there if you look for them, so I don't think it makes any difference.


What's the difference really? When I used Chrome, it auto updated. Unless I specifically looked in the help tab, I never knew what version I had anyways. It didn't make it work any different;)
It's one thing hiding it behind a menu, like most programs do, but Mozilla want to remove it altogether. Version numbers underpin every bit of hardware and software in the world of computers, so removing them makes no sense at all. I reckon they're doing it to get out of the version war with the other browsers. How lame. :rolleyes:


Really? There's a debate about this? A huge thread? This takes all of 3 seconds to figure out. Remove the version number from the exe name, leave the program alone. Hides it from the average user and not from anyone who cares.
It's still only a little thread. Give it a chance to grow. ;)
 
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#15
Its more to benefit them than us obviously...
 

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#16
thats how u determine whats been fixed etc

A good example of cloud based computing is the Steam client and the apps that run off it. However, version numbers for everything are still there if you look for them, so I don't think it makes any difference.




It's one thing hiding it behind a menu, like most programs do, but Mozilla want to remove it altogether. Version numbers underpin every bit of hardware and software in the world of computers, so removing them makes no sense at all. I reckon they're doing it to get out of the version war with the other browsers. How lame. :rolleyes:




It's still only a little thread. Give it a chance to grow. ;)
 

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#17
WTF is wrong with Mozilla lately!!!???

The morons in charge need to pull their heads out and go back to the beginning.
They are acting like Microsoft, thinking they know what the user wants instead of actually listening to the user.

Yesterday for the first time I contemplated switching browsers, and if the trend continues I'll have to.

Yesterday I clicked on check for updates to see if any security updates were available, and it said "an update is available". That's it, no info, no link to release notes or anything, so I didn't click the update now box, I just closed it out and decided to try and find out what the update was.

Of course there was no info on it anywhere, so I figured I wouldn't do it, since things had been working fine.

Close out FF, later open it back up and suddenly a pop up says some of my addons aren't compatible and it opens FF all screwed up looking. Checked, and it decided I needed FF6!

Of course there is no "rollback" feature, but what makes it worse is I did NOT tell it to do the update, let alone do an upgrade to a new version.

Luckily I was able to run the installer of 5.0.1 that I still had, and installed it on top and it actually fixed everything back to normal, but still, WTF?

Also, I have the auto update check disabled, but I'm wondering how many others will be in that same boat, with an update/upgrade they don't want.

they need to quit chasing Google and microsoft and get back to making a solid browser that works, not one that is becoming more of a headache due to constant version changes that shouldn't be new numbers, but continuations, such as 4.1, 4.2, etc.. which cause headaches for users trying to update add-ons.

Not to mention, I have no desire to constantly run an unknown update to be "up to date" when I may not need or want the update, while it could cause problems with my addons because they implement a no version number scheme change to a key core component....

End of rant.... for now. :)
 

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#18
A good example of cloud based computing is the Steam client and the apps that run off it. However, version numbers for everything are still there if you look for them, so I don't think it makes any difference.
I meant like Live Office suite or Google Docs where the entire application resides on a server somewhere. There may be an interfacing client (in order to get access to local files) but the core application is versionless because it is always current.

Steam has version numbers because it is installed on every computer. It doesn't work through a different application (like a web browser). If it exists locally, it has to have a version number as per Portable Executable requirements.
 
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#19
It's one thing hiding it behind a menu, like most programs do, but Mozilla want to remove it altogether. Version numbers underpin every bit of hardware and software in the world of computers, so removing them makes no sense at all. I reckon they're doing it to get out of the version war with the other browsers. How lame. :rolleyes:
If you check chrome download page, you can't see any version # there. Firefox has been using version # for commercial/advertising purpose. It has no practical purpose among mainstream users because they don't really care.

What is really important is for the browser to be up to date with bug fixes, and chrome has been doing that really well. I don't even know i'm on Chrome 13 until i heard people was talking about new features in chrome 13.

Version # is for debugging, bug-reporting, troubleshooting purpose, so it doesn't really matter among users that the only purpose they have is browsing the webs.
 

qubit

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#20
I meant like Live Office suite or Google Docs where the entire application resides on a server somewhere. There may be an interfacing client (in order to get access to local files) but the core application is versionless because it is always current.

Steam has version numbers because it is installed on every computer. It doesn't work through a different application (like a web browser). If it exists locally, it has to have a version number as per Portable Executable requirements.
Well, you could argue that the Javascript or whatever it takes to make it go would have a version, but I see what you mean. The web-based one is essentially transient in nature.
 
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#21
I think it's a bad idea...... For example, besides the obvious UI change, I like knowing I am actually running 3.6.20. Gave me a version number to search for when I came back from 4 and 6, and the point releases in between.
 
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#22
What about an update log to show all the new changes?

Is that important? I always read update logs. You kind of need version numbers to do that..
 

sneekypeet

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#23
They can still have a log that associates by the date it was implemented;)
 
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#24
What about an update log to show all the new changes?

Is that important? I always read update logs. You kind of need version numbers to do that..
I'm pretty sure what they meant is the commercial # not the dev version # which you can find in the about windows.

EDIT: You will have to find them in about:support..

Now i know what they meant :/
 
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#25
Well as long as they tell me whats new I don't really care about knowing the version number.