AMO Movin’ On Up


movin' on up!!!

2006 brings some awesome news for AMO. There have been many meetings and discussions with MoCo about the progress of AMO, and it has all been very encouraging.

We have taken steps to speed up development by contracting with programmers, and there is more of a project management presence. Overall, things are progressing very well since the Firefox Summit gave us a chance to get together and talk about everything.

In December, mconnor and I discussed a schedule and what we really needed to get done. Getting everything out on the table was important, and it made the rest of December more productive. We accomplished the following since then:

  • Reconfigured and cleaned up addons CVS
    • Split public and developer tools into two separate applications
    • Removed Smarty from CVS, since it should be managed on the server level
    • General house cleaning on unnecessary files or directories
  • Migrated new template
  • Migrated search-engines page, started on recommended (getting started content)
  • Implemented Smarty’s caching capabilities to improve LVS node performance and noticed a great perf gain
  • Fixed all the stuff that Smarty caching broke 🙂

The upcoming month will be a time to focus on a re-release of the public-facing side of AMO. See the TODO list and the tentative schedule for more on what’s going on.

There are also some important things to think about as we approach this next version:

  • How can we better utilize the community to moderate comments and addons?
  • How can we make the site simpler for the average user?
  • How can we make site content more community-driven?
  • What can we do to make the review queue smaller without sacrificing QA?

There has been a lot of valuable discussion about these newer features/needs. Please chime in — join #umo and discuss it with me or anyone, or add your thoughts to the wiki.

There have been great thoughts about comment rating and user moderation, using “trust metrics” in order to determine the overall quality of a given extension, and making a Digg-like interface for deciding “what’s hot” on AMO to encourage user participation in the site.

2006 is going to be a better year for AMO, Mozilla and Firefox.

4 thoughts on “AMO Movin’ On Up

  1. Awesome,
    thanks for letting us know. Extensions and UMO are essential for Firefox’s survival once Vista comes out and other browsers get better.

    Glad to hear they are ‘finally’ throwing people onto it, unfortunately this should have been done 6 months ago (or more), but it’s not to late.


  2. 6? Try 12!

    Glad to hear that AMO is finally getting the attention it requires from MoCo.

    Question: If you’re requiring that users log in to post comments (as per the Wiki), will you be clearing out existing comments, or at least giving us the opportunity to clean up bogus comments?

    Something I really dislike about AMO as a developer is reading my feedback, finding completely untrue statements and not being able to do anything about it! The same goes for people who vote 0 because the site isn’t sending them an XPI or something. Please give us some way of getting rid of this stuff. The extensions have to install on the target browser, otherwise they wouldn’t be on the site.

    Another general request/comment, please have some visible and obvious way for users to contact developers via a form for the purpose of troubleshooting. This would probably cut down on the comments better suited to the MozillaZine forums or email.

  3. Thanks for your comments, Ben. We will consider deleting existing comments — at least the ones that are “flagged”. We don’t like the “removed by staff” pollution we see often.

    The contact link is a little tougher — because authors use different places for support. We explored/discussed possibly using a forum (phpbb, etc.) specifically for addons. Would that be worth doing, you think? Or should we let authors choose where they want to support their addon by providing a forum link?

    We definitely will be focusing on cleaning up comments and channeling support requests and/or bug reports somewhere else — if not to another site, at least to another section that isn’t for “feedback”.

    We don’t want to confuse “this sucks, it’s the stupidest thing ever” with “it doesn’t work so i can’t even see it”. It just convolutes everything.

    On another note, we will be fixing the bug that causes XPI’s to not show up immediately by creating a buffer between the time an addon gets approved and the time it is publicly viewable. That will reduce the “can’t download it” comments.

  4. Well, in my opinion, the ideal solution to support (in the long run) would be to have a FAQ section for each extension to which the author can add common questions and answers. This would also help clean-up the “product description” type pages.

    The only problem with this idea that I can see is that we need to be able to use hyperlinks, and currently we cannot. The main use-case for this would be to link to other extensions (within AMO) or to link to other support articles in general.

    As for contacting the developer, well, every developer signs up with (at the very least) an email address. A feedback form that submits queries directly to such an email address would be great. That or something similar to private messaging that you see on web forums, although I’m sure that’s going beyond the scope of implementation in the near future.

    Good to hear that you’re eliminating the XPI problem with a delay. I have an additional suggestion, but it’s probably overkill.

    I’m going out on a limb here and assuming that you use load balanced mirrors… it might be a good idea to pick mirrors on a per-extension basis only if the required file exists at the destination. Of course, the downside of this is that it would require an extra HTTP packet per mirror per installation attempt though, unless you store file lists on each mirror and retrieve that list once per time period.

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