Launching Open Web Apps feedback channels – help us make the web better!

About three months ago we launched a feedback channel for the Firefox Developer Tools, and since it was a great success, we’re happy announce a new one for Open Web Apps!

For Developer Tools, we have, and keep on getting, excellent suggestions at, which has lead to features coming from ideas there being implemented in both Firefox 32 & 33 – the first ideas shipped in Firefox only 6 weeks after we launched the feedback channels!

Your feedback as developers is crucial to building better products and a better web, so we want to take this one step further.

A channel for Open Web Apps

We have now just opened another feedback channel on UserVoice about Open Web Apps, available at

It is a place for constructive feedback around Open Web Apps with ideas and feature suggestions for how to make them more powerful and a first-class citizen on all platforms; desktop, mobile and more.

What we cover in the feedback channel is collecting all your ideas and also updating you on the different areas we are working on. In many cases these features are non-standard, yet: we are striving to standardize Apps, APIs, and features through the W3C/WHATWG – so expect these features to change as they are transitioned to become part of the Web platform.

If you want to learn more about the current state, there’s lots of documentation for Open Web Apps and WebAPIs on MDN.

Contributing is very easy!

If you have an idea for how you believe Open Web Apps should work, simply just go to the feedback channel, enter a name and an e-mail address (no need to create an account!) and you’re good to go!

In addition to that, you have 10 votes assigned which you can use to vote for other existing ideas there.

Just make sure that you have an idea that is constructive and with a limited scope, so it’s actionable; i.e. if you have a list of 10 things you are missing, enter them as a separate ideas so we can follow up on them individually.

We don’t want to hear “the web sucks” – we want you to let us know how you believe it should be to be amazing.

What do you want the web to be like?

With all the discussions about web vs. native, developers choosing iOS, Android or the web as their main target, PhoneGap as the enabler and much more:

Let us, and other companies building for the web, know what the web needs to be your primary developer choice. We want the web to be accessible and fantastic on all platforms, by all providers.

Share your ideas and help us shape the future of the web!

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Developer Tools feedback channels, one week in

Last week we launched Feedback channels, with the first one out on Developer Tools in Firefox. The feedback channel on UserVoice is the place to go for any ideas or thoughts about the Firefox Developer Tools.

Looking at the first week for Developer Tools feedback

During the first week for our Developer Tools feedback channel, we got:

  • 99 new ideas
  • 1382 votes
  • 4080 unique users

Mozilla has responded to 97% of the ideas, out of which:

Notable is that many ideas that came up are things that we already have bugs for in Bugzilla and ideas and approaches that have been talked about and considered.

Thank you!

So, sincerely, thank you for all the input and constructive ideas and comments! We appreciate it a lot and by having this direct dialog and communication with you, it helps us to build better and more useful Developer Tools!

Please continue to express your ideas, vote on existing ones and stay on track with the progress!

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Launching feedback channels – let us know your ideas for Firefox Developer Tools

One thing that is vital for us at Mozilla is to listen to developers and users, and care to your needs to make the web a better place. We’re strong believers in constructive communication and discussions, and that’s why I’m happy to announce our latest initiative! Feedback channels for developers.

We’ve been looking into various ways to make it as easy as possible for developers to express their thoughts and opinions on a number of topics, and also for how we at Mozilla can be as transparent as possible around the projects we work on.

Making the web a better place isn’t only about trying to figure out what’s right – it’s about listening to people, gather their thoughts and ideas and let that help us in achieving better results.

Introducing UserVoice

With that in mind, we’ve been evaluating third party services available as well as our own projects such as Mozilla Support and Firefox Input.

For this specific use case and to match our requirements, we’ve decided to do it through the UserVoice service. We want to make it dead simple for you to enter ideas and vote for existing ones, both through an easy and intuitive user interface but also with requiring no account registration.

Currently all you need to do know is enter a name and an e-mail address and you’re good to go! You will also have 10 votes dedicated to your e-mail address/account, which you can dispose as you seem fit for other ideas there.

Naturally, if we see an abuse of this simplicity, we will have to add an element of moderation to process. We sincerely hope that won’t be needed, though, and that you will act and write respectfully.

First project: Firefox Developer Tools

The first project out the door that we will have a feedback channel for is the Developer Tools in Firefox. We have made great great progress with the Developer Tools over the last year – outlined in more detail in Dev Tools articles here on Hacks and the extensive documentation on MDN – but we want to hear the ideas you have to make them even better, what’s important to you, what could be a game changer and much more.

People from the Developer Tools team will interact directly with you in this feedback channel, giving you a unique opportunity to influence and inspire us, resulting in a better product for you.

A first test

This try with UserVoice and feedback channels is our first attempt at this, with the ambition to be able to listen to your thoughts and ideas, and utilize that to make sure we focus on the most important areas.

If we see that we can make a difference with this initiative and that you appreciate the direct contact and transparency, we will do our best to keep this going and to introduce channels for more topics in the future!

Will you automatically implement the feature with the highest votes?

Not automatically. The voting and ideas will help us see what you truly care about and interact with you around those, but we will also need to compare developing time and resources vs. the possible gain we see for a certain feature.

It will however be of immense help for us weighing ideas, features and items in the roadmap against each other, and a helpful tool for prioritizing our work.

Working with UserVoice

Here are the most common things you can do at UserVoice – what they are and what they look like.

Viewing ideas

You can easily view a list of ideas, the number of votes they’ve gotten, current state (e.g. Started, Under Review), click the link to see comments and more.

You also have a quick navigation to sort the listing based on what’s Hot, Top ideas, New or their current status. You can also list them based on your feedback or comments as well.

Enter an idea

To enter an idea, simply type the idea in the text box at the top:

When you start typing, you will get suggestions for existing ideas that might match your topic, highlighting the word(s)in question. Please make sure to vote for existing ideas instead of creating duplicate ones.

Search existing ideas

In the right-hand side of the web site, you can also quickly search through existing topics and ideas, and see both matches and their current state.

Official comment from Mozilla

It also gives us the possibility to give you a reply to the state of the current feature. Whether it’s already in there, planned or if there’s something that’s not currently on our roadmap.

Complement to Bugzilla and Stack Overflow

At Mozilla, we use Bugzilla for tracking bugs and Stack Overflow for developer support. Our feedback channels at UserVoice are intended for conversations, constructive feedback and transparency around what we work on. Therefore, for reporting bugs or getting support for a product or challenge:

Help us help you

We really hope you will like this opportunity to have a discussion with us and be able to influence our thinking and work! If this works out well, we’d be glad to take it to other areas as well.

So help us help you! Let’s work together to make a better web with better products for developing for it.

Go to our Developer Tools feedback channel and get started!

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WebAPI tech lead: ‘We want Web pages to be able to access hardware on your computer, like camera, sensors and haptic feedback’

Jonas Sicking, photo by Tristan Nitot

This time, Tristan Nitot interviews Jonas Sicking, WebAPI tech lead, and discusses how the Web can become a mobile platform, and what this means for Web developers around the word.

Tristan – Jonas, Mozilla has shown a very cool new project at the Mobile World Congress, Boot To Gecko, and said “the Web is the Platform”. How does that relate to your work? What do you do to improve the Web?

Jonas – I’m the tech lead of the newly started WebAPI team. We started the WebAPI team at the same time as we started Boot to Gecko because we knew that in order to make the web platform fully competitive with other mobile platforms we needed to make sure that it had the same capabilities. Web pages haven’t traditionally been able to access hardware on your computer, like camera, sensors and haptic feedback. But with B2G we needed to make that happen. The WebAPI team was started for this purpose.

Tristan – So you’re basically bringing access to new capabilities to the Web? I’m sure Web developers are going to be very excited by this!

Jonas – That’s certainly our hope :).

Tristan – But what about security? I’m not sure that I want every Web app to be able to say where I’m located. Or have the ability to send text messages on my behalf without me knowing it!

Jonas – Security has always been a top priority at Mozilla, and WebAPIs are no exceptions. When we offered the geolocation feature from Firefox on the desktop, a lot of thinking was done so that we give control to the user, while keeping the best user experience possible. This is our line of thinking when it comes to newer WebAPIs. For example, we never want to ask the user a security related question that they might not fully understand and make the wrong choice.

Tristan – Many people probably wonder why Mozilla is doing this… Can you explain?

JonasThe web is amazing in many wonderful ways. It has enabled millions of people to do new things on-line. Both as far as producing content and as far as consuming content goes. In large part because it’s built as an open platform with no restrictions on how its used. For example you can “view source” any web page that you like, you don’t need to get expensive development environments from anyone and you don’t need anyones permission to publish what you built. We want to bring these benefits to application developers too. Imagine if you can look at how someone else’s web app works and learn from it, and all you need to do to write the new killer app is to fire up a text editor, write it, and publish it on a web server. Additionally, if all that it takes is that, that means that we’ll enable all the amazing web developers out there to also become application developers.

Tristan – What does that mean for Web developers?

Jonas – It means several things. First of all, the websites that you are writing today will have new capabilities, such as access to device hardware. It also means that you can turn your website into an app which starts as fast as a native app on the user’s computer or device and that runs even if the user has no Internet connection. It also means that your app will run on desktop, tablet and mobile, with no need to write separate versions of your code for separate platforms.

Tristan – In short, with little training, Web developers can write apps that will run everywhere, from desktop to tablet to smartphones… But what’s actually the difference between a Website and a Web app?

Jonas – The idea is that you’ll just write a website like you’ve always done. Then add a little bit of meta information which describes what icon and name you want to use, what permissions you need, and which URLs need to be cached on the device. Now your website can run as an app as well.

Tristan – A totally different topic now: how did you get involved with Mozilla?

Jonas – I first got involved in the Mozilla project in 2000. At the time I was in school and working part time as a web developer. I started helping out for two reasons, first of all, as a software developer Mozilla was a very cool project to get to be part of. I got to work with a lot of smart people on a piece of software that a lot of people were using (back in those days that was Netscape). It was really cool how I could, as a student in Sweden, work together with people in silicon valley on building great software.

The other reason was Mozilla’s focus on web standards. As a developer it was very annoying how inconsistently IE5.5 was implementing web standards and I saw a chance to make things work better in Mozilla. That way I would get to use those features as a Web developer. As any web developer knows, working around limitations in web browsers is one of the more painful things about the job and so it felt great to be able to remove those limitations.

Ultimately what has made me stick around is this second aspect. Mozilla’s commitment to building a great platform for users and developers is something that has always spoken very strongly to me. It feels great knowing how much we help bring the web forward.

Tristan – So much that you’re now a Mozilla employee since 2005! I guess that you see your work now as something in line with what you started doing back in 2000?

Jonas – Exactly. The world is going mobile. More and more people are getting smartphones and very soon the number of smartphones in the world is going to vastly outnumber the number of desktop and laptop computers. We need to ensure that when this happens the web remains open and that you’re not forced to interact with it through apps running on proprietary stacks. I have a lot of faith that the web will be able to stand strong and remain open. Just how open depends on how successful we will be competing with these proprietary stacks. There’s a lot of similarities with the push we did for web standards back when Microsoft weren’t that interested in following them. The goal is to have an open standardized platform that works great for users and developers. The mobile platform should be no less open.

Tristan – Any call to action for our readers who develop Websites?

Jonas – Keep developing great web applications. Please experiment with any of the new APIs, and other web technologies, that we create. Reading is a great way to hear about new improvements to the web platform that are coming from Mozilla (including a category dedicated to WebAPIs). Develop mobile websites that run great on small screens. We’ll soon be releasing versions of Firefox which support installable web apps; once that happens, please experiment with them and let us know what you think!

Tristan – Thank you Jonas for your time, thank you for what you’re doing in making the Web the platform of choice for apps and mobile, and everything you’ve done in keeping the Web open since you’ve got involved with Mozilla!

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