From the city of FOMOnto

I seriously intended to write three (three!) blog posts past week-end but I got dragged outside to experience the glorious British Spring in London, and its pubs and stuff, and I ended up not writing anything at all. But it was good because it was Easter and you’re supposed to have a break sometimes.

Then I had this very intense work week here in Toronto which was full of discussions, pair programming, presentations, hack hack hackety hack, more discussions, and even a double session of bad 80s/90s movies to top that. The Mozilla Toronto office is packed full with so many rad people that great conversations happen all the time, so I didn’t really have the time to write any of those three posts.

But I have some cool stuff to show/discuss, so there we go before I fly back to Europe:

First, just in case you’re interested – here are the slides of my presentation: our projects, in the future. Without any context you won’t actually get most of the points, but that’s to be expected. I want to get back to this in a blog post because it’s something that every open source project should be doing, so don’t worry if you don’t follow along.

My talk ended with me trying to plant two seeds in the minds of my team mates, the first one being that we should aim to be the open source developer we would like to see. So whenever you’re unsure of what to do, pretend you’re that ideal perfect developer and act as they would do. The second idea was an automatic “good open source citizen” ACID test, and hey, tofumatt and me hacked a prototype together. Here’s acidity, which you can also install with the node package maid with

npm install -g acidity

then cd to any of your projects and run acidity, and maybe you’ll get some cool emoji.

Also, not something that I took part in, but Potch came up with a nice hackxperiment which enables you to write CommonJS-style code in WebWorkers, with the notion of making it easier to move more business logic into Web Workers so that the main thread is snappy and responsive. He also happened to say “Shadow DOM” out aloud and BAM! Angelina Fabbro (from Inspector Web and the mystery of Shadow DOM fame) entered the room. Was this staged? We’ll never know.

Another ultraexciting thing that happened was that I finally had early access to the brand new App Manager in Firefox’s DevTools. With this version you can create new Firefox OS apps straight from its interface, edit them, open existing projects, deploy and debug them, etc. The UI is way (WAY) more streamlined now—you don’t need to switch back and forth to go from debugging to deploying, and you can simply use some natural shortcuts: CTRL+Save / CTRL+Reload. This makes developing privileged FxOS apps really webby and it feels GREAT. Here’s an early screenshot so you can drool:

App Manager v2

The way I got access to this version was by checking the code out of Paul Rouget‘s Firefox branch and compiling it. I’m told I was the first person that run this new AppManager apart from its own developers, so I suppose that means ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED. Paul warned me of some potential weirdnesses but I couldn’t reproduce them.

For those of you curious, compiling took about 30 minutes and 5 Gb of disk space, on a MacBook Pro. I’m told that subsequent compilations should be way faster but I haven’t got to that yet.

More cool things from this week: I will be mentoring a Google Summer of Code student this summer! The project is about Firefox OS games. Isn’t it exciting?!

I also got confirmation that I’ll be speaking at an awesome conference in June. I’ll be actually speaking at two awesome conferences in June but I still haven’t announced the first one as that’s one of the posts I wanted to write, with my own promo code and stuff.

We also had a mini meatspaces meatup with some great Torontonians, where it was decided in a sideway non-important comment in passing that Toronto should be renamed to City of FOMOnto. Note to non-insiders: FOMO = Fear Of Missing Out. Fun fact: I used to think that FOMO meant Fear Of Making Out for a long time.

Now if you excuse me I have to perform some ~~~magics~~~ and fit all my stuff back into the suitcase. Stay tuned!

What have I been working on? (2014/02)

Looking at my todo.txt file, February has pretty much been my speaking-to-everyone month. I spoke to a lot of people from many different teams in Mozilla, and to a lot of people outside of Mozilla for interviews and conferences. Thankfully I also managed to sneak some coding time in it, and even some documenting time!
Continue reading “What have I been working on? (2014/02)”

What have I been working on? (2014/01)

January is over, what have I done with it?

Well, to start with I’ve been working with the fantastic people from Firefox DevTools. We’re preparing a new feature for the App Manager and I’m really thrilled to be a part of this. I’m not going to disclose what it is yet until I have something to show (it’s my way to make you all download a Nightly build, tee hee), but I believe it’s going to be GREAT.

Then I’ve also been lending my brain to other projects. First, localForage, our library for storing data using the same interface from localStorage, but asynchronously and with better performance (by using IndexedDB or WebSQL if available). Or just falling back to localStorage otherwise (sad face, sad face).

The other project I’m involved with is chatspaces, “a snazzy chat app”. I’ve done some (yet unfinished) work with implementing push notifications using Simple Push, and I’m also working on outputting better GIFs (i.e. smaller but with same perceived quality). If you’re up for a slightly bumpy ride, you can try out chatspaces today.

“Generating better GIFs” means that I’m spending quite a bit of time in Animated_GIF, a library for creating animated GIFs in the browser. I implemented a couple of features like dithering and custom palettes past week and I’m pretty happy with the results you can get. I still have some more work to do before it’s a totally awesome library from README to code to examples, but it’s already used in somewhat popular places like which you might have heard about 😉

And I’ve also written an article for Mozilla Hacks. If you liked my previous article on unprefixed Web Audio code, I think you might like this one too. It should be published some time soon (fingers crossed).

There are more things that I’ve been doing this month like attending LNUG’s meetup, helping people with their Firefox OS apps, improving documentation for X-Tag, and finding+filing a bunch of bugs… all of which make me terribly happy as I feel like I’m making an impact. Yay! 🙂