Sometimes, what goes around does come around. I first started playing with Mozilla, a project launched by Netscape Communications, in 1998. That was a whopping ten years ago. I was in Bangalore, fresh out of college, and had finished a stint in Rajasthan as a substitute French teacher to dilute the effects of four years of undergraduate mathematics and computer science. Hiatus aside, grad school or profession or professional gadabout? The technology industry came calling with its dubious promises of intriguing work and the potential to travel (and a free cafeteria to eat in, and a free Internet connection), and Bangalore was the place to be, with its nascent information technology subculture.
Something stuck, because by early 2001, I was working for Netscape as Technology Evangelist on Mozilla.
This was the heyday of the Browser Wars, and I found myself becoming an ardent advocate of open standards. I worked for an awesome team, including Bob Clary, Marcio Galli, Tristan Nitot, and Eric Meyer. We were intrepid and had a mission. I was talking to Bank of America and Wells Fargo and Citibank about browser detection; to Macromedia and Microsoft and Adobe (and others) about plugin API support; to page authors about the standards-based DOM; to my friends about why Netscape (and Mozilla) was better than IE. We wrote prototypes of new applications using
XMLHttpRequest (if only we also coined catchy acronyms!), and were tasked with pushing the web forward.
Netscape was part of AOL. And while we didn’t listen to the naysayers (there were plenty within AOL, and plenty outside it, and they were fueled by the dubious quality of Netscape 6), by June of 2003 I was sitting in meetings with lawyers about the antitrust litigation against Microsoft. I had to rebut the “expert witness testimony” of a Microsoft technologist, and felt righteous indignation as well as copious stress. Later that summer, the edifice crumbled definitively, and AOL layed off Netscape’s Client Engineering team en masse. It was heartbreaking. I went on to do other things.
But out of that detritus, a Firefox was born. And what a Firefox it has become! The Wall Street Journal says it is the best out there, period. A whopping five years later I’m back working on Mozilla. In April, I joined the Evangelism Team at Mozilla, and I’ll continue agitating for standards. Expect to see me post here about WebAPIs, markup, test cases, and the litany of usual themes.
What goes around, comes around, almost five years to the day (recall what I said about the general synchronicity of summer). Today is Download Day. By 10a.m. PST, help us break the Guinness Book of World Records by downloading Firefox 3.