Mozilla looks to summit 'Kilimanjaro' for project unity

Following a series of aggressive development announcements this year, Mozilla unveils an equally ambitious plan to synchronize its release schedules by the end of summer.

A demonstration of B2G (Boot to Gecko) at Mobile World Congress shows that Mozilla's browser-based mobile OS can send and receive text messages. It also can send and receive calls, play games, and be used to read e-books.
A demonstration of B2G (Boot to Gecko) at Mobile World Congress shows that Mozilla's browser-based mobile OS can send and receive text messages. It also can send and receive calls, play games, and be used to read e-books. (Credit: Stephen Shankland/CNET)

It's been a busy year at the home of Firefox, as Mozilla went public with major developments meant to change the Web, but it's about to get much busier as it looks to make those initiatives a reality. A key step forward will be to unify its development schedules under a project named Kilimanjaro.

Oh, and it wants to have Kilimanjaro bagged by September of this year. The related bugs blocking Kilimanjaro have all been marked as "highest priority."

Damon Sicore, vice president of engineering at Mozilla, explained in a forum post that Kilimanjaro is about providing a high-level direction to solving problems that affect more than one of its products.

To explain to its developers what this means, Kilimanjaro identifies four scenarios involving people and Mozilla products.

  • Existing Firefox users: Jim upgrades to a new version of (desktop) Firefox and gets introduced to the concept of HTML5 apps and the Mozilla Marketplace. He explores the Marketplace and installs an app, creating a Persona account in the process. Jim learns he can also get this app on his phone from the Marketplace. He installs the Marketplace on his phone and now has access to his app.
  • Android power user: Alfred is on his Android phone reading TechCrunch where he learns about a special New York Times app promotion in the Mozilla Marketplace. He follows a link from the article to the Mozilla Marketplace site. He clicks install on the NYT app, and through Google Play, he downloads and signs in to the Marketplace and gets his NYT app.
  • Web developers: Claire has a great idea for a mobile app. She visits MDN where she finds docs and tools that help her go from idea to basic app in 5 minutes. After building her app, she lists it in the Mozilla Marketplace for $0.99. The Marketplace lets her manage her application, reviews, and customer relationships.
  • B2G phone early adopters: Sofia just purchased a B2G mobile phone from her local carrier store. The store helps her set up her phone which includes setting up a Persona account and importing contacts from her old phone. Her new phone has all of the basic apps she considers requirements for a smartphone as well as a Marketplace app where she can find many more. She's pleasantly surprised that her previously purchased apps from the Mozilla Marketplace are available on her new phone. Sofia has been using her phone for 3 months and experiences problems like: Her contacts disappeared; her phone crashes a lot; or she needs help but doesn't know who to contact. Sofia visits the Mozilla Help Center which provides her with step by step instructions for resolving all of her problems.
  • It's no accident that all of these examples involve crossing over from one Mozilla project to another. Kilimanjaro will serve to identify the major implementation problems affecting more than one project, so that solving a given problem gets fast-tracked. "Kilimanjaro will culminate in an event or announcement when the in-scope products and services reach sufficient quality, capability, and alignment," Asa Dotzler, Mozilla's community coordinator, wrote in the same forum.

    The projects mentioned in those examples are in development. These include Mozilla's big 2012 tentpoles of Persona, its site login system designed to compete with Facebook, Twitter, and Google; Boot to Gecko, its smartphone operating system powered by Firefox's Gecko engine; and Mozilla Marketplace, its app store. The fact that the company wants to have all three accessible in some form by September is shockingly ambitious.

    It's clear that Mozilla is moving quickly; at Mobile World Congress in February, the company unveiled carrier partnerships with mobile service providers that will carry B2G phones. That's less than a year from when B2G was first announced. Launching with deep integration between browser, phone, marketplace, and login service could be the magic sherpa that carries all the projects higher than they otherwise would've reached initially. Still, September is five months away. That's a short time in which to change the Web.