Why I work for^H^H^Hon Mozilla
Matthew Willis has posted a very nice article on his blog explaining why he works for Mozilla. It made me think about myself and wonder why I still work on Mozilla, after the fall of Netscape and the end of my contract of employment with AOL. So many mozillians left Mozilla, why not me ?
I started programming when I was a child, after I fell in love
with an punch cards-based IBM 1130 and a Commodore PET in Paris' museum
of science. Ages ago. The PET was brand new. I immediately decided to
switch from electronics and egyptology to computer programming... Only
a few years later, computer programming started paying me. Yeah, money.
Age 13, I was hired by a computer magazine to lead the section about
"pocket computers", mainly Sharp and Casio at that time plus their
Radio-Shack clones. Two years later, I started implementing a LOGO
language on the Thomson computers, installed in all french schools at
that time and sold it. It paid my first car.. Then I moved from Apple
and Thomson to Atari, implementing a vector graphics editor and selling
it through the main french Atari magazine at that time, ST-Mag. Ended
up reaching TOS limitations on the Atari, and did not really want to
move to the too-expensive-for-me
Falcon TT. At that time, I was at Ecole
Polytechnique (call that a University if you don't know what french
Grandes Ecoles are) and they had 120 Macintosh for students, a VAX and
a few HP Apollo unix boxes ; and email... (that was in 1986...). So I
started using my Atari for formal computation software and moved to the
Mac and Unix. The PC was at that time something really ugly and
painful, and I found it so ugly and painful I did not want to touch one.
In 1991, at Telecom Paris (where I got my second engineering diploma), one of my teachers (university's sysadmin) asked me to implement a mail user agent implementing Faces. After a short while, and beacause Nathaniel Borenstein and Ned Freed were precisely standardizing MIME at IETF at that time, it became the second MIME mail user agent after Borenstein's Andrew... Wysiwyg, inline and attachments, inline audio and video with control buttons, internationalization, bidi, of course faces, and a lot of things that made that piece of software quite attractive in these old days...
After that, a couple of years at Grif where I worked on the SGML editor's kernel and layout engine and where I did the first wysiwyg implementation of CALS tables (that eventually gave the HTML tables), and where I had my first contact with the Web, at a time nobody had heard about it, when Berners-Lee and Caillau came to our offices to make us turn the Grif editor into what could have been the first wysiwyg web browser AND editor, long before others. Our CEO refused... Very frustrating. Berners-Lee even wrote about it in his book Weaving the Web. Just to copy a friend who will certainly recognize his own prose, I was there too
Then came Mosaic, Netscape and my involvement into the W3C Working Groups on behalf of Electricité de France (EDF). Very exciting years. Very exciting work. Met so many smart people I could not list them all. Many became good friends. When I left EDF, I had the opportunity to join the W3C in Sophia-Antipolis (aaah the french riviera) but I unfortunately had to decline for very important family reasons... And I joined Netscape, in Beth Epperson's editor team, in november 2000. I was like a young student in the middle of a big crowd of gurus. It was just marvelous. A daily surprise, a daily smile, a daily joy. Well, at least until AOL's spirit started to percolate into our organization. As I wrote in french almost 7 years ago when I joined Netscape "Why Netscape and not Microsoft or Adobe who made me job offers too ? For a reason a maths student seeing the "beauty" of a proof could understand : they do beautiful and cool things. And I already know a lot of people there, they offered me to stay in Paris, and I do think their way of doing is the right one."
In other terms, I met smart, cool and dedicated people, an incredibly cool and powerful technology, and a very powerful markup editor kernel. I met smarter and cooler people, a cooler and more powerful technology than during all my previous professionnal lives.
Over the years, the situation has even improved. It's better and better every month. It's attractive, the community is friendly, homogeneous and faithful despite of the network and the distance. Mozilla is still a wonderful piece of code, a lovely platform and a set of great apps.
It's exciting, it makes my neurones feel happy and useful. I wake up in the morning with the will to go to work, and that's a so rare and so good feeling that I hope it'll last for a looong loooooooong time. I'll never thank enough Pierre Saslawsky and Beth Epperson for that.
Mozilla ? "Min lyckans ost" as we say in swedish. So, with respect to the original question "why not me ?" of the first paragraph of this article, let me ask another question : why do you want me to leave something I'm in love with ?