From time to time in my professionnal life, I feel the organization I am working for or with is making a tremendous strategic mistake. When Tim Berners-Lee asked Grif SA to add an http layer to its SGML editor/browser and Grif's CEO refused, that was a big strategic mistake. I can't count how many mistakes like that Electricité de France did. When AOL tried to include customer tracking into a Netscape release, that was another big mistake. When AOL refused the ancestor of Firefox, it was probably the biggest of all. Mozilla refusing to "invest in a pre-packaged or stand-alone XULRunner at this time" is in my opinion another big mistake and I feel bad, very bad today. This decision goes against all we've been seeing and saying for the last 24 months.

  • we need a pre-packaged and standalone xulrunner marketed from mozilla.org because it's one of the simplest environment for students and labs wanting to build prototypes and student projects. It's the easiest and simplest way to increase the ecosystem.It's a remarkable, free and cross-platform environment for widgets. Finding a good idea for a successful Firefox extension is hard ; helping people do what they want giving them an environment making implementation easy is then the best way to make them invest in our technologies.
  • we need a standalone xulrunner because developing for xulrunner is not yet as easy as it should be. Adding venkman or document inspector to xulrunner is not trivial, and an application build upon xulrunner has only one application-id where it should accept two different sets of extensions : one for xulrunner itself and one for the application built upon xulrunner. This problem itself - critical to most xulrunner embedders - shows the need for a better support of xulrunner at Mozilla.
  • we need a product because we need more visibility for xulrunner. It's unfortunately a question of trust for a lot of xulrunner embedders. We need a name, a logo, little marketing material and doc.
  • I totally disagree with Mitchell saying most xulrunner users compile their own xulrunner. We at Disruptive Innovations met a lot of little to big french corporations using xulrunner, the raw one, downloaded "as is" from ftp.mozilla.org. Most of them are even unable to compile xulrunner at all. It's true that the big and visible users of xulrunner do build their own xulrunner, but they're only the top of the iceberg.

Again, I feel this decision is a bad decision, going again the needs of a lot, really a lot of users. It clearly goes again our daily needs at Disruptive Innovations. I still don't know what a solution could be, this is too young and I need to think a little bit about it. Stay tuned. In the meantime, you can read Alex Vincent's take about it.