Older blog entries for lucasr (starting at number 258)

One Year at Mozilla

Team Firefox 2012 by Rob Campbell (CC-BY)

I started at Mozilla on this same date last year. It was a Wednesday and I was a bit scared. Fast forward 365 days and here I am completing my first year in the company! Wow, time really flies! I’ve already written about my experience in the first 238 days at Mozilla and the same points still apply. Maybe it’s a good time to make a quick summary of what I’ve worked on in my first year.

I was lucky to join Mozilla at the time the mobile front-end team was about to start working on the then-new XUL-based tablet UI. I implemented central parts of the UI such as the tabs side-pane and important pieces of the browser toolbar—besides the usual bug fixes. It was a nice way to get more familiar with XUL-based development. I also implemented things like HTML5 form validation front-end in XUL Fennec in the same period.

Around September last year, I volunteered to be Firefox Mobile’s community steward. The first thing I did was to create an official Get Involved page and compile a list of good first bugs for new contributors. The response has been pretty good and I do want to dedicate a bit more time for contributor engagement in the near future.

Then in October, the Firefox Mobile team got together in Toronto to start working on the new native UI. On this front, I drove the development of core parts of the new UX including the AwesomeBar screen and the new start page. Furthermore, I led the implementation of important back-end components such as the Places database for Android (and respective test infrastructure) and the Remote Debugger support. As you probably know, I’m now working on Reader Mode.

Some quick stats: I joined Mozilla 365 days ago. Since then, I pushed 280 changesets, changed ~12,578 lines of code, fixed 150 bugs, gave 3 talks, travelled to 5 countries, and had a lot of fun. For my next year at Mozilla, I want to focus on bootstrapping more exciting features that differentiate Firefox Mobile from competitors—Reader Mode being the first of them.

I have no doubts that my next year at Mozilla will be filled with even more awesomeness!

Syndicated 2012-07-20 11:14:09 from lucasr.org

The You tab in Pattrn

I’ve just pushed a new Pattrn update with an exciting new feature: the You tab. It replaces the Favorites tab in the home screen with a simple dashboard that gives you direct access to all your stuff.

In addition to your favorite patterns, the You tab offers easy access to all patterns you’ve used as wallpaper and your saved searches. You can add saved searches to the You tab by using the ★ button in the search results screen. Saved searches are a nice way to keep a dynamic list of patterns by keyword or color.

This new update is also an important milestone in terms of getting the necessary infrastructure to build the tablet UI for Pattrn. Stay tuned!

Syndicated 2012-07-09 20:49:14 from lucasr.org

New Firefox for Android released!

Finally! It’s been 8 months of hard work from an amazing team! I’ve written about the new Firefox for Android before when we entered Beta stage. Yes, it’s whole different beast than any previous version: it starts instantaneously, uses much less memory, renders pages much faster, panning and zooming are super smooth, and features a brand new UI.

And this is just the beginning! There’s a lot of stuff coming very soon in the next releases: new tablet UI, new tabs pane, text selection, find in page, Android bookmarks/history import, search suggestions, reader mode, tons of bug fixes, and much more. If you’re feeling adventurous and can’t wait to try the upcoming features, you can see them in action in the Nightly build.

I couldn’t be more proud for being part of this team! You can download the new Firefox for Android now. Trust me, you’ll find many reasons to love it.

Syndicated 2012-06-26 15:25:10 from lucasr.org

Infinite patterns in Pattrn

Many users have been requesting the ability to see more patterns in Pattrn. So far, the list of latest, most popular, and search results have been limited to 50 patterns. Not anymore! In the latest update—now available on Google Play Store—all pattern lists are infinite and will load more patterns on demand as you scroll down.

This new update also features an important performance improvement on the lists. Pattrn now pre-fetches patterns beyond the visible viewport to bring an even smoother experience—hopefully you’ll see less grey boxes. This is a work in progress, more improvements are planned.

In case you missed, you can now follow the latest news about Pattrn on Twitter and Google+. Enjoy!

Syndicated 2012-06-25 13:21:15 from lucasr.org

Reader Mode in Firefox Mobile

It all started at the Firefox Work Week in Toronto back in April. I managed to find some time during that rather busy week to build a rough prototype of Firefox Mobile’s Reader Mode. I’ve been able to focus on it in the last few weeks and it’s now in good enough shape for wider testing.

Reader Mode is about bringing a smooth and beautiful reading experience to Firefox Mobile. It removes all the clutter from web pages and shows you only what you want to read in a minimalist UI. Here are a few things I’d like to highlight about it.

Read now or later. If the current page is convertible to Reader Mode, you’ll see the reader icon in the browser toolbar (see image above). If you tap on it, the current page will be loaded in the Reader straight away. You can also add it to your Reading List to read it later using the corresponding app menu item.

AwesomeBar integration. Your Reading List items will show up in the AwesomeBar results—just like any bookmark or history item—making it super easy to find specific items. The Reading List items will have a little reader indicator (see image above). The Reading List shows up as a top-level folder in AwesomeBar’s Bookmarks tab, if you want to see the full list of items.

Read your way. The Reader UI is minimal but very configurable. You can set the color scheme (light, dark, and sepia), font size and margins the way you want through a simple set of controls (see image above). We might be adding more options like a toggle to show/hide images in the text.

Read any time. Once you add a page to your Reading List, it will be automatically made available offline so that you don’t need an internet connection to access your Reading List on the go.

Read anywhere. Your Reading List will be synced across all platforms where you use Firefox. This means you’ll be able to add a Reading List item in your Firefox on desktop and read it on the go from your phone using Firefox Mobile. This is not implemented yet as we need to have Reader Mode in desktop Firefox before we can enable Reading List syncing there. So, at least for the initial release, the Reader will only be available on mobile.

Firefox Mobile’s Reader Mode is similar to existing reader apps. But, as you can see, the real difference here is that it is deeply integrated in the browser, where you usually read stuff anyway. As far as I know, Firefox is the first mobile browser on Android to provide this feature.

Reader Mode is now enabled in the Nightly builds of Firefox for Android. It’s still a very early development version so expect bugs. Help with testing and feedback is very welcome. Download the Nightly and try it now!

Syndicated 2012-06-21 13:32:33 from lucasr.org

Discover patterns by color in Pattrn

One of the core goals of Pattrn is to allow users to discover new patterns at any time. As you know, Pattrn can automatically set your Android’s wallpaper every day with the patterns of your choice. This is a great way to give your Android a fresh new look and to discover new patterns—especially if you’re using random pattern wallpapers!

Pattrn shows you the colours used in each pattern inside the extended information pane that expands and collapses when you tap the screen. The latest release has a new fun way to discover new patterns: click on a specific colour and you’ll be able to search for other patterns using the same colour (see image above).

Also new in this update is the “View on Web” option which takes you straight to the respective pattern page at COLOURlovers.com. Enjoy!

Syndicated 2012-06-04 15:42:43 from lucasr.org

Get a new wallpaper every day with Pattrn

Things are going pretty well for Pattrn. In just 22 days, it has got almost 600 downloads, got featured in two Android app design blogs,  and got mostly 5-star ratings on Google Play. Not bad! Since its initial release, Pattrn got the ability to save patterns to your Android gallery, a few UI improvements, and some nice performance and stability fixes.

Based on your feedback, I have now pushed an update with a new little feature: automatic wallpaper updates. You can now tell Pattrn to automatically set your Android’s wallpaper every day or every week with your favourite or most popular patterns. Feeling adventurous? You can also set Pattrn to use a completely random pattern as your wallpaper.

Once you update Pattrn on your device and run it for the first time, you’ll be prompted to setup the automatic wallpaper updates. Don’t worry, you can change those options at any time in the Settings screen—accessible via the app menu.

Be inspired by a new COLOURlovers pattern every day! Download Pattrn now on Google Play!

Syndicated 2012-05-28 12:43:11 from lucasr.org

Native Firefox for Android Beta

At this point, you have probably heard the news. Yes, we’ve release the first public Beta of Firefox for Android with all the goodness that we’ve been working on in the last 7 months: the brand new native UI that is lighter, faster, and sleeker. Here are some big picture highlights about this Beta.

Design direction. The new native UI design is part of a wider effort in Mozilla to streamline the visual identity of Firefox across multiple platforms—desktop and mobile. Firefox should feel like one consistent product everywhere. Have a look at Madhava’s slide deck for more information on what the Firefox design team has been up to lately.

Keep in mind that this first native UI release is just the first of many iterations. For instance, there’s a lot of interesting changes coming up as part of our work on the native tablet UI that will eventually trickle down to the phone UI as well.

Panning and zooming. If you’re using the Beta already (or have been using the Nightly or Aurora builds) you’ll notice how smoother panning and zooming are. This is because the Beta features a major revamp on the graphics and rendering infrastructure using tiled rendering and an off-main-thread layer compositor. I recommend reading Benoit Girard‘s and Chris Lord‘s blog posts for further details. It’s worth mentioning that the Mobile Platform and Graphics teams did an amazing work to implement all this in a rather short period!

Places and Sync. The Places database has been re-implemented in Firefox for Android as a private Content Provider for two reasons. First of all, it gives instant access to history and bookmarks even before Gecko is up i.e. much faster startup experience. Secondly, it allows the new native Firefox Sync—which is now nicely integrated with the system’s sync UI—to access your browsing history and bookmarks even when Firefox is not running.

We’ve already started working on new features for the following releases including the native UI for Firefox on Android tablets and a reader mode. As you can see, the upcoming Firefox for Android is a whole new beast. We are working hard to make it the best mobile browser out there. You can help us now testing the Beta as part of our Mobile Test Drivers Program!

With the native UI, we’re creating a new baseline for innovation on Firefox Mobile. And it will only get better from now on. What are you waiting for? Download the Firefox for Android Beta now!

Syndicated 2012-05-21 16:50:27 from lucasr.org

Introducing Pattrn

I’m a COLOURlovers fan. They provide a nice set of simple creative tools that empower a vibrant community to produce awesome design pieces such as patterns, palettes, shapes, colors, etc. It’s a simple yet powerful idea. Inspiring stuff.

I’ve been doing Android-based development for a few months now but I wanted to play a bit more with the platform to get a better grasp on the developer experience for building apps with it, from development to distribution. There’s no other way to do that than building an app. This is why I created Pattrn as a weekend project.

Pattrn gives you access to all the patterns created by the COLOURlovers community. You can browse through the latest and most popular patterns and search by keyword or color. You can also keep a list of your favorite patterns and use them as your Android wallpaper. Pattrn is meant to be simple, cute, and snappy.

I’ve just released Pattrn’s first public beta on Google Play. Install it and let me know what you think. I hope you enjoy it!

Syndicated 2012-05-07 17:53:03 from lucasr.org

Mozilla, Mobile and Students

Évora

I went to Évora this week to give a talk about Mozilla and our mobile projects (Firefox Mobile, B2G, Open Web Apps, Identify, etc) at an event organized by the students’ union of the local university. Here’s my talk’s deck of slides (in Portuguese)—not very useful as it has very little content but it does contain a few useful links.

My main conclusion from this event is that we, Mozillians, should probably dedicate some more time spreading the word about our mission and projects to Uni students, especially in CS. There seems to be little awareness of why we’re different, why our mission matters, and what we’re working on right now.

From my experience, universities are usually a great source of potential long-term open source contributors. Getting students excited about our projects is likely to help us have a constant flow of new contributors in our community.

Big thanks to the event organizers for inviting me and for the hospitality! It was great to see Joaquim Rocha (Igalia) again and also meet interesting people like Thomas Perl (gPodder) and Steven Goldfarb (CERN). It was a quick yet pleasant visit to Portugal.

Syndicated 2012-04-19 11:12:55 from lucasr.org

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