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Interview with Mozilla engineering director Chris Hofmann

Recall: Recall works by tracking your browsing session in a file saved on your local hard drive. When you restart Mozilla after a browser crash (or even an operating system crash), the windows/tabs that were open before the crash will be displayed to you in a pull-down menu that will allow you to return to one or all of the pages you were viewing.

This demonstrates the power of Mozilla as a browser platform, that other developer can pick up work to add features, and you can easily customize your browser to pick up all kinds of interesting capabilities.

Q: Did Apple approach you for Mozilla before they decided to use KHTML (part of Konquerer) for their Safari Browser?

A: Yes, they did an evaluation of Mozilla. Some of our strongest capabilities of the best standards support, HTML editing integrated into layout engine, cross-platform support, and a few other areas weren't high on their evaluation criteria when we talked to them. It looks like they might be pumping effort into these areas now and retracing some of our footsteps from years ago.

Q: Cellphones, PDAs, and handheld devices are going to be the next big market for browsers. Is Mozilla being used in any of these?

The minimo project is starting to make some ground. We are hoping to see that project ramp up and get more interest in the next year. We talked to many developers at COMDEX Las Vegas 2003, who are using, or plan to use, Mozilla on Linux kiosks and small devices where low cost, no continuing royalties, high reliability, and high compatibility for a wide variety content on the Web are critical. I've been running minimo on an iPAQ the last few weeks and really like it for getting news and frequently updated content off the Web. A major cellphone vendor is funding some of this development work.

Q: How many active developers are working on Mozilla?

As the technology matures, and the effects of our investments in automation of the development process improve, we see the ability to do more with fewer people. We had only had a 15% drop in the number of "CVS committers" when AOL discontinued directly supporting the development at the end of July last year. I'm guessing this is surprise to most people.

Number of CVS Checkin Contributors

December 2001 to March 2002: 165
April 2002 to July 2002: 161
August 2002 to November 2002: 152
December 2003 to March 2003: 122
April 2003 to July 2003: 104
August 2003 to November 2003: 88