A Year Of Accomplishments

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Each year in December, we’re afforded an opportunity for contemplation of the past year as we look forward to the dawning of a new one in only a few days’ time. This look back at the year’s accomplishments was inspired largely by Laura Thomson’s declaration on Twitter that the Socorro team closed 1,000 bugs in 2012 – a truly amazing sum. I’m extremely proud of my team, and extremely proud of the work that we’re doing to make Firefox and the open web better.

I’m particularly proud of some of the things I’ve had the privilege to work on this year. Here are a few things that I worked on:

The Nightly Crash Trends Report For Socorro

Together with Schalk Neethling, I built the backend for the Socorro Crash Trends Report This innovative report helps engineers identify crash trends in our nightly builds of Firefox, thus helping ensure that each release has fewer crashes than the last one. This report took nearly three months to bring to fruition due to the technical challenges associated with it, but I am extremely proud to have it completed.

Mediawiki-Bugzilla Is Making Team Meetings Easier

When Christian Legnitto moved on from Mozilla to Facebook, he handed off the mediawiki-bugzilla plugin to me. This plugin integrates data from our Bugzilla issue tracker to Wikimo, our Mozilla public wiki. This plugin is used by many teams to show punchlists or to show bugs in a release that need to be resolved. This plugin was released this year for Wikimo and has since received additional caching support, new charting options and improved Bugzilla searching options.

Bouncer Lives On, Serving Firefox Downloads

When Morgamic joined Mozilla many years ago, his first assignment was to write Bouncer, an application that essentially mimics the behavior of modern content delivery networks. It worked by identifying on which of our mirrors downloads were available, and directing a user to an available mirror in their geographic region (or worldwide if their geographic region was overloaded). Though we have begun using a set of modern CDNs to deliver Firefox downloads, Bouncer is still in our critical path, providing statistical information and helping us with the stubinstaller, which will dramatically improve Firefox download and installation times on Windows.

Together with Laura Thomson, I helped manage the migration of Bouncer to a brand new cluster and the deployment of lots of new Bouncer code to help us achieve our mission of supporting the stubinstaller application. This three month effort involved working with the infrastructure team at Mozilla to accomplish the move. Bouncer is far more stable and much more capable of handling our efforts thanks to the work of our team.

Dragnet Is Making Progress

A project I started on two summers ago is finally making progress towards being launched. Dragnet is a library of application modules (also called DLLs on Windows) designed at helping Firefox engineers and the crashkill team more effectively identify unknown modules. The library will also be public, allowing anyone on the web to be able to get vital information about their application modules.

This year I completed development of the project and worked closely with the infrastructure team to get it onto a development and a staging server. I also worked with the security team to pass the project through security review. The project is slated to be in beta by the end of Q1 in 2013.

Hacker School, London PHP, Webdev Onsite, DjangoCon

There were a number of opportunities to learn and to share in 2012. Laura Thomson, Kumar McMillan and I visited Hacker School in New York during the summer, sharing about how to contribute to open source and working with Hacker School participants to contribute to various Mozilla projects. I worked with three women on patches for Socorro’s Django rewrite. It was a tremendous experience and I strongly recommend checking out Hacker School.

I also spoke at The PHP UK Conference, offering my thoughts on “Data Abstraction In Large Web Applications”. The talk focused on our experience in Socorro, in converting from a database-focused model to an API-focused data backend.

The Mozilla Webdev team met in Santa Cruz, CA in a conference style workweek to discuss various projects and learn about ways to improve development within our own teams. The Socorro team met a few months later at DjangoCon in Arlington, VA to plan out and discuss our vision for Socorro and the Webtools team in general. DjangoCon was also a blast and we’ve been able to take much of what we learned and apply it directly to the Django rewrite of Socorro.

2012 Was A Fantastic Year

I continued to learn a lot during the 2012 year, and I look forward to getting even more accomplished in 2013. We have a number of exciting projects for Socorro, beginning with lots of research and development in Q1. Socorro will look almost completely different by the end of 2013, but will be even better than it is today. I am thankful for the amazing team that I work with every day. I can’t wait to see what’s next.

Brandon Savage is the author of Mastering Object Oriented PHP and Practical Design Patterns in PHP

Posted on 12/27/2012 at 7:00 am
Categories: Software Development

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