Coping with change in the software world

One of the great things Mozilla is that while many organizations out there focus on profits, Mozilla focuses on the user. As user centric organization, it means that we focus on what will give the user the best experience. As such, Firefox and other Mozilla products are always evolving to continuously improve the user experience.

One caveat to this is that sometimes in the process of evolution, we end up dropping some futures that are very critical to some of our users or move them to places where they are completely hidden from the user. While some users will take this lightly, some will not.

Recently, I attended a ThoughWorks, TechRadar event,  and met some colleagues with whom, I had worked earlier and when I introduced myself as Mozilla Representative and Community Lead, they had a lot to discuss and most of it was about futures that helped them debug their software that had just disappeared and they had to switch to Chrome which now offered the capabilities they were looking for.

I-cant-find-it

I can’t find it

Two days ago, I begun looking out for a utility to benchmark site loading statistics and general performance. I read about YSlow and wanted to try it out.  I installed the addon but had no way to find and use it. I went to the view menu to try and make the status bar visible but realized I couldn’t. I did a quick Google search and found this article about where my addons are and on the YSlow page this comment about how its both perfect and useless.

“YSlow is one of the best tools for web developers ever – it is so much helpful to improve any site by improving access speed and minimizing broadband waste.
However, since Firefox updated itself to version 29, YSlow is completely useless. That is because the only way to access YSlow was through an icon in the add-ons bar, and now this bar does no longer exist.
The same problem happens with some other add-ons, but then you get help if you click on the menu item “Customize” or press F10 to get the menu bar.
-Customize provides you with some of the missing add-on icons, so you can add them either to the address bar or to the bookmarks bar – but then, the YSlow icon is not available.
-The menu bar helps you. But not through the “View – Toolbars” menu, which has the add-ons bar missing so user cannot even opt in to have it, but rather because at the tools menu there usually is some alternative access to the add-ons – but then, the YSlow menu item is not available.”

I understand how very frustrating this can be for a user who is desperately looking out for a way to use an addon like this one or some other feature that may have been moved or dropped. Of course, sometimes it a result of not looking beyond where you are, in my case, the a post on support page of Mozilla helped me realize that there was an addon that could restore the status bar for you.

So what should I do if I can’t find something?

Good question, sometimes its just in a different place but other times it is completely gone. Chances are, that by the time you are searching for it, a dozen others already did and there is some information out there. A quick web search will usually return useful results like it did for me.

In the case of Mozilla, you can drop a question on the support page or your visit the sumo blog.

How about if its completely gone?

Again that happens too. I’m sure that by now any major software development company realizes that uses find a given future and it could be the one thing that makes them never leave. While it may be a good idea to move on at anyone time. Leaving a possibility for a user to access a given feature when ever they need it is a plus one.  Designing and developing for backwards and forwards compatibility will help you both retain existing users and acquire new users fascinated by a new feature.

I would like to hear your thoughts about how you deal with such situations. Drop a comment and share your thoughts.

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