We <3 Interns!

If Mozilla had secret weapons, I think our Interns would be included on the list. These hard working troops descend upon us during their school breaks and end up working on some of the hardest problems Mozilla has to offer. Our primary Intern “season” is wrapping up and I wanted to touch upon some of the work completed or in-progress.

Firefox for Android

  • Shilpan Bhagat: Shilpan ramped up quickly on Android UI work, tackling some of the tablet work for the new Home page in Firefox for Android, as well as, investigating and implementing some performance improvements. He also created a way to inject “pageactions” into the URLBar and an add-on API to go along with it. Shilpan then took pageactions and added unobtrusive support in Firefox for launching native Android apps registered to handle given page URIs. [presentation]
  • Shane Tully: Shane did some hard work getting the new Contacts API for webapps implemented on Android. In the process, he got to spend some time working through issues that come up with new API specs. He also picked up the work to get a GeckoView widget building and packaged, so Android applications can bundle the Gecko rendering engine instead of the system WebView. Shane really pushed the GeckoView project past a hurdle that now means we can start adding new features to the widget. [presentation]
  • Chris Kitching: Chris did the foundation work for supporting the new ActionBar when selecting text. He converted the Search Engine UI from XHTML to native Android. He also picked up work to enable ProGuard in Firefox for Android. This could yield >10% performance improvement in some areas. He had to write an automatic code generator that annotated parts of the code, allowing ProGuard to do its job. He stumbled into a problem with the Favicon system, which turned into a large rewrite – with significant improvements to behavior, performance and appearance. He persuaded me to install IntelliJ. [presentation]

Firefox for Metro

  • Jonathan Wilde: Jonathan was the front-end team on Firefox for Metro last year, writing the first UI nearly entirely by himself. He returned this year to continue working on the new browser, including work on the Findbar, combined Appbar and autocomplete UI and the hairy UI interactions that accompanied those features. He probably has more lines of code in the UI attributed to him than any other team member. He also worked with the UX team to prototype some cool ideas around new ways to save sites that preserve the user’s context with them, including Highlighting and Clipping. [presentation]

One of the things I like about the way Mozilla utilizes interns is that it shows them exactly what happens in real software development. They learn that code reviews can take a lot of time. Your feature might not make the desired release, or even get backed out at the last minute. They learn that large software projects are painful and carry a lot of legacy baggage, and you need to deal with it. I think it’s also a great way to learn how to communicate in a team environment. They also get to ship features in Firefox, and who doesn’t love shipping stuff?

Interns of 2013, we salute you!