Changes to Firefox ownership structure and more reviewers
For quite some time I’ve been exploring ways to scale up ownership to meet the scope and pace of our front end work. One of the key elements of Firefox’s success has been the concept of an “application czar” with overall authority for keeping the app coherent and development moving in a focused way. The concept of the application czar has been successfully combined with the module owner role since 2002, and we don’t have a better model defined as of yet, so we’re not going to change that now. However, changes do need to be made to continue to make progress, so I’m implementing a set of changes to how we do things that will push more responsibility to more people, which is great for our forward growth, even if it’s going to feel a little strange at first.
Overall, the intent is to give the sub-module owners more responsibility for driving their area forward in line with our overall goals. This means identifying pain points (technical and user-facing) and building a plan to solve those problems will be the responsibility of the sub-module owners. Obviously the technical and product leaders will continue to work with these individuals, but it will be the responsibility of sub-module owners to drive this work forward. Dietrich Ayala‘s ownership of Places over the last two years is a fantastic example of how this should work in practice. In line with this change, I’ve named new owners for a number of sub-modules.
Another important change I intend to make is to the role of a module-wide peer, since the traditional role is somewhat unclear in a decentralized model. The closest we have in Mozilla to the idea of cross-module oversight is Brendan, and he doesn’t have any official peers. Given this, I contemplated doing away with the old concept of peers entirely, and treat the reviewer list as peers in the despot/policy sense. However, I have concluded that it would be very beneficial to have peers to help with the technical and product oversight role, especially guiding and mentoring people who are learning how to scale up. To this end, I’ve asked Vlad and Gavin to act as peers under this new model. This is not just a technical role, but has responsibilities related to product direction and stewardship, which we’ll evolve over time as we get used to this model.
Beyond that, we’re going to add five new (and long overdue) reviewers to various areas (and add/merge some areas). Ehsan Akhgari, Ryan Flint, Dao Gottwald, Jim Mathies, and Johnathan Nightingale will join the reviewers group with various areas under their care. They’ve all been playing key roles over the last months and years, and it’s high time we start rewarding them in the traditional Mozilla manner: more work and more responsibility! Please join me in welcoming everyone to their new roles.
I’ve already updated the official review docs to reflect these changes, so as of now, this is official. Please let me know of any concerns via email or in the comments.