Potential Projects

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This is a list of potential projects that need people. If you'd like to work on one of these, move the chosen project to the Project List and create a page for your work based on the Sample Project template.


Sample Project

This is a sample project stub. You can use the template for Sample Project in order to create a project page for one of the stubs below. This is how you 'sign-up' for a project.

NOTE: if someone has already created the project page, speak to this person and see if you can join them. If so, simply add your name to the Project Leader(s) page. Otherwise, you can become a contributor later.

Mozilla Tree Visualization

Use the canvas element in order to create a generic front-end for data visualization of the Mozilla source. Many types of information about the Mozilla project can be keyed to the source tree. For example, file change-rates, code-coverage, bug activity per module, checkins per module, etc. The visualization will be a heatmap, showing certain types of activity in the tree. Doing this visualizaiton using canvas3d would allow for a third axis, and changes over time to be shown.

Resources: Cathy

Mozilla Data Visualization Back-ends

Create a data-source for the Mozilla Tree Visualization project. This means data mining cvs.mozilla.org, bugzilla.mozilla.org, bonsai.mozilla.org and preparing the data for use in a heatmap visualization.

Resources: Cathy

Add OpenID support to Bugzilla

Many open source projects rely on bugzilla for bug tracking, and open source developers use different instances, forcing them to have multiple logins. Complete OpenID support in bugzilla.

References: reed, bug 294608

Tbeachball - Quantifying Mozilla's Responsiveness

This project will add instrumentation to Mozilla in order to determine how much time is spent away from the main event loop, and therefore from the user's mouse/keyboard input. When the user does something, how long does it take for Mozilla to act on that stimulus? One thing that sometimes interferes with interface responsiveness is spending too long away from the main event loop, perhaps in layout or some other intensive computation. This leads to new events from the user, such as mouse clicks or keypresses, not being noticed and acted upon. This could also be expanded in order to include the triggering of log points and specific dialog openings, etc. with a view to understanding what the long-running events actually are.

References: http://shaver.off.net/diary/2007/08/25/tbeachball/ and http://shaver.off.net/misc/latency-tracing-patch.txt

Port distcc to MSYS

The recent work to add MSVC support to distcc works using the cygwin build environment. However, since this project was completed, Mozilla has switched to MSYS (see the [http://developer.mozilla.org/en/docs/Windows_Build_Prerequisites Mozilla Win32 build docs). Port distcc so that it works with the new MSYS environment.

References: Cesar and Tom

Add Multi-File transfer to distcc

The recent work to add MSVC support to distcc only allows for a single file to be sent back from build slaves. This means that extra debugging info (e.g., .pdb files) cannot be sent with binaries. Modify distcc so that it can support debug Mozilla builds.

References: Cesar and Tom

Add password managers for various platforms

Previous work was done on adding OS X Keychain integration to Firefox. This work was focused on tightly binding C++ and Mac API calls. Since then more work has been done to modularize the password manager in Firefox. Various platform "keychains" need to be integrated with the new system. See bugs 309807, 106400, and 371000. See also this e-mail message.

References: dolske

Convert password storage to a SQLite database

Currently, Firefox stores logins in a text file in the user's profile (signons2.txt). The format is simple, but inflexible. Storage of other browser data, such as cookies and form history, has steadily been moving towards using SQLite-backed databases so moving password storage to the same kind of storage would be good. Some work was started in bug 288040.

References: dolske

Refactor master password out of NSS

Users can enable a "master password" in their browser, which securely encrypts all their stored passwords. The current implementation can be awkward to use and has some limitations, see bug 322617. Fixing this would involve having password manager being more involved with the cryptography operations -- deriving a key from a passphrase with PKCS#5, and using NSS and PKCS#11 to encrypt/decrypt entries.

Add Offline Support to an open source web app

Firefox 3 will support offline abilities, such that web developers can write their apps so they work even when no network is present. Good headway has been made already porting Zimbra. Pick another web app and add offline support, for example: Moodle.

References: mfinkle

Thunderbird SMTP Auto-Sensing

Modify Thunderbird so that it uses the correct SMTP server for your current network and IP. In other words, if you are at home, use your home ISP's SMTP, but if you use a school wireless network, switch to the school's SMTP. These various SMTP configurations should be manually controlled by the user, that is, you don't have to try and figure out which SMTP to use. Rather, it should be configurable in an options dialog.

References: #maildev

Bugzilla component-watching

It's common for a developer to want to "watch" all the bugs that are filed in a certain Bugzilla component. Mozilla uses a convoluted and painful system of synthetic accounts to simulate this capability, and we'd all really prefer to be able to do it more directly and with less opportunity for error.

Reference: reed, Bug 76794

Litmus Extension

We wanted to have an extension that would be able to serve users testcases to try and allow them to submit results to http://litmus.mozilla.org. We could expand the feature set of the extension to do a lot of other cool things with Bugzilla and Website Reporter integration. So we need some ideas there. If you're interested, you could consult the work of David Hamp-Gonsalves, who created the Buggy Bar extension.

"Avoid loading the same page twice" Extension

Create an extension to Firefox so that when a bookmark is clicked, and that site is already open in any tab in any window, that tab/window is brought to the front rather than loading the page again.

Related tech and skills: XUL, JavaScript

Firebug "linting" for portability problems

Lots of web developers use Firebug and Firefox for building their applications, but we want those apps to work well in other browsers as well. If Firebug knew about JS or CSS patterns that could cause problems in other browsers, it would make it much easier to have those applications work in all browsers.

Resources: mfinkle

Add-on update helper tools for developers

As Firefox 3 gets ramped up, there are nearly 3000 add-ons that need to get updated to some degree. Write tools (web or XULRunner) to look in add-ons and find things that developers will need to update. You'll want to work with the Mozilla documentation and evangelism teams to figure out what you're looking for and what to recommend to users.

Resources: mfinkle

XULRunner Application Packaging

Help to develop an automated packaging system for XULRunner applications.

Resources: plasticmillion, mfinkle, #mozpad

'Compact databases' feature for Mozilla calendaring applications (Lightning, Sunbird)

Add the possibility to compact the database for local storage calendars based on SQLite using the VACUUM command. At the moment the local database for events and tasks will not get smaller even if you delete your tasks and events. This has serious performance implications for people, who work a lot with their calendar.

See also Bug 352976

Resources: ctalbert, daniel in #calendar on irc.mozilla.org

Thunderbird Draft Scheduler Extension

Write an extension for Thunderbird so that the user has the ability to mark a draft email for sending later. This is not the same as having to save emails in your DRAFT box because users would have to remember to go back in and click Send later. What is different here is that users could set the date and time for each email to be sent. This feature would be helpful to those who work late into the night but prefer not to send emails at such a late hour. This feature would also benefit support staff, e.g., administrative assistants, who constantly have to send out regular email reminders, e.g., for meetings, timesheets, etc.

Resources: Vivian Ngo

Spellcheck Extension for Arbitrary Web Pages

Write an extension to leverage the existing spellcheck code in Mozilla and add the ability to highlight spelling mistakes for a given web page (i.e., vs. a textbox).

Modify Firefox to handle files downloaded to Temp more appropriately

Often files downloaded by the browser are put in a temporary folder that is emptied on close. Users (and especially novice users) should be protected from inadvertent data loss as a result of important files being saved to this temp folder. This project will add fixes to the browser so that users are protected. Ideas include:

  • Make Firefox aware of common productivity file types (e.g., .doc, .pdf) and whitelist these types so they aren't deleted
  • Have office type files download automatically to a documents folder instead of temp
  • Firefox could check the timestamp of such files and delete them only if the timestamp is the same as when it was originally saved by the browser (i.e., has not been edited)
  • Warn the user on closing the browser that files are going to be removed
  • Assuming files still exist on start-up (see above), alert the user that these files are still there (similar to "New Session or Restart Existing?" dialog)
  • Have the browser pop-up a Save As dialog instead of automatically saving to temp, and use a documents path

Other ideas are possible, and a combination of these might be necessary. Ultimately, this fix should target regular users without much knowledge of the filesystem.

Resources: ted, mfinkle

Implement Audio and Visual Mute in the Browser

It would be useful if you could pause/mute/freeze distracting content in a tab. Often this means plugins, which are playing music or animating. One possible solution is to expose the API that bfcache uses to freeze/thaw a window, since plugins are themselves "windows." Other platform specific approaches may also be available (e.g., hooking sound API calls in Windows).

References: http://www.melez.com/mykzilla/2007/04/tab-specific-mute.html

Standalone Test Harnesses

Mozilla uses several systems for automated testing, including Mochitest, Reftest, xpcshell unit tests, and crash tests. Currently, to run these test suites or develop new tests, you need to build your own Firefox with --enable-tests, and run the tests from the object directory. Ideally there would be a standalone package available for download that would let you run these test suites against any Firefox build, to ease development of new tests and allow more people to get involved with automated testing.

Provide a way to easily perform bookmark queries in JS

Right now the only way of finding bookmarks in FUEL is to recursively iterate folders beginning with the root. Because the assumption is that in Firefox 3 users are going to accumulate a lot of bookmarks, this could be not efficient enough (not to mention inconvenient). It would be useful if FUEL provided an interface for querying bookmarks, as a wrapper for nsINavHistoryQuery and friends. An example of how it could look like in action:

var query = bookmarks.newQuery(); 
query.type = "folder"; 
query.searchTerms = "goats"; 
var results = query.execute();

References: Mark Finkle (mfinkle), bug 409279

Provide an easier mechanism for creating History Listeners in JS

A better way for adding easy history event listeners to FUEL is needed, perhaps. Some initial design work has been done on this, see bug 406974.

References: Mark Finkle (mfinkle)

Add source checkout to buildbot

Unlike many open source projects, it's not possible to do a CVS checkout and build the code. This is due to the complex module and version combinations necessary to get and build a particular product, for example Firefox. To accomplish this, Mozilla uses client.mk, which provides a set of rules for getting and building the code.

Increasingly, Mozilla is moving toward using the Python based buildbot system for automated builds and tests. It would be good to add a Source class for client.mk checkouts. This would mean creating a a general Source class that understands the idea of checking out a file, and which could then be used to drive the checkout and allow for integration with client.mk.

References: Rob Helmer (rhelmer)

Thunderbird Image Auto-Resize

Write an extension for Thunderbird that gives functionality similar to that of Outlook, where image attachments in an email can be automatically re-sized to one of a set of smaller sizes. This is helpful for users who would otherwise try to send megabytes of image data, when they can safely scale the images down and still share their pictures with friends.

References: #maildev

Port the Firefox Release Repackager to other platforms

The Firefox Release Repackager allows one to take a released version of the browser, deconstruct it in order to add some custom extension, then repackage it. This allows organizations to ship slightly modified versions of stock releases, useful for their users. Currently the repackager only works on Mac.

Port this tool to Windows and/or Linux. In order to do this you'll need platform binaries of 7zip, or perhaps you can use P7zip to do a cross platform version. There are other ideas that can be added to this tool as well for making it more flexible.

Resources: mkaply, bsmedberg

Add MSI packaging to the Firefox build system

Firefox is not currently available on Windows as an MSI, which is something IT departments and others deploying on many desktops routinely request. The Windows Installer XML toolset (WiX) is an open source tool provided by Microsoft that allows the creation of MSI files based on XML config files. This project will add MSI packaging to the Firefox build system so that it happens by default.

Resources: mkaply, ted, http://www.frontmotion.com/Firefox/index.htm, http://forums.mozillazine.org/viewtopic.php?t=138033

LiveCD for Resource Kit

We'd like to produce a DVD resource kit for teaching Mozilla development. This disc could be used in two ways: as a bootable (and installable) "Live Disc" containing a full Linux (Fedora) development environment, or it could be inserted into a running Windows system to install MozillaBuild 1.2 and some other tools. This project involves packaging: creating RPM packages of material that should be included on the disc but which is not presently available in RPM format (such as a Firefox trunk snapshot, the Mozilla videos, documentation, and possibly a local MXR instance) and creating a suitable Windows installer.

Resources: dave, ctyler

gdb symbol server support

Microsoft's debugger allows the use of a symbol server, which it can use to download debugging symbols for programs and libraries. Mozilla provides this for nightly and release builds on Windows, and it's useful for people to debug their crashes locally without having to build a debug build. This functionality doesn't exist for Linux or OS X, where gdb is the debugger. gdb does support loading debug symbols from external files, so it could probably be extended to look for the symbols on a web server first.


  1. https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=412722#c5
  2. http://www.linuxcommand.org/man_pages/objcopy1.html (see --add-gnu-debuglink and --only-keep-debug)
  3. http://www.totalviewtech.com/Documentation/Tips/gnu_debuglink.html

Resources: ted, Stan Shebs, Jim Blandy

gdb support for minidumps for post-mortem debugging

Microsoft's debugger allows for loading a minidump produced during a crash and then performing post-mortem debugging. GDB supports using core files for the same purpose. In Firefox 3, we produce minidump files on all of our supported platforms for use with our Breakpad crash reporting system. Sometimes people may want to debug a crash locally using one of these minidumps. On Windows, using the symbol server, they can simply load the minidump in their debugger. Currently there is no equivalent on Linux or Mac. Extending gdb to support loading minidumps for post-mortem debugging would be useful. This project may rely on the gdb symbol server project to be truly useful.


  1. http://code.google.com/p/google-breakpad/source/browse/trunk/src/google_breakpad/common/minidump_format.h
  2. http://www.codeproject.com/KB/debug/postmortemdebug_standalone1.aspx
  3. http://sourceware.org/gdb/current/onlinedocs/gdb_3.html#SEC7
  4. http://sourceware.org/gdb/current/onlinedocs/gdb_9.html#SEC80

Resources: ted, Stan Shebs, Jim Blandy

gcc plugin for better mxr code parsing

Currently LXR/MXR rely on a Perl script to parse C/C++ and extract variable and function names. We now have static analysis tools that can parse all of the C++ used by Mozilla correctly. It would be awesome to have a GCC plugin or tool built on Elsa that could parse C++ properly for LXR/MXR to extract all the useful information. The results could be used to improve searching and syntax highlighting.


  1. http://wiki.mozilla.org/DeHydra
  2. http://wiki.mozilla.org/Dehydra_GCC
  3. http://www.cs.berkeley.edu/~smcpeak/elkhound/
  4. http://timeless.justdave.net/mxr-test/webtools/source/lxr/genxref

Resources: Taras Glek, timeless

Profile the build system (why are my Windows builds so slow?)

It's a well known fact that it takes longer to build on Windows than on a comparable Linux or Mac machine. We don't know exactly why, however. There have been many theories, but no real data. Profiling the build system would allow us to figure out where all of the time is being spent. The best place to start might be by adding some profiling to GNU Make, to figure out which targets in our makefiles take the most time. From there, depending on the results, profiling could be added to other parts of the build system to narrow down specific bottlenecks.


  1. http://wiki.services.openoffice.org/wiki/BuildSpeedup - OpenOffice.org did something similar

Resources: ted


Make it possible to look for bugs across old nightly builds of Firefox using automated tools. For example, regression-search is a script that allows you to do binary searches across binaries, looking for the existence of a bug. This could be improved through the use of tools like co-scripter. Ideally the user could look for bugs in automated ways, without having to download and install tons of browser versions.

Resources: db48x, ted

Mercurial history browsing

We're just starting to use an exciting new distributed version control tool: Mercurial.

One of the exciting things about Mercurial is that the history—the list of all the changes that have ever been checked in—is not linear. It frequently has branches and merges. This is actually a good, important feature, as you know if you've read a little about distributed version control. The downside is that the history becomes a maze of twisty little passages. Benjamin Smedberg's demo shows the history of a repository with lots of merges (each box is a check-in; you can click on the boxes to move around).

There have been a couple attempts at showing history in an intuitive, graphical way. Mercurial comes with a web UI for browsing the repository, including history (here's what it looks like). It also comes with an "hg glog" extension that draws history as ASCII art, and an "hg view" extension that does roughly the same thing with a little GUI. Sadly, none of these applications qualifies as awesome.

Your mission is to rectify this sad situation by writing an awesome browser-based UI for navigating Mercurial repository history.

Resources: jorendorff, bsmedberg

Extend Try Server to test Thunderbird patches

"Specifically, Mozilla has a great system called “try servers” where one can submit patches against the tree, and the build system runs builds on Linux, Mac and Windows, using those patches, then serves those builds for testing. This is really helpful to figure out if proposed patches solve specific problems...The only problem is that there’s a little bit of patching needed to the try server code itself to make it able to work with other targets besides Firefox, as described in bug 431375" (Ascher)