Industry News & Analysis

Mozilla to launch new Firefox feature testing program

Mozilla plans to launch a new testing program next month that will let Firefox users try out potential changes to the browser, according to documents published by the open-source developer.

Dubbed “Idea Town” for now, the opt-in program is to kick off Aug. 11 with a teaser in the browser’s new tab page inviting users to register, with additional elements added over the following three months until the testing infrastructure is complete and operational.

dea Town’s goal is to solicit feedback from users of its most-stable build channel — labeled “Release” by Mozilla — to help it decide whether to pull the trigger on new features and UI modifications before adding them to the usual 18-week development cycle.

“Idea Town is an opt-in platform for Firefox that facilitates controlled tests of new high-visibility products in the general release channel,” Mozilla said in a GitHub page for the project. “Idea Town will allow us to make informed & user tested product decisions quickly and without compromising user privacy or experience.”

That’s a different approach than Mozilla now uses, and which Microsoft runs with its Windows Insider program, when developers and designers decide on a new feature, then add it to early builds, where the changes track through several iterations to shake out bugs in the code. Instead, Idea Town will target the “average” Firefox user; preliminary builds are mostly run by early adopters, whose opinions may not reflect the general user base.

The primary goal of Idea Town, said Mozilla, is to “let us take larger risks with product concepts, giving us a cheap avenue to test and validate product concepts.” It would also allow Mozilla to measure interest in potential Firefox features.

Mozilla will use the tag line, “The future of the Fox” to entice users to sign up with Idea Town.

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