Mobile Platform at the Toronto Firefox Work Week

For those that aren’t already aware, many Mozillians gathered last week in Toronto to Maximise Synergy. Seeing as there have been updates for the UX team and the Firefox/Mobile UI team, I think it’d be worth having a similar update for mobile platform. Some fantastic work is going on in this area, and people deserve kudos :)

  • Kartikaya Gupta (aka kats) continues to do sterling work, fixing an inhuman amount of bugs. Most prominently, kats has been working on our display-port ‘strategies’, code that allows us to make the most of our rendering time and, thus, reduce checkerboarding. He’s also been working on our checkerboard measurement, augmenting and refining our tests and test-method to make sure we’re always pushing ourselves. This, alongside much general bug-fixing work.
  • Benoit Girard (aka BenWa) is part of the gfx team, all of whom have been helping us out for the past few months, getting our performance back to a competetive level. Benoit’s tiled rendering patches finally landed, which make a huge difference to performance. Benoit has also been working on some useful remote profiling tools, which he blogs about here.
  • James Willcox (aka snorp) continues to battle Flash to get us the best Flash experience in an Android browser (ironic, right?) snorp’s work to get more accurate positioning of Flash elements landed, along with his work to replace elements with a snapshot during page movement on Froyo/Gingerbread, completing the experience.
  • Brad Lassey (aka blassey) managed to get enough time to do some coding alongside his usual cat-herding responsibilities, and got us a low-res page cache. This means that in the rare situation that our rendering can’t keep up, instead of showing checkerboard, we show a low-resolution rendering of the page. It’s possible that this content can go stale, but we find it provides a much better experience than showing either a blank colour or checkerboard. This works much better than any of us expected it to, and for me at least, was the turning point after which I find our browser much easier to recommend.
  • And me? I managed to get my retained tiles patch landed. Currently, we render the page into system-memory tiles, which we then upload to the GPU. My patch keeps a hold of the GPU tiles and metrics for a while after they’re invalidated. Again, when our renderer can’t keep up, it renders these old tiles into the space instead of rendering nothing. This mostly helps quick changes of direction and zooming out after zooming in. I also spent some time fixing up the low-res cache work, then fixing up my fix-ups, as is my custom :) Hopefully, preliminary fixed-position layer support will also land soon.

Much other work also occured, and sorry for missing anyone out that I surely did. It’s worth mentioning that the gfx team have been a huge help and have been working extra-hard for months now, helping us get to where we are today (and hopefully beyond!) I had a great (and hard) time during my stay and am very much looking forward to our upcoming release :)

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