We were amusing ourselves on IRC yesterday by showing each other the first patches we ever submitted to Mozilla and I suddenly noticed that mine was exactly 6 years ago from today. It was the ridiculously trivial bug 292411, nothing more than a typo correction really. I can remember being quite excited that I had found a bug I could fix and rushing to get it submitted before anyone else. Of course in those days there were no real automated tests so it was a pretty simple process and within a day my patch was reviewed and landed for Firefox 1.5.
That wasn’t my first introduction to the community, just the next step in a long list that probably started with trying out Firebird in late 2003. I first complained about issues in early 2004 on Mozillazine (no-one answered I note!), then I really started to get involved in nightly testing in late 2004. In early 2005 I wrote my first extension in response to complaints from nightly testers over some UI that had been removed. I mostly remained focused on helping nightly testers out with my extensions and in May 2005 I released what was originally known as Build ID Copier but eventually morphed into Nightly Tester Tools. I’m now basically uninvolved in the ongoing development of that since it has been taken up by the awesome Heather Arthur.
I was clearly doing the right things since in 2006 Mozilla invited me to the Firefox 2 summit in Mountain View where I finally got to meet all the people I had been talking with on IRC. Also I recall there were drinks. This (mostly the people, but also the drinks) helped convince me that I wanted to be doing this sort of thing more so I applied and in May 2007 I started working on the Firefox team full-time.
I recall in my first few days not really knowing exactly what to do so I just did what I had been doing with my evenings and weekends already, picked out some bugs and set to work fixing them. I guess this was the right thing since I’m still here now. By the time I was at my second summit in Whistler in 2008, Rob Strong was ceding responsibility of the add-ons manager to me and eventually Benjamin Smedberg decided he’d have a lot less work on his plate if he made me the owner of the whole of toolkit. In 2009 Mozilla were kind enough to help me move to the USA which has meant I can now mentor interns and really just get more involved with the rest of the team.
It’s kind of crazy to look back and see how long I’ve been involved with Mozilla, and I know I have been around for far shorter than many people. 7 years during which I have been under 3 different employers, switching from being a student, through academia and into the workplace and never once have I lost interest in what Mozilla was doing or felt like it was time to give up and start doing other things. To be sure I have over time gained a healthier work-life balance, rarely do I code into the small hours these days but on the whole I think that is probably good for my sanity. Firefox still gives me new challenges and pushes me to come up with clever solutions, and I’m not sure I could ask for more.