It feels great to bask in the somewhat erratic but generally glowing coverage of the Firefox 3 release. This Forbes article captures a big part of the reason why I do this work:
Firefox has become one of the most important pieces of software around today as consumers shift from using their PCs to run applications living on their hard drives to a communications device able to connect with applications living on distant servers.
I do have to laugh at this Fox News tidbit though:
... you could say the several hundred engineers working on Firefox have been busy. And their work has paid off.
I'm glad it looks like the work of several hundred engineers, and I guess if you count up every single person who contributed the tiniest patch over the last few years it might be several hundred, but that would be a very misleading picture. Mozilla Corporation's Gecko team is currently less than forty full-time developers and that's after rapid recent growth --- over most of the last five years it was more like ten to twenty. Non-MoCo contributors are great but their efforts combined add no more than 50%. I don't know the size of the front-end team but it's smaller than the Gecko team.
Normalizing for project scope, I think we're about the same size as Apple's Webkit team. I get the impression that the IE team is much larger than us at this point. (An officemate suggests that the reason they send us cakes is because we keep them in their jobs.) Not sure what Opera's development teams are like but Opera has about three times the total full-time employees as Mozilla today, and the ratio must have been much greater a few years ago.
I wanted to say that because I think a lot of people see Mozilla as a behemoth --- I hope because we punch above our weight in the market --- but we really aren't, far from it.