Interview: Henrik Gemal and Mozilla in the workplace

This month our own Percy Cabello has interviewed Henrik Gemal concerning using Mozilla in the workplace. Here is that conversation edited for best possible viewing. Percy Cabello: I would like to have the big picture. What were your needs and how did Mozilla fit in? Henrik Gemal: I work for TDC, which is the largest telecom in Denmark. We have around 80% ADSL market share. Here I develop web applications. We use a homegrown CMS which is built on open source products like MySQL, PHP, etc. The entire tdc.dk, tdc.com, tdconline.dk all runs on open source products apache, MySQL, PHP. The CMS is a homegrown version that allows people to add articles to the sites, edit articles, etc. CMS is an acronym of Content Management System. Percy Cabello: How many users use this CMS? Henrik Gemal: 30 in own department and around 50 all in all perhaps. I'm not really sure. Looking at the way people work I found out that people spend a lot of time looking at the content at tdc.dk and then trying to find the article inside the CMS system. So I decided to create an extension that made it possible to go directly from the live articles to the CMS system. Henrik Gemal: Users can now right click on articles on tdc.dk and click "edit clicked article". This will then show the CMS web application with the clicked article so that they can edit the article. Lots of time saved just by doing that. I also added support so that people can right click on images, which are controlled by a CMS for images system. The extension is that complex. It basically sends them to another URL, but it saves them loads of time. We started testing it with 2 users and they now spread the word so that their coworkers start asking about this "morezilla" thing. Percy Cabello: Great! I read that you were asking to keep the extension updater server address open. How would this affect your deployment? Henrik Gemal: Currently we just inform people that a new version is out. But it would be so much easier if it would automatically auto update. Percy Cabello: Can you describe technically how the extension works? Henrik Gemal: Now I've also developed an extension for a project I'm not on. We're developing a brand new e-business platform for the entire TDC. The admin is a web interface. Here's how it works, if you go to http://tdc.dk the front page consists of many articles. The articles all live in the CMS and can be edited by different people. If you look at the source of the page you'll see stuff like: <!-- (60102) --> That means that the content just below this comes from article 60102. So when the user rights click on that page, I use the DOM node where the user right clicked and search upward, until I hit some text that looks like: <!-- (60102) --> All our images URL's look like this: http://i.tdconline.dk/pics/8/7/5/27578/384x144.jpg So when the user right clicks on a image I look at the image's URL and do some magic and then send them to the Image CMS with the same image ID.

Percy Cabello: Pretty simple! Neat! Henrik Gemal: The developers also use proxies to test stuff before it goes into production. But turning the proxy on and off can be a time-consuming thing. So I made a shortcut in the extension so now SHIFT+CONTROL+P turns the proxy on/off. The extensions works in Mozilla and Mozilla Firefox but we installed Firefox on all the non-teckie people's machines Percy Cabello: So, you were talking about multiple extensions? Henrik Gemal: There are two extensions. The TDC CMS extension that has CMS and proxy support and a TDC SHOP extension that makes the admin stuff in the shop easier. Percy Cabello: Ok, please continue. Henrik Gemal: Most people in my department, TDC Private Online, develop webpages and web applications mainly for Firefox. They then spend some time making it work in IE. (Also know as the "IE factor", read: http://www.stopdesign.com/log/2004/01/26/ie_factor.html) This is the technical people, a.k.a. the developers. The marketing people mostly use IE, but are slowly converting to Firefox. We installed Firefox but didn't make it the default browser, since the corporate network used a proxy and some MS auth that Firefox doesn't work well with. Percy Cabello: The switch was directly from IE to Firefox? Or was Mozilla or Firebird in between? Henrik Gemal: We started when it was called Firebird. For the marketing people there was no Mozilla 1.x in between, just directly from IE to Firebird to Firefox. Some developers here are using Mozilla 1.x but most use Firefox. Some also use Thunderbird. Percy Cabello: How do you handle the upgrades? Have you found or are you investigating some way of automation? Henrik Gemal: Upgrades are currently done by me or a coworker walking around and upgrading people. I've also developed the Linky and Launchy extensions and have been thinking about upgrades many times, but I didn't want to do all kinds of code if Mozilla eventually was going to provide some kind of auto upgrade notification. I know that some extensions have built their own update notification. Percy Cabello: And it seems like the extension manager/updater is the answer to this kind of need? Henrik Gemal: Yes, but it sounded like that the update info and the XPI file had to be on update.mozilla.org. Not that I mind putting it there, but it just makes no sense for outsiders to TDC to use that extension. Basically I found this way of "pushing" Mozilla the absolute best way. People get something that they couldn't do in IE and it saved them time! Percy Cabello: So you would need to customize your installations to point to another update server. Within your company, when someone requests an extension it's available? Henrik Gemal: Yes something like that. Percy Cabello: Tell us about the second extension. Henrik Gemal: The second extension is an extension for the e-business shop. Basically it does the same thing. People can right click on products in the live production environment, select edit product and the backend is shown with the selected product where they can change name, price, etc. Percy Cabello: How long is it, in lines?

Henrik Gemal: the JS code is around 300 lines Percy Cabello: Did you experience any problems with using Mozilla products? Henrik Gemal: One of the problems I saw with people switching from IE to Firefox was that Firefox was not in Danish. Percy Cabello: Good point! Percy Cabello: So, have you found a way to workaround the language limitation? Henrik Gemal: Nope. One of the first problems I faces was that in the first version of the extension I only provided da-DK locale. But if you install this on an en-US Firefox it would cause terrible errors. So basically the text in the en-US locale is in Danish! Not a very nice solution but it works. I don't think you can mix locales, meaning if Firefox is en-US all extensions have to be provided in en-US. Percy Cabello: Do you know if there is any effort to do a Danish localization? Henrik Gemal: Yes, for Mozilla, but not for Firefox as far as I know. On Thursday I'm going to hold a small talk about Mozilla for "The Society of Danish Engineers" Percy Cabello: Great! Henrik Gemal: This is my 5th talk about Mozilla here in Denmark. Percy Cabello: Do you have any material / presentation for this? Henrik Gemal: Currently in Danish only and it's a bit old: http://gemal.dk/archives/000091.html Percy Cabello: OK, I'll give it a look. When did these previous presentations take place? Henrik Gemal: Around a year ago. I'm also a big Mozilla evangelist here at work. Mozilla t-shirt, Mozilla cup and Mozilla stickers! Percy Cabello: Is that self made merchandise? Henrik Gemal: No, official. The t-shirt I got from Asa, I think. I'm the QA on the Windows installer for Mozilla 1.x and the one that filled the most bugs in Bugzilla. The cup I bought myself... Percy Cabello: For how long have you been involved with the mozilla project? Henrik Gemal: My first bug report is from 1999-11-09. But I followed Netscape from the start. Not sure when I got official involved in Mozilla. Percy Cabello: Just for curiosity, what's its current status? Henrik Gemal: http://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=18327. My Bugzilla status: http://gemal.dk/mozilla/bugzilla.html. Percy Cabello: Are there other people involved with Mozilla at work? Henrik Gemal: No. Percy Cabello: but it's currently being officially supported at your company? Henrik Gemal: Yes. Whenever we develop applications or webpages they must function in Mozilla, Firefox, IE 5 and 6 and it would be nice in IE4, Opera and Safari. But since most of the stuff we do is done for Firefox and reworked for IE it works just fine in all gecko browsers. Percy Cabello: and the browser per se is also supported if somebody has a problem with Firefox? Is Firefox as an application is supported by your PC support team? Henrik Gemal: I don't think so. So perhaps officialy it's not supported. At least not in the support team.

Percy Cabello: OK, do you have some other extensions in mind or in the works currently? Henrik Gemal: Perhaps, but not internally. Percy Cabello: Thanks for you time Henrik! I think this will be helpful and informative for many users, especially for those in the enterprise environment. Henrik Gemal: You're welcome. All for the code of the code http://www.mozilla.org/banners/.

Follow up
Percy Cabello: How did your talk go? Henrik Gemal: Very good. The feedback from the around 15 people was "very good". At least a couple of absolutely non-developers non-teckies have now converted to Mozilla. One was very impressed with Mozilla Thunderbird and the installer and the Importer. "I was impressed with software that just simple works," he said in an e-mail after he converted from Outlook 97 to Mozilla Thunderbird.