What’s amazing about this project in Mozilla is its story. Brian Birtles started this project in May 2005 as a project for his studies, he quickly crafted basic code and first wiki article, and in November 2005 Brian submited initial patch to Bugzilla.
After that Brian worked on the project till the end of December, finished his term, wrote a paper about Animation in Mozilla and took a break. He picked it up around summer 2006 but did not push too much forward.
A year has passed since Brian sent his patch to bugzilla, and everything started to seem rather skeptical for SMIL. No maintainer, obsolete patch not compiling against trunk and no activity around it… At this point, tor, SVG magician, picked up the patch, cleaned it up, updated to trunk and kept updating for the whole 2007!!! Next, in April 2008 Chris Double picked the patch against and updated once again even adding new features!
In May 2008 Daniel Holbert took charge and started working on the patch to finalize the implementation getting gathering a lot of feedback and reviews from Brian and from Robert O’Callahan. The things started to move faster and around December Daniel proposed the patch for review and super-review. This caused several more rounds of reviews and finally, today, roc gave superrevew which means that he agrees for this architecture of this feature to be implemented into our code base.
While there’s still more work to be done, now we can expect SMIL to land on trunk very soon, and we have Brian back to support Daniel with work on SMIL project.
It’s unique to such open project like Mozilla to have a full open access to working environment for an external student who can pick up his project of choice and lead it, get other peoples help to keep it alive while no leader is around and finally get it finalized by another community member with support from original author who additionally gets hired to work more on his project of choice.
There is such a tremendous variety of ways people are interacting with Mozilla project, such a huge flexibility of relations, its impossible to oversee everything and Mozilla could not operate in any top-down model. It’s such a different structure. Momentum, energy management, focus and global organization direction are being build all around the project on many levels, and being a leader in such organization means something very, very different. We have a huge luck that our l e a d e r s not only understand and incorporate it but also experience it together with us all.