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Mozilla Discontinue Support for Firefox Hello [Interview]

| by James Chesters Follow 1 Followers on Sep 15, 2016. Estimated reading time: 3 minutes |

Mozilla has discontinued and removed Firefox Hello from its flagship browser.

InfoQ talks to Nick Nguyen, VP of Firefox, about the organisation's decision to stop supporting the WebRTC experiment in the browser.

InfoQ: Nick, can you give our readers who might not be totally familiar with Firefox Hello a brief overview of the history of the project?

Nick Nguyen: Firefox Hello started as an experiment in Firefox Beta to increase the value of WebRTC to Firefox users and developers.

Mozilla has been pioneering WebRTC in a number of areas, from our industry-first implementation of DataChannels, to the first WebRTC call between two major browsers.

Here is is a list of blogs that discussed Firefox Hello:

InfoQ: What were Mozilla's main inspirations for including a WebRTC in the browser?

Nguyen: At Mozilla, we believe web technology should be plugin free, and real time communications was one of the primary uses of browser plugins to view content.

WebRTC technology allows developers to create real time chat applications with audio and video with no plugins, completely within a modern browser.

InfoQ: What was the Mozilla community's reaction to Firefox Hello being included in the browser?

Nguyen: It was positive, because it proved the capability of the WebRTC platform.

InfoQ: Can you tell our readers about some of the successes or high points of Firefox Hello? What was disappointing or less successful?

Nguyen: The success of Firefox Hello was that we were able to prove that modern browser technology could create a competitive real time video chat service. We also showed that WebRTC could be used for other forms of real time data, such as tab sharing.

Unfortunately, Firefox Hello did not achieve the numbers we would have needed to justify future development.

InfoQ: What has led Mozilla's decision to stop supporting Firefox Hello?

Nguyen: Mozilla created Firefox Hello to prove the capability of the WebRTC platform, but we did not get the adoption we would have liked to see.

In addition, there are many WebRTC applications on the web, like Talky.io, that users are happy with, so from our perspective this technology has a bright future in our browser.

InfoQ: How far do you agree with the statement that browsers should focus first and foremost on being a browser? Is the decision to stop supporting Hello significant to the Firefox bigger picture?

Nguyen: Mozilla will continue to push the boundaries of what a browser should do today, by giving users the best version of the web, and we will continue to try new features.

The significance of the Firefox Hello shutdown is that our willingness to shut down projects is what will allow us to test and verify bold new features in the market.

InfoQ: Some members of the community feel that with the loss of Thunderbird, Pocket and Personas, users are hesitant to adopt Mozilla projects, in turn discouraging people from using them.

How accurate do you feel this is? In light of these projects falling by the wayside, how confident should the community be in Mozilla's continued dedication to Firefox?

Nguyen: Mozilla gives projects ample time and opportunity to make an impact, and we will only continue to support projects that advance our mission of openness, innovation, and opportunity on the web.

Winding down projects in order to focus is standard practice in software development, and it is the only way that Mozilla, a relatively small organisation compared to our competition, can have the focus to build products that help the web in a significant way.

The Mozilla community should be very confident in our dedication to Firefox: the team continues to grow and with initiatives like Test Pilot and Electrolysis. We are setting ourselves up for a much faster, more stable, and more exciting Firefox in 2017.

InfoQ: Is there anything we haven't covered that you would like mentioned regarding Firefox Hello?

Nguyen: It was a tough decision to discontinue Hello and I understand that this decision will upset some of our most ardent supporters.

I want to thank everyone who was part of the Firefox Hello Beta and I hope they continue to use Firefox and try out our new features that are coming over the next year.

As previously mentioned, the WebRTC ecosystem is doing well, and users are encouraged to try out alternative WebRTC services such as Talky.io, Cisco Spark, Appear.in and Jitsi Meet, among others.

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