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Friday, October 21st, 2005, 3:36 pm

Firefox Fork

Firefox in the dock

I have just become aware of Flock, which is an interesting fork of Firefox 1.5. The much-anticipated version 1.5 has not been formally released yet, which makes this a somewhat controversial scenario. Flock is now being promoted by WordPress.com, where a download of Flock warrant a free WordPress blog (at least for the time being).

With all due respect, I am always slightly apprehensive when it comes to adopting, thus relying on forks. I am also aware of the problem associated with forking one’s own application. Once you lag behind, the long-invested dedication can wind up being disposed of. Flock appears to me like the conspicuous rationale behind Mozilla becoming a foundation and going by the identity of Mozilla.com.

As regards WordPress.com and the Flock relationship, I might give it a try, but I would certainly seek plenty of convincing arguments before I do so. My past experiences with Firefox 1.5 betas (AKA Deer Park) have been fairly disappointing and led to regrets. I have made two such attempts to migrate to a version that was not finalised.

Having said that, a certain other fact is worrying me slightly more. According to ZDNet, the lead developer of Flock said:

“Please note that this is a developer preview and that there are still plenty of bugs, many of which we are aware of.”

To me that sounds as if the application is not quite ready for “prime time” so WordPress.com are possibly getting users on a dangerous wagon.

It was also said, however:

“In architecting our software, build systems and engineering processes, we have given considerable thought to how our code will be able to evolve alongside the Mozilla code, without forking it”

This sounds rather re-assuring and I sure hope these folks will walk as they preach.

Related item: Best Technology Products of 2005

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