Activity Stream Newsletter #3

Tim Spurway tspurway at
Thu Aug 3 03:27:10 UTC 2017

Hey folks,

Activity Stream landed and stuck in 56 Nightly, and has been uplifted to 56 Beta (pref’ed off by default), which was all pretty great.  

Our plan is to pref on in 56 Beta and Release channels to a certain percentage of the population in order to gather data, continue to experiment and improve the product.  Our goal is to land a fully functional and amazing about:newtab <about:newtab> and about:home <about:home> Activity Stream experience in Firefox 57 Desktop. 

In early conversations with Mike Conley, we were of a single, architectural opinion that the `content` of Activity Stream absolutely had to live in a Content process in Firefox.  This was a significantly different design than the existing about:newtab <about:newtab>, which ran in the Parent process.  This superior design would be e10s friendly and un-jank the parent process while at the same time enable improved security and enhanced extensibility of the Activity Stream platform.  It was the right thing to do.

It wasn’t an easy road.  There were a lot of existing tests that provided some daunting challenges.  There were more than a few times where we were tempted to sacrifice the ‘right’ for the ‘expedient’ and pile our code back into the Parent process as 56 deadlines loomed and options thinned out.  

In the end, it was a success - Activity Stream uses e10s friendly Content processes for it’s `content`.   

Our team would like to express our heart-felt gratitude to Mike Conley for helping us get here.  His review, ideas, energy, cajoling, good humour and tenacious work ethic have made this success possible. 

Mike had joked that if we landed in the Content Process as we had originally designed, he would buy us cake.  Today, we found out Mike wasn’t joking.  Mike bought us cake!  Notice there is one pink cake for Parent process, and one chocolate cake for Content process, as well as a bunch of nut-free treats for Newtab Utils.  

(I am not great at metaphors, but this is kind of like the boy scout (Mike) helping the old timer across the road (activity stream team), then giving them cake!)

Thanks, Mike!

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