Firefox Test Pilot: help determine the browser's product roadmap

Test Pilot, a new Firefox plugin from Mozilla, lets you try out features that the company is thinking of launching, contributing both telemetry and explicit feedback that they'll use to plan the product roadmap.

Right now you can test three features with Test Pilot: moving tabs to the side (I couldn't get this to work); merging the location and search bar (similar to Chrome's location bar, but better, so far); and "Activity Stream," a kind of catch-up service for your frequently visited bookmarks that suggests new stories from your favorite sites.

Nguyen told VentureBeat that Test Pilot offers two advantages: onboarding and telemetry. Both help the company better determine what should change, and whether the feature should ship at all.

Unlike the preferences in about:config, experiments have an onboarding experience that explains to the user what exactly he or she can expect. In the Firefox channels it’s difficult to tie new features to crashes or retention, while feature-specific telemetry lets Mozilla understand how well a given experiment works. The goal is to “gather more data and be more transparent about it,” Nguyen said, adding that when the experiment is over, Mozilla no longer gathers that data. This simply isn’t possible with the existing channels.

Test Pilot is designed to work on the current stable release of Firefox (today that’s Firefox 46). It can, however, work outside the stable channel or even on older versions. “Test Pilot works on all Firefox channels now including in Developer Edition and Beta,” a Mozilla spokesperson told VentureBeat. “In the future we may constrain certain experiments or all of Test Pilot to certain versions or Firefox channels.”

Test Pilot [Firefox/Mozilla]

Mozilla launches Test Pilot, a Firefox add-on for trying experimental new features
[Emil Protalinski/Venture Beat]

(via /.)