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Firefox 4: "In it to Win it"

05.11.2010
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You might remember that Mozilla decided to leapfrog a 3.7 release of Firefox a few months ago in order to put out of process plugins (OOPP) in Firefox 3.6.4 and save the major changes for Firefox 4.0 (they also needed more time).  Well, the time for 4.0's first beta is fast approaching, and Mozilla has just revealed some tentative details about the foxy new version.

"Fast, Powerful and Empowering" are the three keywords that Firefox lead Mike Beltzner had to describe the next version of Firefox.  Developers of the popular browser (holds about 1/4th of the world market share) are building in more speed, more HTML5 and CSS3 support, and even more browser data and permissions control.  Firefox 4 will also take a page from Google's design and move the browsing tabs to the top of the window, including a new home tab.


Image Credit: Mozilla

You should be aware that the entire unveiling included a big red caveat posted on the slides saying "Plans Might Change."  Any of the features they list in their presentation could be postponed or reevaluated.  The theme you see above is also  tentative and the first beta will come with a theme that is meant to be evaluated by users.  The first beta should also include a nifty extensions (add-on) manager for evaluation as well.


Image Credit: Mozilla

An account manager, enhanced tab management, and basic application tab support are expected in the first beta.  Beltzner's proposal for the first beta also included an HTML5 parser, CSS3 transitions, CSP (allowing secure pages), WebSockets, :visited fixes (privacy), and a "Reference" Layers implementation as well.

Cool Gmail, etc. dedicated application tabs

Image Credit: Mozilla

Other changes will probably include a full screen API, background updates, better geolocation support, Mozilla Weave integration (for tab synching between machines), 64-bit versions, multitouch/gesture compatibility, and a rebooted extensions foundation based on Jetpack.  Firefox 4 has plans for many more features as well:

Web Technologies
  • Web Sockets - Bidirectionally connected apps
  • PushState - Better Ajax-y interactions
  • Content creation - HTML5 forms, contentEditable (early stages)
  • IndexedDB - Structured data storage (early stages)

Multimedia
  • Direct2D hardware acceleration
  • Aero Peek integration
  • Graphics compositing with Layers
  • WebGL (early stages)
  • OSX integration (early stages)
  • Standards for contacts, cameras, and microphones (early stages)

Options Menu

Image Credit: Mozilla

Performance
  • JagerMonkey (high-performance when tracing isn't viable)
  • HTML5 parser off main thread
  • Startup timeline optimizations
  • Reduced I/O operations on main thread
  • JavaScript threads and GC
  • DOM performance improvements
  • Layers for compostiting, scrolling

Security
  • CSP (allowing secure pages)
  • :visited fix (privacy)
  • ForceTLS (authenticated login)
  • CritSmash
  • Early Security Reviews



Image Credit: Mozilla

Developer tools
  • New profile manager
  • Enhanced Firebug compatibility
  • Remote JS Debugger
  • Web Consoler
  • Web Inspector
  • Timer API (early stages)
  • Memory diagnostic tools (early stages)

The Firefox team is hoping to release a first beta of Firefox 4 in late June 2010.  The release candidate would be likely to follow in October.  Without any major bumps in the road, we can expect the final to ship in November.


Image Credit: Mozilla