Mozilla Firefox: Fired Up Development Cycle

Okay now what’s this — I’ve just updated one of my page that giving tutorial about how to disable add-on compatibility checking when the new Firefox version arrives 2 weeks ago. I was firstly create that page for people who migrate from Firefox 3.6 to Firefox 4. Approximately 2 weeks ago I updated it so it incorporate changes to migrate to Firefox 5. And not even a day, a comment stated that Firefox 6 already released in beta. I’m actually not really cares what version of Firefox I’m currently using, as I mainly used Chrome. But in my curiosity, I searched for the latest release of Firefox. Guess what: They’re already shipping Firefox 7.0 aurora version! They even has planned Firefox 8!

What the hell? I mean, Firefox has never moved at such a pace. And I’m not very fond of this pace because of one obvious problem: every major upgrade of Firefox always breaks some add on compatibility. And now every upgrade in Firefox is mostly major upgrade. Chrome has different case. From Chrome 6 when I first start using it, until Chrome 14 beta that I’m currently using right now, I never heard of such incompatible add-on that’s forced to be disabled. I would be very glad if the version release is 4.1, 4.2, 4.3, and so on, so that the add-on compatibility didn’t break. But it seems that Mozilla has their own reason for it.

The background is that Mozilla has concluded that Firefox is intended for individual users, not corporate users. This is stated by Firefox’s director, Aza Dotzler, in response to Mike Kaply’s blog post that lamenting about Firefox fast development cycle. Imagine how stressful and expensive for an IT department to running a full scale browser upgrade of thousands of computers every time Firefox updated. Firefox’s aim for silent update definitely is not “silent” by the appearance of broken compatibility the next time Firefox is started after major changes in silent update.

So then, what’s the major changes roll from Firefox 3.6 to Firefox 4, 5, 6, 7, and even 8, so that they had to do that we deserved all this chaos? Let’s check it out.

Major changes in Firefox 4.

  • The new User Interface, to provide sleeker and cleaner user interface like Chrome. This of course break many of User Interface add-ons.
  • The introduction of App Tab, similar to Pin Tab in Chrome.
  • The introduction of Tab Group, similar (but very different) to Tab Group in Opera.
  • Gecko Layout Engine support more HTML5 and CSS3 features.
  • Released on February 10, 2010.

Major changes in Firefox 5:

  • Do not track feature, to explicitly tells websites to not tracking your movements online.
  • More CSS3 support.
  • Introduction of Aurora, Beta, and Stable release.
  • This is the current Stable release, June 21, 2011.

Major changes in Firefox 6:

  • Has just appeared at beta channel at July 8, 2011.
  • Implementing of permission manager, to handle what information to shared with other sites.
  • New tab scrolling features.
  • Domain highlighting to gives user more cues about the sites they’re currently browse.
  • Scheduled to be released at August 16, 2011.

Major changes in Firefox 7:

  • Has just appeared at aurora channel at July 6, 2011.
  • Not really much to say about Firefox 7, except that it focused on performance and memory. There’s 10% increase in performance from Firefox 5-7.
  • They’ll implement the multiprocessing browser, just like Chrome did. The project called Electrolysis, sometimes called e10s. This implementation separates content and core, hopefully further reducing browser crashes.
  • They included Javascript memory garbage collector to reduce memory footprints. Firefox 7 aurora claimed to have 30 percent less memory in a blog post .
  • Mozilla also said that by Electrolysis project, they tried to make the browser more responsive.
  • Bookmark sync improvements and sharper font rendering.
  • Scheduled to be released at August 16, 2011.

Major changes in Firefox 8:

  • Has just appeared at nightly channel at July 6, 2011.
  • Firefox 8 reported to be 10% faster than Firefox 7, and matches Chrome 14. It’s due to the introduction of new graphics engine called Azure which can directly writes to Direct3D/OpenGL. The earlier Firefox using Cairo as its graphics engine, which rely on Direct2D/Quartz to writes to Direct3D/OpenGL. The Azure engine is reported to has been worked on since Firefox 7.
  • Scheduled to be released at November 8, 2011.

Firefox 9 is rumored to be debuted at December 20, 2011.

However, it’s also rumored that Firefox 8 will be the last release of Mozilla, as Google already acquired Mozilla. Is it true? Well, let’s wait for further news then.

How about you? Do you like Firefox’s faster development cycle? Why? Why not? Don’t forget to vote! 🙂


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