Firefox: The Road Ahead

Now that Firefox is firmly establishing itself in the browser market (download graph), we can look forward to subsequent milestone releases by the Mozilla Foundation. Firefox 1.1 (Dubbed "Deer Park") is slated for release in March of this year, and will be the end result of the post 1.0 "Aviary Branch - Trunk" merge. Mozilla also plans to release 2 additional milestone builds of Firefox before 2006. (With Fx 1.5 "The Ocho", and "Firefox 2" being released near year end)

Firefox 1.0 was developed away from the stability-focused Mozilla code "trunk", allowing developers to integrate additional functionality into the browser. Features like the find bar and plug-in locator, were added to Firefox after the 1.0 code branch ("Aviary") was created off the code trunk. Mozilla is planning to create a new code branch in preparation for Firefox and Thunderbird 1.1. The Gecko 1.8 branch will split from the Mozilla trunk following the scheduled release of Mozilla 1.8b on February 9th.

Tweaking Firefox has become a topic of some debate, ever since the big launch party back on November 9th. Enabling features like proxy pipelining and tuning the initialpaint.delay settings, seem to create an all-around faster browsing experience. Firefox developer Asa Dotzler cleared up some of the myths surrounding these popular tweaks a few weeks back:

Yes, enabling HTTP pipelining can dramatically improve networking performance. The downside, and the reason it's not enabled by default, is that it can prevent Web pages from displaying correctly. If you've enabled this, and you find pages that aren't displaying correctly, please don't blame Firefox or the Web developer. It's probably the fact that you enabled an "unsupported" feature which is incompatible with some Web servers and proxy servers.

Setting the initial paint delay at zero, may get you some content on the screen faster, but it's worth noting that it will dramatically slow down the time it takes the entire page to display. Here's what's going on. Gecko, Firefox's rendering engine, is trying to optimize between the cost of waiting for a bit more data versus doing more painting and reflows as new data comes in. Waiting a bit longer before it starts painting the page gives Gecko a chance to receive more content before chewing up CPU cycles to render and reflow the document. If you drop this value down to zero or near zero, that means you'll see the page start displaying a bit earlier, but not having received much data in that short interval, you'll have a lot more paint and reflow cycles to complete rendering of the page.

New features we expect to see in Firefox 1.1 include, better Macintosh integration, Safari and Mac profile migrators, a revised options window, and hundreds of performance and stability releated bug fixes. Mozilla also plans to include a new "Sanitize" option button, which would let users instantly clear all personal information from the browser cache.

Interested in testing the absolute latest Firefox code? Individuals like Moox and Neowin's own bangbang023 compile the latest Firefox code every night. Bugs found in these builds can be submitted to Mozilla using "Bugzilla", in an effort to make the next release of Firefox better for everyone. (These nightly builds are not intended for data-sensitive environments)

View: Firefox 2.0 Roadmap | MozillaZine | Firefox Wikipedia Entry | "MozWiki" Site

View: Mozilla Developer Blogs (Asa Doltzer) | Ben Goodger

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Yup...


Firefox 1.1 (Dubbed "Deer Park" ) is slated for release in March of this year, and will be the end result of the post 1.0 "Aviary Branch - Trunk" merge.