Mozilla outlines development plans for Firefox in 2012

Mozilla has been releasing new versions of its Firefox web browser at a more rapid pace over the past year and it sounds like the organization will be adding even more features to future versions of Firefox. In a blog post this week, written by Mozilla Technical Evangelist Robert Nyman, he not only goes over what new features have been added to Firefox in 2011 but also details plans for new features in 2012.

One thing that will change, at least for Firefox users, is the importance of version numbers. Nyman writes:

Version numbers will play a lesser and lesser role for users, but they will still matter to web developers, IT administrators and similar. The reason for having major version number bumps (e.g. version 6 to 7, 7 to 8, etc) is that new versions have had cases of non-backward compatible APIs, and the version number have been there to signal that it is not a minor release or maintenance update. From a branding perspective, it will likely more go into being just Firefox, and that versioning will be more transparent.

The plans for additional features in 2012 include some that have already been put into Firefox 11, such as add-on sync. One big upcoming feature is for silent updates to the browser. This feature is slated to begin with Firefox 13 and will basically download updates to the browser in the background.

As far as Firefox web platform updates, 2012 will add features such as WebRTC, which will let two web browsers exchange full audio, video and data communication. Nyman states, "The implications of this are huge and it will enable a lot of interesting real-time communication solutions, richer web games and overall take the web to the next level!" Other changes in the works include improving Web App support and allowing the PC mouse to be used as a controller.

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Google to start offering real answers to search results

Next Story

Office 15 to allow for third-party web extensions known as 'Agaves'

19 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

I don't care what any of you all say. A number is just a number Im glad we can finally be getting the latest changes and features quicker.

Totalaero said,
I don't care what any of you all say. A number is just a number Im glad we can finally be getting the latest changes and features quicker.

How does the version number have anything to do with getting releases quicker? Nothing has really changed except the version numbers have gone from point releases to major releases. We're not really getting new features though, just minor backend updates and changes. Firefox 11 looks just like Firefox 4.

TRC said,

How does the version number have anything to do with getting releases quicker? Nothing has really changed except the version numbers have gone from point releases to major releases. We're not really getting new features though, just minor backend updates and changes. Firefox 11 looks just like Firefox 4.


Rant mode activated. It grinds my gears when somebody compares different versions of a software product based on the differences within the GUI - if this was essential to the product's productivity and was un-customisable then fair enough. Firefox though is very customisable in this respect and it doesn't apply [I may have read your intended meaning wrong]. Also, due to the new fast release schedule, GUI updates have been landing, just one step at a time now.

I would hardly say that there are minor backend changes - version 7 changed Firefox from memory leak browser of the year to Firefox equaling or, in many cases, using less than the competing browsers. There have also been huge Javascript, CSS and HTML5 support/optimisation improvements. I think Totalaero was saying that a number doesn't matter - he/she is glad that we have some new features every 6 weeks unlike the old unpredictable release schedule where it could be weeks, months or even years until a new release (*cough* 2.x->3.x / 3.6->4.0 *cough*).

I wasn't a fan of this new release schedule until Mozilla finally got a proper LTS/ESR plan going - now I find it awesome to be able to have the option of a solid LTS or having new features/improvements every 6 weeks.

Has anyone tried Waterfox? It is a 64 bit version of Firefox and it is AWESOME!!!! It is very fast and stable. Just google it. I do however prefer Chrome to Firefox.

I guess I just don't like UI changes after 3.6 which is why I don't have it installed any more. I used to like Firefox.

I love to use Firefox because of its functions, not higher the version number is.
Please stop this childish action of chasing for version number.

zikalify said,
Gaaaahhhhh stfu bout version numbers NOBODY cares, if they do go and jump on ff ESR bandwagon and shut up

Actually the people talking about versions care about version numbers

hmm.. i noticed that the firefox development team has become more outspoken about their process and progress. what changed?

I think the reason reason they rapidly changed the version numbers is because that is what Google has done with Chrome. I kind of lost a bit of respect for Firefox when that happened it made the numbers meaningless and now they are going to abandon the numbers entirely and just go with "Firefox".

They should just focus on making a great browser and not focusing on their competitors version numbers.

The_Decryptor said,
By "dropping" the version number, that's exactly what they're doing.

They didn't need to drop it, just go back to how it used to be where the version numbers were important and stayed around for more than a month.

OK, I'll try one more time.

The rapid release schedule / idea in Firefox may very well have been sparked by Google. It's probably no coincidence Mozilla followed Google's lead as quickly as they did. And yes, such a release schedule makes versions more apparently "meaningless".

However, this is also the point.

Versions were meaningless earlier too. If this change in pace had never happened - what would a Firefox 5 have had? No freaking idea, for as long as Mozilla didn't show us the plans. Why? Because version numbers were already meaningless. They NEVER told us anything. What did Microsoft do from IE 5 to 6? Not much. What did they do from IE 6 to 7? Far more. Why? Because version numbers are useless and arbitrary. What's the difference between WinRAR 2 and 3? Well, OK, let me just go visit rarlabs.com to check...

People complaining Firefox should use a 4.x numbering system. Well, when should Mozilla bump it to 5? What defines a major release? Answer: Nothing does. There's no versioning law.

Versions. Arbitrary even before this.

So what we have here isn't a change in how useful the versions are. They didn't tell us anything before either. They were just numbers, often set for marketing reasons. We only have a change in pace. Why was the pace changed? To bump version numbers rapidly? No, why would they do that? Version numbers were already useless, even before. It'd be like inflating a useless currency. Chrome 1 was far more impressive than IE 6. Useless.

No, the pace was increased so that Google and Mozilla won't have to wait for feature X to finish to make a release due to some arbitrary release plan decided on at some meeting. Feature X might be something useless that you don't even care about, such as "Hardware composition of CSS layers on Linux" or "Finish sandboxing model on OS X".

So let's uncouple the release system from the features! Let's no longer connect version bumps to release plans. Let's just release browsers at a set schedule, so users get the features as soon as they are done instead of forcing them to wait another year for the next release because a feature missed a release window. Another bonus: They remove marketing out of the picture. It's today possible to calculate when a future version will be released with a formula.

What this new system in reality does, is giving users features they earlier had to wait for more quickly. I'm not sure why people complain about numbers when the numbers were already useless before, or the quick pace, when the benefits are so great.

tl;dr - No. It's people who whine and have no patience that need to read this the most.

Edited by Northgrove, Mar 15 2012, 11:57am :

It always amazes me that people readily scribble whole essays on why their understanding of things is the only right one and the rest "just do not understand". Even though I sometimes do it myself.

I have a right to my opinion that you have no right to your opinion.

Vice said,
I think the reason reason they rapidly changed the version numbers is because that is what Google has done with Chrome. I kind of lost a bit of respect for Firefox when that happened it made the numbers meaningless and now they are going to abandon the numbers entirely and just go with "Firefox".

They should just focus on making a great browser and not focusing on their competitors version numbers.

Much agreed. I recently switched to Chrome because there is no more value with all the recent Firefox releases. It seems like nothing truely important has been done with the browser, even though I highly recommended it above IE9. Plus it seems like each newer version that gets released uses more memory than the last. I used to get alerts from AVG telling me that Firefox is using 650mb or more while I'm doing my daily surfing. With Chrome I don't generally get these alerts and if I do its from using Flash games and its only 250mb or so.