RealTime IT News

Mozilla Swims With 'SeaMonkey' Browser

By Sean Michael Kerner

The minds behind the Mozilla Web browser have taken to fixing bugs in it's latest version 1.6 (code-named SeaMonkey) released late Thursday.

The platform from the Mountain View, Calif.-based consortium competes with Microsoft's dominant Internet Explorer browser, which needs a handful of patches against a critical exploit that was discovered in November.

In contrast, Mozilla's latest release builds on version 1.5, which was let loose back in October 2003.

"A lot of crash bugs and some security-related issues were fixed," Mozilla QA volunteer Simon Paquet told internetnews.com. "Hundreds of other bugs were also fixed. So 1.6 should be faster, more stable, and more secure."

According to Mozilla Foundation statistics cited by Pacquet, the page load times for Mozilla 1.6 went down between approximately 6 and 8 percent.

"Even the developers who did the coding were quite surprised how their changes turned out," Pacquet said. "They didn't expect these pretty huge gains they had expected only a 2 to 3 percent decrease in page load time."

The latest Mozilla release includes a number of significant new features and enhancements. Of particular note to corporate users is Mozilla 1.6's new cross-platform NTLM (Windows NT LAN Manager) authentication mechanism.

According to Pacquet, The authentication features of the LAN Manager allows for significant level of control in a corporate intranet allowing administrators to restrict the viewing of certain sites to certain departments. "So the marketing department cannot view the intranet pages of the financial department for example," he said.

Of note to developers is the new View Source dialog window that now has reload functionality. "If you develop for sites with a dynamic layout (because their contents come directly from a database) its a pretty nice improvement, "Pacquet told internetnews.com

Other notable features include the addition of a "Translate Page" functionality and Ask Jeeves search support. In addition vCard support has been added to the Mozilla Mail component of the 1.6 release.

The Mozilla Foundation split from Netscape back in July. Since then, the Foundation has introduced such novel browser concepts as tabbed browsing and an integrated pop-up blocker.

The future for Mozilla development can be seen in its Firebird and Thunderbird applications, which represent the next, leap forward in browser and mail capabilities for the foundation. According to Mozilla volunteer Alexander Hirzel, over the next few releases Firebird and Thunderbird will replace their corresponding applications in Seamonkey

"This will bring a modern and speedy touch to Seamonkey, which itself is derived from Netscape," Hirzel told internetnews.com.

"With the release of Mozilla 1.6, we continue to build momentum and offer a greater number of users a choice and the power to make the Web a fun place again," said Mozilla volunteer Asa Dotzler.