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Firefox 3 in Alpha 2

Mozilla is stepping up its development effort for the next version of its flagship Firefox Web browser.

Though still many months away from a final release, Firefox 3.0, code-named Gran Paradiso, has now hit Alpha 2. Mozilla developers have been at work on Gran Paradiso since the release of Firefox 2.0.

Among the changes in new version will be a shift to the Cairo 2-D graphics library from Firefox 2.0's gfx graphics infrastructure.

Alpha 2, according to the release notes, also includes rewritten core layout code affecting the calculation of widths in tables, floats, and absolutely positioned elements have been rewritten. Incremental page-handling layout rendering has also been reworked.

Compliance with the ACID2 test is also closer with this new release. ACID2 is based on W3C standards that ensure compliance with existing Web standards. Surprisingly very few browsers have been entirely compliant with either ACID2 or its predecessor.

Part of the Alpha 2's compliance comes by way of more complete support for the CSS 2.1 standard by implementing both the inline-block and inline-table display values.

Firefox 3 Alpha 2 is considered to be a development preview, and Mozilla warns that it is an, "unsupported incomplete release of in-progress work on the Gecko rendering engine with no front-end improvements. It is not guaranteed to not crash, cause data loss or mangle your data in any other way."

Alpha 3 is set for developer release on March 19, with the final Firefox 3.0 release not expected until at least November.