Firefox 3.0 Already?

Mozilla is pushing ahead on work and planning for its next two major browser
releases, Firefox 3.0 and 4.0. Firefox 2.0 was just released yesterday.

Firefox 3.0 is currently being developed under the code name Gran
Paradiso and the current alpha release is code-named Minefield.

Click on the graphic for a larger view

The Firefox 3 release is currently scheduled for sometime in the first
quarter of 2007 and will pick up on some of the features where Firefox 2.0
left off.

One of those items is something called “Places,” which is a replacement for
Mozilla’s bookmarks and history system. It was originally scheduled to
debut in Firefox 2.0 but got left out since it wasn’t complete.

“Bookmarks and history really haven’t changed in many many years but the way
in which we use the Web and the size of the Web itself has changed
dramatically in that same time period,” Mozilla’s vice president for
engineering, Mike Schroepfer, told

“There is
definitely a lot of room for innovation on that side of the browser.”

Firefox 3.0 will also get a complete overhaul of its graphics capabilities.
Mozilla’s gfx graphics infrastructure will be replaced with the Cairo 2-D
graphics library

“We’ve also been working in collaboration with another open source project
called Cairo which is a graphics subsystem for KDE and a couple of other
things,” Schroepfer explained.

“We’ve been integrating that into the browser
to really prepare for the expectations that people have for really high
performance rich graphical applications with transparency and translucency
and taking advantage of the latest graphics hardware.”

A side effect of moving away from gfx to Cairo is that Firefox 3 will not
support Windows 95, 98 or ME. Only Windows 2000 users and newer will be
able to run Firefox 3.0.

While Firefox 2.0 introduces the JavaScript 1.7 engine, Schroepfer noted
that it’s his hope that some further implementation of the JavaScript engine
will show up in Firefox 3.0.

“We’re always looking at improving core standards supports, so CSS and
rendering,” Schroepfer said. “There is lots of exciting work going on
under the hood.

Mozilla has even gone so far as to enlist its community of users to help
come up with features for Firefox 3.0 and beyond on a heavily traffic Feature Brainstorming page on the Mozilla wiki.

Firefox 3.0 and 4.0 will also mark new departures for Mozilla’s core Gecko code
base. Both Firefox 1.5.x and Firefox 2.0 are based on the 1.8 Gecko code

Firefox 3.0 will be based on the new Mozilla Gecko code trunk branch 1.9.
Firefox 4 is likely to based on the as yet un-started Mozilla Gecko 2.0
code trunk.

In a recent blog posting Mozilla CTO and creator of the JavaScript language
Brendan Eich wrote that the goal for Mozilla 2.0 is to make the codebase
smaller, faster and easier to approach and maintain.

Among the changes Eich hopes to have for Gecko 2.0 is a JIT-oriented
JavaScript VM (just in time [jit] VM [virtual machine]). The new VM could
have the effect of dramatically improving AJAX performance in

The Mozilla Gecko 2.0 codebase is also being planned by Eich to be more
secure than its predecessors. In his view program security is inherently
weak in all browsers implemented in languages such as C and C++.

“Security requires defense at every level of abstraction, from high-level JS
[JavaScript] that enforces confidentiality properties, down to buffer
manipulations that should be provably memory-safe,” Eich wrote.

“I’m intent on moving the Mozilla codebase to a true next level: cleaner,
leaner, safer, with better APIs and C++ bindings, and very fast page-load
and DOM performance,” Eich added.

“While this is easier said than done, it is palpably within our reach for 2008. Let’s do it.”

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