Mozilla 1.2 Beta Emerges

The lizard crowd over at Mozilla Wednesday released its latest beta version of is open source Web browser.

Version 1.2 is expected to add about a dozen changes and fixes including link “prefetching,” a native GTK theme and HTML form controls and Java compatibility with Mac OS 10.2 (Jaguar).

The Mountain View, Calif.-based open-source project has been steadily rolling out weekly and nightly builds since the version 1.0 made its debut and was amended in version 1.1.

Mozilla is not a consumer product designed to compete with Microsoft Internet Explorer, Netscape Navigator or Opera but a set of appliances and application development framework for Web enabled content. It’s novel in that it works with Windows, Macintosh and Linux.

Among the more interesting changes is link “prefetching,” a browser mechanism, which uses browser idle time to download or prefetch documents that the user might visit in the near future. The release notes explain that a Web page provides a set of prefetching hints to the browser, and after the browser is finished loading the page, it begins silently prefetching specified documents and stores them in its cache.

When the user clicks on a link, or initiates any kind of page load, link prefetching will stop and any prefetch hints will be discarded. If a prefetched document is partially downloaded, then the partial document will still be stored in the cache provided the server sent an “Accept-Ranges: bytes” response header. This header is typically generated by Web servers when serving up static content. When the user visits a prefetched document for real, the remaining portion of the document will be fetched using a HTTP byte-range request.

Mozilla 1.2 will also offer “filter after the fact” mail. This add-on allows users to create a filter and then run that filter on already downloaded mail. Filter logging is also part of the new software.

Some of the other new features include the ability to launch the browser with a bookmark group as your start page; loading loads several pages into tabs at startup. The long requested feature – show toolbars as text/icons/both – has also been added.

Phoenix, the redesign of the Mozilla browser component, is also coming up on another change next week. The platform is similar to Galeon, K-Meleon and Chimera but written using the XUL user interface language.

“Lucia”, or Version 0.3, was unveiled on Monday and includes image blocking, popup whitelist, a “go” menu, tabbing and bookmark changes, and the usual slew of bugfixes and tweaks.

Version 0.4 is targeted for an October 21, 2002 release with the goal of some bookmark and sidebar fixes, along with further polishing.

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