Extensions and more proposals for Firefox 3

Firefox 3 development keeps going on and more details of what features are at least being considered for inclusion keep appearing as well.

A major topic is the revision of some currently available extensions for their possible inclusion in Firefox 3. The list of candidates includes Print Hint (a printable version notifier), URL Fixer (web address typos) and Table Sort (sort and filter web tables).

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More details on Firefox 3 planned features

During this and last week Mozilla developers and drivers had a run of meetings to discuss Product Requirement Document (PRD, a list of what Firefox 3 should include) released some weeks ago.

Requirements have been shuffled, some added, some removed and most, better defined.

Regarding Gecko more tweaks for better standards support have been confirmed. Most notably, the option to save documents as PDFs is still present and even more, it is targeted for Firefox 3 Alpha 3 (expected for March 19). According to the meeting notes this functionality is already available in Macs, though I am not clear if it refers to Mac OS X PDF virtual printer or true Firefox provided PDF export. Windows Vista (Business Edition at least) already includes an XPS (Microsoft’s alternative to PDF) virtual printer, but PDF should remain the main document exchange format for years to come, so I am eagerly looking forward for the progress of this particular feature.

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Firefox 3 Alpha 2 released

Gran Paradiso logoThe Mozilla project has released the second alpha of Gran Paradiso. Like Alpha 1 it is not much about Firefox but a testing vehicle for a large number of changes to the underlying Gecko rendering engine.

Some important changes have occured that affect the rendering of partially downloaded content (XML and wbe pages as well) and the calculation of particular dimensions and positions of web pages elements. Enhanced support for Mac widgets and the new Cairo rendering engine is included as well.

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Planned features for Firefox 3

In today’s Firefox 3 (code name Gran Paradiso) meeting, developers released a preliminary list of requirements for Firefox 3. The new target release date is sometime in the third quarter this year.

Among the list of mandatory requirements, read, what is the most likely to be included in Firefox 3 we have:

  • Improved interaction with Add-ons: clearer, more coherent language; less steps to install; more visible way to configure add-ons, probably to be moved back to the general Options window, which I hope deeply; more noticeable alerts when updates are available; a permanent restart Firefox button.
  • Support for remote bookmarks, bookmarks and history annotation.
  • Files could be handled by web services. If I am reading this correctly, this could mean you would be able to click on an attached document and open it with something like Writely or Google Documents. And perhaps, as I asked Santa, the ability to redirect mailto: links to web email services.
  • A much needed print support to prevent cut paragraphs and true WYSIWYG.
  • The much requested MSI installer which will be a much welcomed improvement for IT administrators as it will ease deployment and updating of Firefox across a company.
  • In the security front: support for Microsoft CardSpace and OpenID (check tomorrow’s article for more coverage on this). Smarter credentials handling.
  • Airbag, the Google backed open source crash reporting tool will replace currently licensed TalkBack.

Among the highly desirable requirements:

  • A private web browsing mode. I guess this would mean no cache, history, password or entered form information storage.
  • Save web pages as PDF files, integrated with history. That would be just awesome.
  • Support pause/resume downloads across sessions.
  • Make Firefox help accessible only while online. Not sure how good and idea this is.
  • Microformats support.

Nice to have:

  • Unified bookmarks/history. Does this mean no Places?
  • Support for Windows Vista parental controls. I really hope this one goes up in the priority list. This would be the first concrete downer for Firefox when confronted with Internet Explorer 7.
  • Tab grouping and expose. This sounds like Internet Explorer 7 Quick Tabs or the foxPose extension.
  • Windows Group Policy. Another blessing for IT administrators.
  • Allow add-ons to be installed without rebooting Firefox.
  • Simplified interface to manage downloads. Can it be simpler? Maybe exposing commands currently placed in the context menu.

You can read the complete Firefox 3 requirements at Mozilla Wiki.

Firefox 3 Alpha 1 released, yes it matters

The first development release of Firefox 3, code name Gran Paradiso, is now available for testing, and against what I previously thought this release actually matters.

It happens that the main improvement here is not to the Firefox user interface or functionality but to the underlying Gecko rendering engine, responsible for proper presentation of web documents in Firefox, Thunderbird, NVU, Sunbird, Netscape, Flock and a number of other Gecko based products. Gecko 1.8.1 is what comes with Firefox 2.0 and the next major version will be Gecko 1.9 which is included in this alpha. It has been in development for more than one year now and developers want to test it as soon as possible since its a very large update. Continue reading Firefox 3 Alpha 1 released, yes it matters