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).
For developers, the acclaimed Firebug and Console2 have been nominated.
Support for offline web applications has also been proposed. If done, this could mean the start of a new generation of applications. Picture this: You are online and access your favorite web mail application (be it Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, Zimbra). It tells Firefox that it can synchronize data on reconnection, so the web application pushes Firefox the necessary bits. You are now offline and need to check or send an email, so you load Firefox, “visit” your web mail application, write an email and quit. The next time you are online, synchronization happens, your email is retrieved from Firefox storage and sent.
Chris Double, a Mozilla Corporation contractor, already has a working demo on how would this work with open source web application, Zimbra.
Functionality wise, this is nothing new as you can do this with Thunderbird any day but it’s a great leap for web applications as it eliminates the need to be online to use a certain application, a major disadvantage. And, since the technologies behind offline applications are based on WHATWG standards, this could be supported by other browsers as well, keeping interoperability on sight.
Another backend feature in the works is cross site XMLHTTPRequest support. XMLHTTPRequest is the core of Ajax, a set of technologies that enable cool things like Mozilla Link’s polls: you vote or can see the results without having the whole page refreshed but just the necessary portion. As it is today, only mozillalinks.org/ can request the results that way because the requestor and the requested resource have to be both in the same site. Cross site XMLHTTPRequest, could allow for example other sites to feature the same poll and results with properly granted permissions.
There is pretty serious stuff going around in engineering and web developers and users can expect big improvements in the mid term. Memory leaks are not being oversighted and product quality procedures and metrics are also being reviewed and discussed. In the meantime bookmarks has been reported to be on track for its inclusion in Places for Alpha 3 expected on early March.
Also a first draft schedule should be available soon which will give an idea of the next Firefox 3 development milestones releases.