Firefox 3.6 on November, focus on Personas and responsiveness

The initial plan for Firefox 3.6 (code named Namoroka) originally aimed for including pieces of Personas, Ubiquity (a command line in the location bar), Jetpack (light extensions), and Prism (ability to make web applications more desktop friendly), but when a few weeks ago, Firefox development team decided for a quick update (later this year) rather than a new year-long development cycle, it was clear not all would get in on time.

Namoroka roadmap has been updated and it shows the focus will be on making it feel snappier when performing some common tasks like opening a new tab, launching Firefox, scrolling a web page, getting autocomplete and location bar suggestions, etc.

It was also confirmed that it will integrate the Personas add-on that allows quick and easy look customization by adding a pair of images as backgrounds for the toolbars. Launched in final form a few months ago, GetPersonas.com, Mozilla’s official personas repository, reports over 25,000 contributed skins, including a Harry Potters’ set released by Warner Bros. itself.

Among other features, better form autocomplete and location bars are almost done in Alpha 1, released last week.

Surprisingly, the roadmap doesn’t mention any Windows 7 integration improvement, specifically JumpLists and Aero Peek, which would be greatly appreciated by the millions of user (like me) who will jump into the OS update when it comes out in October 22.

Firefox 3.6 Beta 1 is already targeted for early September, with a second one to follow later that month. By this time all UI changes and updates, including Personas integration should have happened. Release candidates are expected to go out in October, to meet a targeted final release some time in November.

If the roadmap is followed (or even slightly delayed), it will become the fastest development cycle for Firefox: all previous major updates have taken about a year, except for Firefox 3 which took a year and a half.

Among the features that have been phased out for the next release are the mentioned Mozilla Labs’ extensions integration (Ubiquity, Jetpack, and Prisim), said Windows 7 support, site preferences accessible from the site button, better file uploading, and a few second priority including helpful new tabs, about:me for personal web browsing analysis, identity management support (OpenID likely), and file management capabilities from the downloads manager.

There’s still no word on what release will take these feature, but most likely it will be Firefox 3.7, tentatively targeted for mid-next year. Another major feature for 3.7 will be the deep Windows theme updates shown a few weeks ago, which will make it look much more native.

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