Software and Other Mysteries

On code and productivity with a dash of unicorn dust.

What's Coming in

I guess most of you might have seen the mockups for the UI redesign planned for Firefox (Mac, Windows and Linux). It’s about time something was done about it, not because it’s currently ugly per se, just not as good-looking as the opposition. I though I’d give you a break-down of some other changes we can look forward to in the next milestone for the best browser in the world (now pay up Mozilla!).

According to the Mozilla wiki, the first beta will be released tomorrow, but after running the nightlies I have my doubts about it. In any case it seems unlikely we get to admire the overhauled UI in the very near feature. The nightly releases includes a choice to move the tabs on top, however it looks really crappy at the moment (none of that Safari 4 beta goodness which Apple gaveth and tooketh) and besides that I haven’t noticed any design changes.

Another feature that’s missing from the alpha but which is likely to make an entrance in the final product is Jetpack, a new plugin architecture based on web standards. Jetpack is supposed to be more lightweight and won’t require a restart to start working.

Mac-users out there should all rejoice! Out-of-process-plugins are coming to us as well, a feature brought to Windows and Linux users with release 3.6.4. It has been said that version 4.0 would bring full tab process separation, however it seems to me it’s been rather quite on that front lately, so my guess is OOPP will have to do for now as it takes care of a large portion of the crashes. Though as we are moving away from plugins and towards standardized formats such as WebGL, JavaScript and HTML5, I do believe separating tab processes is inevitable.

Oh, and more UI updates! The add-on manager has been moved from an annoying dialog to a super-sexy tab. Well, a tab at least. Some work still remains, but it looks good and I personally appreciate the tabbed approach. Enter about:addons in the location bar and - bam! Speaking of the the Awesome Bar, a neat little feature that has been added is Switch-to-tab. For those of us having trouble keeping track of all open tabs, it’s not unusual to open up the same page twice. Now the Awesome Bar will also search your open tabs and allow you to simply switch to another tab.

For web developers, I’d say the most influential features are the additions of WebM video format, WebGL, CSS transitions, better HTML5 support, Web Sockets and IndexedDB. As usual it will take some time until we can actually make good use of these additions for most sites, but the first step must always be taken by the browser developers.

My hope is that we will also see the integration of Mozilla Sync, previously called Weave, the syncing application which along with Firefox Mobile and Firefox Home will really help spread the Mozilla love across platforms.

EDIT: The previously mentioned Account Manager seems way cooler than I originally thought! Basically it will allow the browser to handle registrations on sites.

I am not in any way affiliated with Mozilla, and since Firefox 4.0 hasn’t even reached beta yet, much could still happen. I do, however, hope this made you as excited as I am about!