To start off with the topic, I am not a Firefox lover. Instead, I am an Opera fan and I love my Opera browsers (Opera on my desktop & Opera Mini on my phone). But yes, I like the browser business and always go on to check out the new features when a new version of any browser comes out. Uh! Wait! The browser business I am talking about here is only the major browsers (IE, Firefox, Opera, Safari, Netscape - or is it way too old now). Should I include Opera Mini too?
I always try hard to keep a copy of the latest versions of some (well, I should say that) of these browsers and occasionally (actually more than occasionally) use them for my browsing needs, specially for testing purposes of my web development projects.
Recently, the Firefox team released a beta of its upcoming Firefox 3. I was keen to check out the beta and after some days of busy schedules I managed to grab a look at the feature log. I was lucky to have a detailed explanation of each new feature. But believe it or not, as I read through the feature list I couldn't stop saying one word. "Copy Cat!" Don't offend me for that. That is just a handy word I use for people (or even things) that copy others.
So let me give you a little bit of details. Here are the new features that Firefox 3 beta has. Below is the release notes of Firefox 3 beta 1 and I have included my comments in green (No! Not red. Green is my favorite. May be because of that I have folders called "Green" instead of "Misc", in my email accounts )
What's New in Firefox 3 Beta 1
Firefox 3 Beta 1 is based on the new Gecko 1.9 Web rendering platform, which has been under development for the past 27 months and includes nearly 2 million lines of code changes, fixing more than 11,000 issues. Gecko 1.9 includes some major re-architecting for performance, stability, correctness, and code simplification and sustainability. Firefox 3 has been built on top of this new platform resulting in a more secure, easier to use, more personal product with a lot under the hood to offer website and Firefox add-on developers.
- More Security
- One click site info: Click the site favicon in the location bar to see who owns the site. Identity verification is prominently displayed and easier to understand. In later versions, Extended Validation SSL certificate information will be displayed. (In Opera we have a question mark at the end of address bar for the exact same feature.)
- Malware Protection: malware protection warns users when they arrive at sites which are known to install viruses, spyware, trojans or other malware. You can test it here (note: our blacklist of malware sites is not yet activated). (That's a great feature.)
- New Web Forgery Protection page: the content of pages suspected as web forgeries is no longer shown. You can test it here. (This is called fraud protection, in Opera. Implimented since Opera 9.01.)
- New SSL error pages: clearer and stricter error pages are used when Firefox encounters an invalid SSL certificate. (A part of fraud protection, in Opera.)
- Add-ons and Plugin version check: Firefox now automatically checks add-on and plugin versions and will disable older, insecure versions. (This is indeed revolutionary.)
- Secure add-on updates: to improve add-on update security, add-ons that provide updates in an insecure manner will be disabled. (I am wondering! Is this simply https?)
- Anti-virus integration: Firefox will inform anti-virus software when downloading executables. (Haha! Is there any browser on earth which can hide files from anti-virus softwares while downloading to hard disk? Then, what does integration mean?)
- Vista Parental Controls: Firefox now respects the Vista system-wide parental control setting for disabling file downloads. (Yea, yea! Firefox loves Vista. Not to blame IE.)
- Easier to Use
- Easier password management: an information bar replaces the old password dialog so you can now save passwords after a successful login. (So, Firefox started saving my passwords to memory without my approval?)
- Simplified add-on installation: the add-ons whitelist has been removed making it possible to install extensions from third-party sites in fewer clicks. (Wow! That's more Open Source now!)
- New Download Manager: the revised download manager makes it much easier to locate downloaded files. (In addition to this, Opera even has the native Windows context menu for downloaded items.)
- Resumable downloading: users can now resume downloads after restarting the browser or resetting your network connection. (I am yet to test what if Firefox crashed during a download. Opera does a perfect job here. Not only I can recover, but I can resume downloads even If I mistakenly pulled off the power cable.)
- Full page zoom: from the View menu and via keyboard shortcuts, the new zooming feature lets you zoom in and out of entire pages, scaling the layout, text and images. (That's what we call copying. Opera has had this since version 8.)
- Tab scrolling and quickmenu: tabs are easier to locate with the new tab scrolling and tab quickmenu. (Another copy!)
- Save what you were doing: Firefox will prompt users to save tabs on exit. (Yet another copy!)
- Optimized Open in Tabs behavior: opening a folder of bookmarks in tabs now appends the new tabs rather than overwriting. (Again!)
- Location and Search bar size can now be customized with a simple resizer item. (This is perhaps one feature I am missing in Opera.)
- Text selection improvements: Multiple text selections can be made with Ctrl/Cmd; Double-click drag selects in "word-by-word" mode; Triple-clicking selects a paragraph. (Copy Cat!)
- Find toolbar: the Find toolbar now opens with the current selection.
- Plugin management: users can disable individual plugins in the Add-on Manager. (Ooh! I am yet to see this.)
- Integration with Vista: Firefox's menus now display using Vista's native theme. (I told you! Huh!)
- Integration with the Mac: Firefox now uses the OS X spellchecker and supports Growl for notifications of completed downloads and available updates. (Good step!)
- More Personal
- Star button: quickly add bookmarks from the location bar with a single click; a second click lets you file and tag them. (Is this a replication from the Firefox child - Flock?)
- Tags: associate keywords with your bookmarks to sort them by topic. (We call it "nick names", in Opera.)
- Location bar & auto-complete: type the title or tag of a page in the location bar to quickly find the site you were looking for in your history; favicons, bookmark, and tag indicators help you see where results are coming from. (Copy, copy, copy!)
- Smart Places Folder: quickly access your recently bookmarked and tagged pages, as well as you more frequently visited pages with the new smart places folder on your bookmark toolbar. (???)
- Bookmarks and History Organizer: advanced search of your history and bookmarks with multiple views and smart folders to store your frequent searches. (Opera is well known for this.)
- Web-based protocol handlers: web applications, such as your favorite webmail provider, can now be used instead of desktop applications for handling mailto: links from other sites. Similar support is available for other protocols (Web applications will have to first enable this by registering as handlers with Firefox). (Are they copying IE too? IE had this from 6.0 - If I am not wrong.)
- Easy to use Download Actions: a new Applications preferences pane provides a better UI for configuring handlers for various file types and protocol schemes. (Again, a copy!)
- Improved Platform for Developers
- New graphics and font handling: new graphics and text rendering architectures in Gecko 1.9 provides rendering improvements in CSS, SVG as well as improved display of fonts with ligatures and complex scripts. (Yes, that's real improvements.)
- Native Web page forms: HTML forms on Web pages now have a native look and feel on Mac OS X and Linux (Gnome) desktops. (Good!)
- Color management: (set gfx.color_management.enabled on in about:config and restart the browser to enable.) Firefox can now adjust images with embedded color profiles. (Hahahahhahahahahahah! I just can't stop laughing. Even the Opera Mini on my mobile phone has this feature.)
- Offline support: enables web applications to provide offline functionality (website authors must add support for offline browsing to their site for this feature to be available to users). (That's great! People have been waiting for this. Specially us, web developers.)
- Improved Performance
- Reliability: A user's bookmarks, history, cookies, and preferences are now stored in a transactionally secure database format which will prevent data loss even if their system crashes. (What does that mean? Can somebody explain?)
- Speed: Major architectural changes (such as the move to Cairo and a rewrite to how reflowing a page layout works) put foundations in place for major performance tuning which have resulted in speed increases in Beta 1, and will show further gains in future Beta releases. (Great!)
- Memory usage: Over 300 individual memory leaks have been plugged, and a new XPCOM cycle collector completely eliminates many more. Developers are continuing to work on optimizing memory use (by releasing cached objects more quickly) and reducing fragmentation. (I am afraid, I will choose IE! How many more memory leaks does Firefox have?)
I have no more lines to write and thus I shall end the article.