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Firefox Mozilla Upgrades News

Firefox 4 Will Be One Generation Ahead 341

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the that-sounds-a-bit-vague dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Mozilla's Chris Blizzard talks about the rising competition by Google Chrome, the evolution of the web platform and the prospects for WebM. He also promises that Firefox 4 will be 'one generation ahead' of other browsers in relation to Javascript speed."
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Firefox 4 Will Be One Generation Ahead

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  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Wednesday August 18, 2010 @09:38AM (#33287282)

    Look, I *love* Firefox. I use it pretty much exclusively myself. Nothing can touch add-ons like NoScript, AdBlock, etc. (and most of my add-ons and their associated functionality can't be found on Chrome, Opera, etc.). But if they think that Google, who provides [techcrunch.com] about 85% of Mozilla's total revenue, is going to sit back and let them take the technical lead over Chrome, they're nuts. And speed has always been one of Chrome's few positive qualities over Firefox.

    Not only that, but Mozilla can't afford [osnews.com] to license h264. And that already puts them behind on HTML5. I am hoping that either html5 never catches on, the other browsers all agree to an open format (like WebM), or there is some kind of flash-player type add-on made for Firefox to support h264. But without one of those, Firefox is (sadly) already in a rough spot for the next gen.

    And I say all that as someone who hates the idea of giving up my Firefox and having to get my browser from an increasingly-evil Google, an already evil Microsoft, or a closed-off Opera. If I wanted evil and closed, I would have bought an iPad, not a netbook.

    • by Ethanol-fueled (1125189) * on Wednesday August 18, 2010 @09:43AM (#33287336) Homepage Journal
      From the summary:

      He also promises that Firefox 4 will be "one generation ahead" of other browsers in relation to Javascript speed."

      The browser vendors' fetishistic obsession with Javascript speed is most irritating.

      • by garcia (6573) on Wednesday August 18, 2010 @09:45AM (#33287392) Homepage

        The browser vendors' fetishistic obsession with Javascript speed is most irritating.

        I have mod points but I decided to respond instead... I agree with you, it is irritating especially when the browser's speeds themselves are miserable. Yay great, Chrome loads faster but I have random issues with plugins which affect my work (one of the plugins is disabling me from reading GMail messages) and AdBlock still doesn't work nearly as well as it does on Firefox for the sites I use most often.

        I wish Firefox would stop trying to compete in Javascript and go back to one of the biggest reasons they started the project: speed of the browser itself. That means it should open instantaneously and have low overhead--even with the usual plugins installed (AdBlock, NoScript, etc).

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          That should be modded up. I've about had it with lag and eventual shutdown of FF. After using for a few days with only a few windows open, FF eventually becomes so unresponsive that I've got to restart it. I mean, click a link and it's takes 4-5 seconds for FF to even start to do anything. Pages load fast, but then the cycle starts again. As an early adopter of FF, I'm now considering a switch to Chrome. Ugh.

        • by Calinous (985536)

          Also, the magic bar performance is very susceptible to hard drive slow downs (address bar takes forever to suggest history/bookmarks/... when a virus scan is in progress). Time to load might be long, but I only start Firefox once a day, so I don't really care.

          • by marsu_k (701360) on Wednesday August 18, 2010 @10:37AM (#33288196)
            Regarding the "awesome bar" (I really like the functionality, but loathe the name), the sqlite database can get fragmented over time. You might want to try this [lifehacker.com] ever now and then. Can make a world of difference, especially with slower computers/disks.
            • by Qzukk (229616) on Wednesday August 18, 2010 @10:54AM (#33288474) Journal

              The awesome bar is one of two things I miss after switching to Chrome. Chrome tries to pack too much into the URL dropdown (search history, suggestions, etc) without doing any of it well. For instance on Firefox, I can type Q[tab] and have my comments page up. sl[tab] is slashdot. c[tab] is my bank site. f[tab] is the firehose journal search I use. Just about any site I go to is four keystrokes max counting hitting enter to load the site. On chrome, I have to type sl[right arrow]/[down arrow][right arrow] to get to my comments page. Note that moving the hand between the arrow keys and the main keyboard adds extra effort. If I don't add the /, Chrome lists only list two options: slashdot.org and search google for slashdot.org.

              The other thing is Nuke Anything, which I can't find anything like it for Chrome. Useful for removing that floating div blocking the bottom right corner of every slashdot comments page.

        • by maxwell demon (590494) on Wednesday August 18, 2010 @10:06AM (#33287706) Journal

          Don't the extensions (at least the cross-platform ones) implement their functionality mostly in JavaScript? If so, then improving JavaScript speed would do very much to fulfil your wish.

        • by DrXym (126579)
          I wish Firefox would stop trying to compete in Javascript and go back to one of the biggest reasons they started the project: speed of the browser itself. That means it should open instantaneously and have low overhead--even with the usual plugins installed (AdBlock, NoScript, etc).

          Most of the application level behaviour (windows, buttons, menus etc.) *is* written in JS, CSS and XML. Improving the speed of JS (and the DOM / CSS / layout) has a direct impact on the speed of the browser.

        • by Fnkmaster (89084) on Wednesday August 18, 2010 @10:29AM (#33288058)

          Yes, yes, and double yes! Firefox *IS* faster than most other browsers in every part of browser performance that matters *except* Javascript speed. But yeah, browser load time and overhead, as well as initial rendering and scroll-rendering speed are all critical to the browser experience for me.

          I have tried Chrome 3 times now and every time I give up on it - mostly because I find scrolling performance on complex HTML pages to be distractingly bad. Firefox does not have this problem - it is zippy and smooth, at least on modern Core 2 Duo or better hardware. I gather that for lower end hardware, Webkit seems to do better.

          I know that on the 10% of websites with intensive Javascript code, Chrome will blow the pants off of Firefox right now, but this is not the primary use case of the web for me.

          • Yes, yes, and double yes! Firefox *IS* faster than most other browsers in every part of browser performance that matters *except* Javascript speed. But yeah, browser load time and overhead, as well as initial rendering and scroll-rendering speed are all critical to the browser experience for me.

            I have tried Chrome 3 times now and every time I give up on it - mostly because I find scrolling performance on complex HTML pages to be distractingly bad. Firefox does not have this problem - it is zippy and smooth, at least on modern Core 2 Duo or better hardware. I gather that for lower end hardware, Webkit seems to do better.

            I know that on the 10% of websites with intensive Javascript code, Chrome will blow the pants off of Firefox right now, but this is not the primary use case of the web for me.

            Agreed. Chrome and Safari have the worst scroll-rendering performance of any browser. Safari is the slower of those two. Even on a lot of Javascript-heavy pages where certain functions are much faster in Chrome, the experience is often better in Firefox if any scrolling is required. Opera excels in rendering/scroll rendering speeds and even IE is refreshingly fast compared to the Webkit browsers. JS speed is okay, but I won't use a fast JS browser that isn't fit to render html.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by smash (1351)

            With the increasing prevelance of web-apps, I'd argue that Javascript performance is critical.

            I've not experienced any slow scrolling problems in chrome, used it on everything from a core2 1.8 duo mac mini, an old pentium D 930 win7 box, and a variety of Core2/i5/i7 laptops...

        • Agreed. Also, as the man says,

          Firefox is a browser platform which is extremely extensible across a broad range of interfaces, you can touch a lot of things inside the browser.

          Extremely extensible - but do we need it? I'm not sure XUL buys us all that much, in common usage, but it certainly slows things down. It would be nice to go back to a small, lightweght, fast browser. I'm sure I've heard that before somewhere...
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by cyfer2000 (548592)
          I hope you realized that the UI and extensions of firefox are written in Javascript, when you complain those speed issues, most of them are somewhat related with speed of javascript.
        • Mozilla has different groups working on different projects. Firefox had some bloat and memory leak issues and even since then, they've worked hard to address those.

          Firefox uses less memory than Chrome. It's UI will never be quite as fast because of XUL but it isn't like the only thing they are working on is JS.

          And JS is important because so many web apps depend on it. I have to use IE at work, and Gmail is painfully slow in it.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          Mozilla are working hard with browser performance. From startup performance [mozilla.org], I/O reduction [mozilla.org] to speed up some things, even a new caching system [mozilla.org]. I could name more, but you get the idea.

      • by Haedrian (1676506) on Wednesday August 18, 2010 @09:46AM (#33287398)

        That's because most 'web applications' (such as google docs) or stuff like Facebook is chock full of Javascript.

        In ye olde days when java script was just used to pull up a popup or block your right clicks it wasn't so important, but nowadays most popular sites are full of it. Whenever you need 'dynamic' content on a web page - that's Javascript.

        Even /. by the way.

        • by swilver (617741)

          Luckily, Slashdot functions just fine with javascript off. Better I would say even.

      • by beelsebob (529313) on Wednesday August 18, 2010 @10:50AM (#33288416)

        I love that browser vendors are obsessed with javascript speed. The bottom line is that rich internet applications that don't use flash depend entirely on javascript being fast. The reason flash even got a foothold was because we had no alternative runtime because most implementations of javascript were abysmal. Javascript is important in html 5, deal with it.

      • by ljw1004 (764174)

        Agreed. I have only one plugin installed (Adblock). But even so, when I Ctrl+Click to open my six daily comic strips in quick succession, it still misses a few of the clicks. I wish it were more responsive.

    • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Wednesday August 18, 2010 @09:44AM (#33287378)

      if they think that Google, who provides about 85% of Mozilla's total revenue, is going to sit back and let them take the technical lead over Chrome, they're nuts.

      Except that Google benefits from faster Javascript engines in any browser, not just Chrome. Firefox is a popular browser, and if Firefox can execute Javascript faster, that means that Google's web apps (which I am just going to guess account for more revenue than Chrome) will perform better. It also means that Google could potentially do more, i.e. have heavier Javascript programs, without worrying that people are going to get annoyed at how slow their applications are. How does Google lose here?

      • if they think that Google, who provides about 85% of Mozilla's total revenue, is going to sit back and let them take the technical lead over Chrome, they're nuts.

        Except that Google benefits from faster Javascript engines in any browser, not just Chrome. Firefox is a popular browser, and if Firefox can execute Javascript faster, that means that Google's web apps (which I am just going to guess account for more revenue than Chrome) will perform better. It also means that Google could potentially do more, i.e.

      • by NegativeK (547688)
        Quite. But Google won't let Firefox simply beat them; they'll continue to make Chrome faster in an effort to drive performance with competition.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Urza9814 (883915)

        Yea, isn't the whole point behind Chrome that Google needed to improve Javascript speed and browser efficiency? I mean, they certainly aren't making money off it. Gaining information, maybe, but if _that_ was the goal, why open source it? My bet is they finally decided that they'd get more for their money by launching their own browser rather than spending that money on Mozilla. But still, improving browser speed is nothing but good for Google.

    • by Mr. Spontaneous (784926) on Wednesday August 18, 2010 @09:52AM (#33287500)

      Show me where h264 is a requirement in the HTML5 spec.

      kthx.

      • by elrous0 (869638) * on Wednesday August 18, 2010 @10:01AM (#33287642)
        Nowhere. But right now it's the most widely adopted and implemented (pretty much everyone but Firefox either does or is planning to support it). Until there is an alternative that all the major browsers support, Firefox is going to continue to lag behind. WebM is promising. But without MS onboard, it's going nowhere.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by IANAAC (692242)

          Nowhere. But right now it's the most widely adopted and implemented

          For what? Actual video content? I don't think so. Would some of us like to see it more popular than, say, Flash to serve up video? Sure. But that's not the way it is now.

          To suggest it's the most adopted is wishful thinking.

          • For what? Actual video content? I don't think so.

            Then you would be wrong. Youtube, for one, has been using H.264 for more than a couple of years. Other sites like Vimeo, etc also use it. In fact they use x264 for encoding their videos.

            Would some of us like to see it more popular than, say, Flash to serve up video? Sure. But that's not the way it is now.

            "Flash" isn't a video codec. Flash has supported H.264 video since 2007.

            To suggest it's the most adopted is wishful thinking.

            No, it just shows that your ignorant of what you speak.

          • Nowhere. But right now it's the most widely adopted and implemented

            For what? Actual video content? I don't think so. Would some of us like to see it more popular than, say, Flash to serve up video? Sure. But that's not the way it is now.

            To suggest it's the most adopted is wishful thinking.

            Except that IE, Chrome, and Safari all support it. Doesn't this mean that it's the most widely adopted and implemented codec supported for use with HTML5? GP didn't say it was the most widely *used* codec, only the most widely *supported*.

        • Nowhere. But right now it's the most widely adopted and implemented (pretty much everyone but Firefox either does or is planning to support it).

          Huh, that's really confusing. Because according to Wikipedia [wikipedia.org], Ogg Theora looks more supported in browsers than H.264. Perhaps you meant that there are more videos online in H.264 than Ogg Theora -- that goes without dispute.

          On top of that, IE's H.264 is only implemented so far in a nightly build and not released.

          But, come on, big players like Apple and Google have been pushing HTML 5 and if Ogg Theora gets accepted in the HTML 5 spec and H.264 doesn't ... well, guess how long people would use IE

          • Nowhere. But right now it's the most widely adopted and implemented (pretty much everyone but Firefox either does or is planning to support it).

            Huh, that's really confusing. Because according to Wikipedia [wikipedia.org], Ogg Theora looks more supported in browsers than H.264.

            No, he means exactly what he said. Pretty much everyone but Firefox either does or is planning to support it.

            Yes, there are lots of no-name browsers with zero user base that don't do h.264. But IE, Chrome, and Safari all do h.264. Which leaves Firefox and Opera as the WebM holdouts.

            Yeah. Good luck with that.

        • by diegocg (1680514)

          MS is onboard - they just won't ship it by default. But you will able to install a plugin for it (something that I think you won't be able to do with other formats)

        • by Jahava (946858)

          Nowhere. But right now it's the most widely adopted and implemented (pretty much everyone but Firefox either does or is planning to support it). Until there is an alternative that all the major browsers support, Firefox is going to continue to lag behind. WebM is promising. But without MS onboard, it's going nowhere.

          Really, there are two options:

          1. MS chooses to adopt WebM. This is not unreasonable, especially as it starts to get rolled out more across the web. Part of MS's reluctance is probably due to the novelty of the technology.
          2. MS doesn't ever adopt WebM. In that case, a FOSS plugin to IE will certainly end up being made (probably by Google, a la Chrome Frame [google.com]) that adds WebM support, and any sites that use WebM will direct IE users to that plugin.

          Either way, I don't see MS's explicit WebM support as a serious hurdle

          • Nowhere. But right now it's the most widely adopted and implemented (pretty much everyone but Firefox either does or is planning to support it). Until there is an alternative that all the major browsers support, Firefox is going to continue to lag behind. WebM is promising. But without MS onboard, it's going nowhere.

            Really, there are two options:

            1. MS chooses to adopt WebM. This is not unreasonable, especially as it starts to get rolled out more across the web. Part of MS's reluctance

      • It isn't but that doesn't mean much if most people are going to use H.264 for HTML5 video, no?

      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 18, 2010 @10:08AM (#33287736)

        Show me where h264 is a requirement in the HTML5 spec.

        kthx.

        Show me where GIF, PNG, JPG, BMP and ICO are required for the IMG tag in the HTML 1/2/3/4/5 spec.

        Now tell me what you'd think about browsing without support for these in anything, but lynx.

        kthx.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by mini me (132455)

        Not yet. However, unlike previous HTML specifications, HTML5 is attempting to define which formats are required to be supported by media tags. Microsoft and Apple want it to be H.264. Mozilla says they won't support it leaving the specification at a standstill.

        • Conversely, Mozilla, Opera and Google want to support Theora and WebM, but Apple refuses.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by slim (1652)

          Not yet. However, unlike previous HTML specifications, HTML5 is attempting to define which formats are required to be supported by media tags.

          The HTML5 spec is done. Big players could not agree on a video codec, so the W3C regretfully had the standard leave the choice of codec as an implementation detail. Tsk.

          Microsoft and Apple want it to be H.264. Mozilla says they won't support it leaving the specification at a standstill.

          To paraphrase the other responder. "Mozilla, Opera and Google want it to be Theora. Apple and MS say they won't support it leaving the specification at a standstill."

          Why are you furious at Mozilla for impeding progress, yet happy about Apple doing so?

          Both parties are at deadlock. The difference is that Mozilla's position comes from a pragmat

      • by Henriok (6762)
        Show med where JPEG, GIF or PNG is a requirement in _any_ HTML spec. Just like your point, it's nowhere to be found. Yet, all browsers implement them.
    • by pushing-robot (1037830) on Wednesday August 18, 2010 @09:54AM (#33287522)

      Nothing can touch add-ons like NoScript, AdBlock, etc.

      You mean like Adblock for Chrome [google.com] and NotScripts for Chrome? [google.com]

      Chrome and Safari got a nice extension makeover recently that puts them on par with Firefox IMHO.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by sd.fhasldff (833645)

      h264 isn't going to be a practical problem for the vast majority of users, since Firefox can just use a system codec (non-Windows-users would have to make sure they have one, of course).

      As for JS speed, Mozilla are very ardent in their speed claims, so it's hard not to believe they have something to back it up. It's difficult for users and external testers to figure out exactly how fast they are, despite being open source, because the Moz team is pursuing several parallel tracks to increase JS speed. There'

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by TheLink (130905)
        > There's "fat-val", "tracer JIT" and "method JIT".

        Just curious, given all these advances in JS speed, are there technical reasons why stuff like Python, Ruby and Perl aren't getting similar improvements in speed?
        • by Per Wigren (5315)

          Just curious, given all these advances in JS speed, are there technical reasons why stuff like Python, Ruby and Perl aren't getting similar improvements in speed?

          Not really. They ARE getting major speed improvements (especially Ruby), but there isn't as much money put into it. The techniques used to make JavaScript so fast are finding their way into other VM implementations also.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by drinkypoo (153816)

      H.264 will be solved on Firefox with a plugin whether it's official or not.

      The real claim I have a problem with is is this "generation ahead" nonsense. How are they magically going to go from a generation behind to a generation ahead? Are they planning to milk a unicorn and pour the results into the codebase? So far each and every Firefox claim of improved javascript has fallen short of the competition.

    • by Xest (935314)

      It's not just that, since version 3 inclusive Firefox has just got ever slower, ever more buggy and less stable with each release.

      If Firefox 4 continues this trend and does not reverse it then it will be the last version of FireFox I use.

      Mozilla seems to be a long way away from where they were when they were running campaign after campaign to get people to switch to their browser from IE some years ago, because they really did have a better browser and were simply fighting against the inherent advantage IE

    • by LWATCDR (28044)

      Mozilla doesn't have to license h.264. If you are Windows use the windows codecs. If you are on Mac you use Quicktime. If you are on Linux us the mplayer frame work.
      There you now have support for h.264.
      If Mozilla doesn't do that somebody in the EU will just fork it and add it. Or we will get a plug in that will do it unless Mozilla blocks it.
      So no I am not worried about H.264 support and firefox.
      I will admit that I have started to use Chrome a lot. It is really fast and I do like it. Firefox is still very g

  • by Kc_spot (1677970)
    Flamewar
  • by hcs_$reboot (1536101) on Wednesday August 18, 2010 @09:44AM (#33287370)
    FF4 will be one generation ahead in November (according to Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]). Aren't 3 months enough for the competition to catch up?
  • I'd like to see Firefox move up to at least a generation behind the other browsers with respect to memory leakage.

  • But... (Score:4, Informative)

    by dispatch (981884) on Wednesday August 18, 2010 @09:48AM (#33287440)
    ...my company insists on remaining one generation behind!
  • by Spy Handler (822350) on Wednesday August 18, 2010 @09:52AM (#33287490) Homepage Journal

    "Mozilla's Chris Blizzard talks about...."

    Do these guys get paid a salary? Or do they work for free?

  • Years Behind (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Carebears (1867786)
    Our work computers still use IE6, I however prefer Chrome. Cause I have to have my butterflies theme!
  • It's certainly nice they are improving the JavaScript engine code - it will lead to less CPU cycles spent on JS intensive pages (most of the stuff published today), but I feel there are other areas as well that should always stay a priority on par or above the JS engine code: startup time and removing cruft that slows this down, possibly having a lightweight firefox "starter" process, so that some important cache is always in memory (i know the OS caches a lot of stuff, but I can't help but notice the delay

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