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Firefox 4 the Last Big Release From Mozilla 236

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the release-early-release-often dept.
nk497 writes "Firefox 4 will be the last major browser release from Mozilla, as it looks to mimic Chrome's speedy release schedule — echoing previous statements that Firefox 7 would arrive this year. "What we want to do is get the power into users' hands more quickly," said vice president of products Jay Sullivan. "For example, the video tag was shippable in June — we should have shipped it." That new schedule is also why Firefox 4 has had 12 betas, he said. Mozilla also said future versions of Firefox would feature a stronger "do not follow tool", as the current one is a "non-technical solution"," Sullivan said. "All you're doing is raising your hand and saying 'I don't want to be tracked.' There's no technical teeth.""
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Firefox 4 the Last Big Release From Mozilla

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  • Bad Title (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Shikaku (1129753) on Monday February 28, 2011 @01:38PM (#35339538)

    Sounds like Firefox is dying (like BSD).

    • by bunratty (545641) on Monday February 28, 2011 @01:44PM (#35339592)
      They're sure to go the way of Apple, just another one of those failed computer companies that couldn't keep up with the new competition.
    • by hairyfeet (841228)

      Sadly I think you are right. Looking at the latest beta it looks so much like a Chrome ripoff they may as well just drop Gecko for Webkit. I could understand if they made a change because it gave the user a feature that had been requested, but this strikes me too much like Cargo Cult Usability [piestar.net] where you just ape the other guy without really understanding the reasons behind the design and that just isn't a good sign.

      I mean what are they gonna offer their users besides a "me too!" laundry list of appearance a

  • Plugin Support (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MightyYar (622222) on Monday February 28, 2011 @01:39PM (#35339540)

    I guess I'll have to write a plugin that disables auto-update until all installed plugins are updated to support the newest version of Firefox.

    • Re:Plugin Support (Score:5, Informative)

      by bunratty (545641) on Monday February 28, 2011 @01:51PM (#35339670)
      You should use the new JetPack API [mozillalabs.com] so you don't need to update your plugin every time a new version of Firefox is released. Better yet, release a plugin that tells all the other plugin developers to use JetPack.
      • that I don't already have? Just curious. I've looked at it a little, and it looks like building Plugins with javascript & HTML/CSS instead of pure XUL, but I'm already doing that with the next release of my plugin [mozilla.org]. It's easy enough to use the DOM to load custom HTML and insert it where you want. I've seen lots of these frameworks build up super complex stuff that'd be great if I was writing a complete application, but in the end it's just a plugin...
        • by bunratty (545641) on Monday February 28, 2011 @03:00PM (#35340270)
          From the page I linked to:

          The SDK is designed to produce add-ons that will be forwards-compatible with future versions of Firefox, so you won't need to update your add-on every time a new version of Firefox is released. And SDK-based add-ons benefit from a security model that limits the harm that can be caused by a vulnerability in add-on code.

          and

          Users can install and remove SDK-based add-ons instantly, without a browser restart, making it easier to try add-ons and personalize their browsing experience. They also won't have to worry about add-on compatibility with new versions of Firefox. And SDK-based add-ons will soon load in separate processes, so slow-running add-ons won't slow down Firefox itself.

        • the next release of my plugin

          Will it then work on non-Windows platforms? I could use this, but don't have any Windows computers.

          • Not yet :(. I was thinking of a MacOSX port next, than Maybe x86 linux. What are you running?
            • Mostly Fedora Linux machines. On the bright side, it's feasible to do this with a script for the linux users.

      • by roju (193642)

        I tried making a simple addon with JetPack (a keyboard shortcut to go back to the most recent tab), and it turns out there's no way to set a keyboard shortcut with it. I'd wager that most addons use keyboard shortcuts, so that's a pretty major feature to be missing. The JetPack API seems to be in that state - it was developed because it's a good idea (and it is!), but nobody at Moz actually uses it, so it's missing basic features needed by real-world addons.

        • by bunratty (545641)
          Did you file an enhancement request in Bugzilla asking for an addition to the JetPack API that allows plugins to add a new keyboard shortcut?
    • >>>I'll have to write a plugin that disables auto-update

      That option already exists in the Firefox menu. For example I'm sitting at 3.5 now because some of my plugins didn't work with 3.6

      • Re:Plugin Support (Score:4, Interesting)

        by BZ (40346) on Monday February 28, 2011 @02:11PM (#35339854)

        Out of curiousity, what do you plan to do once 3.5 stops getting security updates?

        (This is a serious question; I'm trying to understand how users respond to that situation so we can take it into account when we decide how long to keep up security updates.)

        • by neoform (551705)

          >Out of curiousity, what do you plan to do once 3.5 stops getting security updates?

          They'll just become the bane of the internet, a title currently held by anyone using IE6.

          • by BZ (40346)

            Nah, there aren't enough of them for that. Firefox 3.5, even while being supported, is under 3% overall usage (for comparison the unsupported Firefox 3.0 that no one cares about anymore is about 1.5%; all figures according to statcounter; I bet other sources will have different numbers).

            Then again, IE6 is 5% according to the same source.... but was 13% just a year ago (when Firefox 3.5 was 27%, by the way; this was before 3.6 was released).

      • Re:Plugin Support (Score:5, Informative)

        by Lucky75 (1265142) on Monday February 28, 2011 @02:13PM (#35339886)
        Geez, I've been on the FF4 beta for like 5 months now almost. IMO it's much better and stable. Almost all of my extensions work in it too.

        If your extension doesn't work with 3.6, edit your install.rdf file and change the MaxVersion to 3.6 (or wildcard)
        • Really? Making an extension work in the new version is just a matter of changing MaxVersion? Wow!

          • by Compuser (14899)

            No. I run 20+ extensions (about half for privacy and about half to have the user interface just the way I like it). Some (like verttabbar) are broken right now in FF4 even if you edit the rdf file. Small extensions do only need the MaxVersion adjusted but anything big is likely to have trouble.

            As an aside, I am always very vocal about hating Opera because I have found it impossible to configure the interface just the way I like it (in some cases I want it adjusted with pixel precision and have just the righ

        • by Verunks (1000826)

          Geez, I've been on the FF4 beta for like 5 months now almost. IMO it's much better and stable. Almost all of my extensions work in it too. If your extension doesn't work with 3.6, edit your install.rdf file and change the MaxVersion to 3.6 (or wildcard)

          I've been using it since last march, and aside from some issue with non working extension when they did some big changes it worked fine and it's much faster than ff3

        • I've tried FF4 twice, both times letting it go in less than a week. It has been faster than 3.6.x but it has this horrible tendency to cause my plugins to stop working. I had a scenario in which I couldn't use Google Chat (in Gmail) to make calls out. It worked under Safari and FF3.6 but it kept telling me to download the plugins. Flash also stopped working and sites like YouTube wouldn't load. When I looked the plugins up via about:plugins nearly all my plugins had failed to be recognized by FF4, where all

        • If your extension doesn't work with 3.6, edit your install.rdf file and change the MaxVersion to 3.6 (or wildcard)

          Nah. Just install the Add-on Compatibility Reporter [mozilla.org] plugin and help the beta effort. This add-on lets others run irrespective of the version, but then you can also rate the compatibility of all plugins and indicate if they work or not.

        • Ditto here - made the switch after Thanksgiving and have had very few problems - certainly nothing I couldn't deal with with a little googling or forum digging. All my extensions (with the exception of Fox Lingo) work fine - I hacked all the rdf files months ago.

          This last release is fantastic, pages are rendered noticeably faster. I switched over my other computers (Ubuntu, Mint, Win XP and Win 7) around beta 9 and have had even fewer minor issues on them, probably because they don't have

      • by MightyYar (622222)

        That option already exists in the Firefox menu.

        Yeah, kinda... it will warn you constantly and force you to make a decision on every start up. I'd kind of like something a little less obtrusive - maybe a little icon with an exclamation point or something.

  • by Mr_eX9 (800448) on Monday February 28, 2011 @01:39PM (#35339550) Homepage
    I thought it meant that Mozilla wouldn't have more releases, period. I'm sure I'm not the only one who read it that way--a much better headline would have been "Mozilla to have faster release schedule following Firefox 4" or somesuch.
    • All they would have to do is call some of their betas number releases.

      This is a trench op on the marketing side, to make pointy heads happy that Firefox can be in version 7 this year and version 10 next year. Apparently something pending about betas exhausted them.

      So now each version will only have some three features and a few bug fixes. That's about the same as the jump from version 3 to 4 which all told, tackled a whole lot.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by natehoy (1608657)

        All they would have to do is call some of their betas number releases.

        No. A beta release is (in general) bug fixes and improvements to existing code. They generally don't introduce swaths of new features, that's what the FIRST beta did, the rest are fixing problems with those features. The fact that they have had more than 11 betas of Firefox 4 is proof that what they are trying to do is necessary. They made 4.0 too big.

        This is a trench op on the marketing side, to make pointy heads happy that Firefox can be in version 7 this year and version 10 next year. Apparently something pending about betas exhausted them.

        They are going for more releases BECAUSE the betas exhausted them, and that's a good decision. What they are trying to do is go to a smaller, more focuse

    • by oGMo (379)
      But that's boring and informative (and correct) and certainly doesn't get you to go "wtf?" and click the story. Or comment on it and generate more traffic. It certainly doesn't lead immediately to insightful discussion by developers on release schedules, development cycles, and that sort of thing. You know, news for nerds. Stuff that matters.
    • by commodore6502 (1981532) on Monday February 28, 2011 @02:10PM (#35339842)

      >>>"Mozilla to have faster release schedule"

      Even AFTER I understood the headline the thought, 'Mozilla is imploding like Netscape did, with stupid browser decisions,' was still running through my head. - BTW this article is a dupe. I read about Mozilla doing rapid FF5, FF6, FF7 updates around three weeks ago.

      I don't want my browser going through a bunch of revisions so that I'm always fucking with my computer software/updates, instead of doing actual work (or play). I can't help thinking this is just Mozilla panicking because Chrome is challenging their #2 position, and it will end up being a major PITA for the user.

      • by electrosoccertux (874415) on Monday February 28, 2011 @03:02PM (#35340300)

        all they have to do is make firefox scale to multiple cores. There's no reason the UI from the current webpage I'm browsing should grind to a halt because I loaded 5 slashdot discussions in the background using middle-click. Both Chrome and Opera 11 have no problem handling this.

        And before someone chimes in and posts this [mozilla.org] saying that they're working on it, take a look again, that page hasn't been updated since May 2010.

        At the moment I couldn't care any less about javascript benchmark speed. I just want multicore scaling from Firefox and then I'll be happy.

        • by AbRASiON (589899) *

          I could moderate you up but that's only one point.
          Telling everyone else to damn well listen to you is more important.

          I love FireFox 3, it does EVERYTHING I want - just make it bloody faster, absoloutely as fast as possible, it's all I want!

        • by kripkenstein (913150) on Monday February 28, 2011 @08:30PM (#35343270) Homepage

          And before someone chimes in and posts this [mozilla.org] saying that they're working on it, take a look again, that page hasn't been updated since May 2010.

          I am afraid that page is out of date, I edited the 'Status' section of it now - thanks for pointing it out!

          The status of multiprocess Firefox is that we have been working very hard at it, and made lots of progress. In fact Firefox Mobile is multiprocess already, you can run it right now and see that the UI remains responsive even if you load lots of tabs, JS heavy sites, etc. So that shows that rendering, networking, etc. etc. are ready for multiprocess.

          But getting desktop Firefox to be multiprocess will take more time, since there is a lot more stuff to support there, in particular addons, developer tools, etc. The plan is to finish that stuff later this year.

  • "Firefox 4 will be the last major browser release from Mozilla, as it looks to mimic Chrome's speedy release schedule â" echoing previous statements that Firefox 7 would arrive this year. "What we want to do is get the power into users' hands more quickly,"

    I welcome all efforts put into Firefox. What I would not want Firefox to copy from Google's Chrome browser is the 'removal' of basic functionality from the application.

    Here's why: -
    Even after all these betas, Chrome does not have a functional print preview to date! Wait...Google Docs lack this function too!

    • Why would Docs have it? Every browser is going to print a little differently, there's no way for Docs to know what exactly to display.

      As for Google, I agree that it is taking annoyingly long (there is a feature hidden behind a flag but last I checked it didn't do anything) but they may be trying to get it to work properly with Google Cloud Print, which would add a nice layer of complexity onto it.

      • by bunratty (545641)
        The last time I used Google Docs, it generated a PDF when I printed the document. Why wouldn't every browser display and print the PDF the same way?
    • by tompaulco (629533)
      Does this mean I am not the only one who prints stuff out of firefox and ends up with a document that prints in mini-me mode?
  • So they can't release certain functions unless they call the browser FireFox 14 or 82 or 198? Does it really matter what "version" it is, as long as you've given the functionality you're adding or the tweaks you're making considerable thought and testing? This sounds an awful lot like "they're on version 13, so we have to catch up in version numbers so people won't think we're a much older out of date product!".

    As it stands, we've been getting a new major point version every 12-24 months. What's wrong with

    • Re:Ridiculous. (Score:5, Informative)

      by BZ (40346) on Monday February 28, 2011 @02:15PM (#35339904)

      > What's wrong with that?

      It makes the lag to shipping new web-facing features and performance improvements too long. As a result you end up with situations like the current one, where Firefox 3.6 is significantly worse than the already-shipping competition (except IE8) in various performance and standards-compliance metrics... while the builds as of June of 2010, say, were much better than 3.6.

      This isn't about version numbers; it's about getting new features into the hands of users faster and not gating feature A, which is completely done, on feature B, which might get done sometime.

      • Re:Ridiculous. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by nadaou (535365) on Monday February 28, 2011 @06:07PM (#35341930) Homepage

        It makes the lag to shipping new web-facing features and performance improvements too long.

        If it means the resulting product is bug-free (read: well tested) and of higher quality--- so be it. That is what I want, not the latest white wall tires.

        As a result you end up with situations like the current one, where Firefox 3.6 is significantly worse than the already-shipping competition (except IE8)

        I DON'T CARE if FF beats IE[0-9] or Chrome by 3.2ms on some arbitrary and isolated metric or has some new gee whiz but unused feature. Don't be suckered into a rat race by obsessive blogger types. As long as the experience is good and snappy, and the performance (dis)advantage isn't too lopsided I'll go with the well tested version every time. Screw the competition. Quality sells itself. In a similar way, I don't care if KDE/Gnome# tracks the latest Windows7 ideas. In a way I wish they wouldn't if it's just for the sake of it. Do your own thing, make it better, learn from others when you can, and they will come.

        I don't want bleeding edge. I want something I can trust my https connection to my bank, gets out of my way and is reasonably snappy, and does not leak memory or privacy left and right due to a quickly grafted new feature. That's it.

        thanks for reading,
        a humble user.

  • by dougsyo (84601) on Monday February 28, 2011 @01:55PM (#35339704)

    Rapid-update philosophy sounds good for early adopters and hobbyist users (does Chrome have much traction in the corporate environment?)

    But what about corporate environments that require software to stay stable and on fixed known-working versions? For example, Firefox 3.6 broke compatibility with a plugin that we have widely distributed at our site, and the solution to this issue requires another mass deployment. We've had similar issues with Java's auto-updater breaking compatibility with some applications (and no, we're not an IE6 shop).

    Doug

  • Sigh.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SuperCharlie (1068072) on Monday February 28, 2011 @01:55PM (#35339708)
    As if having to support 3 major browsers wasnt a web design nightmare enough..now to support multiple versions of each..yay. I can hear it now.. well.. it looks ok to me, but I got a support email that it looked like (random crap) for this person, looked like (wierd problem) to my other friend and this (random thing) didnt work for one of my friends at work.. see about that will you? Oh.. they all said they used FireFox if that helps.
    • If you develop with standards in mind, this shouldn't be an issue. Most of the updates to the browsers will be feature updates, not major rewrites of the rendering engines. If those change at all, it'll be to better support standards, not to drastically change the way things currently work.
      • I know.. and agree.. it is still a support nightmare when there are multiple flavors of the same browser running around.. Im just whining I guess.. I am just so tired of designing and developing for multiple browsers.. the web dev nightmare since Netscape/IE.. I was there...and I wasnt amused then..and Im still not.
      • It only gets worse when you consider that HTML will become a 'living standard', so you'll be shooting for a moving target (HTML spec) through a moving foreground (rapidly evolving browser)

        I'll gladly develop for standards, but which standards should I shoot for? Yesterdays standard, last weeks standard, last months standard? Should I shoot for a specific browser implementation of a particular standard?

        This is going to suck.

        • by maxume (22995)

          I doubt it will be that bad. The history is one of divergent platforms, but html5 goes to some length to eliminate lots of those problems, so the problems where IE6 supports completely different stuff than Firefox and Chrome will be much reduced, and pages that look good in browser version X should look about the same in browser version X+3.

          So it goes from a nightmare of supporting multiple browsers to a problem of deciding when such and such a feature has wide enough support.

    • It is Not so bad unless you have to support ie as well. Firefox 4 and Chrome and opera behave pretty equal if you dont go for the latest whiz bang stuff which is not yet finally specified.
      It used to be way worse.

  • Major release numbers are the new minor release numbers. Its just fashion, and will probably go back the other way when we are on firefox 72 and chrome 84
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Either that or they have found new ways of fucking up the UI which are so bad, each one deserves its own major release number?
      Turning it into a Chrome-lookalike and requiring an addon for the status bar while useless animated bling is included by default is certainly a successful start in that direction

    • by hedwards (940851)

      The bigger issue is that it makes for more confusion for the users. If you're creating a major version with only changes warranting a minor revision increment, you're making it a lot harder for end users to know when to worry about an update and when not to. If it's just a minor revision then there should be little if anything to worry about, but if it's a major revision those are supposed to be limited to more substantial changes. Jackasses like Google opting to eliminate minor revisions completely in term

  • It's damned Orwellian to visit a site and do a search for something (last time it was tents), then have ads for camping gear following me around every site I visit.

    • Try searching online for a very special necklace for your wife's 40th birthday and then have THAT still following you around when she is around a few hours later. Cue some very fast bull-shitting excuses and a very quick close-down and cache/cookie clear as soon as she left again.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 28, 2011 @02:10PM (#35339852)

    That way we can avoid this "you have a higher number than me" syndrome. Ubuntu 10.10, Office 2010, Windows 98, etc.

    End this nonsense.

  • by c0d3g33k (102699) on Monday February 28, 2011 @02:31PM (#35340030)

    ESR described the most efficient way to release/produce free/libre/open_source software long ago.

    Mozilla seems to be late to the game in realizing that the cathedral approach is not the best way to manage software releases when you are actually participants in the bazaar.

    Quite ironic, actually, since Netscape was the first publicly visible software product to embrace to "open source" philosophy back in the day. The release of the Netscape source code was quite shocking and simultaneously gratifying at the time. I was quite gratified personally to be able to compile a Netscape browser from source and surf the web back then. Thank you, ESR.

  • Of course they promised a less stagnant release schedule when they were pushing 3.0 out, so I'm not holding my breath for Firefox 5.

  • More numbers (Score:2, Offtopic)

    by xs650 (741277)
    But this one goes to 11.
  • by Omnifarious (11933) * <eric-slashNO@SPAMomnifarious.org> on Monday February 28, 2011 @02:48PM (#35340160) Homepage Journal

    My Firefox has a CPU leak. I have to kill it and start over every couple of weeks because the CPU usage slowly rises until it hits 100%. This, of course, may be an extension or plugin that's doing it.

    I would like the various browsers to have some way of controlling the CPU usage of plugins and web pages running Javascript.

  • Who would'a thought?!

    Also, misleading semi-troll topic to garner attention is misleading semi-troll topic to garner attention.

  • by OverlordQ (264228) on Monday February 28, 2011 @04:05PM (#35340758) Journal

    Before you say that since it happens to you it must be my addons, it[1] happens with 1 tab open to about:memory in Safe Mode. The only thing left to do is try a clean profile, but if a dirty profile can make an idle Firefox eat all your ram that's still a bad bug.

    1 - https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=636791 [mozilla.org]

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