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Mozilla Technology

Firefox 3.7 Dropped In Favor of Feature Updates 252

Posted by kdawson
from the lessons-from-the-trenches dept.
Barence sends in a report from pcpro.co.uk that says "Under its original plans, Mozilla would roll out Firefox 3.6 and 3.7 over the course of 2009, each bringing minor improvements to the browser. However, a steady stream of delays to Firefox 3.6 has rendered that goal unobtainable, forcing Mozilla to rethink its release. As a result, Firefox 3.7 has been dropped and will be replaced with feature updates for Firefox 3.6 that will be rolled out with security updates. This should free up the team to work on the next major release, Firefox 4, slated for the last quarter of 2010, which is expected to follow the same development process." Updated 20100116 00:54 GMT by timothy: Alexander Limi, from Firefox User Experience, says that the PC Pro article linked above misinterprets the situation, and that 3.7 is still on the roadmap before 4.0. The confusion stems from a schedule realignment: the out-of-process plugins feature, originally slated to land in 3.7, will instead ship as a minor update in Firefox's 3.6 series. According to Limi, CNET gets it right."
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Firefox 3.7 Dropped In Favor of Feature Updates

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  • by compro01 (777531) on Friday January 15, 2010 @12:49PM (#30780198)

    I wonder what effect this is going to have on the implementation of SVG animation, which is part of gecko 1.9.3, which was to be used in 3.7. Is it going to be slotted into 3.6 sometime or will it get pushed to 4?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MtViewGuy (197597)

      We'll probably see the Geck 1.9.3 engine "slipstreamed" in with automatic updates to Firefox 3.6. As such, don't be surprised by the end of 2010 we'll see Firefox up to Version 3.6.15 as all the new features are "slipstreamed" in.

    • by BESTouff (531293)
      I have the very same question about WebGL. I've been waiting for that feature for a while ...
  • by Chaos Incarnate (772793) on Friday January 15, 2010 @12:56PM (#30780304) Homepage
    So now we have to wait until 2011 for Firefox 4 to get tab previews in the taskbar? Time to investigate ad-block addons for IE8.
    • by Abcd1234 (188840) on Friday January 15, 2010 @01:22PM (#30780700) Homepage

      Really? That one, relatively useless piece of eyecandy is the only thing holding you back from using Firefox.

      Uhuh.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by R.Mo_Robert (737913)

      So now we have to wait until 2011 for Firefox 4 to get tab previews in the taskbar? Time to investigate ad-block addons for IE8.

      That's what IE does, and I hate it--then it takes even more work to switch back to my browser when I'm in another application. (Instead of my windows, I see all my tabs, making the list much longer and harder to navigate since I have to remember which tab I was on, unless I want to jar my experience by unintentionally switching tabs.)

      But, if that's the way Windows 7 is "supposed" to work, I suppose it will be more consistent...

    • by yakumo.unr (833476) on Friday January 15, 2010 @01:35PM (#30780896) Homepage

      Last I saw tab previews in the taskbar was the default for Firefox 3.6, I had to disable it any time I did a clean install.

      browser.taskbar.previews.enable in about:config

      IMO it entirely defeat the point of having tabs in ONE program, so only one app wastes taskbar space, even preview space

    • Run nightly trunk and you can have it today.

      I believe Chrome 4 beta does it today. I recommend AdThwart extension with it, but sadly it still renders the ad in the background and hides it. Running Chrome on Windows, I find files downloading and trying to open that I didn't download. I've seen executables try to open themselves. Firefox and Adblock plus stops the ad from rendering at all, which blocks a lot of that crap.

      Chrome is nice, but until I can get a better ad blocking solution, I'm largely sticking w

    • The problem with this change is that it causes major issues for people like me who have a lot of tabs open. I currently have 29 open because I have been researching some maths stuff. I could close some of them if I wanted to but that involves effort and I would probably close one which I would need again. It is much easier to close them all at once when I have finished. Just think about 29 tab previews in the task bar, it would be horrible. Maybe for a lot of people who keep about 5 tabs open it is ok

  • Minefield (Score:3, Informative)

    by killmenow (184444) on Friday January 15, 2010 @12:56PM (#30780306)

    I'm using it already as my predominant web browser of choice. Works like a champ so far. I know it's not even pre-release blah blah. It works for me.

  • Where's the meat? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Friday January 15, 2010 @12:59PM (#30780344)

    What purpose does it serve to skip version numbers, except for some political or media-relations reason? The Linux kernel and many other open source projects have release cycles of "it's done when it's done" -- and a predictable version numbering system. What next, Mozilla Firefox 2010 Professional Edition? Delays are inevitable in any software development project.

    Also, Slashdot -- this news post was like saying "X replaced by Y. Z reported jealous, but A and B are looking forward to bringing C onboard soon." Numbers should not be used in place of content. $WITTY_COMMENT. $RETORT. $TROLL. $VAGUE_REFERENCE_TO_SEXUALITY.

    • $LAME_CAR_ANALOGY

      $Snide_comment_about_GP

      $Lameness_Filter_whine

    • What purpose does it serve to skip version numbers, except for some political or media-relations reason?

      The difference between doing a 3.7 minor version release and a series of 3.6.x point releases as features are completed means that there aren't a set of "must-do" features for the 3.7 version, main "roadmapped" development can shift to 4.0, and individual enhancements to 3.6 that get completed get pushed out as point releases rather than getting aggregated into a combined minor version release. It also me

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Bazzargh (39195)

      What purpose does it serve to skip version numbers, except for some political or media-relations reason?

      Work was going on simultaneously on 3.7 and 4.0 branches of the code. There is an overhead in doing that, eg builds of both could be failing, who's looking into that, etc. Not least of your problems is getting developers who're working on shiny-new-stuff (4.0) to care about incremental-updates (3.7)

      Version numbers are just marketing. The linux numbering system changed not that long ago, and every so often

    • Well, 3.x to 4.0 would not be skipping anything. The major version number usually denotes changes in the architecture that do not try to keep compatibility. The minor number is more for smaller, gradual changes. (The third number would be for bugfixes. And the zeroth number, which for most projects usually means a name change and/or a complete rewrite (SeaMonkey -> Firefox), is unfortunately often not talked about.)

      So I don’t see the problem you have here. Maybe a misunderstanding. Care to explain?

    • Oh yeah? Well, content shouldn't be used in place of numbers! Never trust those numbers; always hire hard-working letters instead. Alphabetic supremacist for life!

      Oh, and I heard you're a lesbian. All livin' it up on your little island of Lesbos with all the other lesbians, am I right?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    This should free up the team to work on the next major release, Firefox 4, slated for the last quarter of 2010, which is expected to follow the same development process.

    Firefox will be dead before it hits version 5.0 [wikipedia.org].

  • by Paradigm_Complex (968558) on Friday January 15, 2010 @01:03PM (#30780398)

    will be replaced with feature updates for Firefox 3.6 that will be rolled out with security updates

    This seems to be a horrible idea to me, unless I'm misinterpreting it. I can see this being implemented in two ways:

    One, Mozilla withholds security updates until there is a feature ready to go, which is just stupid - don't leave a hole if you've got a fix ready. One of the arguments in favor Firefox over IE is the more rapid security updates.

    Two, Mozilla withholds features until a security update is necessary. I can't see any advantage to doing this, but there's a few obvious downsides (like withholding a perfectly good feature until someone finds something we're supposed to be hoping is not there).

    Unless I'm missing something?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Zocalo (252965)
      Perhaps they intend to roll out new features to 3.6 in the same manner as they do security updates; one 3.6.x release might be a bug fix, another might be new features and another a combination of the two. You don't have to bring out new features on major releases, so this might even mean that we'll get features added to 3.6 sooner than we would have done waiting until 3.7 before releasing them all in one go.
    • by MtViewGuy (197597)

      I don't think the Mozilla Foundation is dumb enough to wait for new features for 3.6.x version security updates! I do think the version number could go as high as 3.6.15 (my guess) as security updates and the new features are "slipstreamed" in.

    • Yes, you're missing option 3.

      Three, Mozilla rolls out a patch that includes a feature when it's ready, and rolls out a different patch when a security update is ready, and combines them if/when possible. That would still be "with" security updates, after a fashion, and it would be the logical, intelligent way to do so.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by BZ (40346)

      I think you're missing two things:

      1) The article's first paragraph is taking a proposal for a possible future plan of action
      and claiming that it is the plan of action.
      2) Right now (Firefox 3.0 and Firefox 3.5) there are no features shipped as minor updates;
      all features are "withheld" as you put it until the next major version.

      The only firm current plan here is that one particular feature, namely out-of-process plug-ins, is currently planned to be b

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by DragonWriter (970822)

      Unless I'm missing something?

      You're missing this:
      (3) Mozilla does individual security fixes and feature updates for 3.6 as they are completed (maybe grouping the two together in an update if they happen to be ready at the same time, but not holding either to wait for the other), but doesn't have one big list of featur updates that must be complete for a "v3.7" that are released all at once. The "feature updates that will be rolled out with security updates", in this case, would mean that the feature updates

    • by TejWC (758299)

      I can't find official documentation on this subject. However, based on the updates that I get, there are 4 numbers in a given Firefox Version:
      A.B.C.D
      A= Major revision
      B= Minor revision
      C= Small feature revision
      D= Bug / security fix

      It now appears that features that was going to be in 3.7 will now be put into 3.6 feature by feature. So you may see an update like 3.6.0.2 which is just security/bug fixes from 3.6.0.1. When you see an update like 3.6.1.0, it means it has a new feature that would have been in 3.7 b

  • Et tu, Mozilla? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 15, 2010 @01:11PM (#30780538)

    Security updates should never be combined with feature updates. Anyone who doesn't want the feature update is then in the unfortunate position to decide whether they'll get the unwanted features or keep the unwanted vulnerabilities. Bad Mozilla.

    • Ok, grandpa (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Rix (54095)

      Continuing to support old versions is a heavy burden, and has to end at some point. It's not a question of if people will have to make that decision, but when.

      • Starting you “argument” with an “ad hominem” fallacy. Way to fail... ;)

        Oh, it’s so heavy to support old version? Well tough, cause you’re supposed to do it. That’s the point of branches. But you only fix things that do not require functionality or architecture changes. Or in other words 0.0.0.x changes. Because the fix to problems that are caused by functionality and architecture, is the new x.x.x.0 version.
        So it usually is by itself getting less and less, while you

        • You have to end-of-life old versions at some point. Yes, it's good to support old versions if there's a valid reason to be doing so (Apache 1.3, maybe. Firefox 2.0, no.), but there is a limit.

          It's all rather moot with free software anyway. If you really think something should still be maintained, then just do it. (Or pay someone else to.)

    • by BZ (40346)

      If you read the article carefully, the only feature that is planned to ship as part of the security+stability releases so far (note the "stability" part) is out-of-process plugins. And the point there is stability.

    • by bheer (633842)

      I agree this is not a good practise, but I can see why they did it -- it was commercially necessary if they want to keep up with Chrome. Personally what they should have done is adopted Chrome's stable/beta channel strategy, with automatic updates for both channels by default. Who knows, maybe that's exactly what they'll do.

      (I know they release betas already, but the notion of a Chrome beta channel is that you're permanently on the beta, trying out new features. If you're more adventuresome you can be on th

  • by dark_panda (177006) on Friday January 15, 2010 @01:38PM (#30780934)

    "Mozilla would roll out Firefox 3.6 and 3.7 over the course of 2009, each bringing minor improvements to the browser. However, a steady stream of delays to Firefox 3.6 has rendered that goal unobtainable."

    [jay@gobstopper ~]% date
    Fri 15 Jan 2010 12:32:18 EST

    ... ... Okay guys, looks like this math checks out. It seems that releasing Firefox 3.6 and 3.7 in 2009 is an unobtainable goal at this point in time. You know, in 2010.

    • by Tumbleweed (3706) *

      ... ... Okay guys, looks like this math checks out. It seems that releasing Firefox 3.6 and 3.7 in 2009 is an unobtainable goal at this point in time. You know, in 2010.

      Don't be such a pessimist! If they try really hard, it might still be possible. You never know till you try!

    • ~ $ head -n 2 mozilla-installer-3.7.sh
      #!/bin/sh
      date `date +%m%d%H%M2009.%S` # make sure it's 2009

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 15, 2010 @01:48PM (#30781098)

    Small feature updates are not conducive to getting corporate support. With large updates, a company can say, "We support Firefox 3.5+", and they can be reasonably confident that they don't need to fully test every minor release of Firefox 3.5. With small updates they have to say, "We support Firefox 3.6.7", and can't be sure that they will actually be able to support 3.6.8 without fully testing it. If you want corporate support, you have to have feature freezes, or support stops being worth the testing time.

  • You know, sometimes the architecture that you originally designed (and that was great and the right thing back then) does not fit your current needs anymore. You get slower and slower, everything becomes bloated and messy, and starts to look like an upside-down pyramid (Windows ME syndrome).

    And that’s the time, where it’s good to think about not just making the next version. But about making the next generation. Like a complete rewrite, but not. More like forgetting everything and designing a go

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by BZ (40346)

      There's been continuous rearchitecture going on in the 1.9, 1.9.1, 1.9.2 Gecko milestones, and it's ongoing. I mean.... the JS engine is being rewritten from the ground up, in 1.9 CSS layout was rewritten from the ground up, the DOM is about to see some major changes...

      Not sure why you decided that there's no rearchitecture going on. ;)

  • by thue (121682) on Friday January 15, 2010 @03:37PM (#30782676) Homepage

    The far and away priority one feature should be Multithreading. Each tab and each plugin should have its own process and its own memory space, so that a crash of one tab/plugin, or one tab/plugin using loads of CPU power, should have practically no effect on my other tabs/plugins on my 4-core CPU.

    So I don't care about copying Chrome's GUI. But copying Chrome's sandboxing and multithreading architecture I very much care about!

    There is a Mozilla project to implement this [mozilla.org], but the project page hasn't been updated in months, as far as I can tell.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by BZ (40346)

      If you read the article (or better yet the one it cribbed from), the one feature that's so far being considered for backporting to 3.6.x is in fact out-of-process plug-ins.... So what you want is coming! You can try it right now if you grab a nightly build. At least on Linux and Windows.

  • by Snaller (147050) on Friday January 15, 2010 @03:41PM (#30782764) Journal

    SO damn slow

  • by Mr. Cancelled (572486) on Friday January 15, 2010 @09:24PM (#30786624)
    For all you Snow Leopard users...

    In case you did not know, you can download optimized Mac versions of a number of browsers from here [latko.org]

    Specifically, one of the browsers available is a 64-bit optimized version of FF 3.7 for Snow Leopard.

    I finally installed it the other night, after eyeing it warily for the last month or so (as I worked through the latest 3.6 optimized builds). I finally installed it last night, and have to say that it's the biggest improvement to FF that I've came across.

    It loads faster, uses less CPU & memory than previous builds, and it's mega fast. My impressions are that it's now as fast as Safari is on a Mac.

    It's now my main browser. If you run Snow Leopard, you should check it out.

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