Desktop web apps and snappiness top next Firefox (Namoroka) plans

Following the tradition of using national park names as code names for Firefox releases, Mozilla has chosen Namoroka, located in Madagascar, for the development cycle that started a few months ago when Mozilla decided to branch the current Firefox 3.5 (Shiretoko) and proceed with the development of the next release in the trunk (Minefield).

The next Firefox has been assigned version number 3.6 (and trunk builds are already labeled this way) but it is very unlikely it will remain the final release number, specially considering the many features and improvements listed in the first Namoroka feature plan drafts, posted by Mike Beltzner, Firefox product director.

Like in previous development cycles planning starts, goals and features are listed prioritized.

First in line:

  • Performance: get a perceivably better browser startup and tab creation times (reduced in at least 50ms), and improve overall responsiveness by adding animations for actions like tab creation, moving, bookmarking, etc. Chrome (and Mac OS X before it) has proved that animations can really make a difference on how snappy a browser feels, and it was even considered for inclusion in Firefox 3.5, now almost ready to ship. It’s also worth noting that Mozilla is planning to implement animations for XUL, at the platform level, so not only Firefox but all XUL-based applications (Thunderbird, SeaMonkey, Flock, Songbird, etc.) would benefit from it.
  • A long time requested feature: theme and extensions activation without restarting is also planned for this release, at least partially. The draft vaguely mentions “light themes” and “light extensions” which could mean just anything like extensions without chrome or a cross platform component (XPCOM).
  • Better user interface for file uploading. Would be a welcomed addition as single an multiple file uploading becomes more and more prevalent and the old click and browse way just doesn’t cut it any more. Dragdropupload, a Firefox extension, lets you do this by just dragging and dropping files, and even automatically adds more attachment fields in Gmail, if needed.
  • Merge common site specific preferences with the site button.
  • An option to convert web apps into desktop web apps, which basically means bringing Mozilla Lab’s Prism into Firefox, a long time idea available as a Firefox extension. Far superior than Chrome’s desktop web app implementation. You can get it at Mozilla Add-ons.

    Making a desktop web app with Prism

  • Use of Aero Glass so Windows Vista and 7 users finally get translucent toolbars. Aero Peek support (in Firefox case, the ability to see tab thumbnails in Windows 7 task bar) is also mentioned but not prioritized yet. Though, after using Windows 7 beta for a few weeks now I believe it’s an obvious P1.

Firefox limited Aero Peek support only shows windows but no tab thumbnails

In second place priority-wise:

  • Session management, or the ability to save a set of tabs and their state so you can reopen it at will.
  • Add some file management capabilities to the download manager (move, copy, delete).
  • Taskfox, a project introduced a couple of weeks ago that aims to deliver some of Ubiquity command-line abilities to perform certain common tasks to the main Firefox code.
  • A revisited, more powerful/helpful new tab page.
  • An about:me page which would provide some basic statistics about your own web browsing habits based on your history. This was also considered for Firefox 3.5.
  • Identity management is once again in line for inclusion. There’s no detail on what exactly would be implemented but CardSpace and OpenID were both listed in Firefox 3 feature list a couple of years ago.
  • On Mac OS X, it would use the native spell checker. In the same line, Keychain (global password manager), and AppleScript (macro language) support would also be added but has not been prioritized yet. Camino users have enjoyed these features for a while so it should make it easier to move some code to Firefox tree.

Mozilla is estimating a 10 months release cycle, so we can expect to see Namoroka go final around May 2010.

10 Comments

  1. El Guru April 6, 2009 3:47 pm 

    “Mozilla is estimating a 10 months release cycle, so we can expect to see Namoroka go final around May 2010.”

    Which if the development cycle is anything like Firefox 3.1, means November/December 2010.

    • Anonymous April 7, 2009 1:41 pm 

      It’s too many features for them, they’ll never make it before a good few months into 2011.

  2. Firefox 3.6 (Namoroka) Introduced « blog.ffextensionguru.com April 6, 2009 4:01 pm 

    [...] Monday, April 6, 2009 · No Comments With the news of the upcoming Firefox 3.6, comes hope that Firefox 3.5 is nearing completion. As of press, Firefox 3.5 is scheduled for a Beta 4 release on April 14th which means we could see the final release may be as early as June (which would only be six months later than the original projected release date for then Firefox 3.1). Firefox 3.6 is code named Namoroka after the national park located in Madagascar. The main themes/goals for this build are desktop web apps and snappiness, but is likely to include many other features and improvements. See Namoroka feature plan drafts for more details. Some of the new features planned for this release are (from Mozilla Links): [...]

  3. Firefox 3.6: primeros detalles - Zona Firefox April 6, 2009 8:19 pm 

    [...] el nombre clave de Firefox 3.5 y es un parque nacional de Japón. Pero lo más importante son las novedades que podria traer esta versión y que podemos ver en el Wiki de Mozilla. Entre las características que se mencionan, se puede ver [...]

  4. zenlab April 6, 2009 11:22 pm 

    Why is Prism better than Chrome’s implementation? By the time Firefox 3.6 comes out, the Prism’s presupposed advantages will have been eroded by Chrome’s rapid release cycle.

    Firefox is edging dangerously close to Microsoft’s software release cycle.

  5. Firefox 3.6 Lo Tendremos entre nosostros hasta el 2010 | FactorZero April 7, 2009 2:23 pm 

    [...] se está trabajando en la versión 3.5 de Firefox pero los de Mozilla son unos chicos inquietos y ya empiezan a plantear cuales serán las novedades que implementarán en una futura versión 3.6 bautizada como Namoroka, [...]

  6. Niels April 7, 2009 3:05 pm 

    How about Mozilla start focusing a bit on making their browser keep up with the competition with regards to speed. Firefox 3 feels more and more bloated when you compare it to Safari 4, Google Chrome and even IE 8. Leave all the extra crap to extensions and focus on fixing memory leaks and improve general performance. I know I’ll be switching to Chrome as soon as they port it to Mac.

  7. David Naylor April 13, 2009 3:25 pm 

    Great post. It’s no bold guess that Namaroka will become Firefox 4, is it?

  8. Firefox 3.5 Beta 4 available for testing now - Mozilla Links April 29, 2009 12:35 am 

    [...] For Mozilla platform and Firefox developers, Shiretoko is coming to an end, and is once again time to get back to the wish lists, look at the current state of the web, imagine the future, and code Namoroka. [...]

  9. random luser May 8, 2009 3:53 am 

    Firefox sucks on Linux. It would be nice if it could be made to suck less.

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