Firefox 3.0 opens door to Web apps, Mozilla says

Firefox 3.0 is going to likely contain a host of new features, ranging from offline integration with Web applications to new bookmark and search features

If the Firefox browser were a car, it would be in the garage right now being souped up by an anxious group of gear heads.

When Firefox 3.0 is released later this year, the open-source browser is likely to contain a host of new features, including offline support for Web applications and new bookmark and search features. Mozilla released the second alpha version of Firefox 3.0 earlier this month.

While the final feature set hasn't been determined, Firefox 3.0 will also contain elements for its 4.0 release and beyond, said Mike Schroepfer, vice president for engineering for Mozilla, during a stop in London on Tuesday. The browser is due out in the second half of the year.

"What we're trying to do with all of these things is lay the foundation," Schroepfer said.

Perhaps most exciting could be Firefox's ability to support writing an e-mail in, for example, Gmail while offline, with the data sent later when a user is connected to the Internet again. Ultimately, Mozilla engineers are aiming for an integration between the browser and Web-based services that is as smooth running as a desktop application, Schroepfer said.

So far, engineers have made Firefox work with Zimbra, an open-source e-mail, messaging and VOIP (voice over Internet Protocol) application. With a bit of code from Google and Microsoft, it would be possible to integrate with Gmail and Hotmail and other e-mail services.

To do offline support, engineers have overcome the hurdle of how to store data locally on the computer, Schroepfer said. The feature will make it into Firefox 3.0, although the user interface is still under development, he said.

Other changes could come to "bookmarks" and "history," two features that have seen relatively little innovation, he said. Mozilla would like to create a function where bookmarks could be automatically sorted based on popularity and frequency rather than the static presentation now.

Firefox 3.0 will also have a small, embedded database -- SQL Lite -- that will eventually be used for full-text indexing of the browser's "history." Users could search for images and text and see the cached page. The feature, however, may not make it into the 3.0 release, he said.

"The advantage of the database is that we can search your cache," Schroepfer said.

Most importantly, Firefox has to be fast and standards compliant, he said. Some users have complained about Firefox sucking up processing power because of add-ons or extensions, a popular aspect of Firefox where small programs can be downloaded and used into the browser to add new functions.

But extensions sometimes tax system resources, in part because it's often part-time hobbyists doing the coding, Schroepfer said.

Mozilla will soon set up a shared library of tested code that extension writers can download and use, Schroepfer said. Mozilla also relaunched its extension site, cutting back on the number of extensions listed so first-time users don't overload their browsers and dampen their experience.

In a few weeks, discussion forums will also be set up for developers to exchange feedback, since code writers sometimes don't know of the problems, he said.

Firefox 4.0 will support the JavaScript 2 language, now under development in part by Mozilla's Chief Technology Officer Brendan Eich and the ECMA International standards body, Schroepfer said. The idea behind the JavaScript revamp is to make high-performance Web applications easier to write and assemble for people with less coding expertise, he said.

"It's less about making it possible and more about making it easy," Schroepfer said.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jeremy Kirk

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?