Mozilla ships developer release of Firefox 3.0

Mozilla has released is first alpha version of Firefox 3.0

Mozilla has hit an early milestone on the road to the next version of its open-source browser, but the final product is still a year away, developers say.

The Mozilla team released its first alpha release of Firefox 3.0 Friday, giving Firefox and Web application developers an early look at the next-generation browser. This release is not intended for regular users, not even those who like to play around with early versions of the product, Mozilla said.

The software, code-named Gran Paradiso, comes just six weeks after Mozilla shipped version 2.0 of the browser, but it has already been more than a year in development, according to Mike Schroepfer, Mozilla's vice president of engineering.

The final version of Firefox 3.0 is expected to be released by the end of 2007. Developers hope that it will be a major step toward making Web applications indistinguishable from programs that are installed on the desktop, Schroepfer said.

Gran Paradiso features better support for a number of graphics standards, such as the Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) language and the Canvas specification, Schroepfer said. "These are fairly major architectural changes to enable us to improve performance."

Firefox 3.0 also supports the Cairo graphics library, which aims to make Web pages look the same whether they are being printed or viewed on a Windows PC, a Macintosh or small-screen device.

The Firefox 3.0 plan calls for browsing, bookmarking and privacy enhancements to be built into the browser, but Schroepfer said there is still a lot of time to work out new features. "It's a bit early to be talking about the user-facing features," he said.

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