Monday, July 19, 2010

Firefox 4 and a glance at the near future

If you have read some of my past articles, you probably know I like Firefox a lot. The project went through some rough times when the competition (namely Google Chrome) pushed the envelop and created a small revolution. Chrome brought some interesting concepts forward, including:

- An internet browser does not need to be a heavy application, it should be light and start up quickly.
- Different tabs should be independent, so if one of them crashes, the rest of them remain untouched so the user can continue working normally.
- Javascript engines have a big word in making browsing fast.
- The UI should be simplistic and not get in the way of the user.

These and other concepts gained lots of attention, and not surprisingly, Chrome downloads grew by the millions. Mozilla found itself in the middle of nowhere, trying to achieve the impossible task of redefining itself and the browser that no longer seemed to be wrapped up in fire. There were many different fronts the developers needed to focus on. Startup time, faster browsing, independent tabs... A lot to do and not a lot of time in an unforgiving environment. People don't want to wait, they simply choose what's best for them and leave the rest behind.

Early in the process it looked like all those things that were missing could be fixed by the time Firefox 4 was out. Naturally, lots of expectation raised around this version of project, with many doubting Mozilla would be able to deliver. After watching some videos from the Mozilla Summit 2010, I am happy to say Mozilla did more than delivering, they have created a product that (apparently) overcomes its shortcomings but also brings many new things to the table. The following video shows a brief introduction to some of those Firefox 4 new features, quite impressive stuff!

And how about looking into the future a bit? This video presents an impressive introduction to HTML5, CSS3 and other concepts, all naturally supported by Firefox4.

Hope you like these videos as much as I did!

EDIT: I thought I´d share some instructions on how to install Firefox4 Beta for those of you using Ubuntu 9.10, 10.04 or 10.10. From the command line, enter the following commands:

Add the corresponding PPA:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ubuntu-mozilla-daily/ppa

Update your sources:

sudo apt-get update

And finally, install Firefox4 Beta:

sudo apt-get install firefox-4.0


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