Firefox3(beta 3): Some Observations about New Features, Problems & their Solutions

by Jawwad in Firefox, Software | 2 comments

firefox 3 | Firefox3(beta 3): Some Observations about New Features, Problems & their Solutions

Ok! I am a little late on this story but I decided that I will post anything about this Firefox beta 3 release only after some testing and concrete observations so that you can draw some conclusion from my thoughts. Actually they have taken more than two months to release beta 3 after the release of beta 2 and no doubt that Mozilla team does have made progress on many fronts in the long road to the final Firefox release later this year. I have summarized the key changes below for you to take a look. However in the end I will also mention some nuisances that are still unfixed in this release and the surprising reason why I will still use Firefox 3.0 beta3 as my primary web browser despite it’s beta nature.

  • One of the major features is the inclusions of native icons for the different platforms. Visually speaking as for the icons in the Windows XP are concerned I am not impressed that much. I think they need more work by Mozilla team.
  • Forward and Backward buttons have now a single unified drop-down.
  • Add-ons Manger has been enhanced as there is a search field that allows to search for an extension and allows it’s installation from with-in the Add-on manager without even visiting the official Firefox extension’s website. It looks like a useful feature to me.
  • They have made some tweaks to the algorithm for the URL bar that enhances the sorting of entries in the URL bar according to the frequency and recency of the usage of the URL bar typed entries.
  • Now active downloads and time remaining are always shown in the status bar as your files download.
  • Malware protection has been improved in beta3.
  • One of the big improvements is in the memory optimization department as 50 new optimizations have been made and 350 memory leaks fixed after the introduction of beta 2. Looks like Firefox 3.0 memory consumption is getting better and better with every beta release. In this department I think it is far ahead of the Firefox2.0.
  • Rendering in beta3 is also much faster because of the use of the Cairo rendering engine and some of the webpages are really loading very fast on my humble machine(wow!) .
  • Overall Firefox3 beta 3 includes 1300 individual changes in comparison to the beta2.

You can see the complete changelog here.However with all of these positives there are still unfixed bugs here and there and I don’t want to conclude this article without their mention(these exclude bugs mentioned by Mozilla officially that you can find at the webpage mentioned above).

  • They have not fixed the bug of drag&drop rearranging of bookmarks in the bookmarks folder. This bug is present for quite some time and I was expecting that this will be fixed in this release but it has not been fixed. Surprisingly it was not present in Firefox 2.0 and it is broken in Firefox3.0!
  • I was using the tweak [browser.urlbar.richResults;false] in about:config in beta 2 to disable the fancy URL bar(that takes a lot of space to show only a small number of typed addresses ) introduced in the beta2. But this setting is no longer working in Beta3 as I can see. Finally I managed to remove this needless feature using Old Bar extension however.
  • There are still some random crashes here and there for apparently no reason whatsoever.
  • I was expecting them to introduce an extension searching/filtering text box in the Add-ons manager to quickly find an installed extension(hah! not a bug I know). I think this feature is already present in an extension but I forgot it’s name(hah!).
  • URL bar is greatly improved but you still don’t have the option to search on the stored bookmarks. If you want to search on the bookmarks then you will still need to wait for the update of a third party extension such as Autocomplete Manager(not compatible with Firefox 3.0 so far).
  • Many extensions still are not compatible with Firefox 3.0 and I use Nightly Tester Tools to make them compatible(again not Firefox 3.0 fault I know!).

Overall speaking this is an impressive release and I will probably continue to use the Firefox 3.0 beta versions as my primary web browser. Want a reason for it? For me there are three big improvements in Firefox 3.0 that are forcing me to use these beta versions. One is the webpage rendering performance improvements, secondly substantially reduced memory overhead(you can expect an article on benchmark analysis of memory overhead of different Firefox versions in the near future) and the last but the most important is the enhancements to the URL bar particularly the capability to search sub-strings and descriptions of the typed URLs. I hope that Firefox beta 4 will remedy the issues that I mentioned.

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  • Mosey

    Thanks for summarising the new changes to Beta3! I came through to your site via Martin’s GHacks after wondering about your comment regarding the icons (will look for some screenshots after this :D) and was very glad to hear that they’ve really improved the memory leak problem in FF3 (compared with FF2!) I loved the 1.5 series of FF, and was very reluctant about switching over to 2, but had to in the end due to add-on updates etc. so am really looking forward to the new FF3 release.

  • Jim – 406NotAccceptable

    I agree wholeheartedly with you on the new UI. I find Firefox 2′s UI to be superior to all of the offerings in 3. Running a Gnome session on Ubuntu the icons are simply ok, but when I run 3 in XP I cry at the new ‘back/forward’ button, it is simply fugly!

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