April 7, 2008 by

I think I know what’s taking Firefox 3 so long


Categories: musings, Tags: ,

The guys and gals over at the Mozilla Corporation have been making remarkable strides on the next version of everyone’s favorite browser. Firefox 3 has been in beta testing for months now, running late from its initial target of October 2007. (I can’t find any citations for that, so just take my word for it.) Fortunately the delays are paying off. Take a look at a section of the release notes for Beta 3.

[Improved in Beta 3!] Memory usage: Over 350 individual memory leaks have been plugged, and a new XPCOM cycle collector completely eliminates many more. Developers are continuing to work on optimizing memory use (by releasing cached objects more quickly) and reducing fragmentation. Beta 3 includes more than 50 improvements to memory use over the previous beta.

That in itself is fantastically impressive. Maybe we won’t see so much Hungry Hungry Firefox RAM-gobbling in the near future.

While I acknowledge that such massive code cleanups require a considerable number of man hours, I have to ask myself whether that’s really enough to keep Firefox 3 running so late. My theory is that although the code changes might be significant, the real drain on time is the constant reworking of the Mozilla robot for each new beta release.

I mean, don’t you think that’s a bit much for each release? I applaud their focus on presentation, and I’m sure it pays off to treat your beta testers well, but really now. You guys can’t think of anything better to do with all those ten of millions of dollars of Google bucks you’ve been getting annually? The bubble burst, my ass.

At least the newest beta (Beta 5 at the time of this writing) is rock solid and fast as hell.

2 Responses to I think I know what’s taking Firefox 3 so long

  1. Heliologue UNITED STATES Windows Vista Mozilla Firefox 3.0b5

    In terms of being traditionally “open source,” Firefox long ago jumped the shark. Gone are the days of spending years in pre-1.0 stage, and releasing often. Now, it appears to require a massive corporate effort to properly bugfix, mangle the UI (the Windows versions are getting the shaft in terms of chrome for 3.0), and promote the shit out of it.

  2. Conor GERMANY Ubuntu Linux Mozilla Firefox Post author

    While I don’t find the software nearly as usable as Firefox, I have been very impressed by the community involvement of Flock, which I suppose should be expected, given that it heralds itself as the Web 2.0 browser.

    I personally don’t actively use it yet because its blog integration tool is giving who host their own WP blogs trouble.

    I do like, however, that buggy features are sometimes announced via Twitter, and often a patch is released that evening, after a Twitterstorm of user experience regarding the issue pours in. That’s definitely refreshing.

    Another project I’ve seen fall by the wayside, probably mostly due to heaps of venture capital, is Songbird. Sure the newest version is rather stable and has a decent feature set, but I’d use that description for the version I downloaded two freaking years ago, too.

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