Mozilla reveals roadmap for Firefox 3.6, scheduled for 2010

Mozilla Firefox logoMozilla has unveiled its roadmap for Firefox 3.6, which is codenamed Namoroka. This version, which will follow the upcoming Firefox 3.5 release, is expected to arrive in 2010. Mozilla has some highly ambitious plans for 3.6, including a new task-oriented user interface paradigm and deep integration of Prism-like rich Internet application functionality.

Although Firefox 3.5 is yet to be released, Mozilla has already started planning the next version, which has tentatively been designated 3.6, with the codename Namoroka. Firefox 3.6 is loosely scheduled for release in 2010.

Mozilla is currently working on Firefox 3.5, which is maturing rapidly. The third beta release, which landed last month, includes a number of compelling features such as support for the HTML 5 video element and the new high-performance TraceMonkey JavaScript engine. A fourth beta is expected to arrive later this month, and the final release is expected in June. Firefox 3.5 was originally called 3.1, but the version number was increased to reflect the large number of features that have been introduced.

Firefox 3.6 could also see a similar jump in version number, so Mozilla suggests referring to it as "" or Namaroka to avoid confusion. In a roadmap document published on the Mozilla website, the developers have outlined key areas of focus for the release and some specific features that will be targeted. Some of the goals are very broad and could encompass a lot of changes to functionality and the Firefox user interface.

Performance will continue to be a high priority for the 3.6 release, with a specific emphasis on startup time and responsiveness. Customization will also be boosted, with support for new "lightweight" themes and add-ons that can be installed without requiring the browser to restart. This could build upon the Personas project, which brings simple visual skins to the browser.

The developers aim to automatically tailor more aspects of the user interface to the user based on browsing history and other activity that is automatically tracked by the browser. One potential example can be seen in the new tab page prototype from Mozilla Labs.

Broader UI changes could also be introduced in 3.6, such as a task-based navigation paradigm that allows users to group and save tabs and interact with Web services through a command-oriented interface that is potentially influenced by elements of Mozilla's experimental Ubiquity project. Some early mockups have already emerged to show how specific ubiquity features could potentially be integrated into the browser.

Mozilla plans to explore possibilities for breaking down some of the barriers between the Web and the desktop by implementing much tighter integration of Prism-like rich Internet application functionality. According to the roadmap, this plan could also encompass improved file uploading capabilities and integrated rich content editing functionality, like the cool Ubiquity-based photo-editing concept Mozilla revealed earlier this year.

Mozilla delivered a much-improved user experience with the Firefox 3.0 release and is on track to provide impressive enhancements for users and developers in the upcoming 3.5 release. The roadmap for 3.6, which looks a lot more ambitious, reflects an effort to move beyond technical improvements and produce innovation in core aspects of the user experience. It is likely that some of the goals will be refined for a more narrow focus before the new roadmap finalizes.

The browser market is becoming increasingly competitive as Internet Explorer makes a bit of a comeback and new competitors like Chrome really start to gain momentum. Mozilla seems to have a compelling plan laid out to keep its browser at the front of the pack.

Source: ars technica

Tags: browsers, Firefox, Mozilla

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