What makes Firefox 3 great?
Monday, May 12, 2008
Last night, the code for Firefox 3 RC1 was handed off for building, and as I type this, the first candidate builds for RC1 are being spun. I've been using the nightly builds on my test machine (actually, a VPC) for a while now. At first, it was just meant as a test installation so that I could get a feel for what the upcoming browser would be, but now I find that I'm doing more browsing on that test install in a VPC than I am on my Firefox 2 installs on the real computer. That I'm using the Firefox 3 nightlies more than Firefox 2 despite it being run in a virtual machine is a testament, I think, so how great the new version is. So what makes it so great?
- Places: the new SQLite-based storage of bookmarks and history is much faster and allows for cool new things like the new location bar. I must admit, like many users, I hated the new location bar at first. It took a bit of getting used to and some adjustment in how I used the location bar, but now, I find it to be utterly indispensable, and it is the primary reason why I am using Firefox 3 more than Firefox 2.
- Firefox 3 is noticeably faster and more responsive.
- As a result of improvements such as the use of
jemallocand a new garbage collector, Firefox 3 uses less memory.
- The new graphics backend offers various benefits, such as the smooth scaling of images.
- Firefox 3 strives to appear more native, so it fits in better with the OS that it is running on. Of special interest to me, Firefox 3 looks better than Firefox 2 on Windows Classic.
- The download manager has been improved. First, it no longer uses RDF and thus doesn't suffer from slowdowns when the list gets too long (the use of RDF was a perfect illustration of how too many people today are mis-using XML for things for which XML is an insanely bad idea). Second, it allows download resumption. Third, it shows a general status indicator (# of downloads and est. time remaining) in the browser's status bar so that you can keep the manager closed and still keep track.
- The remember password prompt has been redesigned so that you could choose to remember the password after you have successfully logged in.