The news is out. According to PC Pro, Firefox 2.0 Alpha is due next month.
The move from version 1.5 to 2.0 for WordPress was not as big a jump as most consumers thought it would be, even though some of the improvements were tremendous, they were underneath the hood more than on the surface. So I wondered what kinds of leaps in improvements and features are anticipated with the version 2.0 of Firefox. There is a lot of talk about changes under the hood, so users might not see a lot of visual changes, but that’s okay. So what is going on?
The Firefox Development Road Map, Firefox 2.0 Product Planning and Brainstorming, and Inside Firefox Blog gives hints as to what is proposed and being considered, but not what is actually being worked on.
Supernova 00 shares a detailed graph of the status of fixing bugs in Firefox 2.0 efforts, as well as a lot of specifics on improvements and features being worked on, but again, these are only hints and teasers. I wanted more so I went hunting.
History and Bookmarks: It looks like there will be improved access to History and Bookmarks, which is nice, since it feels like hard work to find the History sidebar access point to me and bookmarks often get out of control too easily.
Tabbed Browsing: Improvements in the favorite feature in Firefox, tabbed browsing, is also expected. Personally, I can’t live without the various tab extensions I use to allow multi-line tabs, colorized tabs, and more. Any improvements in tabs would be great if they continue to be really user friendly.
RSS Integration: Developers are hoping to put built-in RSS feed finding and reading to help users take more advantage of the power of feeds. It looks like the Feedview Firefox Extension will be included in Firefox 2.0, so those who are familiar with Feedview already have a sneak peak at this new feature.
Google Gets Into Firefox: It seems that “many engineers involved in the Firefox project are now also working for Google.” What does this mean? Well, it looks like more Google integration and what they are describing as “The objective is for the browser to adapt to the user’s search needs, rather than forcing a particular view of search on them.” Hmmm. I understand and appreciate efforts to improve searching, but locking into one search engine?
Improved Security: PC Pro News describes improvements in security such as blacklisting and anti-phishing measures.
Improved Extensions Manager: Improvements to the Extension Manager’s interface are under strong consideration as many people, me included, have trouble finding the options to control the features of the extensions.
Inline Spell Checking: According to the Inside Firefox Blog, it is highly likely that spell check will be integrated in Firefox 2.0. I’m enthralled with the Spellbound Spell Check Firefox Extension, which is a great example of what might be wrapped into Firefox 2.0, I hope.
Tagging and Bookmarks: According to ZDNet Blogs, some improvements with Firefox 2.0 may include annotating, tagging and sharing bookmarks. I wonder if this means integration with Del.icio.us and Technorati or something else?
Rumors of Firefox for Mac: There are a lot of rumors, some confirmed facts and others not-so-sure unconfirmed stories, that Firefox 2.0 will have a version that will run on the Mac, but most likely only the Macs running Intel processors.
Among a few other new features, the ability to create pings with links, session saver, download resuming, and definite improvement of the programming engine underneath to knock out some bugs and speed up the process of Internet browsing.
So it looks like there will be some visual improvements as well as a lot of behind the scenes powerful enhancements and improvements. Still, I want to make one very important point.
There is a lot of whines about the move from one version to another upgrade version and the user not seeing improvements. This was a big whine with WordPress 2.0. Well, folks, how can I put this nicely? I can’t. So I’ll abbreviate: B.S.
In order to bring you, the consumer, a better product, not all improvements to software are going to be visible. I remember when WordPerfect finally gave in and brought out a Windows version and there was a horrible uproar. Veterans were disgusted with the WYSIWYG interface and changes in the keyboard shortcuts, so WordPerfect complied with two separate versions, which eventually streamlined into one version that allowed users familiar with the old keyboard shortcuts to continue to use them, until people just got used to the Windows WYSIWYG interface and life went on. In order to compete with the new Microsoft Word, WYSIWYG was the wave of the future and they dragged their users into that future.
People don’t like change. This is the number one reason why many people won’t upgrade. They don’t want to learn new things or drag their asses up the learning curve again. The second reason they won’t upgrade is “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Developers do their best to keep improvements in the program coming out at a fairly fast pace, especially with today’s open source programs, but they understand people’s eagerness to see new features versus people’s fear of change. It’s a tight rope to walk.
Improvements under the hood help the program run faster, better, safer, and stronger, so this is a great thing. Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it won’t improve your experience and usage. And your eagerness for new gimmicks and bells and whistles shouldn’t get in the way of upgrading.
Now, remember, this is the Alpha version, the “not-ready-for-prime-time” version. By the time Firefox 2.0 comes out, this list might be bigger or smaller or totally different. When is the “ready-for-everyone” version due? According to the Firefox 2.0 Draft Plan, expect Firefox 2.0 to arrive at the end of June.