As early as 2009 Mozilla unveiled plans for a major overhaul of the graphical user interface for the next iteration of its open source browser. It became clear that the browser maker was planning to marry a variety of style concepts for the UI redesign of Firefox 4.0, including the Ribbon/Fluent look and feel of Microsoft’s GUI model for Windows 7 applications, Office 2010, etc. but also the placement of browser Tabs per the Google Chrome approach.

Alex Faaborg, User Experience Design at Mozilla took it upon himself to explain the UI revamping strategy that has been cooking for Firefox 4.0. Fact of the matter is that early adopters testing the pre-release Alpha versions of Firefox 4.0 already managed to get a taste of the new UI.

“In the Firefox 4 nightly builds, and in Firefox 4 Beta 1, we are changing the default tab position so that tabs are on top. This is a preference that users can change by right clicking on any of their toolbars. More »

While end users might choose to focus on palpable features for the next version of Mozilla’s open source browser, such as the overhauled graphical user interface, fact is that Firefox 4.0 will bring to the table much more than the revamped UI. And there are new features bound to make little sense to the vast majority of the Firefox audience.

This, however is not valid for developers, no matter whether they choose to focus on the browser itself or on building web experiences. Just as Microsoft has the new IETestDrive website, an online destination dedicated to web developers (much as the Internet Explorer 9 (IE9) Platform Preview releases), so too Mozilla offers a nook for devs interested in the evolution to Firefox 4.0.

“Firefox 4, due to enter beta in late June, enhances performance, adds more support for HTML5 and other evolving Web technologies, and further improves security. This article provides initial information about this upcoming release and what features are available for Web developers, add-on developers, and Gecko platform developers alike,” an excerpt from the website reads. More »

Firefox 3.5 was shipped to the general public on June 30th, 2009, and now Mozilla is turning its attention to the next iteration of the open-source browser. Upcoming versions of Firefox will share a feature with rivals Chrome and Internet Explorer 8. Essentially Mozilla is looking to implement an enhancement designed to effectively split the browser into multiple processes. In this regard, the Electrolysis project has already kicked off, as Mozilla’s Benjamin Smedberg revealed in mid-June, 2009. If all goes according to plan, displaying web pages will be a task split between multiple processes, in future versions of Firefox. At the same time it’s not just about the web content; the graphical user interface of the browser and the plugins that expand Firefox will also be getting their own separate processes.

“There are several possible benefits of using multiple processes: Increased stability: if a plugin or webpage tries to use all the processor, memory, or even crashes, a process can isolate that bad behavior from the rest of the browser. Performance: By splitting work up among multiple processes, the browser can make use of multiple processor cores available on modern desktop computers and the next generation of mobile processors. The user interface can also be more responsive because it doesn’t need to block on long-running web page activities. Security: More »

The wait is over! Firefox 3.5 has reached the end of its development process. The gold build of the open-source browser from Mozilla, formerly codenamed Shiretoko, was finalized on June 29, 2009, and is now available for download (links are live at the bottom of this article). Mozilla is planning to ship Firefox 3.5 today, June 30, but at the time of this article the availability of Firefox 3.0’s successor hasn’t yet been announced officially. Still, the final development milestone of Firefox 3.5 has already been wrapped up and the bits went live on Mozilla’s FTP servers. It is only a matter of Firefox 3.5 being released to web, but you needn’t wait, just grab Firefox 3.5 from the links below for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux.

“The team here at Mozilla has been working hard on creating features, enhancing performance and adding other awesomeness to Firefox 3.5, and we’re very excited about sharing it with the world,” revealed Mozilla’s John Slater on June 29. More »

The Firefox Superbar is about to be kicked to the next level with the integration of Ubiquity. Right now all that is available from Mozilla is the Taskfox Prototype, an illustration of what Ubiquity blended into Firefox’s fabric would look like to the end user. Of course, you can watch the video embedded at the bottom of this article in order to get a perspective over Taskfox for Mozilla’s open-source browser. Taskfox is essentially a feature Mozilla plans for Firefox, and which was inspired by the ubiquity experiment.

“The main thing we haven’t prototyped is the interaction of the awesome bar results and the Taskfox commands. We know that this is a major remaining question so we’ll be prototyping that soon. We’ve more or less ignored that interaction for this prototype,” revealed Aza Raskin, head of user experience at Mozilla Labs. “Being able to navigate results with the keyboard is lacking in Ubiquity proper. We’ve tried to solve that in TaskFox.”

But fact is that the video doesn’t actually do Taskfox justice. In this context, Mozilla has made available a demo of the feature, put together with HTML, Javascript, and jQuery. The Firefox Taskfox demo can be accessed via this link, and obviously users will need Firefox in order for it to work. Typing slowly is advised in order to get the best experience possible. Raskin applauded the success of Ubiquity (over one million downloads), an experiment from Mozilla Labs which inspired Taskfox (see the second video embedded below). More »