Firefox Beta 1 After weeks of rigorous testing we finally have Firefox 3.0 Beta 1 in our hands! It’s available in 21 different languages for Windows, Mac, and Linux.

The list of new features is actually rather long, and I have just about all of them laid out below. There are a few things that I want to point out before diving into them though.

  • This version still has hundreds of bugs in it. Asa Dotzler, Mozilla’s Quality Assurance leader, did say that it is the “most thoroughly tested beta [they've] ever shipped” though.
  • Those of you who do decide to throw caution into the wind and give it a whirl should be prepared for poor extension compatibility. Many extensions, especially those pertaining to bookmarks, will probably not function to their full potential if at all.

I was originally planning on writing a full review once Firefox 3 hit the Beta stage, but there is still a lot more to be done on the browser. A new theme is in the works and many of the features have some fine tuning that is already underway. Writing a complete review at this point would not be a great idea because so much is still going to change, especially in the performance area. As of right now Mozilla has squashed over 300 memory leaks in Firefox 3, but they still have plans to make Firefox perform better than any other version before it.

Alright, now let’s jump into the list of features! Don’t forget to go download Firefox 3.0 Beta 1!

More Security

  • One click site info: Click the site favicon in the location bar to see who owns the site.
  • Malware Protection: malware protection warns users when they arrive at sites which are known to install viruses, spyware, trojans or other malware. You can test it here (note: our blacklist of malware sites is not yet activated).
  • New Web Forgery Protection page: the content of pages suspected as web forgeries is no longer shown. You can test it here.
  • New SSL error pages: clearer and stricter error pages are used when Firefox encounters an invalid SSL certificate.
  • Add-ons and Plugin version check: Firefox now automatically checks add-on and plugin versions and will disable older, insecure versions.
  • Secure add-on updates: to improve add-on update security, add-ons that provide updates in an insecure manner will be disabled.
  • Anti-virus integration: Firefox will inform anti-virus software when downloading executables.
  • Vista Parental Controls: Firefox now respects the Vista system-wide parental control setting for disabling file downloads.

Easier to Use

  • Easier password management: an information bar replaces the old password dialog so you can now save passwords after a successful login.
  • Simplified add-on installation: the add-ons whitelist has been removed making it possible to install extensions from third-party sites in fewer clicks.
  • New Download Manager: the revised download manager makes it much easier to locate downloaded files.
  • Resumable downloading: users can now resume downloads after restarting the browser or resetting your network connection.
  • Full page zoom: from the View menu and via keyboard shortcuts, the new zooming feature lets you zoom in and out of entire pages, scaling the layout, text and images.
  • Tab scrolling and quickmenu: tabs are easier to locate with the new tab scrolling and tab quickmenu.
  • Save what you were doing: Firefox will prompt users to save tabs on exit.
  • Optimized Open in Tabs behavior: opening a folder of bookmarks in tabs now appends the new tabs rather than overwriting.
  • Location and Search bar size can now be customized with a simple resizer item.
  • Text selection improvements: Multiple text selections can be made with Ctrl/Cmd; Double-click drag selects in “word-by-word” mode; Triple-clicking selects a paragraph.
  • Find toolbar: the Find toolbar now opens with the current selection.
  • Plugin management: users can disable individual plugins in the Add-on Manager.
  • Integration with Vista: Firefox’s menus now display using Vista’s native theme.
  • Integration with the Mac: Firefox now uses the OS X spellchecker and supports Growl for notifications of completed downloads and available updates.

More Personal

  • Star button: quickly add bookmarks from the location bar with a single click; a second click lets you file and tag them.
  • Tags: associate keywords with your bookmarks to sort them by topic.
  • Location bar & auto-complete: type the title or tag of a page in the location bar to quickly find the site you were looking for in your history; favicons, bookmark, and tag indicators help you see where results are coming from.
  • Smart Places Folder: quickly access your recently bookmarked and tagged pages, as well as you more frequently visited pages with the new smart places folder on your bookmark toolbar.
  • Bookmarks and History Organizer: advanced search of your history and bookmarks with multiple views and smart folders to store your frequent searches.
  • Web-based protocol handlers: web applications, such as your favorite webmail provider, can now be used instead of desktop applications for handling mailto: links from other sites. Similar support is available for other protocols (Web applications will have to first enable this by registering as handlers with Firefox).
  • Easy to use Download Actions: a new Applications preferences pane provides a better UI for configuring handlers for various file types and protocol schemes.

Improved Performance

  • Reliability: A user’s bookmarks, history, cookies, and preferences are now stored in a transactionally secure database format which will prevent data loss even if their system crashes.
  • Speed: Major architectural changes (such as the move to Cairo and a rewrite to how reflowing a page layout works) put foundations in place for major performance tuning which have resulted in speed increases in Beta 1, and will show further gains in future Beta releases.
  • Memory usage: Over 300 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.

There Are 33 Comments

  1. Great write up Ryan!

    I usually start testing on Beta 2, so I think I’ll wait to try it out.

    There is some really exciting stuff included in this release.

  2. I downloaded it this morning. Using it now–seems to be running pretty well. I don’t use a lot of extensions, but the ones I do use work just fine. I love the tag system. (By the way, is there a way to search for bookmarks based on tags, eg, search for tags?)

    Looking forward to see the final!

  3. @BinaryMuse: just type the name of the tag into the search box in the Bookmarks Sidebar or Places Organiser. You’re right, tagging is amazing, especially with the Places smart folders. Personally, though, my favourite new feature is the Location Bar autocomplete. That and Places mean I simply can’t use Firefox 2 any more – even though Fx2 is still better for me than anything else!
    Oh, and Ryan, doesn’t it get your AV to scan everything downloaded? It does for me!

  4. Well I am testing it out but seems there are some problems with sites like GMail doesn’t render properly, Live Mail doesn’t work in the “full version”, just to name a few. ;)

  5. Ryan,

    Do you have any plans to toss together a “portable” version of this one like you have done in the past with other beta releases of Firefox?

    Just wondering…might be helpful to play with for those who don’t want to risk impact on their current versions, but want to see what all the fuss is about…

  6. Hey Ryan – can you let us know how to make a portable version of Firefox 3.0 Beta 1? I would like to test it but I installed it once (using a different Firefox profile) and it still messed with my original profile.

    Anyway, I’d like a way to test it if you know any.

    Let us know, thanks! :mrgreen:

  7. Wow, sounds like Fx3 has at long last gained many features. I’m getting tempted to switch back from Opera. The biggest reason to switch would be virtually universal site compatibility. The new features that really look cool are the star button, resumeable downloads, proper zoom… Reasons to stay are bookmark sync, Y!Mail is working OK for now, torrent downloading, full customization of keyboard shortcuts, mouse gestures, and toolbars is cool, tab bin, I like the way transfers, javascript pop-ups… show as tab w/in main window.

  8. Installed and it seems to work OK, although it did crash after I went through Preferences for the first time. Seeing as “Mouse Gestures” and “Tiny Menu” weren’t yet available I’ve done some looking about and have found that the following trick works brilliantly:

    With Firefox open, type the following into the URL location bar: about:config.
    Right click anywhere and from the options select New and then Boolean; you will be prompted for a Preference Name.
    Type extensions.checkCompatibility and set it to false, close Firefox and then restart it.

    Stolen from [freesoftwaremagazine.com]

  9. BinaryMuse wrote:
    By the way, is there a way to search for bookmarks based on tags, eg, search for tags?

    When performing a search in the bookmark manager search box it automatically searches the tags.

    Oropher wrote:
    Oh, and Ryan, doesn’t it get your AV to scan everything downloaded? It does for me!

    Yep, it does scan files really quick after they are done downloading. That’s a nice touch.

    Mohan wrote:
    Well I am testing it out but seems there are some problems with sites like GMail doesn’t render properly, Live Mail doesn’t work in the “full version”, just to name a few. ;)

    That’s interesting, I’ve never had problems with Gmail while testing Firefox 3.

    Claus Valca wrote:
    Do you have any plans to toss together a “portable” version of this one like you have done in the past with other beta releases of Firefox?

    I really wish I could, but the creator have Firefox Portable has sent me numerous warnings saying that I can’t be putting them together.

    bloodsugarwilksm wrote:
    Hey Ryan – can you let us know how to make a portable version of Firefox 3.0 Beta 1? I would like to test it but I installed it once (using a different Firefox profile) and it still messed with my original profile.

    I’ve previously put together an article outlining how to do it yourself:
    [cybernetnews.com]

    netster007x wrote:
    Wow, sounds like Fx3 has at long last gained many features. I’m getting tempted to switch back from Opera. The biggest reason to switch would be virtually universal site compatibility. The new features that really look cool are the star button, resumeable downloads, proper zoom… Reasons to stay are bookmark sync, Y!Mail is working OK for now, torrent downloading, full customization of keyboard shortcuts, mouse gestures, and toolbars is cool, tab bin, I like the way transfers, javascript pop-ups… show as tab w/in main window.

    Mozilla did definitely jump in and throw some new features into the mix. As of right now I’m using both Opera and Firefox on a regular basis. I’ve almost become accustomed to using two different browsers.

    Inferno_str1ke wrote:
    Installed and it seems to work OK, although it did crash after I went through Preferences for the first time. Seeing as “Mouse Gestures” and “Tiny Menu” weren’t yet available I’ve done some looking about and have found that the following trick works brilliantly

    I use that as well, but it doesn’t mean that the extensions will necessarily work. From what I’ve experienced about half of the Firefox 2 extensions actually work properly.

  10. Thanks Inferno_str1ke, extensions.checkCompatibility helped a lot. Not all my extensions work, of course, but many do & where File, Tools, etc was grayed out they are now all functioning :)

  11. A question; anyone know why RoboForm never works for a new version of Firefox until AFTER Firefox has been released as a final version?

  12. Claus Valca wrote:
    Ryan,

    Do you have any plans to toss together a “portable” version of this one like you have done in the past with other beta releases of Firefox?

    Just wondering…might be helpful to play with for those who don’t want to risk impact on their current versions, but want to see what all the fuss is about…

    Whenever I installed it, it installed in a separate folder as “Firefox 3 beta 1″. I’m still able to open both 2.0.0.9 and 3.0. I think you’ll be okay as long as you don’t set it as your default browser.

  13. Downloading the Linux version right now.

  14. edwest wrote:
    A question; anyone know why RoboForm never works for a new version of Firefox until AFTER Firefox has been released as a final version?

    There are a lot of changes in this version of Firefox, and the extension probably just needs to be updated. It happens quite frequently with extensions.

    bob89 wrote:
    Claus Valca wrote:
    Ryan,
    Do you have any plans to toss together a “portable” version of this one like you have done in the past with other beta releases of Firefox?

    Just wondering…might be helpful to play with for those who don’t want to risk impact on their current versions, but want to see what all the fuss is about…

    Whenever I installed it, it installed in a separate folder as “Firefox 3 beta 1?. I’m still able to open both 2.0.0.9 and 3.0. I think you’ll be okay as long as you don’t set it as your default browser.

    That will still share your Firefox profile, which is not really a good thing to do with two versions of Firefox that are so different. They each have different bookmarking systems, and I wouldn’t take the risk of doing that. You could setup a new profile to use, but it’s just as easy to do a portable version of Firefox.

  15. Hey Ryan, in your DIY tutorial for portable Fx, it says do latest trunk directory for nightlies. I want to make a portable version of Fx3b1, not an Fx3 nightly, so I went up and went to Releases. I found Fx3b1, but the problem is it’s an exe, not a zipped Firefox folder. Where could I find Fx3b1 as zip, or make a zip?

    Thanks

  16. I think I found the right zipped Fx3.0b1. I just put it on that $0.72 1GB flash drive (AWESOME tip). It’s remarkable how few software enhancements you notice just by using the software. Really, the biggest thing I noticed was that star button, which is a very small (yet cool) feature. Then there’s the resizer which I don’t really care about (too much choice, now I’ll be moving it over and over never finding a good spot) and the plugins in AddOns which I’ll admit is pretty darn cool. Otherwise, forgot all the new features. I’ll re-read your info then check it out.

    [ftp.mozilla.org]

  17. Wow, BUG, if you drag the search bar way to the left it horizontally squishes the back/fwd/home… icons (unlike Opera which can make icons scale nicely). After shrinking the searchbar back, the icons stayed squished. Had to customize toolbar, and re-add the icons.

    OK, for features, there’s the real zoom which is good (and overdue). They should get it in the tray like IE7 & Opera9.5 so people actually notice it. And, unlike in Opera, you can’t put it in the tray yourself. Restart Fx is also overdue. Permissions are kinda cool (also something Opera has had). I like that there’s all the options on one tab. It doesn’t seem to fit, though, that it’s a part of Page Info. Maybe they should make it Page Info/Permissions. Fx still has I think the worst theme of Opera/IE/Fx

    Overall, Fx doesn’t have many big improvements. It’s probably not going to get much more this release, also. Opera in a much shorter development cycle got out a 9.5 beta w/ a big feature: auto bookmark sync w/ no extra install. I’m guessing Opera still has a few more features coming this release, also.

  18. netster007x wrote:
    I think I found the right zipped Fx3.0b1. I just put it on that $0.72 1GB flash drive (AWESOME tip). It’s remarkable how few software enhancements you notice just by using the software. Really, the biggest thing I noticed was that star button, which is a very small (yet cool) feature. Then there’s the resizer which I don’t really care about (too much choice, now I’ll be moving it over and over never finding a good spot) and the plugins in AddOns which I’ll admit is pretty darn cool. Otherwise, forgot all the new features. I’ll re-read your info then check it out.

    [ftp.mozilla.org]

    Yep, what you downloaded is essentially the same thing as the Beta. If you really just wanted to test out the features you could use the nightlies, which are equal to the Beta’s plus have some enhancements.

    netster007x wrote:
    Overall, Fx doesn’t have many big improvements. It’s probably not going to get much more this release, also. Opera in a much shorter development cycle got out a 9.5 beta w/ a big feature: auto bookmark sync w/ no extra install. I’m guessing Opera still has a few more features coming this release, also.

    This release of Firefox definitely seems to pay more attention to the finer details, instead of having the “big” new features. Although I would have to say that their bookmark system redesign is rather big considering the addition of tags. This will likely mean that bookmarking systems such as Delicious will be able to integrate directly into the browser’s bookmarks.

  19. We’ll see if there’s a way to sync w/ bookmark services like delicious by release.

  20. netster007x wrote:
    We’ll see if there’s a way to sync w/ bookmark services like delicious by release.

    I’m sure there will be, but not by Mozilla. I think it will come in the form of extensions.

  21. That’s the thing. Fx3 places was supposed to do all these magical things w/ bookmarks and history. One of these things, at least as reported here, was bookmark sync. Instead, they change up the bookmarking system in the background, so the user doesn’t know the difference, but now re-written extensions are necessary for bookmark sync. I don’t see how that’s better. How this browser is massively popular I don’t know.

    That’s really the reason I prefer Opera over Firefox (and I don’t want ext’s in Opera). I’d rather get handed a giant sack of cool features than have to go find them one by one and cram them all into a small plastic bag as it gets holes and more holes and eventually just tears apart. Then you get another small plastic bag (create a new profile) and start over again. It’s the circle of Firefox life.

  22. Another thing. I really like that Fx3 star icon on the right of the address bar, so here’s what I did in Opera. I opened the bookmarks sidebar, right click > customize, dragged the “Add” button just to the right of the address bar. That was EZ.

  23. netster007x wrote:
    That’s the thing. Fx3 places was supposed to do all these magical things w/ bookmarks and history. One of these things, at least as reported here, was bookmark sync. Instead, they change up the bookmarking system in the background, so the user doesn’t know the difference, but now re-written extensions are necessary for bookmark sync. I don’t see how that’s better.

    Well, their goal all along was to just implement a backend for syncing so that extension developers had a hassle-free way to create the bookmark syncing extensions. It’s really smart because so many of the Firefox users have their own preference as to what bookmarking system they want to use, but I would have liked to see Mozilla team up with Foxmarks to offer a built-in solution.

    netster007x wrote:
    Another thing. I really like that Fx3 star icon on the right of the address bar, so here’s what I did in Opera. I opened the bookmarks sidebar, right click > customize, dragged the “Add” button just to the right of the address bar. That was EZ.

    That’s really clever! *Goes to do the same thing*

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