Pretty soon Firefox 3 is going to be feature complete, and all that will be left for them to do is fine-tune the things they have implemented. As we build up to that big moment there are some new features that are coming out of the shop for testers. This includes a spruced up download manager, resizable toolbar items, a plugin manager, and better looking menus.
So let’s go ahead and take a look at all the enhancements that have come about since Alpha 7 was released:
The download manager has gotten a lot more useful with the features they’ve added. First off it sorts your downloads with the ones currently in progress up top, and those that are completed down below:
For any of the completed downloads you can click on the blue "i" for more information, such as the location it was downloaded from.
Then there is also the search box located in the bottom-left corner. That does a live search of all your completed items, and the results are then immediately displayed:
At first I thought this might be really really nice, except I always setup Firefox to clear my completed downloads after they are finished. The reason why I do that is because it’s supposed to improve the startup time of the browser, and this feature is therefore rendered useless for me. So if you have Firefox setup to clear completed items in the Downloads window, the new layout and features won’t really do much for you.
–Resizable Toolbar Items–
This is a super sweet feature that I’m glad Mozilla got implemented. There is now a "Resizer" item in the Customization screen that can be added to the toolbars. It is the most useful for placing between the search box and address box, where you will then be able to drag it back and forth to resize the two boxes.
It also works when placed between toolbar buttons, but the results may not be what you expect. I noticed that the buttons scrunch together when trying to resize them, and if space gets really tight they are just hidden. It would be a lot better if Mozilla worked on a way to scale the buttons to a size that would allow all of them to remain visible, but that might be something they are working on.
Plugin management has been taken from about:plugins to the same place where you manage extensions and themes. One of the most notable things that I saw when opening the plugin management was that it easily lets you disable certain items. For example, if you don’t want Flash enabled you can disable it right from the plugin management screen.
The only problem, which can’t be seen in my screenshot, is that plugins with more than one file associated with them show up repeatedly. For me the issue was with Java, which had about 10 entries all given the same title.
The menus have also gotten a slight overhaul. Now Firefox 3 supports a Vista-like menu appearance. Some things take advantage of this, such as the History menu which shows the site’s icon next to the entries:
Still to come in Firefox 3 is integration with Vista’s parental control system, a visual refresh/new default theme, Places enhancements, as well as a few other things that are pretty high priority. The next milestone, which is due September 18th, could be either an Alpha or a Beta build. Mozilla appears to be picking up the pace and getting some much-needed features implemented, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to me if they are able to move on to the Beta releases.