Spread FirefoxMike Schroepfer, Mozilla’s vice president of engineering, said in a Google Group the other day that the number of milestones needed for Firefox 3 were going to be increasing. As of right now we have already had 6 Alpha’s, with the last one being released last week.

Instead of moving into the Beta’s Schroepfer announced that they will have an Alpha 7 (referred to as M7) at the end of July. Then another milestone, M8, will be available on September 18th. They didn’t make it clear whether the latter one would be an Alpha or Beta build, but by that time all front end features (a.k.a. user interface changes) are expected to be done. Then the last milestone on the list is due October 16th, but that will probably not be the final version.

So why is there a need for the extra milestones? Here are a few reasons that Schroepfer talked about in his post:

The Firefox front-end has had significantly less development time than the platform and has yet to have the opportunity to innovate on top of infrastructure built for places, password manager, and others. So we’d like to give them until M8 to continue to develop user-visible features on top of the core infrastructure.

It does not appear that M7 will be ready to be called a beta. Talos is showing a ~18% increase in Footprint and informal dogfooding confirms things are currently worse on the trunk.

Talos is the performance testing project that Mozilla uses to test the startup and page loading speeds, all while monitoring memory and CPU usage. So an 18% increase is definitely not a good thing for those of you who already struggle with Firefox performance problems. And then "dogfooding" simply refers to the Mozilla team running Firefox 3 for themselves and watching for performance issues.

Mozilla is also going to be reviewing the visual design of Firefox, and in their latest meeting notes they mentioned some aspects they might change for Firefox 3. They will be looking into making better use of Aero Glass in Windows Vista, and they are even considering ditching the toolbar! By toolbar I think they are referring to the bar that has File, Bookmarks, Help, etc… on it which Internet Explorer 7 has already hidden from the user. So maybe we’ll be seeing something more like IE7 in Firefox 3:

Internet Explorer 7

Firefox 3 probably won’t be shipping until early 2008 because I expect to see at least two Beta’s and two Release Candidates before it makes it out the door, all of which are typically spaced several weeks apart. Mozilla appears to be refraining from announcing deadlines, but that is probably to prevent disappointment and criticism for not staying on schedule.

News Source: Computer World