Saturday, July 3, 2010

Firefox 4 pre-beta review

I installed the nightly build of Firefox 4 today. Overall, I seem to enjoy using it. Looks great, and has  better interface. Though it looks like Opera, with the tabs on top,  the button on the top-left doesn't have all the options we had in the menus. However, the menubar is still here, though hidden by default. Probably Mozilla didn't want to make it so complex, but what they've put here is very minimal. More options - detailed ones - would make up to a fuller and richer experience. Anyway, the interface is good, and Mozilla will probably make a lot of changes till the beta version, after they know what people expected and how different it is from what they got.

The Firefox 4 interface currently looks like so:

What's the big new thing in the interface currently except the normal browser window is the add-ons page. Yep, the 'page'. The add-ons box is no longer here. It has been changed into a page. When you click the add-ons option in Minefield -> Customize, a new tab opens, with the page 'about:addons'.

There is a convenient pane in the left of the window to switch from extensions to themes, plugins and Get Add-ons, like it was in the previous versions. We get all the info of the extensions and we can easily uninstall and disable the add-ons from the window.

The only little problem with this page is that it has no favicon to display in the address, oops, location bar and the tab on top.

The Get Add-ons page is much better and convenient as compared to the old versions. The old one, by default, showed five featured add-ons, and a search box, but now, the page is much better. There is a disclaimer though, in the nightly version, saying that this page is still under construction.

I don't think I see any great difference in the performance of this version over the previous ones. It's pretty much the same, but there will surely be better performance in the final versions. I have faith in Mozilla.

There aren't many problems in the browser so far, but I've only been using it for a while. The major one I found yet is a fullscreen mode issue. When I switch to fullscreen mode, the browser toolbars slide up only halfway and some of the text, especially the 'Minefield' label stays in the air, where it was.

Also, when closing this mode, the browser restores back to a small window. That's an annoying bug Mozilla needs to fix, mostly for regular fullscreen users.

Another bug is of the page going blank when you pull a tab out of the window to make it another windoTo get around it, you need to refresh the page. Also, any data you typed into the forms on the page is lost. Actually, it even happened to me when writing this post! Anyway, it was automatically saved to drafts, so I didn't lose anything, still...

I didn't test any kind of JavaScript, CSS or other performance stuff, but I sure know that it got a 97/10o in about 2.6 seconds on the Acid3 test.

Anyway, this is enough to wrap it up. This browser is quite amazing, and I hope it gets better when it releases. And I really want the green page load bar on the tabs as planned in the mockups of the browser.

I'll keep using this browser for a while and put up more interesting stuff if I find any.

UPDATE: The update to Minefield released on 5th July 2010 enabled all the extensions. Every extension I use is now perfectly compatible with the browser now. I have no problems yet. But after a number of updates too, the version number is still Minefield 4.0b2pre. Don't worry, that's not at all a problem.