Top 3 Mozilla Firefox 4 Features For Next Generation Browsing ExperienceBy Angsuman Chakraborty, Gaea News Network
Monday, November 3, 2008
Mozilla Firefox needs no special mention to anyone who is associated with internet. Perhaps the fastest and most reliable browser in this world is the most popular one too as they achieved the Guiness Book of World Records for most download in a single day. The key to their success has been continuous improvement of the browser and large committed group of high-quality developers, which Mozilla Foundation could cheaply leverage due to the open source nature of the product. Mozilla Foundation surely do not believe in resting on their laurels. Mozilla Firefox 4 suits the idiom perfectly as it is coming up with some features we could have never imagined in a browser. So let us sneak into that world.
Internet browsers haven’t evolved much from the day IE was first started. The exponentially growing dependency of internet has always conflicted with running desktop apps as an user could never synchronize between the two. These days, you need to open your browser, go to your mailsite and then log into your account to read the mails. What if you had an icon at the desktop clicking on which would have opened a window with your mails only? Or say what if you had google calendars at your desktop?
Prism is an application that lets users split web applications out of their browser and run them directly on their desktop. A very big part of this initiative is to make sites/apps work when they are not connected to the Internet. HTML 5 (the next version of the basic standard for the encoding of Web sites) includes explicit support for local, offline resources.
Technically, as Mozilla says,
Prism is a simple XULRunner based browser that hosts web applications without the normal web browser user interface. Prism is based on a concept called Site Specific Browsers (SSB). An SSB is an application with an embedded browser designed to work exclusively with a single web application. It doesn’t have the menus, toolbars and accoutrements of a normal web browser. An SSB also has a tighter integration with the OS and desktop than a typical web application running through a web browser.
- Separate process: You can not blame a web browser for running fast but acting slow these days. Because you have so many webapps running through that only, it is bound to get slower. With prism, you will get separate windows for separate processes. If your CPU is fast, they act fast just like applications.
- Minimal UI: A generic browser UI is not needed for webapps. If any UI is present, make it specific to the webapp I am using.
- Basic desktop integration: Create shortcuts to start the webapp, add ability to show specialized icons in the tray or dock and ability to display notifications.
- Platform with extensions: Suppose I don’t want to download a full browser runtime for each webapp but want to be able to add some custom code/features that are not directly supported in the webapp. I should be able to install one runtime and then get packages or extensions for each webapp. Remember Firefox extensions or Greasemonkey scripts?. With Prism these extensions should be able to tweak the SSB UI as well.
- Open external links in real browser: If I click a link in the webapp that opens a new site, don’t change my webapp browser window. Open all external links in my default/real browser.
Weave is another great new feature of Firefox that is going to change the history and future of broswer experience. How many times did you have a tough time to find a webpage that you had bookmarked at your office but couldn’t remember while surfing at home. What if a concept is presented to you which synchronizes bookmarks, home pages, favorites, and passwords to any online service to any computer you are in. Be it office, be it home, be it your car, be it any browser (!) these personal data and settings go with you all the time(just like the cute dog from Vodafone’s ads, lol).
Seriously this is great and this is exactly What Weave intends to do. You can see a glimpse of intelligent address bar (smart URL suggestions while typing a web-address) at Firefox 3. But this one will be more compact and integrated with lots of features.
- Basic Services: provide a basic set of optional Mozilla-hosted online services and ensure that it is easy for people to set up their own services with freely available open standards-based tools
- Data Sharing: provide users with the ability to fully control and customize their online experience, including whether and how their data should be shared with their family, their friends, and third-parties
- Security: respect individual privacy (e.g. client-side encryption by default with the ability to delegate access rights)
Geode is another cool concept from the Mozilla labs. Though the implementation is already there in Firefox 3.1 as Geolocation, Geode is going to be a more improved and permanent version of that in Mozilla’s next release. With your consent, it automatically tracks your location through GPS, Wi-Fi or manual entry type options and then serves you with any information you want to know.
Suppose you have come to an unknown city and suddenly you feel like watching a movie. You can use Firefox, use Geode and they will tell you where should you go for a good movie and how. To do this, future versions of Firefox plan on supporting the new W3C Geolocation Specification, which adds the native ability for Web sites to request, and you to optionally grant access to, your location. You can choose your level of anonymity. You can give them your exact location, your neighborhood, your city, or nothing at all.
They are mainly using Skyhook’s Loki technology to map the Wifi signals in your area to your location, which is very precise and faster than convention GPS systems.
Such technologies will not only make one feel easy at any country but also will spur new debates on the extent of privacy and security. Let us hope it will come out good.
Firefox 4 is not coming any sooner than next year as Mozilla officials have told. So many more developments are yet to be declared and worked upon. With Mozilla confirming these two impressive features, we can certainly hope to have a different and out of the world browsing experience from Firefox 4. For all the latest developments on this issue, stay hooked to this article. Ciao.
Tags: Firefox, Friends, Geode, Leverage, Mozilla firefox 4, Mozilla labs, Open Source, Prism, Privacy, Stay, US, Weave, Web application