Posts Firefox 3.0 beta 2 a good step forward

Firefox 3.0 beta 2 a good step forward

At long last, Firefox 3 is coming, with a second beta released just a few days ago.

Firefox 2 is not too bad, and it is certainly preferable to using Internet Explorer, but it is plagued by memory leaks and gradual performance slowdowns. Firefox 3 is meant to improve a lot on this, thanks to "nearly 2 million lines of code changes" in the new Gecko engine.

Add to this the fact that Firefox 3 greatly improves Mac OS X support (Firefox 2 on Mac OS X is sub-par compared to its Windows incarnation, with no native widgets and funny UI bugs), and there is no doubt that it will be a necessary upgrade.

My first impression of 3.0 beta 2 is very good: history back/forward is much snappier, as is switching between tabs. Google Reader seems much faster. I have been using the beta for several days without any major problems, except some oddities in the Download Manager, and missing file names when printing to PDF.

Compatibility with web sites out there seems excellent, although it is inevitable that issues will arise here or there. In particular, some code in Orbeon Forms had to be fixed due to Firefox 3 fixing this bug.

There are a few disappointments:
  • Printing seems as broken as ever. Safari seems to do much better here, and I suspect that even IE does better, which is a real shame.
  • While OS integration is much improved on the Mac with native widgets, it doesn't seem that 3.0 beta 2 is able to use the native spellchecker or Keychain.
In spite of this, Firefox 3 will be a good step forward, and I can't wait for further performance improvements such as the integration of the Tamarin VM.