The Firefox developers have released a new preview version of Firefox 3.7 which includes many of the features planned for Firefox 4.0. The preview release includes special protection against rogue third-party processes that could crash the browser.
The new crash-proofing feature for Firefox 4.0 is known as out-of-process plugins, or OOPP. The idea behind OOPP is that, on Windows and Linux at least, plugins such as Flash and Silverlight will run as a separate process from the core browser. Doing this means that if a plugin should crash it will simply shut down and not render the entire browser unusable. The plugin can then be reloaded by refreshing the page and work continued without restarting the browser.
Although the developers specifically mention plugins such as Flash and Silverlight the OOPP capabilities are intended to be available to all potentially difficult plugins.
OOPP is only included in the Linux and Windows versions of the preview at this stage but the developers say that they “are working on this for Macs as well, but is not part of this preview release”.
Aside from the work done to eliminate crashes, Firefox 4.0’s most noticeable change is to its user interface. In particular the amount of additional space allocated to the browsing area. In part a response to the growing number of ultra-portable notebooks on the market and in part a response to Google’s Chrome, Firefox 4.0 will ship with a minimised menu system and a new minimalist look.
In some of the early mockups the buttons to the left of the address bar have been streamlined down to just four buttons, each of which has a distinct look to them. The tabs in the Firefox 4.0 preview are also significantly closer to the top of the screen than in previous releases, giving a lot more screen space to the actual page being browsed.
One of the changes is a new “home” tab. This is not meant for actual browsing but rather as a launchpad for online activities. The home screen has space for collections of useful tools. These include a search bar inspired by Ubiquity, an Identities section with automatic logins to favorite sites as well as sessions. The sessions section can be used to group related sites together – for example your favourite news sites – or present a visual browsing history.
Although the preview version is currently known as Firefox 3.7, it is expected to be released as version 4.0.
Firefox 4.0 is expected to be released towards the end of 2010.
Crashproofing Firefox 4.0 << Discussion