Firefox 3.6 Alpha 1 Comments

As with Firefox 3.5, there's improvements to the performance, pages render faster, pages with JavaScript code run much faster, with the new Tracemonkey engine. Although this Firefox version, carries the code name "Namoroka" Alpha 1, and it is also currently referred to as Firefox.next. And like other Firefox Alphas, it does not bear the Firefox logo.

This release uses the Gecko 1.9.2 engine and includes several interface improvements, such as new graphical tab-switching behavior, which was removed from 3.5 with Beta 2. Although, the new tab switching behavior is off by default. To enable tab previews, set browser.ctrlTab.previews to true via about:config. You can also switch to the previously used tab for this new behavior, set browser.ctrlTab.mostRecentlyUsed to true.

Firefox 3.6 alpha 1 - New Tabs
Firefox 3.6 alpha 1 - New Tabs Full view

Several new features Namoroka / Gecko 1.9.2 Alpha 1 introduces, as listed by Mozilla:

1. Compositor (Phase 1), which moves Gecko to using one native widget per top-level
content document. See this blog post or bug 374980 for more details.
2. A new focus model, described here and tracked in bug 178324
3. The chromedir attribute has been replaced with a pseudoclass.
4. Several new CSS3 properties including background size and gradients for background images.
5. Speed improvements to the TraceMonkey JavaScript engine.
6. Startup and responsiveness improvements throughout the application.

As for feature 6, the start up time is much faster, we timed 3 seconds. And the responsiveness is fantastic, we tested Firefox 3.6 Alpha 1 with some "Chrome Experiments" and Firefox responds much faster to most of them. Where in Firefox 3.5, many of the "Chrome Experiments" ran very slow, some times bringing Firefox nearly to a stop.

As with responsiveness, if you happen to run into a situation where Firefox slows down, in Firefox 3.5, you might find it difficult to even close the Tab that is slowing Firefox down. Well in Firefox 3.6 you can easily close the Tab, and Firefox will quickly recover and speed right back up.

There is better autocomplete recommendations for form fields, no longer in alphabetical order, they are sorted by frecency, so the proper values are displayed. Also, the characters you type are searched in all previously entered strings not just the beginning as in Firefox 3.5.

There seems to be not much improvement to how page rendering is done, Firefox 3.6 Alpha 1 scores a 94/100 on the Acid 3 test, up from 93/100, with a pause at 26/100 and 27/100.

Firefox 3.6 alpha 1 - Acid Test 3

External Links:
Chrome Experimentsnewwin
Mozilla Announces Firefox 3.6 Alpha 1newwin
Mozilla Firefox Official Websitenewwin
Acid 3 Testnewwin

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