Mozilla kicks off Firefox 5, faster release schedule
Launches 'Aurora' channel with first test version of new browser slated to ship in June
Computerworld - Mozilla this week jumped into its new faster-tempo development program for Firefox 5.
The first version of what will eventually become Firefox 5 hit Mozilla's new "Aurora" channel -- a development line meant to bridge the gap between the roughest versions and a more stable beta -- on April 12, and on schedule.
Shortly before launching Firefox 4 last month, Mozilla began laying out plans for a sped-up cycle designed to generate a new version of its browser every six to 12 weeks. At the time, engineers at the open-source company said they would expand Firefox's then-current three "channels" of development to four by adding Aurora.
"Users can expect an increase in polish from the raw, cutting edge features in our nightly builds, [but] Aurora releases may not be as stable as beta or final releases," said Damon Sicore, senior director of platform engineering, in a blog post describing the new channel.
Sicore noted that the fresh-baked Aurora included "performance, security and stability improvements," but did not go into more detail.
In a more technical blog post, Christian Legnitto, who oversees Firefox releases, outlined the reasons why Mozilla shifted to a four-step development system -- nightly, Aurora, beta and release -- and how that will solve multiple problems.
Aurora is analogous to Google Chromes "dev" channel, and other software makers' "alpha" designations for relatively unstable, early versions that in time lead to beta.
Under the new development regime, Mozilla engineers will add new features as they're completed, rather than waiting for months while work on the next upgrade is completed. If a feature starts presenting major problems during testing -- say in the Aurora or beta channels -- it will be yanked, then re-inserted into a later cycle after fixes have been applied.
Chrome, the first browser to dramatically accelerate its development schedule, sports a similar process to continually feed features to a line that produces a new version every six-to-eight weeks.
Mozilla has taken a step that Chrome hasn't, however: It marks the Aurora build with a different icon to remind users that they're running a pre-beta version.
Previously, Mozilla had staked out a schedule for Firefox 5 that ends June 21 with the release of the final, polished version. Interim deadlines included April 12, when the first of the Aurora editions were to release, and May 17, the day Firefox 5 is to enter beta.
Even Microsoft has jumped on the faster-is-better bandwagon. Earlier this week, it started showing previews of Internet Explorer 10 (IE10), a move that analysts said hinted at an annual release schedule, twice as fast as previous versions.
The Aurora build of Firefox 5 can be downloaded from Mozilla's site, and can be run side-by-side with the production version of Firefox 4.
Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Google reverses field, promises to restore Chrome's scrollbar arrows
- Update: Google ships Chrome 33, patches 28 bugs
- Mozilla's top exec defends in-Firefox ads, revenue search
- Mozilla taps in-Firefox ads as it searches for more revenue
- Mozilla ships Metro Firefox beta for Windows 8
- Mozilla defers Firefox's new 'Australis' UI to April
- Mozilla resets Metro Firefox ship date to mid-March
- Mozilla ships Firefox 26 with opening click-to-play move
- Mozilla banked $274M in '12 from Google-Firefox search deal
- Google trumpets Chrome's SPDY gains
Read more about Desktop Apps in Computerworld's Desktop Apps Topic Center.
- 15 Non-Certified IT Skills Growing in Demand
- How 19 Tech Titans Target Healthcare
- Twitter Suffering From Growing Pains (and Facebook Comparisons)
- Agile Comes to Data Integration
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
- Pay-as-you-Grow Data Protection: IBM Tivoli's Full-featured Data Protection Suite for Small to Medium Businesses IBM Tivoli Storage Manager Suite for Unified Recovery gives small and medium businesses the opportunity to start out with only the individual solutions...
- Streamline Data Protection with IBM Tivoli Storage Manager Operations Center IBM Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) has been an industry-standard data protection solution for two decades. But, where most competitors focus exclusively on Backup...
- Simplify and Consolidate Data Protection for Better Business Results Learn about IBM® Tivoli® Storage Manager Operations Center, which provides advanced visualization, built-in analytics and integrated workflow automation features that leapfrog traditional backup...
- HP HAVEn: See the big picture in Big Data HP HAVEn is the industry's first comprehensive, scalable, open, and secure platform for Big Data. Enterprises are drowning in a sea of data...
- Meg Whitman presents Unlocking IT with Big Data During this Web Event you will hear Meg Whitman, President and CEO, HP discuss HAVEn - the #1 Big Data platform, as well...
- The New Way to Work Knowledge Vault This Knowledge Vault focuses on how, in today's increasingly virtual world, it's more important than ever to engage deeply with employees, suppliers, partners,... All Desktop Apps White Papers | Webcasts