Firefox 6 is out

Let’s all greet this release with groans! :D

Yes, groans, as Mozilla is continuing their major version rampage and has made Firefox 5 obsolete, just as they did with Firefox 4.

Firefox 6 is out.

Well, what’s new in this version?

  • The address bar now highlights the domain of the website you’re visiting
  • Streamlined the look of the site identity block
  • Added support for the latest draft version of WebSockets with a prefixed API
  • Added support for EventSource / server-sent events
  • Added support for window.matchMedia
  • Added Scratchpad, an interactive JavaScript prototyping environment
  • Added a new Web Developer menu item and moved development-related items into it
  • Improved usability of the Web Console
  • Improved the discoverability of Firefox Sync
  • Reduced browser startup time when using Panorama
Almost nothing noticeable, that’s what’s new. It highlights the domain in the address bar (which I have yet to see happening, and I just updated) and it’s definitely faster, though I haven’t used Firefox since since the beta version of 5.
Why am I so negative about it all? Well, Mozilla should have released this as a subversion. This should have been Firefox 4.6 or something. But no, they’re determined to copy Google and release major versions with little change.
It’s going to bring them a market advantage for a short time, that’s certain, major releases of Firefox always brought a rush of users, but people are starting to realize what Mozilla is up to.
I have to admit, Firefox does seem faster than Chrome right now, but I know they haven’t fixed the memory leaks or the cache problems yet, so I’m not switching. Oh and the complexity of setting up Sync isn’t fixed either.
What do you think of this new version? Have you updated yet?

Hi! I'm Luke Harris.

I make websites for people.

I'm based in Corpus Christi, Texas, and I have over 10 years of experience making it easy for small business owners, non-profits, and religious organizations to reach more people online.

7 thoughts on “Firefox 6 is out”

  1. The numbers are meaningless. Under our old release system, everyone would likely have waited until spring 2012 to get these features. Rather than having a massive release come out in 2012, we have much smaller releases deliver good new stuff, every six weeks.

    So, I just say “ignore the number[1] and enjoy the features!”

    (a Mozillian)

    [1]: we ignore the number in announcements: see if you can find “Firefox 6” in this announcement:

    • I was not talking about how often features are added at all. I was talking about your obviously copied release cycle (admit it, you are copying Google, I saw those design pics). Not to mention the fact that people aren’t going to want previous versions to go obsolete so fast.
      In my and other’s opinion, you guys should have stuck with the way it was being done.

      Also, I just read that blog post, and you know what? Chrome highlights domains in /the exact same way/. The similarities can’t be denied.

      I’m not going to ignore Mozilla’s copycat actions, not in the least.

      • From your post: “Well, Mozilla should have released this as a subversion. This should have been Firefox 4.6 or something. But no, they’re determined to copy Google and release major versions with little change.”

        My point is simply that the number is meaningless, other than an identifier used in support situations. What people care about is what their browser does for them *today*.

        “Not to mention the fact that people aren’t going to want previous versions to go obsolete so fast.”

        How many people complain about this wrt Chrome? Most people don’t actually care. They just care what their browser does for them. There are some (large businesses) who don’t like the quick releases, and we’re working with them on a solution.

        We had the video tag in summer 2010. It got into people’s hands when Firefox 4 came out in March 2011. That’s not cool. Chrome has a nice, “web-like” release process that was more than a small inspiration for our release cycle. Should we invent something different just because? Do you have a better release strategy in mind?

        “I’m not going to ignore Mozilla’s copycat actions, not in the least.”

        Nor should you ignore the interesting new things that come out of Mozilla or the times that another browser implements something that appeared first in Firefox. *shrug*

        The web today is moving forward faster than it has since the late ’90s, and that is an awesome thing. The fact that something like Web Sockets can hit major browsers, have a security problem in the protocol, get that fixed and updated in major browsers in 18 months is amazing.


      • There’s a difference in the way Chrome updates and the way Firefox updates. Chrome updates without letting you know it, and the addons (or most of them, I have yet to hear of an addon not working in a newer release of Chrome but I’m willing to admin there must be at least one) continue to work, whereas with Firefox, you’re breaking tons of addons, every six weeks now.

        I think you should have kept the version cycle you had before. I don’t care about how fast the new versions come out, it’s the fact that a first-place version (6.x.x) has usually included a whole lot more features and possibly a GUI change in the past. People expected that, and with this version cycle people are getting disappointed to some extent. A second-place version (x.6.x) would have been more appropriate in my opinion for Firefox 5 and 6, while reserving the third-place version (x.x.6) for small bugs and security updates, like Mozilla used to do.

        Again, let me emphasize on the fact that I don’t care about how fast the new features come out. I love new features. But what I don’t love is when I see people copying others. First the release cycle, now the domain highlighting, and soon it will probably be the GUI:
        Also, speaking the GUI, the current GUI is amazing similar to Opera’s, with the menu and the tabs.

        I have seen few browsers copying Firefox’s features, and those that have usually were unpopular browsers few people knew about. But Mozilla is copying a very popular browser because they realize they are losing some ground to Chrome. It’s obvious, Chrome has been marketed quite a lot and doesn’t crash as much as Firefox has in the past, not to mention that it stays fast, while Firefox just gets slower over time.

      • I agree with you that the updates should be silent, and I know that silent updates are being worked on.

        I’ll just mention that our addons people track addon compatibility very closely and we wouldn’t release a new version if addon compatibility was below a certain threshold. I’m running Firefox 7 right now with a bunch of addons and they work just fine. Addons with binary components are problematic, but even there there is a solution. Jetpacks have no compatibility issues at all for these releases we’ve been doing, and they are a model similar to Chrome’s extensions.

        It appears that we simply have different opinions on the value of rapid releases. That’s fine. People can have different opinions.

      • Let me say it again, I do like rapid releases and new features coming out so quickly. What I don’t like is the way the browser is assigned versions since Firefox 4. And this is mainly because of the mindset around it that major releases of Firefox have always included a whole lot more features and most likely a GUI change in the past. That mindset is slowly dissolving, but there’s still that element of “Hey, someone’s copying Google” in there.

        I know you guys can’t change it now unless you rename Firefox or just take the plunge and say “Hey, we got the versions wrong, it’s actually 4.x”. And no amount of media or bloggers is going to force you to do that. But I can’t help but point out some obvious issues I see with that you’re doing ;)

        I’m glad you’re working on silent/seamless updates, that’s definitely going to be a huge feature. For the longest time I didn’t know which version of Chrome I was using because it always updated silently and would download the update while I was browsing and then install it when I restarted the browser.

        I hope you guys can figure out some way to retain a lot more addon compatibility between updates, and then you Chrome clone will be complete :P

      • The funny thing about timed releases is that you don’t know for sure what’s going to be in them until they hit beta. By doing rapid releases, some will have major changes, most will not. It’s just how it goes with timed releases. Holding off on assigning version numbers until it hits beta presents challenges that are bigger than having whole number version numbers.

        I agree with you that it’s a shift in mindset from the way things *had* been done.

        The reason that traditional (pre-Jetpack) addon compatibility is not guaranteed is because Firefox addons have way more power than Chrome extensions. They can reach into the browser and change almost anything. The downside is that:

        1. addon developers have to know (or learn) a lot about our platform
        2. if we make any improvements to the browser, we will likely break something because it’s unpredictable which of the many, many available functions is being used

        Jetpack seeks to fix these things by being a lot more explicit about providing safe and easy APIs for addon authors. The tradeoff is that there are fewer things that Jetpacks can do.

        Either way, we do a lot of work around addon compatibility. We have some major structural changes to Firefox coming and we’re working really hard to ensure that the path forward for addons is as easy as possible.

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