Firefox 3.6 and me

Yesterday, the Mozilla Corporation has been released the brand new Firefox 3.6 which is the successor of Firefox 3.5 and has a couple of interesting new features and speed enhancements aboard. Let’s have a quick look at the release notes and checkout what makes it a shiny and brilliant new version:

  • With the Lightweight Themes support users will be able to skin their browser chrome without having to install Personas. Browse through the list of the most popular Personas and hover the different themes to see a preview directly pinned onto your browser. A click on “Wear It” will finally choose the skin.
  • The new outdated plug-in protection checks the installed plug-ins on your system and will warn you when a newer and safer version is available.
  • Enjoy full-screen playback for HTML5 video elements.
  • Improved start-up times, better responsiveness and faster Javascript execution which were a main focus for 3.6.
  • Support for new CSS attributes like gradients, background sizing, and pointer events.
  • Support for new DOM and HTML5 specifications including the Drag & Drop API and the File API.
  • Firefox 3.6 blocks unknown and vulnerable libraries to lower the risk of crashes. In the past a couple of 3rd party tools have been circumvent the official way in installing add-ons which lead to a significant number of crashes after an upgrade of Firefox.
  • Full list of features.

With a release cycle of only 7 months Mozilla has been shown that it’s possible to release a new major version of the Firefox browser in such a short interval. And that’s absolutely necessary when comparing Firefox with products of other browser vendors. Bringing the newest technology as fast as possible to our users will full-fill their needs and finally help the continuously increment of market share.

But all that work wouldn’t have been possible without the help of the overwhelming community around Firefox. Thousands of contributors spent hours of their spare time in developing, localizing and testing Firefox. We can always repeat: Thank you soo much!!

For myself it was the second Firefox release I have worked on as an employee of the Mozilla Corporation and each week has been shown that it is a pleasure to work with all those amazing people around the world. I’m feeling great to be able to spend all my time fully devoted to Firefox. It was a great experience and a path of learning new technology, improving social interactions, and making the web better.

Given Firefox 3.6 I was able to work on projects like:

  • DLL blocklisting / Components folder lockdown: 3rd party applications which install their own modules inside the components folder of Firefox or LSP’s (Layered Service Provider) which get bind to the Firefox process can crash Firefox. With DLL blocklisting those crashing or malicious modules will be blacklisted and not loaded anymore. On the other hand only known XPCOM modules will be loaded thanks to the components folder lockdown feature. Both features have been tested with various top100 3rd party applications.
  • Tab Network Prioritization: Restoring a Firefox session with a dozen of open tabs in one or multiple windows slows down the restoration process more or less. Until now there was no specification in which order those tabs get loaded. Means tabs outside of the visible tabbar or in underlying windows were restored in parallel. As result you had to wait longer until the currently selected tab has been finished loading. From now on the current tab has the highest priority, followed by visible tabs in the same window and tabs in underlying windows. As tests have been shown this feature works very well in Firefox 3.6. More improvements will come with the next version.
  • Crashkill: To lower the number of crashes for Firefox the Crashkill project has been initiated a while back. In the last quarter I was able to work on a couple of those bugs. Thanks goes to Chris Hofmann who showed me a couple of nifty tricks and tools regarding crash analysis.
  • Mozmill: As the lead of the Mozmill test automation process I had to put focus on Firefox 3.6. So all manual tests from the Smoketest and BFT testgroup, which have been already automated, can be used to run automated functional tests against Firefox 3.6. The same applies to the automated software update tests which make sure that update paths are working as expected. As seen for the previous 3.6 beta and 3.5.x security releases all those tests are very helpful and give time for QA to focus testing on more important areas.

Finally I can say that I’m feeling great with Firefox 3.6 as my daily companion but also looking forward to any upcoming work which has to be done for the next major version of Firefox…

Photo challenge – please vote for us

Some weeks ago a friend of mine pointed me to an upcoming photo challenge about image manipulation created. It has been initiated by the biggest German computer magazine c’t. My first thought was to attend this challenge but I recognized that I don’t have any great images on my box and no time to work on that. But surprisingly a friend was visiting me over those days and we had some great shots in the Saxon Switzerland.

Given those pictures Silvia made a fake image in parallel without knowing about this challenge. Once I had seen the result I pushed here to subscribe to the challenge. After some talks and further processing steps of the image we have decided to take the challenge just for fun. About 3 weeks ago the first results have been posted to the online gallery and a public survey has been started. 139 of the best pictures can be voted by everyone and our faked image is in this list too.

Here a former version and not the final one on my Flickr account:

Surprisingly a former colleague and a friend of mine informed me today that we have made it to even show up on spiegel.de. Woot – there are only 13 images posted. So isn’t it a call that we have good chances?

Please help us and vote for our image when you like it. We appreciate your help.

7 Things about me

Meanwhile I was getting tagged 3 times by good fellows aka Pascal, Simon, and Abdulkadir. Thanks too you all! 😉 Normally I don’t follow such chain letters but lets make it an exception…

The Rules:

  1. Link back to your original tagger and list the rules in your post.
  2. Share seven facts about yourself.
  3. Tag 7 1 people by leaving name and link to his blog.
  4. Let them know they’ve been tagged

The seven things you may (or may not) know about me:

  1. I was born in the German Democratic Republic. During its existence my family hadn’t a telephone nor a car. We were forced to write letters and to use the train or bike to visit our family members at any time.
  2. It has taken a long time until I got in contact with the Internet. I was 19 years old and started my training in the Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe.
  3. I’ve played several instruments more or less good, e.g. piccolo, accordion, guitar and bass guitar.
  4. In 2002 I started dancing for the first time. Now it’s one of my favorite hobbies. I do this to keep in shape and to have fun. But I don’t want to do tournaments in Standard and Latin dance.
  5. Photography is one of my other passions but it needs too much time, which I don’t have currently. You can see that in my photoblog. The latest entry was added a long time ago. I really have to continue in making pictures when I’ve been moving to Dresden in two month!
  6. I have acrophobia but it hasn’t distracted me from having an awesome skydive over the Lake Taupo in New Zealand. It was a fantastic experience I would repeat at any time
  7. And the best in the end: A month ago I was getting uncle for the first time in my life. I really love my sweet, and little niece!!!

There is someone who wants to write his own 7 things but hasn’t been tagged so far:

  • Marco Zehe: One of our great accessibility guys from Germany