Firefox 3: User Interface Enhancements

Alex Faaborg at Mozilla Labs has posted about the new user interface features in development for Firefox 3. The article Firefox 3 discusses the below features with screenshot mockups but since you are here to read about it, here is my take on it.

Here is a quick look at features to be watched:

  • Places: Bookmarking, tagging and history: You can just click on the favicon to bookmark a page and add tags to them easily. I am a big fan of using tags and I’d love to see this implemented the right way. Also, I look forward to the ability to highlight & annotate on web pages and be able to able to see that on a later visit.
  • Malware detection: Browsing with Firefox is a lot safer already. Now, they are adding anti-phishing and malware detection abilities to it. They will check the website against a blacklist (I believe maintained by Google) and display an appropritae message to warn the user similar to Google’s current message.
  • Content Handling: Provides for better content handling. One thing that stood out was better RSS feeds handling with separate preferences for web feeds, podcasts, video feeds & image feeds.
  • Microformat: What is microformat? This is best explained by Alex in another article of his.

    Much in the same way that operating systems currently associate particular file types with specific applications, future Web browsers are likely going to associate semantically marked up data you encounter on the Web with specific applications, either on your system or online. This means the contact information you see on a Web site will be associated with your favorite contacts application, events will be associated with your favorite calendar application, locations will be associated with your favorite mapping application, phone numbers will be associated with your favorite VOIP application, etc.

    Firefox 3 will support Microformat detection, just like they detect RSS feeds on a page.

  • Location bar: Phishing sites commonly rely on the fact that the users don’t pay attention to the exact domain name when the url is long. Firefox 3 will help the users identify such sites easily by providing visual cues such as domain name that stands out in the url and removing the favicon from the location bar. This is something everyone can use as the phishing sites get creative by the day and we just need one sleepy night to lower our usual guard.
  • Private browsing: This enables you to browse with total anonymity with no cookies or history stored in the computer as you surf. They are considering either changing the color of location bar or making some visual changes to the theme when you are in this mode. A neat feature but if your intention is to be sneaky, someone looking over your shoulder could tell that you are up to something.

Other features in their radar:

  • Offline Web Applications – Kind of like what Google Gears enables. Check out offline Google Reader if you are a Google Reader user.
  • Improved Password Manager – I use this heavily for not so important sites.
  • Graphical Keyboard-based UI: If you have used QuickSilver or Enso, you might know what it is. I don’t but it sounds cool.

In spite of all the cool interface features, I am really interested in the performance aspect of improvements in Firefox 3. I would really love to see it manage memory better. To some extent, the memory woes come from different extensions in the wild, but a way to profile and blacklist the offending extensions would be a great boost to Firefox.

What features would you like to see in the next version of Firefox?
[via Sizlopedia]

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