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Mozilla Programming The Internet IT Technology

Firefox 3.0 Makes Leap Forward 401

Kurtz'sKompund writes "Mozilla has announced that Firefox 3.0 has passed a major milestone! The Places feature has been added to the alpha client slated for release next week. Places is a complete re-work of the bookmarking and history browser functions. It was at one point slated for Firefox 2.0, but will instead see release in Mozilla's next major version. '"We enabled the Places implementation of bookmarks on the trunk," said the Places team in a post to the Mozilla developer center blog. "Although there is still much to be done, this is an important milestone for us." Firefox 3.0 alpha 5 is scheduled to launch June 1. Because Places uses the open-source SQLite database engine to store and retrieve bookmarks and history entries, it's incompatible with earlier Firefox editions' bookmarks. Alpha users must convert their existing entries, Mozilla developers said."
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Firefox 3.0 Makes Leap Forward

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  • Hrm.. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by nametaken ( 610866 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @11:49AM (#19270873)
    I'm not the usual jerk that complains about FF's feature bloat, but I wonder if this new feature is optional.
  • Bring it on... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by BrokenHalo ( 565198 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @11:55AM (#19270977)
    I'm looking forward to this going gold for just one reason: some of the sites I visit frequently have a particularly in-your-face usage of auto-refresh which pisses me off (i.e. insisting on re-loading just when I'm in the middle of reading a particular paragraph). FF 3.0 (I heard) is supposed to be able to block this...

  • by remmelt ( 837671 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @12:07PM (#19271197) Homepage
    Tagging? Sorting in more ways than alphabetically? Adding notes, relationships/links, sharing bookmarks, grouping, etc. These are off the top of my head, I'll stop here before this post tips over into buzzword land.
  • Light version? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by BlueParrot ( 965239 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @12:11PM (#19271269)
    I love Firefox ( or Iceweasel as it is called on Debian ) but I am running a fairly streamlined xfce install and currently fire.. err... Iceweasel, is using about the same amount of memory as the rest of the system combined. I know there are other browsers, but I really do like Iceweasel, except for the memory footprint. Seeing that I only use a fairly small subset of the features it would be nice to have a light version with just the essentials. I wouldn't suggest axing the features other users love and depend on, but perhaps provide an alternative for those of us who really don't need an advanced database for our 3-4 bookmarks ?

    PS: It would also be nice if Firefox didn't highlight "Iceweasel" as a typo.
  • Re:Hrm.. (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 25, 2007 @12:14PM (#19271319)

    Meh. SQLite is in fact rather nice.

    Except that you have to construct SQL queries instead of the leaner unabstracted way of function calls. Constructing a scripting query and parsing the resultls is always going to be extremely slow compared to a dedicated function call. Abstraction for abstraction's sake is never a good idea, especially when the job is so simple and the data set so tiny (typically no more than a few hundred bookmarks with 2-5 fields).
  • by Wolfger ( 96957 ) <> on Friday May 25, 2007 @12:17PM (#19271365) Homepage
    As a user of multiple computers (work, home, friend's house), I use and the Firefox plug-in for it, and all my bookmarks are stored in a database that I can access from any computer. That's superior to this new "improvement". I think browser developers are really scraping the bottom of the barrel, looking in vain for "the next big thing". I'd rather see work done on useful plug-ins. That work well with existing browsers, than see a new browser that has some improvements of debatable worth that break the old way of doing things entirely.
  • SQLite is brilliant (Score:4, Interesting)

    by athloi ( 1075845 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @12:19PM (#19271393) Homepage Journal

    This lightweight, fast, simple database eliminates many of the headaches associated with using a full-on SQL installation, and works just as well for most of what most developers and users need.

    If you're a Perl geek, like me, you will find this Perl module for seamless SQLite interface [] to be a power tool. The next time you need to get something working by morning, and it's 2am and the person "in charge of databases" hasn't called back, you'll be thanking it.

  • by Coryoth ( 254751 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @12:22PM (#19271447) Homepage Journal

    Look, I love firefox, but I can't really think of anything wrong with regular-ass bookmarks. I have no idea why they need to be in a database of any sort. This seems like a bloat feature to me.
    Obviously you've never used Epiphany's bookmark system, with searchable tagging instead of hierarchical folders. It's rather nice and, due to searchability, you bookmark a lot more pages without worrying about getting an unmanageable mess of bookmarks. The tagging is nice because it lets you associate a bookmark with several different categories (which is pretty common). In general its just a nicer way to work with bookmarks. As to bloat -- you are aware that SQLite uses less than 250k for the entire database engine? That's hardly bloat, and the gains in bookmark management (presuming the Firefox guys put as nice a frontend on it as Epiphany did) are tremendous.
  • Native Mac UI (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Kelson ( 129150 ) * on Friday May 25, 2007 @12:26PM (#19271503) Homepage Journal
    It's also worth noting that native form controls for Mac OS X were enabled yesterday [], something Firefox's Mac users have been clamoring for since the 0.x days.
  • Re:When? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mhall119 ( 1035984 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @12:31PM (#19271569) Homepage Journal
    Firefox currently stores bookmarks in an XHTML file so it currently uses an XML parser to load bookmarks, I don't think you'll notice any negative performance hit from SQLite.

    Bookmarks were strings 10 years ago, now they are multi-field records, especially things like live RSS bookmarks. The hole point of the "Places" component is to give more state and functionality to bookmarks and history.

    I also think the SQLite engine is going to be used for the new client-side persistence framework which does need database capabilities, so it would be there regardless.
  • by DragonWriter ( 970822 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @12:48PM (#19271863)

    As a user of multiple computers (work, home, friend's house), I use and the Firefox plug-in for it, and all my bookmarks are stored in a database that I can access from any computer. That's superior to this new "improvement".

    The Places system is designed (among several other objectives) to facilitate synchronizing Firefox bookmarks with remote storage systems.
  • Re:When? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 25, 2007 @12:57PM (#19272011)
    Firefox currently stores bookmarks in an XHTML file so it currently uses an XML parser to load bookmarks, I don't think you'll notice any negative performance hit from SQLite.

    Actually, it's a specially formatted HTML file, but it's almost XHTML so that's close enough.

    But the big thing about it is that, being an HTML file, it's human readable. I can open it in Internet Explorer or Opera and import my bookmarks from it should I decide to stop using Firefox. I can open someone else's bookmarks.html file and copy out bookmarks should I decide to.

    It's plain text, so it's human readable, which is great if for some reason the profile becomes unusable. (Most common time I need to do this is after a Windows reinstall, when I'm copying out old profile data from the old Windows install.)

    You can also get bookmarks from a Windows profile into a Linux profile quite easily.

    In short, bookmarks being plain text or in XML is a very good thing.

    Replacing that with a binary blob is a very bad thing.
  • Re:When? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Trillan ( 597339 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @01:09PM (#19272187) Homepage Journal
    sqlite is vary resistant to corruption. In fact, the only way you're likely to see it is if Firefox for some reason tries to touch the databases with its own code rather than sqlite. Further, a simple command line query will dump everything.

    Even the phrase "launching a SQL database" indicates you're thinking of SQLite the wrong way.

    A better way of thinking of it is this: Mozilla developers are removing thousands of lines of code with an unknown number of bugs for a simple data storage mechanism used in thousands of software products, including embedded systems. SQLite works. In fact, it works astonishingly well. We're gradually using it to replace most data storage in our own products.
  • Autoexport to HTML (Score:4, Interesting)

    by iabervon ( 1971 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @01:13PM (#19272291) Homepage Journal
    The thing I don't like about this change is that bookmarks.html is the ideal homepage. It's a web page that's stored locally, has no ads or extra junk, and has a list of links to the things that you personally want to get to regularly, updated automatically. The biggest thing I missed when I used Konqueror for a while was that it couldn't render its bookmark list in the browser window. Of course, it should be easy enough to have an extension generate a nice file from the bookmark database every time it changes.
  • Snappy Firefox (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @01:18PM (#19272363) Homepage Journal
    I hope it makes a small leap backwards. Ever since a couple of weeks before fully upgrading to Ubuntu 7.04, when I run Evolution 2.10.1 and Firefox, after a few hours (or maybe a lot of GUI and HTTP events), some combo memory leak fills my 512MB RAM and starts crazily swapping. I have to kill both apps and restart them, recovering their sessions.

    Even if they just had watchdogs that could restart and recover session state, they'd be more useable.
  • Re:When? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by dorath ( 939402 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @01:20PM (#19272395)
    Off topic yes, but if you're using Opera then you can type /. into the bar and press enter, and get to
  • Oh, and, it's fully cross-platform public domain, too.

    I was ready to correct you on the difference between open source and public domain, but upon further reading, you're right: it's completely public domain. They'll sell you a license if you really must have one for some reason, but it's available for downloading and embedding for any use you want to put it to. Kudos, dev team. That's pretty cool of you.

  • Thank you! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pestie ( 141370 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @02:04PM (#19273175) Homepage
    One thing that bugs me about software in general, and open-source in particular, is this constant need for developers to change things just for the sake of changing them. "This way is better!" they'll say, but really, it isn't. When is "good enough" just plain good enough? When I upgrade to the next release of Ubuntu, for example, I don't want to be forced to re-learn all the software I knew and develop new habits just because someone decided it would be cooler if it worked differently.

    Case in point: GAIM/Pidgin. When I first switched from Windows to Linux on my desktop I switched from the "official" IM clients (ICQ and Yahoo) to GAIM. But I had to retrain myself to use control-enter to send an IM, rather than tab-space (tab to move my focus from the text-entry box to the "send" button, space to "click" the button without using the mouse). This key combination worked in all the official clients, but GAIM couldn't be configured to use it. I liked being able to embed newlines in my IM's using just the enter key, so I didn't want that to be my "send" key. So I retrained myself. Fine; I'm willing to make compromises.

    But now the new GAIM/Pidgin comes along and, oh, hey, guess what? You can't configure it to use control-enter to send any more! No more embedding newlines with a simple enter key press! Nope, that's not the "right" way to do it! And remember that send button? The one that was so handy every time you just had to go to the mouse to teach the built-in spell-checker all those words or acronyms it didn't know? Well, that's gone, too! It, too, was the "wrong" way to do things. No, there's only one right way, and that way is to send using the bare enter key, embed newlines with control-enter, and never, ever click a "send" button. So now I have to retrain myself yet again. Thanks, guys.

    So apparently that's what's happening with Firefox now, too. The concept of history and bookmarks, which is perfectly fine and has been since NCSA Mosaic, is now uncool. No, it needs to be replaced with something else. And if I don't like it I need to suck it up and just take the time to completely revise my work habits! 'Cause some basement-dwelling, self-appointed God of Computing said so, I guess.

    I really don't mind change. I welcome it! But I want to be able to change on my terms, not someone else's. I took to tabbed browsing like a fish to water, if you'll pardon the cliche. But nobody forced it down my throat. And I'm getting pretty goddamned sick of developers forcing these things down our throats just 'cause it's the "next big thing." I'm a geek, too, and I love playing with computers just for the hell of it. But I also use computers as tools to accomplish other things, and I don't need my software getting in my goddamned way.
  • Failure? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Leroy_Brown242 ( 683141 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @02:15PM (#19273357) Homepage Journal
    Has firefox completely failed to meet it's original goal if I am contemplating a bribe to some developer friends to compile a stripped down version of firefox so it doesn't use so many damned system resources?

    Left running for 24 hours, with google homepage and gmail up, I am looking at about 1GB of memory used.

    This just does not seem reasonable to me, but I'm a minimalist.
  • Re:When? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bunratty ( 545641 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @02:18PM (#19273413)

    I don't install Flash in Firefox, but I routinely reach 200MB use by the end of the day with an average of about four tabs open; I've only had it running today for about 2.5 hours and it's at 135MB.
    Is that any worse than other browsers? Here are some instructions for seeing Opera and IE use 150 MB or more within about three hours with one tab open []. Firefox 2 consumes less than 100 MB viewing exactly the same sites as those other browsers. If you want to say the memory of a browser is enormous, oughtn't you compare its memory usage to that of other browsers instead of just throwing out numbers without anything to compare them to?
  • by cylcyl ( 144755 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @02:26PM (#19273547)
    kind of like the way gmail tags e-mails? You can have folders that are tags, and any bookmark that matches that tag will show up. when you create a bookmark, you can choose from a tree of all the tags you have. You organize tags into trees so that they display well from a menu. There probably already is a plug-in for that (right?), probably should just fold that into the main code...
  • by Taagehornet ( 984739 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @02:28PM (#19273587)

    A single file contains the schema and data.

    Personally I wouldn't be too worried about the memory footprint, but I guess this means that they're dropping the text based configuration files in favour of a binary format? - If that's the case, I sincerely hope they'll reconsider, from The Art of Unix Programming []:

    When you feel the urge to design a complex binary file format, or a complex binary application protocol, it is generally wise to lie down until the feeling passes.

    I had hoped that the mess that is the Windows Registry had taught people to avoid odd binary formats if at all possible...

  • by unapersson ( 38207 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @03:01PM (#19274135) Homepage
    That's how bookmarks have worked in Epiphany for a long time. When you type in the toolbar it matches the keywords you have defined, and automatically groups bookmarks in a hierarchy based on the tags. It's one of the reasons I still use Epiphany rather than Firefox (on Linux).
  • Re:When? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 25, 2007 @03:28PM (#19274487)
    [I am not the original poster.]

    You DO know about bookmarks, right ? ;-)
    I don't care to choose between making new bookmarks and keeping a large number of tabs open - what is this, the 90s? ;p I never close Firefox except when I happen install some extension or update the browser itself. All tabs are restored when I open it up again, so I can just continue where I left off.

    I routinely have 50-100 tabs open. If I bookmark something, I'll just forget about it and never read it. Bookmarks to me are for filing away things that I have read at some point and found useful, not something that I look through to find something new to check out.
  • Useless Bloat (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 25, 2007 @04:28PM (#19275377)
    I want a browser! I don't want the browser to need a database! SQLite? This is too far!
  • gmail leak (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bunratty ( 545641 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @06:04PM (#19276523)
    Ah, memory leaks when gmail is open. Now maybe we can discuss an actual, confirmed memory leak for a change. Of the six reported leaks with gmail [], four are fixed in Firefox and two seem to be Firefox 3 only. If you can still reproduce a memory leak with gmail up in Firefox, you should file a bug report [] to make sure the problem gets addressed. A browser using 1 GB of memory after a day of use certainly isn't reasonable. It sounds like a problem that should be fixed ASAP. Filing the bug report, including a set of steps to reproduce the problem, is the first step to getting it fixed.
  • Re:When? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by CastrTroy ( 595695 ) on Friday May 25, 2007 @09:01PM (#19278521) Homepage
    Well, since firefox has the "Undo Close Tab" feature, I'm pretty sure that it doesn't release all the memory when you close a tab. I'm not sure when it does release the memory, or if it's possible to disable undo close tab so that memory will be cleared when closing a tab.

The primary function of the design engineer is to make things difficult for the fabricator and impossible for the serviceman.