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Rapid-release idea spreads to Firefox 5 beta

Napster

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Mozilla released a beta version of Firefox yesterday, its first on a new quick-release plan intended to bring features to browser users and Web developers sooner.

Firefox 5 beta's big new feature is support for CSS animations, which let Web developers add some pizzazz to actions such as making dialog boxes pop up or switching among photos. Also in the new version is canvas, JavaScript, memory, and networking, according to the release notes and bug-fix list.

That may not sound like a dramatic overhaul for a whole new version number, and indeed it isn't. Mozilla is following in Google's Chrome footsteps with a faster release cycle that means new versions arrive more rapidly but the differences from their predecessors are less dramatic. It also means a major change in version number doesn't mean a major overhaul has taken place.

Mozilla has three main versions of Firefox now: the release version for mainstream users, the beta version with new features under testing, and the most raw, Aurora, a version to introduce those new features. Those three versions correspond to Chrome's stable, beta, and dev releases. There's also a nightly Firefox build for those who want to try whatever patches have arrived in the last 24 hours, but it's most likely to be unstable.

The new process means that whatever is done on a particular schedule can ship in the new version--a more calendar-focused process than feature-focused process. One goal of the approach is to reduce the penalty of missing a train, because with a rapid release cycle, another train should come to the station soon.


cnet.com