Mozilla developers working on Firefox graphics, JavaScript

By on April 29, 2011, 10:00 AM
With the release of Firefox 4 Mozilla gave a notable performance boost to its popular browser, but there's still some way to go before taking the speed crown from its rivals. With a new development model in place the company hopes it can churn out features and improvements faster. Among those coming in Firefox 5, 6, 7 and 8 are a new debugger, an updated garbage collection process, JavaScript enhancements as well as a redesigned JIT compiler.

Mozilla's David Mandelin sheds some light on the latter in a recent blog post. Dubbed IonMonkey, the new JIT compiler is currently in the design stages and should be significantly faster than the existing JägerMonkey, with improvements in how it handles function inlining, dead-code elimination, and a few other stuff I wont pretend to understand -- details here. Basically it's more efficient at translating the code a human wrote into the instructions a computer understands.

The new JavaScript engine also is due to get a new debugging interface that will not only be more stable and easier to work on, but should also allow remote connections -- so one could debug a web page running on a mobile device using a debugger running on a laptop. Meanwhile, improved garbage collection will make the process of looking for unused JavaScript objects and freeing memory faster by breaking it down to many short sweeps instead of doing it all at once.

Mozilla also announced enhancements for the Gecko layout engine in a separate post by developer Joe Drew. Project Azure, as it is known, focuses on the creation of a new 2D graphics API for Firefox that's "significantly closer to Direct2D" as well as new 3D backends for drawing content in an accelerated way to OpenGL, Direct3D 9, and Direct3D 10. The intent with these 3D backends is to enable and improve hardware acceleration across platforms and devices.

Firefox 5 should become available as a beta browser next month and its final code is due for June 21, according to release manager Christian Legnitto. It's unclear exactly what improvements it will bring, but we don't expect the JavaScript and graphics changes to arrive that soon as they are said to be in their initial stages.

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