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.

User Comments: 5

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Jibberish18 said:

Although I did indeed notice definite speed improvements in FF4 with my day to day browsing and work, I still would love it to be faster. I mean, it's never a bad thing. And it doesn't seem to utilize graphics cards very well like IE9 and Chrome seem to do. So get to cracking Mozilla!

Jesse Jesse said:

I love firefox but it still has a long way to go. It is very slow with some jquery scripts, actually ff3.6 ran my easing animations better than ff4. And I wish they would do something about the crappy font rendering. Webfonts in Chrome look amazing compared to firefox.

Unclean009 said:

Crappy font rendering? For me it's the best looking rendering out of the big 3. I honestly think it's very dependent on hardware and D2d.

Gars Gars said:

i dont no about the rendering engine - its the best looking (meaning pages looks great) browser

i quickly move back to FF after 4

chrome is still fastest and lack of extensions ofc

Clrabbit said:

Fan of Aurora*

FireFox has gotten better FF4/Aurora(5?) is the first build I consider to be day-to-day useable (With a lot of tweaking).

Over all Opera still wins for speed 90% of the time and best tools, but has too many strange bugs when doing development so you have to switch between FireFox a lot well doing development.

I still admire Opera for the fact that when one somebody elses computer I can download it and 2 Extensions and have a lot of advanced configuration done in a couple of minutes, FireFox is 1-2hrs of finding about 24~30 Extensions (Depending on what you want it to do) and then remembering were all the different option windows are.

my #1 complainant to firefox vs opera for development is FireFox's Cache system.... Cache viewer is an improvement but vs Operas built-in Cache search FF is a epic nightmare.

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