Mozilla Readies Alpha Release of Firefox Upgrade - InformationWeek

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Mozilla Readies Alpha Release of Firefox Upgrade

The Mozilla Foundation plans to release in alpha early this week the next upgrade of the Firefox browser.

The Mozilla Foundation plans to release in alpha early next week the next upgrade of the Firefox browser.

A new release candidate for Deer Park Alpha 1, codename for the test version of Firefox 1.1, will be available over the weekend for Firefox developers to look at before the alpha version is posted on the Mozilla website, Chris Hofmann, director of engineering for Mozilla, said.

The alpha version, which is scheduled for release early next week, is not meant for general use, but is geared toward developers building plug-ins for the browser, Hofmann said. There are currently about a thousand Firefox plug-ins, which are applications used to extend the browser's capabilities.

"The biggest reason for the alpha version is to start the process of getting extensions and (foreign language) versions," Hofmann said. "Developers need to test and make modifications to get the extensions compatible with the next release."

Hofmann said Firefox developers have also improved the browser's compatibility with more websites. Many sites have been optimized for Microsoft Corp.'s Internet Explorer, which is the dominant browser. Mozilla claims Firefox is compatible with 98 percent or 99 percent of websites.

"Grinding out that last 1 or 2 percent is something that we continue to work on," Hofmann said.

The alpha version of Firefox is built on the latest version of Mozilla's Gecko rendering engine, which supports several new standards, including Scalable Vector Graphics, Cascading Style Sheets Level 3 and Canvas Tags. The latter is a way for JavaScript to dynamically update two-dimensional graphics used in business applications, Hofmann said.

As of the end of April, IE had an 89 percent share of the browser market, and Firefox had a 6.8 percent share, according to research firm WebSideStory. Amerca Online Inc.'s Netscape browser accounted for 2.2 percent of the market.

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