back to article Mozilla strokes coders with Firefox 6

Mozilla has officially released Firefox 6, offering a new JavaScript editor and several other tools aimed at web developers. Over the weekend, the open source outfit posted the latest stable version of Firefox to its FTP servers, but the browser wasn't formally released on the web until Tuesday. Firefox 6 is the second …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Quaterly development cycle ?

    "Firefox 6 is the second incarnation of the browser released under Mozilla's new quarterly development cycle."

    Wait, do I assume right that this means that they plan to release a new version every 3 months ?

    That's going to be fun for plugin developers!

    I can't help wonder if this isn't overdoing things a little here. I know that a new release doesn't have to imply a major release, but still... the thought of being "forced" to upgrade every 3 months doesn't sound too appealing to me.

    1. Andrew Baines Silver badge

      Worse than that

      they have 2 development tracks - new release every 6 weeks apparently.

    2. Ammaross Danan

      Plug-in developers

      You mean plug-in developers have to, in advance, test their plug-in semi-regularly (every 6 weeks) on a beta build of Firefox and release at least minor updates to keep up with the current compatiblity versioning? Heaven forbid! 10 year-olds do as much and more with their World of Warcraft addons.

    3. Asgard

      @"That's going to be fun for plugin developers!"

      That's why I wanted to hesitate upgrading from version 5 to 6, until I could be sure my beloved favorite plugins still worked on version 6. But unfortunately this morning, I didn't have a choice, as Firefox auto-updated to version 6 without even giving me a choice!. I didn't even expect it to auto-update a major version number like that.

      So while it updated I had to hold my breath and pray my plugins still worked!. Not good, not good at all. I wanted to wait to be sure plugins worked before upgrading. I hate it when software forces a change on me and prevents me from having a choice of what I want to do with my machine.

    4. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Idiotic upgrade cycle

      Yes, and when you combine this with's attitude toward user interface consistency ("I have a crazy UI idea! Let's make it the default in the next release!"), it looks like a master plan for annoying as many users as possible.

      I'd be more willing to update FF if it didn't mean breaking half the tools I use AND changing my now-habitual user experience (to no clear advantage) on top of it. As it is, I'm still running FF3, and I don't see any reason to change. If Mozilla stops issuing patches for security vulnerabilities, I'll just grab the source and fix it myself.

  2. Anonymous Coward

    Oooooh - an amazing text editor console

    Errr. Firebug has had a multi-line console for as long as I can remember.

    Well done Mozilla for creating a developer tool that is way behind the one that everyone uses with your browser (Firebug) and no where near as good as those found in Chrome, IE9 or IE8. It's no wonder Firefox usage is in decline.

    1. The BigYin

      More to the point...

      ...why bundle it? Most users won't need it, it's bloat. A dev or a learner can just grab Firebug (or something else) and add it if needed.

      FFS Mozilla, stop with the bloat! Get the basics right, then people can add what they want/need.

      1. Wize

        "stop the bloat"

        Didn't Firefox used to be a small, fast running browser many moons ago? Shame it ate all the pies.

        1. Rafael L

          "Didn't Firefox used to be a small, fast running browser"

          I don't remember this.

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Javascript consoles

      There's also the Javascript Shell bookmarklet, which gives you a multi-line JS console in a separate window, but running in the context of the window from which you open it. Quite handy for debugging/experimentation, particularly when you're trying to fix someone else's brain-dead IE-only page with a Greasemonkey script.

  3. Stewart Atkins

    Addon MaxVersions

    Great, although i wish firefox came with a built in mechanism for overriding the maxversion of addons (something more user friendly than downloading the xpi, stripping out any signatures, manually editing the manifest, repackaging it and installing it) given that the version numbers are jumping so rapidly nowadays.

    1. Terkanil

      Technically, there is.

      See the section title 'Completely disabling the compatibility check'

  4. Mike Judge

    I can't believe

    that El-Reg gives two dedicated full pages to what is efficiently Firefox 4.02..

    I'm guessing this must surely be a advertising feature sponsored by Mozilla right?

  5. Anonymous Coward

    Ok people, move along

    The peep show is over. Version numbers mean absolutely nothing. Didn't you learn anything from Linus' email about Linux 3.0? Hell, if you haven't learned a damned thing from Wondows 95, 98, ME, 2K, Vista, 7, 8, did I miss one, then fuck it; you'll never learn a damn thing ever. Think of version numbers like the tax rate. Pay up sucka!

    Yeah, I saw the typo. Whatcha gunna do about it, punk!

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Its the add ons, stoopid

      With this new schedule am I going to have to go through the shit of finding my add ons and plug ins no longer work? I'm so pig sick of farting around trying to get them to work I'm tempted to not bother anymore. And that on top of finding my mouse wheel no longer works correctly with version 6 I am seriously tempted to go looking else where for my browsing fun. I really liked the browser in its earlier days but the aggravations are mounting and I fear I am nearing some kind of threshold beyond which I will not move. I have listened to all the rationalisations and I know its just a number so whats the big deal? But its not just a fucking number. In the old days I knew what was a service release and what was a major release. The number told me. I knew that with a major jump I could expect trouble and plan accordingly. Now, I haven't a flipping clue if its a major jump or not and have trouble even if it isn't. Its stupid and I'm sick of it. I know that on my own I don't count for much but how many others like me are there?

    2. Steve Evans

      version numbers

      It's not just software! I'm currently looking to upgrade my trusty Quad Core2 2.4Ghz box of tricks, and somewhere during the past couple of years the whole processor naming scheme has gone mad too! I have long since given up on AMD as their naming scheme stopped making sense before I even built the Quad core box. Now it looks like whilst I wasn't looking, Intel have gone mad too! (Actually, they did start to go mad when I built it, the CPU is officially called a Q6600).

      What's the deal with all these i(2n+1) processors! It's enough to make me give up and stick to old faithful and just swap the hard drive for an SDD... Hmmm, there's an idea.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Totally pointless!

    I'm I the only one to think that making yet another leap in version numbers is beginning to look totally stupid and ridiculous? Guess it's going to get to a point eventually where add-on developers and users of add-ons are going to get sick of it and tell Mozilla where to shove Firefox.

  7. Anonymous Coward

    great, now I'm 3 major version back.

    As much as I don't like IE, and being on XP, cannot run IE9, I'm seriously considering relegating Firefox to my only-if-I-have-to browser list, along with Chrome and Opera.

    Beer: because I need one.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I'm never convinced by a fixed upgrade schedule. I had a boss at work who wanted to do this with a project I wrote and supported. I pointed out that the application had been released four years before and was unchanged in 18 months, with only one minor change on the wish list (and no sign of new requests). It had reached maturity and did the job it was designed to do perfectly well, so after that wish was fulfilled, what was I supposed to put into the release after that?

    To make matters even worse she actually wanted to lock releases to 6 months, even bug/security fixes, so if there was a major problem, tough, you might have to wait half a year!

    Needless to say I called her entire idea stupid to her face, and said that if a customer wants a new feature which I could add with about 10 minutes of programming, then if I wasn't busy on something else I would add that feature, have it tested and release it.

    IIRC that was one of the few times she actually backed down.

  9. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    Add-ons ?

    "...several other tools aimed at web developers."

    Oh, so Mozilla have helped plugin authors more easily cope with the version merry-go-round ?

    I'm having to stick with FF 4 'cause HTML Validator still can't cope with the new Firefoxes...

    I've yet to find anything as good either for FF or any other browser, for that matter.

    1. Tony Green


      Perhaps I could suggest Total Validator:

      It works for me.

  10. Ian Thomas

    6 weeks

    It's actually a six week cycle - the first couple of releases were just a little delayed as they transitioned. It's been eight weeks since firefox 5, but firefox 7 will be here in six weeks.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    Non version compatibility check?

    They could at least make a new config option to ignore plugin compatibility disregarding the version...

    With all these major version updates I'm going to have 15 extensions.checkCompatibility.#.0 configs setup...

  12. Peter Kay

    Have they fixed the bugs yet?

    Too late : switched to Chrome at work and mostly using SRWare Iron at home.

    Firefox is too prone to hanging and being a general sloth, particularly on older machines with less memory. That doesn't apply to Chrome.

    Wake me up when they do something different, or bother to support 64 bit Windows by default.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    I'm still on version 3.6

    And I'm staying there until the idiots at mozilla come off the amphetamines and triple expressos and get a grip. What the hell is going on in that organisation? Its like something from a badly written comedy. If 3 major versions in a year was suggested as a story in the IT Crowd it would have probably been rejected as too far fetched.

    1. Ru

      Major versions, you say?

      No, 3 *numbered releases*.

      It is mostly incremental stuff, but the cool kids don't use point releases, and the cool kids have a rapid release schedule and mozilla wants soooo desparately to be cool still...

  14. Lockwood

    I'm confused

    Anti-anything-Microsoft guy: "ZOMG. Windows 8? Windows 7 only came out fairly recently and not much after Vista. Blawww. Too many versions too soon"

    Anti-anything-Microsoft guy: "WOW! Firefox has a new version! IE updates are so infrequent! They keep updating and it's so cooooool!!!"

    It's just so that they can have v50 in 5 1/2 years time. (one release every 6 weeks is around 8 a year, 44 versions to go...)

  15. Flossie
    Black Helicopters


    This new version numbering from Mozilla is a bad joke. Can somebody please fork FF and restore some sanity?

    1. Lockwood


      This new version numbering from Mozilla is a bad joke. Can Mozilla please fork OFF and restore some sanity?

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I used... be a big Firefox user, now I hardly use it except on an old Powerbook G4 in the form of Camino.


    Well it seems that since upgrading my home PC fresh install to Windows 7, it runs like one of those dreams where the baddie is running after you and you can only run about as fast as a dead tortoise that has been nailed to the ground and had the Natural History Museum's archives placed on top of it.

    So I now use Chrome as the main browser. My PC isn't exactly cutting edge but I don't think a 3GB Core 2 Duo is too horrid (everything else runs along fine).

    I thought this must be a one off, so at work I have Firefox 4, no might be 5. Could be 6 by now...So anyway tried it on Windows XP, again a decent Core 2 Duo machine with 2GB (faster than the home one, this is a Dual 3GHz), and same thing, running like a dead dog nailed... - and this is with Firebug disabled.

    I'm not the only one to say this either.

    Shame really as the Firefox 3 releases were great, particularly 3.1, but it's now Chrome or IE9 for me at home.

    Meanwhile I have a laden tortoise to relieve, it's not really dead, just learning the part of Jesus Christ for the passion play airing at the village hall this weekend... ;)

  17. Cameron Colley

    Re Add-ons not working.

    Try Add-on Compatibility Reporter. It allows you to decide for yourself whether any given Add-on is compatible.

    Shame on Mozilla for forcing people to do things like this though.

    Personally, at home at least, I decided that since my Add-ons would complain anyhow I might as well go with the Nightly release. So far the only problems I've had is the odd release where NoScript and AddBlock Plus seem to conflict and prevent a lot of pages rendering correctly, if at all, but that's generally fixed in the next nightly.

  18. Disgruntled of TW

    Business application support - DOOMED

    Mozilla is doomed. For any busines applications which have to be tested against a specific browser version, the business app test cycle alone takes longer than the period between major version releases.

    They have effectively, and efficiently, qualified themselves out of ever making inroads into the business desktop market. Plain stupid.

    1. Lockwood


      "Years ago, we didn't have the resources. Today, I argue, we shouldn't care even if we do have the resources because of the cost benefit trade. A minute spent making a corporate user happy can better be spent making many regular users happy. I'd much rather Mozilla spending its limited resources looking out for the billions of users that don't have enterprise support systems already taking care of them."

  19. Displacement Activity

    Going off FF as well...

    ..encouraging my IE7 users to move to Chrome. For Linux development, I'm mainly on Opera, for the simple reason that they can be arsed to provide current binaries that run on both RH and Ubuntu. I've got a pile of old and old not-so-old Linux boxes running crap and obsolete versions of FF.

  20. Anonymous Coward

    too many aborts

    I just rolled my fireflops and seaspunky back to their old levels and won't be looking at the new ones for a while. their last iteration was blowing up left and right with no end in sight so i just reinstalled my old levels.....happy i had them available..

  21. Anonymous Coward

    I rename thee...


    There ain't much fox in the old lumbering beast anymore - seems we've come full circle and the lean and mean days are over - exactly the same happened to nutscrape when they skipped on down the blighted path of "nutscrape exterminator"

    It's a curse all developers on a long term project eventually face, the constant poking, fiddling, amending and adding.

    The release cycle in order to "play catchup with chrome" is just plain silly, but hey, there ya go.

    Spoilt for choice.

  22. Richard Lloyd

    Mozilla is ditching visible version numbers

    Loads of moans about the version number I see, despite the major version of Firefox meaning nothing after version 4 was released. In fact, Mozilla is going to remove visible version numbers from its products shortly - look at the download page for Thunderbird at for example.

    It's funny how no-one has mentioned the same thing happens with Google Chrome - they version inflate at the same rate: now at version 13 - 7 ahead of Firefox!) and yet what they sneakily do is silent updates (service in WIndows, at job in Linux) and never tell the user they've got a new version. I suspect Mozilla are preparing to do something similar soon with their products.

    Also note that Firefox 3.6.X is sort of becoming a long-lived version (yes, it just got another minor uipdate) - something that Google haven't bothered doing at all with Chrome.

    The extension version checking is an issue - but once I got everything sorted in Firefox 4, versions 5 and 6 haven't caused me any problems. There is the Add-ons Compability Reporter extension, should you need to override the version check (no idea if Chrome does any similar thing - do they even version check or just leave extensions to break?).

    I think one way that users could have been appeased was if Firefox numbered itself with a reverse date format (20110801 or something) - then there's no major version field for people to gripe about.

    The worst thing for me with Firefox 6 was the terrible copycat of the stupid URL domain highlighting (about:config, search for "formatting" and double-click it to set it to false to fix this idiocy) - lets show the domain name in normal text and grey out every other remaining character in the entire URL to make it unreadable. Why not bold or colour the domain name and leave the rest of the URL in a normal font/colour? A dumb copy of Chrome/Opera's awful display of URLx and not a clever move at all.

    In conclusion, Firefox 6, like version 5, is a relatively minor August 2011 update. The next update (yes, version 7, though I reckon "Sep/Oct 2011" would be a more appropriate version string) will start to see both memory and performance improvements for Firefox and I think that release will be a lot more "exciting" for end-users. Rumours have it that update after that (yes, 8 I suppose) will be very good w.r.t. memory usage in particular - it may beat all the other browsers w.r.t. memory usage/management. It may even bring some ex-Firefoxians back into the fold again...

  23. Geoffrey W

    Fixed release schedule?

    The worst thing about Firefox 6 for me was that page scrolling was randomly broken. More often than not the mouse wheel would scroll down the page very intermittently and not back up again. Sometimes it would move down a little then jerk back to the top. Sometimes it even did this using the cursor keys. And then, after some fiddling, it worked again. Then it stopped working again. It did this on many Register pages.

    I accept that this is probably due in part to my hardware config but I have neither the time nor the inclination to spend time trying to fix it myself, so I went back to 5 which showed no hint of this behaviour.

    However, with Moz's new fixed schedule does this mean I will have to stick with 5 for a minimum 6 weeks before I can try again and see if it now works in version 7? No minor service releases in the interim?

    Is customer irritation the new black (the latest fashion) with software companies? Ubuntu is doing it very successfully, as is Gnome, and now Moz to a lesser degree but improving fast as it becomes more and more irritating. Sigh...

  24. Mr Templedene

    Perhaps they could write

    A decent linux installer, or even a linux installer full stop!

    Currently to run V6 I have to unpack the tar and run "as user" for every user on the system, what bollox

    for "open source" developers the firefox team are pretty lax when it come to doing things properly.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      @Mr Templedene

      "Currently to run V6 I have to unpack the tar and run "as user" for every user on the system, what bollox"

      Why? Just untar then copy to /usr/lib or whatever your preference is and set a path to it in the global profile. Sorted.

  25. Dick Emery

    Forced addons

    I edited all my addons to 100.* because I am fedup of the continuous update cycle. They all work fine too.

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