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Newborn Firefox gets first glimpse of life

Alpha 1 carries temporary 3.7 stamp

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Mozilla may have officially dropped the Firefox 3.7 name in December, but that hasn’t stopped the open source web troupe pushing out a first alpha of the browser for brave testers to tinker with.

Firefox 3.7 Alpha 1 isn’t for public consumption; instead it’s Mozilla’s first build of the next incarnation of its browser - even though the eventual name may change before the final version lands. Capiche?

Mozilla recently got its knickers in a twist over how it brands Firefox, in part because the outfit has been forced - in the recent past - to shift version numbers (Firefox 3.1 morphed into Firefox 3.5, for example) in recognition of delays brought on by showstopping bugs.

All of which pushed one iteration into another, as Mozilla continued to cram new tech into its popular browser, a move which some critics have slammed for making Firefox a more bloated surfing tool.

So what’s new in Firefox 3.7 Alpha 1? The developer preview comes loaded with the Gecko 1.9.3 layout engine, which, take note, is likely to break compatibility with some add-ons and websites.

Mozilla said it has built-in support for CSS Transitions, SMIL Animation in SVG, WebGL and text rendering Mac OS X no longer uses ATSUI. It now plumps for Core Text instead.

“We rewrote major parts of the code for handling scrolling,” said Mozilla. It also made several architectural changes to beef up web page performance and made tweaks to table border handling.

As for when Firefox 3.7 will rock up, well, a definitive date is yet to be nailed by Mozilla, which reeled back plans in its ambitious roadmap late last year. And, like we said, the eventual name of the next iteration of Firefox is also waiting to be stamped on the browser’s birth certificate. ®

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