For those who like to live on the edge, Gran Paradiso Alpha 8 has been released. This is what will become Firefox version 3 when it comes out, probably in 2008.
I’ve been keeping track of what’s new in the browser – I posted some screenshots of the new Plugin and Download managers in August – but there’s more new now.
When you browse secure sites, the address bar now shows some extended information about the web site from its certificate. I’m not sure if this is information from EV certificates (the ‘green bar’ that IE7 has) but it’s in its early stages here – the UI will get properly designed later on, probably during the beta phase.
Firefox now no longer pops up a modal dialog when it asks you if you want to remember a password – instead, you get the information bar like when popups are blocked. Chu Yeow has more about this, including some screenshots.
All extensions must now use a ‘secure update channel’ – in other words, they have to check for updates using HTTPS. This makes it much harder for the HTTP requests to be intercepted and so extensions cannot be replaced with rogue ones. Unfortunately, this also means that many addons won’t work initially, although most which use addons.mozilla.org should be unaffected.
You can now tag and star sites – an important part of the new Places feature that was deferred from Firefox 2. Again, this will probably look nicer by the time Firefox 3 is finally released.
There’s also built-in malware protection – should you visit a site which tries to install malware Firefox will block your visit. I’m guessing this works in a similar way to the phishing protection that already exists but I’ve yet to find a dodgy site to test it out on.
There may be one more alpha release before Firefox 3 Beta 1 is released some time in the next few weeks. It is a long development cycle but then it’s also the biggest change in underlying code since Firefox 1.5, and is therefore a culmination of around 2 years work already.