Firefox to Lose Version Numbers

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nightfly

Nails in the coffin for firefox. You don't want us to know which version we're using? Why, so we can't go back to a more stable release? Fine. You're plug in container stunt was bad; this is worse. Time to admit your product is beyond fixing, and start over. Sad, but then again, it worked fine for a several years, and really, what can we expect from a free product? I stopped using firefox when it's memory usage topped 900 megabytes with only six tabs open. Now I have to go to help all my friends switch browsers again.

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don2041

I,v been using ver 3.6 and find it works perfectly for me. If it ain,t broke don,t fix it.

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Zoandar

So when they do this, how will we ever know if a plugin we want is compatible with their current build they no doubt want us to blindly auto-update from here forward? This idea is worse than rapid release. It is an "ostrich" move. Like hiding the version number will make the release stable. Feh.

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bling581

Exactly what I was thinking. I'm hoping the auto update will be optional, because I've had to revert back to older versions of Firefox because the new versions were unstable.

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Scatter

I've already said that the version numbers were pointless as people were getting too wrapped up about how quickly they were coming out and what version was current. 

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Dartht33bagger

Well I think this is better.  At least we won't be on Firefox 18 by the end of the year like we were on track to do.

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Cregan89

Everybody who is freaking out over Firefox's recent development changes needs to calm the fuck down. Do any of you have a degree in Software Engineering? Didn't think so, so stop pretending like you have any idea what you're talking about. Mozilla knows what they are doing. And they have very good reason's for doing them, and that's why every other browser is doing the exact same thing. It's called rapid release development, and it's used in many other types of software other than web browsers. It's a pretty simple principle... Instead of bunching a large collection of new features together into a new major release, and thus having to wait on every single feature to complete in order to push out any of them, you push out individual features quickly as they become ready.

It doesn't matter what the version number is, it's just a fucking number. That's why Mozilla is deciding to hide it so that idiots stop complaining that it's too high. 

There's a million advantages to rapid release development so I'm not going to get into all of them, but basically, features are pushed out faster, and it enforces proper coding and development conventions, resulting in better backwards compatibility, easier maintainability, easier debugability, and fewer bugs to begin with.

Mozilla is also trying to get people to always use the latest version of their browser in an attempt to make HTML5 adoptable by web developers, instead of having to rely on Flash and Java.

Basically, they want this:
http://www.w3schools.com/browsers/browsers_chrome.asp
As opposed to this:
http://www.w3schools.com/browsers/browsers_firefox.asp 

Notice how Chrome 10's market share went from 21.3% to 2.2% to 0.8% month over month once Chrome 11 was released. Whereas Firefox 3.6 went from 32.9% to 23.8% to 15.6% to 12.3% month over month, even after 2 new versions of Firefox were released. This makes it impossible for web developers to have any sort of feature consistency or rendering consistency across the web. And it also makes it much more difficult for Mozilla to provide support since everybody is using a different version.

So everybody go update to the latest version of Firefox, the add-on developers will get the point really quick (just like they have with Chrome). And if you find Firefox crashes or is slow, then switch to a different browser. But please, stop using outdated software, it makes the entire online experience for everybody on the www worse because we developers can't use the newest features available to us because users refuse to update to relevant browsers.   

 

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cownaetion

Yes, cause your the only person registered on MPC with a software engineering degree. Not a chance nobody else would have a degree (because degrees mean everything too, if you forgot).

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Zoandar

"and it enforces proper coding and development conventions, resulting in better backwards compatibility, easier maintainability, easier debugability, and fewer bugs to begin with" Is this why version 4 is so flaky and version 5 simply stopped working on one of my PCs? I disagree with your reasoning. I could care less what they call it, but they need to slow down and debug before releasing an update. AND stop nagging those of us who refuse to update to their latest bugfest. Prior to version 4 I would have stood behind Firefox as THE browser, bar none. They blew that loyalty big time as far as I am concerned.

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Cregan89

I didn't say that it means that the code written will be good code. Just that it makes it easier to "potentially" write good code. Personally, I think Firefox is crap. It's very slow and buggy compared to basically every other browser. And that's why I don't use Firefox.

What I was saying was that the reason Mozilla is moving to this development strategy is that they can potentially improve the speed and reliability of newer Firefox versions. By releasing smaller updates more frequently, it's easier to test, debug, and optimize small individual features than it is to test, debug, and optimize 100 new features all at once.

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illusionslayer

Because anyone who has any idea about anything must have a degree in Software Engineering.

Changing the numbering scheme from 1.X, 1.X1, 1.X2 to X.01, X+1.01a, X+2,01 has nothing to with software engineering anyway.

"This makes it impossible for web developers to have any sort of feature consistency or rendering consistency acrossthe web." Aww, poor wittle web devs. Is it to much to ask for you to throw a bit of code that detects the browser and switches the page accordingly? Think abouht anyone that makes any type of software. Company X makes software that conflicts with your companies software? Guess who gets to fix it, I'll give you a hint, it's not Company X.

"So everybody go update to the latest version of Firefox, the add-on developers will get the point really quick (just like they have with Chrome)." First, Chrome's addons are version independent, just as firefox's could be. Second, you've just contradicted everything you just said. If everyone keeps updating how will devs keep up? Wouldn't it be better if everyone stuck to 3.6?

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Cregan89

Oh, and a further point to your "Is it too much to ask for you to throw in a bit of code that detects the browser and switches the page accordingly?".

Here's some code I've written for a project to display a specific SVG image in IE9/FF5/Chrome:

ImageObject = document.createElement("object");
ImageObject.type = "image/svg+xml";
ImageObject.data = ImagePath + Image + ".svg";
ImageObject.width = "100%";
ImageObject.height = "100%";

Here's the same code with added compatibility for FF3.6:

if (document.implementation.hasFeature("http://www.w3.org/TR/SVG11/feature#BasicStructure", "1.1")){
ImageObject = document.createElement("object");
ImageObject.type = "image/svg+xml";
ImageObject.data = ImagePath + Image + ".svg";
ImageObject.width = "100%";
ImageObject.height = "100%";
} else {
ImageObject = document.createElement("img");
ImageObject.src = ImagePath + Image + ".png";
ImageObject.alt = Type;
ImageObject.style.position = "absolute";
ImageObject.style.left = "0";
ImageObject.style.right = "0";
ImageObject.style.top = "0";
ImageObject.style.bottom = "0";
ImageObject.style.width = "100%";
ImageObject.style.height = "100%";
}

This code itself is over 3 times longer, plus it has to download the SVG spec, plus I have to make available a PNG version of every image. The PNG images are significantly lower quality and therefore look like crap when scaled, while at the same time are larger than the SVG file. This code is also over 100 times slower because of the feature test. And guess what, even if you're using IE9/FF5/Chrome, you still have to suffer all of the consequences (except for the crappy image scaling of course).

And that's how it is with all interactive web sites on the internet. Everybody uses up to twice the bandwidth to download backwards compatibility code, plus they take anywhere from a 20% to a 20,000% hit in performance. All because you are still using FF3.6. 

 

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Cregan89

"If everyone keeps updating how will devs keep up?"
Backwards compatibility should be left to the programming API, which in the case of web development, is the W3C web standards. It's the job of the W3C to make sure that future spec updates don't break older specs. If both the web developers and browser developers were to accurately follow the W3C web standards, then all future updates to those web standards would not break backwards compatibility. A website written to standard in 2011 should render identically the same in 2050 without any changes to the code. So in a perfect world a web developer should be able to code a web site to the current spec at the time, and all viewers will see it exactly the same forever. But this isn't the case, because a large chunk of users are running browsers which were written to an older spec. So web developers instead have to code to lowest common denominator. Or, they have to break spec by combining older and newer spec together, along with 3rd party plugins, and "browser hacks", in order to achieve a consistent experience. But by doing this, you cannot guarantee that the web site will display consistently in browsers which you haven't tested for, including future browsers which don't yet exist.

"Is it to much to ask for you to throw a bit of code that detects the browser and switches the page accordingly?"
Well that's exactly what we have to do since people are all running different versions of the W3C web standards. But this approach can only really be taken so far. Take a look at all of the various different web browsers that exist here: "http://browsershots.org/". It's obviously not very economical to write 200 different hacks in order for your web site to work correctly in 200 different browser versions. Plus, because you've had to use "browser hacks" as we call them, you now can't guarantee that your web site will display properly in future browser releases since you're code breaks spec and you have no idea how future browsers will handle these hacks. It also means that web developers can't use new web standard features since only a small fraction of the public actually run up to date browsers. Instead we have to wait for years before we can confidently use a new feature. You wouldn't believe all of the possibilities in web development at the moment with new HTML5 features, it's possible to create web apllications that are nearly as integrated as native applications right now. Unfortunately, only like 40% of people are running a web browser that can actually run web apps that advanced.

A perfect example is Adobe Flash. Basically everything in Flash can be written in native HTML5/CSS3/Javascript/SVG right now. But until less than 10% of the public is running anything less than IE9 or Firefox 5, Adobe Flash will be the only viable option for web developers. This means poor performance, and poor security.

So again, by running an out of date browser, you literally hinder the web experience of every single person in the world.

 

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cownaetion

"So again, by running an out of date browser, you literally hinder the web experience of every single person in the world."

Ha ha, this is the biggest load of BS I've read. That was a good laugh.

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someuid

As a home user, when I gave Chrome a try, I enjoyed the slimmed down interface and stuck with it.  Since then, Chrome has always seamlessly kept itself up to date.  I no lonoger wonder what version of Chrome I'm running.

Of course, as a network admin, that idea scares me to death.  With all the custom apps at work that don't transisition well from one major release to another, I'm glad we're still stuck on slow poke upgrade cycle IE.

Google would have to introduce some sort of central version management tool for Chrome before I even considered using it at work.

I hope the team at Firefox keeps an open mind and offers network and sys admins some network-wide management tools to control the version deployed to the enterprise.  Maybe an overlay to be applied after an install that disables (and hides from end users) the automatic update option, or an easily modifiable exe installer, or details on how to disable via group policies, regestry entries, etc.

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big_montana

You already have that ability built into Windows. It's called GPO's. We use them at my firm so users are unable to install any software, even if a piece of software, such as Flash, notifies them there is a new version. As they run as power users, and you need admin rights, they are effectively blocked from installing anything.

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Toady00

They need to stop the pointless versioning, but instead of ditching it, implement sematic versioning so that the version numbers actually mean something. The short and sweet of semantic versioning is this. Version are numbered X.Y.Z (Major.Minor.Patch). Patch numbers are incrememnted only for backward compatible bug fixes. Minor numbers are incremented only for backward compatible additions to the API, and Major version numbers are incremented when backward compatibility is broken for the API. http://semver.org/. Just makes sense.

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Vernak

First Mozilla decided to mirror competitors with a a rapid release schedule of version numbers lacking traditional significance.  Now, they think they are going to get away with "we'll just take care of it?"

I dont know how long I'd be willing to play "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain" with browser support.

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Holly Golightly

Yeah, it was rather silly of them to keep making new versions every few months. Maybe FireFox copying chrome is a good thing. But I still prefer the rich authentic experience of FireFox that Chrome just can not do. 

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Tarkooka

" rich authentic experience " ?!?!?!
its a browser for gods sake
the 2 things that matter are speed and stability and in both cases firefox can't keep up with chrome
but i belive FF is still better than IE and it is a great back up in case some online apps dont support chrome

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Holly Golightly

Okay... By "rich" experience... I mean it has support for the extra things that can not be found on chrome. For example, FoxTab makes your favourites fully 3D, and you can add more, like a throbber, which I still use. Chrome does not offer this, and I come from the NetScape generation where throbbers help make cyberspace a wonderful experience. Plus, Mozilla engine has always been reliable. FireFox gives me the complete experience I have learned to trust over the years. Chrome's ad blocker only works half way... Useless against video ads, but not on FireFox... Somehow it works there. For Godsake, shouldn't a browser feel complete?

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nightfly

Great, 3D, more bling. Bah. Make it more stable and stop the huge memory comsumption.

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bloodgain

::blink:: ::blink:: ::twitch::

And I was just thinking to myself the other day, "What could be a dumber idea that ridiculous inflated version numbers?"

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Scatter

"What could be a dumber idea that ridiculous inflated version numbers"

 

Worrying about them as a user. 

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Vernak

Well, if you make something idiot proof, the world will make a better idiot.

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damicatz

For the good of the future of Firefox, Asa Dotzler needs to be fired.  It's bad enough that Mozilla is now EOLing products after only a few months out.  That basically kills the corporate market because corporations are not going to upgrade major versions of a browser every 3-5 months (and yeah, corporate/enterprise support is rather important. Not that Firefox has ever been good on that since you can't manage it by default with GP).

Now, providing support to end-users is going to be harder because you will never know what version they are running unless you direct them to a hidden area (adding confusion to the process).  It seems that each successive version of Firefox makes simple tasks harder and harder to do by hiding and obfuscating things.  They take the GNOME philosophy of the user can't wipe their own rear without a dev to help them and it's hurting them.

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dgrmouse

" It seems that each successive version of Firefox makes simple tasks harder and harder to do by hiding and obfuscating things."

You hit the nail on the head, sir.  Too many of the changes Firefox has undergone lately have been geared toward what's good for Firefox rather than what's good for the user.  They make changes that will make news, and many of their press releases are cringeworthy.  Firefox is removing the Google toolbar instead of just giving an option to hide it.  The way the updates and plugin updates work, hiding the tools menu by default, and countless other little things add up to frustrating transitions from version to version.  This is exasperated by a failure to secure browsers released scant months before with security patches, instead rolling fixes into new releases that break much more than they fix.  I'm very close to switching back to IE.

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