Firefox 2 Beta 1 review

Mozilla announced yesterday the release of the latest beta version of Firefox – Firefox 2 Beta 1.

I downloaded a copy to try it out. As always on the Mac, install was the extremely straightforward drag and drop.

On launching, Firefox checked my extensions and disabled almost all of them (except Adblock – phew!). It then checked for updates to my extensions (found none) and promptly crashed!

Firefox 2 Beta 1 crashing on launch

Not very confidence inspiring.

I launched it again and this time it stayed running!

According to the launch notes, this version of Firefox 2 Beta 1 is supposed to have:

  • Built in Phishing Protection
  • Search suggestions now appear with search history in the search box for Google, Yahoo! and
  • Changes to tabbed browsing behavior
  • Ability to re-open accidentally closed tabs
  • Better support for previewing and subscribing to web feeds
  • Inline spell checking in text boxes
  • Search plugin manager for removing and re-ordering search engines
  • New microsummaries feature for bookmarks
  • Automatic restoration of your browsing session if there is a crash
  • New combined and improved Add-Ons manager for extensions and themes
  • New Windows installer based on Nullsoft Scriptable Install System
  • Support for JavaScript 1.7
  • Support for client-side session and persistent storage
  • Extended search plugin format
  • Updates to the extension system to provide enhanced security and to allow for easier localization of extensions
  • Support for SVG text using svg:textPath

Amongst my favourite features in this list are the the ability to re-open an accidentally closed tab and the built-in spell check. The ability to re-open tabs is accessible by right-clicking on any tab or by choosing the Recently Closed Tabs command under the History menu.

The built-in spell check means I now have no excuse for all the mis-spellings in my blog posts!

Firefox' built-in spell check

As well as checking words, you can add words to the dictionary so they won’t be flagged as mis-spellings in future and in time it will be possible to change the language away from the default US-English. If you attempt to change languages currently it tells you that this command hasn’t been hooked up yet but that alternative dictionaries can be downloaded from the Thunderbird Localised Dictionaries site. While these dictionaries can indeed be downloaded, they are not available for selection after being installed, even after a re-start. More work needs to be done here I think.

Overall, the beta version seems to perform quite well despite the few glitches mentioned above. It even seems marginally faster than Firefox 1.5 but this could simply be because most of the extensions are disabled!

8 thoughts on “Firefox 2 Beta 1 review”

  1. eWeek have an indepth review with a load of screenshots

    I won’t be able to test it just yet, as I’m using Ubuntu on this machine…

  2. Not very confidence inspiring.

    It’s a beta! Give ’em a break! 🙂

    One question though: though I’m using FreeBSD right now, I’d be interested in knowing if the Mac version uses the native dictionary or if it uses its own bespoke one, like it might on other systems.

    Also, have you checked its memory usage? My single greatest complaint is about how much memory it ends up consuming.

  3. Firefox’s greatest strength and weakness are its extensions.

    The API for extensions should be in stone by now – there should be no need to disable/update extensions after a browser upgrade.

    The firefox team also urgently need to develop a HIG for extensions and officially ignore those that don’t follow it.

    Extensions shouldn’t have individual cobbled-together interfaces.

  4. Thanks for the link Michele.

    On the dictionary front Keith – I presume you mean for spell checking? Firefox appears to use its own dictionary. It didn’t recognise words that I had already added to the Mac’s dictionary (i.e. Google, Mozilla and even Firefox!).

    What Derek said!!!

  5. for the extensions, go into -> ~/.mozilla/firefox/xxxxxxxx.default/extensions

    in each folder (for example: {3d7eb24f-2740-49df-8937-200b1cc08f8a} ), open the install.rdf file.

    change the em:maxVersion value to “2.0b1”

    if it doesn’t work, go to the official web site of the extension; for example, the tab mix plus extension is available for Fx 2.0b1 on the official web site, and so on …


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