Mozilla has given software developers a first taste of the next version of its Firefox browser.
Although Firefox 2 was released just this fall, Mozilla wants Web application developers and its own testing community to get their hands on the . It has named the release Gran Paradiso Alpha 1.
What's exciting about Gran Paradiso is its search engine.
Firefox 3 will include some significant changes. It uses version 1.9 of the Gecko rendering engine--which itself hasn't been released yet and which includes the Cairo graphics layer. Gecko 1.9 has been in development since before the release of Firefox 2, and it provides vector-based rendering on all platforms.
As the Gecko 1.9 road map explains, Cairo will "bring modern, hardware-accelerated 2D-graphics capabilities to the whole of the Web without requiring proprietary plug-ins or rendering obsolete the broad and rich set of Web-authoring techniques developed over the past decade."
Although Gran Paradiso uses the latest version of Gecko, the user interface is unchanged from Firefox 2 at this stage.
The move to Gecko 1.9 also means that Firefox 3 will not work on the 95, 98 or ME versions of Microsoft Windows, nor will it work on Mac OS X 10.2.
Other new features include an updated threading model. Later in the development cycle, there may be changes to the user interface, as well as to browsing, bookmarking and privacy features.
According to reports, Mozilla predicts that the full version of Firefox 3 could be released before the end of 2007. Gran Paradiso Alpha 1 works on Windows, Mac and Linux operating systems. Mozilla has warned that it should be used only by software developers and testers at this stage.