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Mozilla starts preparing developers for Firefox 3.6

Firefox project organizers are starting to button down details about the sequel to the present browser. Think alerts, hiding menu bars, and geolocation.

Brace yourself for the vanishing menu bar because Mozilla has published an official feature list for Firefox 3.6 in the form of a guide for programmers who need to know about the changes.

The Firefox 3.6 developer guide mentions an ability to automatically hide the menu bar, a change that dovetails with sparer Firefox user interface designs that Mozilla has begun exploring for Firefox versions 3.7 and 4.0. That's important for plug-in developers and others who use the menu bar to control their add-ons.

For those developing Web applications, there's a feature for adding sounds that can play in response to specific events. That sounds useful for notifying people of new e-mail, instant messages, or any number of events in Web applications that today have trouble getting your attention as easily as software running natively on the operating system.

Another change lets the browser supply not just latitude and longitude coordinates but also human-friendly address terms such as street, city, and postal code. The addition of geolocation features, which enable authorized Web sites do things like show your location and nearby coffee shops on a map, is one of the significant features in Firefox 3.5.

Eric Shepherd, who oversees Mozilla documentation work, called the plans just an initial sketch, so don't consider this the final word on Firefox 3.6 features.

Mozilla released Firefox 3.5 in June. Future work on the upcoming Firefox, code-named Namoroka, emphasizes performance, integration with system services such as dictionaries, and Web applications. It's due in early to mid-2010.