By October 20, 2008

Features to look forward to in Fennec

A while ago I posted a review of Google Chrome and have to admit I was and still am rather impressed with it as a browser but in my heart and mind I know that Mozilla still come number one for browsers which is why when I seen the comments below posted by Tyler Earman on Tilt Mobility my excitement level rose.

Fennec Logo

One of the wonderful things about open source software, is that even though there aren’t any binaries available to install the software with, the product is still available.  Mozilla in and of itself is a foundation dedicated to open source software (Firefox, Camino, Thunderbird, and the like are distributed under the Mozilla Public License), meaning that Mozilla releases the source code for current projects, one of which is Fennec, the open source browser for Mobile (looks to be available for Windows Mobile and Google Android, there are DEB packages available on their FTP site).

So I recently got into their SVN server (SVN = Subversion, a popular program used to aid in collaboration and version tracking of software, very important for open source projects, they typically all have a SVN server or it’s predecessor CVS, or one of the other available packages like GIT) to have a look around at things to see if I could figure anything out.

And it seems I have stumbled upon a nice list of extensions in the SVN server.  Keep in mind that a lot of these extensions may not be sent with Fennec from the get go (they may be early development), but here are a few things to get excited about.

  • Gecko/Trident rendering options (I found Manticore, a .Net plugin to allow Fennec to interface with the Trident rendering engine, which is used by IE, essentially allowing you to choose Firefox style rendering or IE style)
  • Canvas3D support (hardware rendering support for the <canvas> html tag, a speed enhancement, now if only we could get the Tilt’s driver issue fixed)
  • Java support (at least basic, it seems as if there’s a Java interpreter built directly into the system)
  • IRC (seems to be an IRC client as well)
  • SSH (looks to be support for a Java based SSH client)
  • WebDAV support (very nice, WebDAV is essentially allows you to interact with files over HTTP, meaning you can send files from your Tilt to your desktop or elsewhere, possibly wireless sync options?)
  • Venkman (Javascript debugger, not really a surprise but still kind of nice for debugging support for mobile systems)
  • Wallet (not clearly sure on what this is, but looking at the source code, this seems to be something related to password storage, could be a password application but also could just be a source library to hold passwords whenever you hit the “remember my login” on Fennec)
  • Spellcheck (like it’s older brother, Fennec apparently has spell checking capabilities as well)
  • Calendar (there seems to be a ground foundation laid for a calendar application, but it doesn’t look like it’ll be included with the first couple versions)

Again, this is basic extrapolation of things I saw within the server.  None of these or only parts of these may come to fruition, but it’s a least a little look into things we have to look forward to in Fennec.

You may wonder why I get excited over a browser well let me just explain a little. Everyone who uses the internet uses a browser of some sort and everyone who surfs from their mobile also needs one of these so given that we use it so much it needs to be robust, look good and come with lots of features starting from the basic user use right up to programmer, app developers and super techy people. For the past god knows how many years Microsoft Internet Explorer was the choice of so many and the hatred of all others. There are other browsers out there like Opera and Safari but none have even come close to Firefox in my eyes either on a mobile or desktop solution.

Like the desktop and laptop markets there has been a great choice of browser out there and to my knowledge (I can be stood corrected) there is only Mobile Internet Explorer, Opera and manufacturers own browsers out there just now so wanting something new with funky stuff isn’t always easy. The features seen above will give you everything the current browsers have to offer and a whole lot more.

I am looking forward to the day when I can download this browser straight onto my Windows Mobile device and get rid of Internet Explorer once and for all.

Posted by: John


Posted in: News

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