Although it just came out with a new version last week, Mozilla already has plans to pump up its popular browser, Firefox by developing a new feature—multiple process browsing capability. The project, dubbed “Electrolysis,” will improve Firefox’s speed and stability, along with other ancillary advantages.
The idea of multiprocess browsing is already present in the lickety-split browser, Chrome, developed by Google, and even by Internet Explorer. Since Firefox is still the browser of choice for many web users, it’s time for Mozilla to jump on the multiprocessing bandwagon and get a system of their own to better compete with the other big name browsers.
Easier said than done. Multiprocess browsing, as the name suggests, enables a browser to perform several functions simultaneously. In order to effectively render any given web page, a browser must process data of differing types. With the onslaught of complex web pages with thousands of script elements, all complicated and intertwined, multiprocess browsing is a must-have for speedy and secure browsing. If not, the browser runs the risk of crashing if it should encounter a browsing snafu.
Thus, for Firefox, the prospect of rolling out a new browser with multiple process capability is a daunting task. At its core, Firefox is a browser resistant to change. The very structure of the code subjects it to a major overhaul if multiprocessing is to be implemented.
But the advantages are overwhelming. Developer Benjamin Smedburg blogs that the changes will provide “increased stability, performance, and security”—the three touchstones of a good browser. Their plan, according to Smedburg, goes something like this: First, slap together a code that employs multiple processing. Next, fix all the bugs, glitches, uglies, and no-nos, then add some cool features. Finally, get the whole package ready for deployment, adding the finishing touches to performance and compatibility. At last, it’s ready for takeoff. Programmers are tackling the challenges head-on, and stage two may just be the most difficult part of the whole process.
It sounds good so far. In fact, already the code (for the most part) is working. Multiple process browsing from Firefox is only two steps away. A few users question Mozilla’s foray into multiple process browsing, complaining that the redesign might renege on Firefox’s best selling point—it’s speed. Others point to the if-it-ain’t-broke-don’t-fix-it philosophy, reminding Mozilla that Firefox just doesn’t crash. Regardless of the naysayers, Mozilla is moving forward with the plan—hoping to keep Firefox at the top of the faster-moving spiral of new-and-improved web browsers.