Firefox: The Web Browser
Desktop Apps Training - Firefox 3.0

History of Firefox

Firefox was created after David Hyatt and Blake Ross branched off of the Mozilla Suite which is commonly referred to as SeaMonkey. The two recognized the Mozilla Suite suffered from software bloat incorporating features like IRC, mail and news, and WYSIWIG HTML editing into one software suite. Hyatt and Ross created a stand-alone browser which they intended to replace the Mozilla Suite and on April 3, 2003 the Mozilla organization announced their plan to focus primarily on the Firefox web browser and Thunderbird, an open source email and news client.

Firefox has been through a few name changes before taking its current name. Originally known as Phoenix, The Mozilla foundation was forced to change the name to Firebird after trademark issues with Phoenix Technologies. Firebird didn't work out either because of response from the Firebird free database software project. Finally, on February 9, 2004 the Mozilla foundation reached an agreement that the browser would be known as Mozilla Firefox, often referred to simply as Firefox and abbreviated as Fx.

The first version of Mozilla Firefox, Firefox 1.0, was released on November 9, 2004. On November 29, 2005 the first major update, Firefox version 1.5, was released and included many stability and security fixes. After releasing Firefox version 2.0 on October 24, 2006, Firefox now included an updated tabbed browsing environment, an extension manager, GUI, and the find, search and software update engines. Also included was a new session restore feature, in line spell checking and an anti-phishing extension which was implemented by the search engine giant Google and later merged into the Firefox program itself.

Named after the seventh highest mountain in the Graian Alps, Firefox version 3.0, codenamed Gran Paradiso was officially released on June 17, 2008. The Mozilla foundation announced on July 2, 2008 that they had broken the Guinness world record for the most software downloads in 24 hours. Between the release date and July 2, 2008 Firefox 3.0 was downloaded 28.5 million times. This popularity was no coincidence as Firefox version 3.0 offers cutting edge web browsing features, stability, and security unmatched by any other browser around today. In addition to important back-end enhancements like the implementation of Gecko 1.9, an updated layout engine, Firefox version 3.0 offers a wide array of quality user friendly enhancements such as once-click bookmarking, instant website ID, performance improvements, full zoom capabilities, improved password manager, a smart location bar, and more.

Features of Firefox

Firefox version 3.0 gives users the option to manage their bookmarks as much as they want without forcing the issue. With the new one-click bookmarking option users can navigate to a site, click on the star icon on the right end of the location bar and the site has been bookmarked. If you click the star icon twice you can specify where to save the bookmark and what tags you'd like to associate with the bookmark otherwise the bookmark is placed into the unsorted bookmarks folder. Using tags allows you to organize your bookmarks so that can be accessed in a fraction of the time it usually takes to click on the bookmarks drop down, navigate through folders, and select the desired bookmark. With Firefox version 3.0 users can just type in a tag, page, or bookmark name into the location bar and they're automatically brought to bookmarks matching that entry. The one-click bookmarking and tagging options allow users to customize Firefox version 3.0 on a whole new level.


These days being cautious around web pages you're about to make a purchase on is a necessity. Firefox version 3.0 gives you a little extra edge when it comes to security. Firefox offers a few valuable features that may be the difference between you buying what you want in a safe secure manner and someone intercepting your credit card number and maxing out your credit limit before you can say “Gran Paradiso”. One of those features is with Firefox version 3.0 you have access to the website's ID instantly. Just click on the favorite icon which appears on the left side of the location bar and you will immediately see an identity overview of the site you're on. A second click on the favorite icon gives you information like how many times you've come to this site or have you opted for Firefox to save any of your passwords for this site. Instant website ID is designed to make checking up on a site quick and easy when you get suspicious. Another security feature for Firefox version 3.0 is if you stumble onto a site that contains a worm, trojan horse, spyware software, or a virus Firefox will warn you by bringing a full screen warning message into your browser. Firefox maintains a continuous list of attack sites to help keep you safe from these enemies without updating or downloading anything extra. Firefox version 3.0 also allows users to clear their private data by pressing a keyboard shortcut. So whether you're at home with your family or down at the local library, press one key on the keyboard and you're private information is gone.

Now Firefox isn't just more secure but also easier to secure. Firefox 3.0 security features are much more customizable than previous versions. Now you can control the level of security Firefox uses on a site by site basis. Also Firefox security settings can be customized for passwords, cookies, loading images and installing add-ons. Another feature that makes Firefox security easier to use is the completely revamped password manager. Now when you enter a password instead of a pop-up message jumping onto the screen the “remember password” option is completely integrated into the Firefox web browser showing up nicely across the top section of your browser. Pop-ups and pop-under messages can be annoying but are sometimes needed. With Firefox 3.0 you can get rid of them completely without loosing the pop-ups you need. This is done by using an allow list for sites that are welcome to show you pop-ups and pop-under messages. The feature that ties it all together making Firefox easy and secure is the web browser's automated updates. Now Firefox finds and fixes security issues faster than ever but also gives you the flexibility to install these updates now or later.


Customization, for me at least, has always been at the forefront of the web browser war. It's important to have the option to make your browser look and behave the way that you want through using add-ons, changing toolbars, button styles and more. Nowhere will you find the customization options that are provided by the Firefox 3.0 web browser. To start with Firefox offers over 5,000 add-ons that you may install allowing you to do everything from manage your online auctions from your browser window to viewing you local weather forecast and everything in between. Your Firefox 3.0 browser look and feel can be adjusted in many ways by using Firefox personas. Personas work off of the idea that traditional themes are too hard to find and install. Instead using simple lightweight skins that can be added to your browser in a fraction of the time a theme would take to download, install and tune to your liking. These are only a few of the Firefox version 3.0 customization options available. With a little looking around the browser you'll notice many configuration options that make web browsing simpler and more personal than ever.

Productivity is up while using Firefox version 3.0, mostly due to the new productivity driven features it has to offer. Firefox version 3.0 offers a brand new download manager featuring tighter security, the chance to pause downloads and then resume them later. This also works if your system crashes or you're forced to restart your system. No worries, Firefox 3.0 saves your progress and lets you pick up where you left off. Spellchecker is now build right into the browser saving you that extra step of using a external spellchecker while typing in your blog, writing email, or anything else that you may want correct spelling for. With session restore Firefox saves what you're doing instantly, meaning if you're cat jumps on the power switch to your computer, you're still okay. Start your computer back up and Firefox version 3.0 will restore the windows, tabs, text, or downloads that were in progress. Full zoom in and zoom out options are now integrated into the Firefox version 3 web browser. Not only can you zoom but all parts of the page are magnified equally bringing you closer to what matters.

You may have noticed that searching works a little different with Firefox version 3.0. While typing in the location bar you'll see a drop down list of search suggestions based on the portion of text you've entered into the location bar. Firefox 3.0 also uses smart keywords, with a few clicks you can assign keywords to search engines, and then simply enter your search words in the location bar. Now you can search for books about Linux on Ebay by simply typing “Linux books” into the location bar. This saves you the time of loading the homepage and finding the search field on Ebay. Firefox version 3.0 also offers integrated web searching just to the right of the location bar. With the click of a mouse you can access many different search engines, not just Google, and manage your search engine list to contain the search locations that you want to use. By highlighting a word in your browser window and then pressing the Firefox 3.0 shortcut for the “Find” tool Firefox will automatically allow you to see all instances of your search at once, or scroll backwards and forwards through the appearances of the word on the page by using the options that appear across the bottom of the browser.

Tabs have been around for quite a while a many web browsers have grown accustom to using them. Firefox version 3.0 makes using tabs that much easier bringing new features and customization to these little file cabinet-like labels. Now tabs are saved upon exiting Firefox so when you re-open the browser you'll have no need to locate all of the sites you were previously enjoying. Instead Firefox 3.0 saves and restores the browser tabs just the way you had them. Reopening an accidentally closed tab is as easy as selecting the recently closed tab option in the history menu. Keeping your sites in order is as easy as dragging and dropping them into place.

Firefox version 3.0 is for everyone and nothing makes this more obvious than over 40 different translations available plus a new graphics engine making Arabic, Persian, Punjabi and other script languages render in a more seamless manner than ever. People that speak other languages aren't the only ones to benefit though. Fewer keystrokes, the new zoom options, and support for screen readers give people with mobile and visual disabilities the edge while using Firefox version 3.0.

All of these new features are great but one huge concern for a web browser is how well it performs. What good are cutting edge features if it takes 5 minutes for the browser window to load while lagging down your system and using all of your memory. Firefox 3.0 offers improved memory management by cleaning up unused memory and memory leaks. The memory footprint Firefox 3.0 uses is smaller making it a more efficient web browser. Firefox 3.0 also includes, faster page loading time, faster Javascript, and many graphic engine improvements.

Firefox has come a long way since its initial release back in 2004 and has become an incredible tool for users to not just browse the Internet but to experience it. If you haven't already, download Firefox 3.0 from the homepage, and start living.