A small blip on the radar brought attention this week, this time in the browser world. First off, this enlightening article is a sleeper, considering the importance of the browser. It garnishes unbiased attention from the developer community, no matter what platform is involved. Firefox marketshare continues to hack away at IE, as shown from the current 2008 results. During times of IE compatibility issues, i’ve never hesitated to recommend Firefox 2 to a client. Regardless, here are a couple highlights to pay close attention.
For those of us who rely on Firefox 2 on a daily basis, you may notice that the memory usage gets out of hand after a while. For the users who keep a browser open for days, this can be a problem. Trashing is apparent when checking out old tabs, as they were probably thrown into swap space.
This article dives into techniques used by the dev team to hunt down memory leaks. This goes beyond the basic malloc trimming as expected. Since the browser is cross-platform, it goes into learning to track allocations in XP, Linux, OSX. Very helpful for extension builders. Not surprisingly, cache is getting also tune-up when dealing with images. The benefits are shocking. Keep diving, because they lay out a black and white comparison to IE. Bottom line:
Firefox 3 ends up about 400mb smaller than IE7 at the end of the test!
Why wax poetic about little Firefox 3 memory usage improvements? The answer is simple. Just ponder the new business model of productivity software. Large corporations now have the option to buy hosted solutions to handle their word processing, spreadsheet, email, etc… The end result is very similar to the offerings from google. You now subscribe to software which is centrally maintained and secured. The only client side installation to maintain will be your browser. The improved memory footprint of Firefox 3 should greatly improve this experience, especially those of us who keep open 20+ tabs at once.