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Feature Status Updates

by GERVASE MARKHAM | The status updates always seem to revolve around particular teams, and it's hard to get an overview of where particular features are. This report is an attempt to redress that balance, with summaries of (hopefully) all the major changes going on at the moment. The headings are linked to a relevant bug in Bugzilla.

imglib2 (a.k.a. libpr0n)

This is a rewrite of Mozilla's image library. The old one had several architectural problems which made it easier to throw the whole thing away and start again. Among many other improvements, this makes us only decode images once, and do animated GIFs far more efficiently. So when's it landing? "It'll be in and working by next week", says pavlov. The benefit here is a page load improvement of about 30-40% :-)

View Source

A rewrite of the view source window. It will allow viewing of source without regetting the whole page from the webserver. It will also mean the window has menus etc. This checkin depends on the new cache manager. I believe Blake Ross is doing this, and Doron Rosenberg is doing the menus.


Mozilla's bi-directional text code is being contributed by IBM. It is slowly being checked in (see here and here) under the compile-time flag --enable-bidi. The holdup is that it is awaiting a lot of reviewing, because it's a large set of complex changes to many areas of Mozilla.

View Manager 3

This is a rewrite of the current view manager (the third such) by Robert O'Callaghan and should get z-ordering working in lots of cases where it's not, and transparency and translucency too. The code has been landed for a while, but is not turned on by default yet. However, roc is very close to doing so - a couple of issues to be worked out. To try it out, use user_pref("nglayout.debug.enable_scary_view_manager", true);

Cache rewrite

The cache subsystem is being rewritten for performance reasons (the existing cache has a large perf hit for cache misses) and reliability (the current one breaks after 500 entries.) This is moving forward at full speed. We have partially functioning mem and disk caches, with the mem cache being much further along. Developers are encouraged to export MOZ_NEW_CACHE=1 and build the new cache. The two implementations are both in the tree at the same time. Different users of the cache will be moving over as time passes.

Mail/News performance

The Mail/News team are doing a lot of performance work on their own branch. The plan is to land after Mozilla 0.8.1 in a carpool.


The Outliner is like a tree widget, but better. This is part of the Mail/News perf improvements. To land after Mozilla 0.8.1 in a carpool.


Bradley Baetz has contributed gopher protocol support. It's the same level of support as Netscape 4.x, with the exception that it doesn't support searches. This is very close to landing - waiting for mscott to super-review before checking in. This assumes bryner doesn't change the Necko APIs on him, of course. ;-)


This is the W3C's markup language for mathematical content, and has been maturing for a while now. It's already turned on on the tinderbox builds. However, it really requires appropriate fonts to be includeable with Mozilla to be useful (and to have any chance of being turned on in nightlies and releases.) A company called Design Science owns some suitable ones which they are willing to contribute. Negotiations are in progress, with a few loose ends to tie up.

Network performance

Dougt's major checkin - 10,000 lines of code, 250 files and a month of work - has landed, at the second attempt. Nice one, dougt.

LDAP Autocomplete

LDAP support is one of Mozilla's most requested features. The first thing that is happening is autocomplete support tied into the Address Book, so you can query and LDAP server for matches for what you type in a Mail Compose window, for example. This is dmose's bag, with leif and srilatha@netscape, Blake and people from Sun in Ireland. There's nothing to try out yet, but there should be next week - autocomplete is taking its first baby steps. They are targetting 0.9 for auto-complete of email addresses from an LDAP server.

New string classes

SCC is working on rewriting the classes we use for strings, to improve their speed. Slowly happening.


Bugzilla is getting very close to a stable 2.12 release. is expected to update to 2.12 when this happens. Major features:

  • Auto-generation of the most-frequent-bugs list
  • Fix bug charts, and add some very cool new features
  • Much better duplicate tracking support
  • More extensive email filtering
  • A bazillion tiny features and bug fixes
2.14 will be a security release, and 2.16 is the target for new features. Bugzilla 3.0 is in the planning stages; it will be a complete rewrite.


As a side note, Mozilla now has green tinderboxes for (i.e. it builds on) the following platforms:

Windows, MacOS, Linux, SunOS Sparc 5.6, MacOS Carbon, OS/2, BeOS 5.0, SunOS i386 5.6, IRIX 6.5, HP-UX 10, HP-UX 11, AIX 4.3, Linux/PPC 2.2.15, BSD/OS 4.2, SunOS Sparc 4.7.


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