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I’ve been using Firefox 3 Beta 3 (FF3B3) for a week now. Yeah, I know. It’s been out for almost a month now. It was released to the public on February 12th. I tested Beta 2 for a bit. It had problems with the new Yahoo! Mail interface, thus, I only used it sparingly. Beta 4 should be coming out soon. So after a week of tinkering with FF3B3, I figured I’d put up my review.

The first thing I tested FF3B3 on was Yahoo! Mail and GMail.  It now works fine in the new Yahoo! Mail interface. As a matter of fact, the problem was actually fixed by Yahoo. Apparently the fault lies in the Yahoo! interface and not FF3B3. My thank you goes out to the people at Yahoo for resolving this quickly.  It does, however, have problems with GMail. Each mail in the mail list are displayed in two lines.

Firefox 3 Beta 3 problem with GMail

Widening or maximizing the browser interface seems to return the list to a single line as it should.

Firefox 3 Beta 3 GMail problem workaround

I don’t think this is a major issue. It does not prevent me from using FF3B3 like the Yahoo problem did. There is another issue with GMail, though. Over in Contacts, the contacts are not appearing in the contact list. Only the check box can be seen.

Firefox 3 Beta 3 problem with GMail Contacts

Luckily I don’t use GMail contacts in my daily GMail usage. Thus, I can still use FF3B3 in my daily routine as usual. If you do utilize GMail’s Contact in your daily routine, you’d probably want to wait a bit before using FF3B3 .

For those of you who has an extensive collection of Firefox Add-Ons, you’d probably want to wait a bit too. Not all extensions are compatible with Firefox 3 just yet. FF3B3 would first check your extensions for compatibility at first run. It’ll then disable the extensions which are not compatible. The Add-ons dialog box has also be revamped. It now provides a “Recommended Add-ons” function. Pretty nifty revamp, I’d say.

Firefox 3 Beta 3 Revamped Add-Ons Dialog

With this new Add-Ons dialog box, I don’t need to go into the Add-Ons web site to check for Firefox Extensions. The list of Add-Ons are brought down into the dialog box. As I mentioned earlier in this review, not all extensions are compatible as of today. Following is a list of extensions I have installed in my workstation.

Firefox 3 Beta 3 Extension Compatibility List 1 Firefox 3 Beta 3 Extension Compatibility List 2

Firefox 3 Beta 3 Extension Compatibility List 3 Firefox 3 Beta 3 Extension Compatibility List 4

The list above is certainly far from complete. They are just what I have installed currently. You may have more in your workstation. I do believe that most extension developers would probably have modified their extensions to support Firefox 3 by the time it is officially released to the public.

Among the first thing I noticed when running FF3B3 was the new buttons in the interface. The Back and Forward buttons are now a little different. They both share the browse history pull down. The Home button is also located at a different place. Home is now  located on the Bookmarks panel.

Firefox 3 Beta 3 New Buttons

I kinda like the new browse history. It shows me where I’m currently at and what lies in front and behind the current page in history. It’s all in a single history pull down. The home button’s new location does bother me a bit. At times, I like to hide the Bookmark Bar, when I need some extra bit of viewing space. As such, the home button would then be hidden as well. Perhaps there is a way to move the Home button away from the Bookmark Bar. Will have to find out how. Think I read about it somewhere, need to find it again.

The location bar has also be revamped with new features. While typing in the location bar, FF3B3 provides users with autocomplete function. A list of related websites are displayed as a url is typed. This list is collected from the history and bookmark.

Firefox 3 Beta 3 New Location Bar

As can be seen from the image above, as I typed in “wordp”, a list of related sites containing “wordp” is presented to me. The entries with a star at the end are sites which I have bookmarked. That’s quite a handy function I’d say so myself. I don’t have to remember the actual url of any particular site I’ve visited or bookmarked.

The location bar is also the place to click to bookmark a web page. Clicking on the star at the end of the location bar automatically saves the current page into the bookmark. Click on it a second time brings up the bookmark edit dialog box.

Firefox 3 Beta 3 Bookmark

Firefox 3 certainly comes with a lot of new features and functions. It certainly is a browser worth waiting for, if this Beta is to be used as a benchmark.

Another plus point for FF3B3 is it’s memory management. At present,  while writing this, I have 3 FF3B3 windows open. Each opening about 15 tabs of various web sites. FF3B3 is still running smoothly. Not once has it hang on me. A peek in the Task Manager shows that it is utilizing about 190,000K of memory. If this was FF2, it would have either hang or crashed on me and it would have utilized something like 400,000K++ of memory. This shows that the developers have done one hell of a good job at optimizing FF3B3‘s memory usage. Kudos to the developers.

If you are one of those who are particular about web standards, you’d surely be interested to know that FF3B3 has passed the Acid2 Test. It however managed a 61/100 score on the new Acid3 Test. What does this mean? Well, if you’re not into web design, css, and javascripts, the above should not bother you too much. It just means that you’ll be able see more web sites which conforms to current web standards in the future.

Another feature which should benefit common users are the additional security features now included with FF3B3FF3B3 now provides users with protection against attack sites, web forgeries and also impersonation.

Firefox 3 Beta 3 Attack Site Prevention Firefox 3 Beta 3 Web Forgery Prevention

Firefox 3 Beta 3 Impersonation Prevention

Ok, all in all, I believe FF3B3 is quite an offering. The Beta 3 is already functioning and performing way past my expectations. It’s already very stable and not a resource hog as its’ 2.0 predecessor. It’s also fully packed with numeorus wonderful and excellent features. My one week exposure to this Beta software has been very pleasing. As a matter of fact, I’ve had it up and running for a couple of days now – with all the tabs and multiple windows running. Through out this experiment, it’s performance has been nothing but superb.

As such, I strongly encourage you to get your hands on this excellent piece of software once it is released to the public. If you want to get your hands on it now, you are more than welcomed to do so. Just head on over to the Download site and get it for yourself. Just remember, it is still just a beta. You should also read through the release notes to familiarize yourselves with all the features and functions of the Beta. There is also an in depth look at Beta 3 for those interested to read through.