Firefox and other popular open-source projects are well-renown for their rapid development pace. That’s exactly the reason why you would be seeing the 3rd major version release of Firefox in almost the same amount of time which Internet Explorer took to roll one (Firefox 1.0 was released in November 2004 and Firefox 3.0 is expected to be released around Fall 2007, whereas Internet Explorer versions 6.0 and 7.0 were released in August 2001 and October 2006 respectively).
If we shift our concern from development pace for a while, development focus immediately grabs our attention. Firefox became better and more confirming to W3C standards while IE focused on changing the interfaces and getting rid of old problems by introducing new ones. To back this view, I decided to compare the respective browsers’ progress in the Acid2 test. For those who’re not familiar with Acid2 yet, here’s a quick intro: It’s a cleverly constructed web-page which determines an internet browser’s support for web standards. If your browser displays a correctly rendered smiley on the page and changes the nose color to blue upon hovering with the mouse pointer, it passes the test. If it displays a jumble of non-recognizable patterns, you’re most probably using Internet Explorer.
Here’s the comparison:
|Firefox 2||Internet Explorer 6|
|Firefox 3||Internet Explorer 7|
|(Progress in 1 year)||(Progress in 5 years)|
I think the pictures speak for themselves. It should be noted that Firefox 3 isn’t even released yet. I was testing an Alpha build just to get an idea of where the development is being headed. The answer is certainly pleasing, specially for web-developers who spend nights trying to fix annoying rendering bugs across various browsers.