Hinting towards, what would perhaps be the biggest core makeover to Firefox since its inception in 2002, Mozilla’s Director of Engineering, Dave Camp, posted a message to the Mozilla mailing list, saying that even though Firefox is “built on web technologies”, but the team needed to do a much better job of “capitalizing on that” (via The Next Web).
Firefox as we know, is built on Mozilla’s XML User Interface Language (XUL), which Dave feels, was Mozilla’s “attempt to fill the gaps HTML had at for building large-scale web applications”. However, he further says that the company needs to adapt to changing times, and that it “should follow” the newly evolved sets of web — and app development for the web — standards and technologies.
Talking on how he and Mozilla plan to evolve Firefox to adapt to the modern web, Dave mentions the fact that because XUL and XBL aren’t web technologies, they don’t get the same platform attention that HTML does. Performance problems go unfixed and it creates a lot of unnecessary complexity within Gecko. It’s harder for even experienced web developers to get up to speed.
It’s further from the web, and that doesn’t help anybody. We intend to move Firefox away from XUL and XBL, but the discussion of how to do that is in the early stages.
Mozilla’s intentions of going with what the world uses were pretty clear, when it partnered with the likes of Apple, Google and Microsoft to announce WebAssembly recently.
However, even early stages development could prove to be a big task, considering extension developers and application developers will have to completely get back to the drawing board and develop apps adhering to a new framework.
This, while may not directly affect Firefox’s user-base, but will certainly affect the same in an indirect manner. A newer platform will mean devs will now have to build and deploy apps/extension all over again, and hence availability of such apps/extension will be fewer in the beginning.
Its still a long way to go though, and as Camp himself mentions, it is “going to take a while”.