When betas are really alphas…

Thus far stable Flagfox is up to version 4.0.11 and the development channel is up to version 4.1a4. (all versions and their changelogs are here) I’ve backported a handful of fixes I wrote for 4.1 to 4.0.x along the way, and 4.1 has quite a few new features thus far, but I’m still calling it an “alpha” and not yet a “beta” for a reason: beta’s are supposed to be “feature complete” (or at least that’s the word on the street). If you’ve followed Firefox 4 development at all, then I think you may have a clue here as to why I haven’t even written much of what I want for Flagfox 4.1 yet. The Firefox 4 “feature complete” “beta” was supposed to be released in mid-September as beta 6. It’s now headed for mid-November as beta 7.

Simply put, under normal terminology, Firefox 4 hasn’t had a beta release yet. They’re all high-quality alphas with a beta label. (very high quality, mind you; I’ve been using a beta or nightly for my primary browsing for quite some time now) Firefox 4 beta 7, which will should finally make it out the door this month, will be the first Firefox 4 development release to be “feature complete”, i.e. not going to change under extension developers’ feet constantly.

I need to write something to support the new Firefox 4 addon bar which replaces the status bar and I would like to eventually use the new built-in Firefox Sync with user-visible options (there’s already a hidden option in about:config), but until things settle down, stop changing, and get some actual documentation written, it’s all on hold somewhat.

I’m using Firefox 4.0 beta 7 test build 1 (which was re-branched off of 4.0b8pre Trunk, just to be confusing) to write this post, so it should be out “soon”.

For now, once things are settled, here’s the tentative Flagfox 4.1 beta 1 plan:

  1. Write a new way to do Flagfox icon repositioning that can handle the address bar, addon bar, or status bar. (I still need the later for Firefox 3.5/3.6 and SeaMonkey support) The “plan” at this point is to do something simpler for users with drag & drop to move, but I’ll see how that goes.
  2. Make the new custom action help interface better. I’m going to take a stab at adding autocomplete of some sort.
  3. Write some new fancy stuff that the Flagfox 4.1 alphas 1 through 4 added the capability to do.
  4. Replace the first run page with something vaguely resembling a help/tutorial page so more users can actually know features exist.

There may or may not be an alpha 5 to eleventy-billion first, beta 1 won’t really be fully “feature complete” completely (depending on what you call a “feature”), and I’m planning for at least two or three betas. Once I find/make the time to write more code I hope to have something ready I can call a beta “soon”…