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Mozilla's FrankenFirefox

There's no doubt in my mind that open source makes for better applications. If your code is rubbish (or just not as good as it could be), you can get people to make it better, and if your code is good, it's there for other people to take advantage of. And this is exactly what the folks at Mozilla are doing by bolting on Apple's WebKit JavaScript engine to the Firefox browser to create a FrankenBrowser.

There's no doubt in my mind that open source makes for better applications. If your code is rubbish (or just not as good as it could be), you can get people to make it better, and if your code is good, it's there for other people to take advantage of. And this is exactly what the folks at Mozilla are doing by bolting on Apple's WebKit JavaScript engine to the Firefox browser to create a FrankenBrowser.

Go back a few years, back to a time when the browser war only had two major players, Firefox and Microsoft's Internet Explorer, and being "faster than IE" was good enough. But with ultra-fast browsers such as Chrome, Safari and Opera on the scene, being "faster than IE" is no longer good enough. In other words, when it comes to speed, Firefox isn't good enough anymore.

The problem that Mozilla has been having is that its Nanojit code engine (actually Adobe code developed for ActionScript) is now getting long in the tooth. So in the spirit of open source, Mozilla has decided to rip out the Nanojit code compiler engine and replace it with WebKit's Nitro JavaScript "Just In Time" compiler engine. Result. Instant turbo boost. This new engine is called JägerMonkey.

Note: Mozilla will continue to make use of Nanojit in Firefox.

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It's early days, but this could give Firefox a much needed performance boost. By taking the best bits from other open source browsers, Mozilla are able to create a "FrankenFirefox."

[UPDATE: A few clarifications:

  • The Nanojit engine is not being replaced, but augmented for certain kinds of JavaScript applications.
  • Mozilla isn't going to use Nitro in its entirety, only a small part of it.
  • The performance boost will vary depending on the JavaScript being processed.

Shuld be interesting!]

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