Firefox 3.1 Update: Possible Fourth Beta, Talk of Pulling TraceMonkey Altogether

Don’t count on seeing the final Firefox 3.1 release any time in the immediate future. Mozilla now says a first quarter release of the product is unlikely–and that’s just one of several new details revealed in the past few days.

Firefox 3.1: The Latest

Mozilla delayed Firefox 3.1 Beta 3 a few weeks ago. Engineers then targeted February 18 for the release. That, of course, did not happen, and the third beta is currently tentatively slated for March 2.

As for a final release, VP of Engineering Mike Shaver now tells InfoWorld the current schedule on the table would put the date well out of its original early 2008 timeframe.

“To make it in Q1, we’d have to rush it more than we want to,” he says.

Shaver also adds that Mozilla may insert a fourth beta into the process. Developers had initially planned for only two betas but added the third back in November.

Firefox 3.1: TraceMonkey Talk

The date discussion comes as some Mozilla developers are calling for the 3.1 browser’s JavaScript engine, known as TraceMonkey, to be pulled completely from the product. The engine has been cited as the main hold-up with the release.

“Without TraceMonkey, we probably could have shipped 3.1 final by now, or, if not now, within the next month,” one developer posted in a company forum. “I think there should be a limit to the amount we’re willing to slip 3.1 to accommodate TraceMonkey, and I think we should decide what that limit is.”

Another developer suggested leaving TraceMonkey functionality in, but having it disabled by default (as was the case with past beta releases).

“Adventurous users can turn it on, and we can turn it right back on by default on the trunk / 3.2 alpha work,” he says. “Releases require compromise-logic, and there’s good stuff in 3.1 being blocked by TM.”

Shaver, the vice president of engineering, indicated to InfoWorld that TraceMonkey probably won’t be cut altogether. “We’re always looking at all of our choices, but I don’t think it’s likely,” he said.