Pale Moon future roadmapLast update: 2018-08-14
General InformationThe Pale Moon project is a community-driven project, and as such the future roadmap of the browser is determined not only by what is decided by the project owner and other developers, but also by the community. There are occasional polls and constructive discussions on the forum that determine the inclusion and progress of certain features in the browser.
Pale Moon, over the course of its life, has been a product steadily diverging from its common Mozilla ancestor, with increasing differences between Pale Moon and Mozilla-based browser products. This divergent path will remain Pale Moon's future. To quote: "Pale Moon is not Firefox, and will never be again."
Of course there are a number of challenges on this kind of divergent (some might even say rebellious) path, like adoption of the browser as a truly independent force by the Internet community, and a number of technical advances as the Web develops.
Having a common ancestor in Mozilla code, it can draw in part on the public sources and feature developments in Mozilla products, and where possible, desired features will be ported across or re-implemented based on code from the Mozilla core code. However: Pale Moon will be selective in what is adopted into its core from Mozilla or written to implement features, and the current feature set is and will always be different as a result. Pale Moon does not aim to provide 100% parity with other browsers, but rather to offer a sane balance of features and workflow to its users now and in the future. Asking for such parity for specific features may bring the attention to such features and result in an evaluation of desirability based on the many factors involved, but never expect that Pale Moon will implement something "just because such-and-such other browser has it too".
This is a preliminary document with forward-looking statements. Development of a complex piece of software like the Pale Moon browser depends on many factors, so this roadmap should be seen as an indication or general direction - and a dynamic document to be updated as the need arises to change plans around.
Long-term plansOur long-term plans for Pale Moon involve continuing to build on UXP (the Unified XUL Platform) that is currently being worked on as a generic platform alongside the browser application.
This platform will continue to carry the Goanna engine, like the previous browser incarnations, albeit with many updates and rearchitecturing.
Building on UXP brings a number of necessary advantages to Pale Moon as an application, chief among them full ECMAScript 6 standard support, and additional support for ES2016 and ES2017 drafts to bring the browser's scripting and DOM capabilities on the level with what is required by the current web. It is expected that this scripting storm that has been raging for a few years will die down and allowing us to keep pace with any new developments without being in any way lacking in our support.
Technology supportPale Moon supports and will continue to support the following features/technologies:
Core WorkPale Moon's core is in flux, just like the web is. With the current practice of a total lack of standards and everyone implementing things based on draft specifications and recommendations instead of established standards, a lot of the features in Pale Moon are determined on an on-demand basis: If there is enough demand for a certain feature or if it is considered beneficial to the browser and the web, it will be implemented - other features may be put on hold or decided against altogether.
It is beyond the scope of this document to list planned HTML/content improvements in Pale Moon in detail, since many of those are small, individual changes and additions (even though some require a lot of work to implement by re-writing parts of the parser and renderer in Pale Moon's core).
The status of planned improvements is, to some extent, available on the GitHub issues page.
Layout and RenderingThe current layout and rendering engine (Goanna) is Pale Moon's independent implementation derived from Gecko. This engine debuted in v26 of the browser, and aims to improve upon the previous Pale Moon engine by steadily adopting more desired HTML and CSS features as well as improving rendering techniques. Some implementations will be significantly different than those found in other browsers, even Gecko-based ones, and aim to provide the best-of-class solutions to web design problems.
Version 28 of the browser carries the engine and subsequently platform version 4 of Goanna. This adds, among other things, support for WebGL2, CSS Grid, and other recent additions to the layout and rendering landscape for browsers - further improvements will be made over time, as required.
Media supportMedia support is a regularly-discussed topic for Pale Moon users, since part of the user base would prefer a browser to also be a full-featured and fully dedicated&specialized media player. This is, however, not a goal of Pale Moon because of the inherent shift of focus from document content to media content. That being said, the Web has shifted to be more visual-media heavy and as such will require a browser to at least to some extent take on the media player role.
It will never be our goal to equal or surpass dedicated media software, since Pale Moon is and remains above all a web browser. Full-HD streaming will be possible, but may not be as smooth or as feature-rich as what you may find in home cinema software. Also, see above, we do not intend to have DRM in Pale Moon's core program, unlike other applications that build on UXP, and the browser will as such remain properly DRM-free.
Platform (operating system) supportPale Moon is originally a Microsoft Windows product.
On the roadmap are the following specific platforms to support in addition to Windows:
Front-endPale Moon's front-end features are well-established, tried-and-tested features that work well in terms of flexibility and customizability for users. The front-end is and will remain XUL-based and fully extensible by the user and browser extensions, regardless of what platform is in use.
User InterfaceThe User Interface in Pale Moon is stable, based on the Firefox 4-28 browser era UI and will not be changed in any major way as far as how the UI operates. "Australis", the UI rework done by Mozilla in Firefox 29-56 or "Photon" as seen in Firefox 57 and later which completely removed many customization features, will not be adopted. This also means Pale Moon will retain full and ongoing support for total restyling (complete themes).
Developer ToolsWe include Web Developer tools in our release versions of Pale Moon. These tools are based on the Mozilla-adaptation of Firebug, and provide a broad set of tools for web developers and extension developers alike. Due to the complexity of these tools and verbatim adoption of them from Mozilla without much of our own development on them, our support for these tools will be (very) limited and we are unlikely to implement requests for new features in the devtools as a result.
Plug-insPale Moon supports NPAPI plug-ins. Unlike Firefox, we will not be deprecating or removing support for these kinds of plug-ins. This means that you will be able to continue using your media, authentication, gaming, and other plug-ins in Pale Moon like Flash, Silverlight, bank-authenticators or networking plug-ins for specific purposes.
Extensions and extension APIPale Moon would not be complete without its support for browser extensions, of course, and the extension compatibility maintained in Pale Moon is purposefully kept at a stable level with well-established interfaces. It provides compatibility with most of the browser extensions originally written for Mozilla Firefox (by accepting installations for Firefox application IDs) even though Pale Moon is a different application altogether from an extension point of view. Extension developers are encouraged to make what few changes are necessary for native Pale Moon compatibility and leverage our (to be published) new version of the add-ons website to publish and update extensions.
The future of Pale Moon is to maintain this general level of compatibility with traditional (XUL) Firefox-targeted extensions, although the (transitional) dual-ID setup will eventually be removed, at which point only Pale Moon targeted extensions will be accepted. This will still allow developers to target both Pale Moon and Firefox with specific code for them in a single package, but Firefox-only (legacy) extensions will not longer be accepted by the browser when this lands.
Pale Moon has been fitted with an indicator in the add-on manager to make users aware which add-ons are native to Pale Moon and which are running as "Firefox compatible", to assist in troubleshooting.
Version 28 of the browser may need some changes to cater to some changed toolkit APIs, but in general the UXP platform is largely compatible with the ESR52 branch of Mozilla, from an extension point of view.
Binary components in extensions
Unlike Firefox, Pale Moon will continue to offer full support for XUL and XPCOM binary-component extensions and there is no plan to discard the current extension system in lieu of Chrome-like alternatives (WebExtensions).
Mozilla has marked XUL extensions and bootstrapped extensions as "legacy" and phased out support for all but WebExtensions, which will affect many Firefox extensions. We have no plans to do this and many "legacy" Firefox extensions will continue to be possible on Pale Moon when targeting it.
JetPack (Add-on SDK) extensionsWith Pale Moon v28, these extensions are used at your own risk and come without our support.
Although we do not impose any restrictions on installing these extensions in the current milestone, they may or may not work due to the fact that Jetpack is in many respects tied to the Australis UI that we do not carry. We have some compatibility libraries in place that covers most Jetpack extension use, but you will be mostly on your own in terms of troubleshooting and fixing interoperation bugs. Only jpm-based SDK extensions are supported.
WebExtensionsWe will not be supporting WebExtensions of any kind in Pale Moon. Our current extension technologies provide all the features, functionality and above all API access for any extension to do anything it has to, including the limited subset that is offered by WebExtensions.
Additional tools and services
Pale Moon authored utilitiesSome of the tools used in conjunction with Pale Moon are due for an update. No solid date has been set for these improvements:
Pale Moon SyncPale Moon Sync is still lacking two features on the server side, which should be addressed. The following improvements are planned, although no date has been set for completion. Potentially, it requires hiring a PHP web developer to add the features:
Pale Moon start pageWe are partnered up with a start portal provider to improve the user experience on the Pale Moon Start page with customizability of shortcuts and localized content. This went live in the first quarter of 2015 and will remain the offered start page solution of choice for the foreseeable future.
Pale Moon add-on site services
The second generation add-on site will be one that has been created from the ground up to serve the Pale Moon project and community. This incarnation will take a protracted period of time to materialize and planning is still in the most preliminary of stages.
However, broad goals for the second generation site is to try and replicate core functionality from Mozilla's Add-on Site including:
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