I’m a big proponent of Mozilla Firefox. I’ve used it for years and I tell everyone I know that they should use it or Google Chrome, two of the top industry browsers. However, it seems that Firefox has been having a bit of a growing spurt lately. Firefox has gone through 5 major version releases in the past 4 months. That’s a huge deal. What makes it even odder is that there were, at most, only 1 minor version releases before the next major version release (with the exception of the ESR version releases). Since March 2012, there has been almost a major version release per month, except in May. I guess the guys at Mozilla decided to celebrate Cinco de Mayo instead. Joking.

Why am I bringing this up? What is the point? Well, it’s a little concerning to see a major browser, of which many developers use as a baseline, go through so many drastic version changes… without actually going through version changes. For those who are unfamiliar with how software versioning typically works, I’ll give a quick overview.

Let’s start with the typical version layout: 1.0.0 – The version number is broken up into 3 parts: the major number,  the minor number and the revision number. Typically, the revision number can be a fairly large number given that this is usually the number that changes when addressing bugs and defects. The minor version tends to be updated when minor patches or “tweaks” are released. The major version number changes when there is a major release. Go figure, huh?

So, with that quick (and succinct) overview, you can see why Firefox’s recent fascination with reinventing its “age” is odd, if nothing else. Yes, there have been advances and changes to the browser. Mostly dealing with more adaptation of HTML5 and CSS3 standards, with a little usability and performance enhancements. However, this doesn’t constitute a major release; these are all minor (at best) changes. I’m not saying that the developers at Mozilla are ignoring versioning standards or that they have no clue what they’re doing, but what I am saying is that it’s odd. I would definitely have to say that: odd.

So, that’s about the end of my rant. Oh, what brought this on, you ask? I was just a little surprised to startup Firefox today to see yet another “Welcome to Firefox” screen…

If you’re curious, checkout Wikipedia’s Firefox Release History. It shows an interesting trend in the graphical representation.