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Definition

Fennec

What is Fennec?

Fennec is a version of the Firefox browser adapted for mobile phones and other small computing devices. According to the Mozilla Foundation, the intention behind Fennec is to enable a mobile browsing experience that is equivalent to browsing through Firefox on a desktop computer.

Current or planned features of Fennec include:

  • Support for touch screen input.
  • Support for Firefox extensions and themes.
  • Support for Windows, OS X and Linux.
  • A tab interface similar to that of Firefox.
  • Pop-up blocker.
  • Password manager.
  • Address bar functionality like that of Firefox.

The Mozilla wiki explains the most important design requirements for Fennec:

  1. Fast and easy navigation to Web content and optimization of tasks that are often problematic on mobile devices, such as entering URLs, managing and sharing bookmarks, tabbed browsing and maintaining readability while zooming and scrolling.
  2. The ability to access any Web content available from desktop computers.
  3. Security measures that address the particular vulnerabilities of mobile devices.
  4. Integration with device components to enable, for example, initiation of a phone call from a number in a Web link.
  5. Support for third-party technologies to stimulate mobile innovation.

Mozilla released an alpha version of Fennec in October 2008. The alpha release targets developers as a means of improving Fennec prior to wider release and stimulating the creation of applications for the browser. Fennec extensions use XUL (Extensible User-interface Language), as do extensions for Firefox and other Mozilla programs, which means that basic elements of design will be familiar to developers. According to the Mozilla wiki, any developer with HTML, JavaScript and cascading style sheet (CSS) skills should be able to develop applications for mobile devices.

The first versions of Fennec will be for Windows Mobile and Nokia's N810 Internet Tablet; versions for Android and Linux-based operating systems are expected to follow. Other browsers adapted for mobile devices include Pocket Internet Explorer and Opera Mini.

In the animal kingdom, a fennec is a small desert fox. (The Firefox mascot is a full-sized fox.)

Learn More About IT:
> Mozilla explains the vision behind Fennec.
> On ars technica, Ryan Paul reviews the Fennec alpha release.
> Christian Zibreg explains why you'll love Fennec (the extensions) and includes a slideshow tour.
> Here's a video demo of the alpha release of Fennec.

This was last updated in December 2008

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