Friday, March 1, 2013

Firefox update history

Firefox 19 will be officially released tomorrow, but it’s available for download right away for those eager to try it out ASAP. Most end users will have little or nothing to look forward to with this update, with the only noteworthy change being you no longer need the PDF.js extension developed by Mozilla installed in Firefox to natively open PDFs. The native PDF viewer has been greatly improved, and you can now view PDF files in the browser without having to rely on any add-on for the purpose. Apart from that, Firefox comes with a new about:telemetry page that allows you to see the the performance data collected by the browser. The feature to collect this data was introduced in Firefox 7, and now after twelve versions, Mozilla has given it a dedicated page. An add-on is also available now to replicate this page on older versions. Apart from these, there are the usual bug fixes, security updates and a Browser Debugger tool for add-on and browser developers.

Native PDF Viewer

The PDF viewer is pretty much the same as the one in Firefox 18, with the only difference being you won’t have to install a separate extension to get it. Chrome’s been allowing its users to natively view PDFs for quite a while, and this feature was in the works for a considerably long time before debuting on Firefox. The wait was worth it though.
iPhone User Guide - iphone_user_guide

About:telemetry Page

Firefox 7 gave users the option to collect performance data. To turn the feature on, head over to Options > Advanced > General and select the Submit performance data option. To view the data that’s been collected, Firefox 19 comes with a brand new page accessible by typing about:telemetry in the URL bar.

Telemetry Data FF 19
The page is divided into sections for the type of data that’s collected. You must have Telemetry enabled in order to see anything here. You can turn it on and return after a while to see the collected information.

Browser Debugger Tool

As always, Mozilla has also added something for developers in Firefox 19. A new tool has been added to aid add-on and browser developers. The feature is experimental at present though, and you will need to enable developer tools to use it.
Apart from this, there are the usual bug fixes and a small improvement to speed up startup. This update can be considered rather disappointing from the perspective of most end users. A lot of great features were expected to arrive in this version like protection against irresponsive plug-ins and search engines hijacking apps, and the Australis UI. We can now hope that some of these features make it to Firefox 20.

5 New Features & Changes In Firefox 15

Another Firefox version is all set for release; tomorrow, you should be able to upgrade to Firefox 17 if you’re on the stable release channel. If you’re the slightly adventurous kind who likes to remove a USB without ejecting it first, and you’re on the Beta version, you can upgrade right now to what will inevitably be the final Firefox 17 stable release. Like always, the new version comes with new features, improvements in security and developer tools. This version also has a few cosmetic changes and one major functional change that will effect end users. The most notable features in this new version include a visually enhanced Awesome Bar, the return of tab animations, the addition of a Social API, more robust click-to-play restrictions for plug-ins, the addition of a Markup Panel for developers and last but not least, support for Notification Center in OS X Mountain Lion.
Let’s now take a more detailed look at these new features and changes.

Awesome Bar

The Awesome Bar i.e. the URL bar that also allows you to send a search query to your default search engine has ben updated. When you begin typing either a web address or a search query in the Awesome Bar, it now brings up suggestions in an easier-to-read list. Unless you compare the two side by side, you might not notice the difference, but there is now more spacing between the individual suggestions and a larger font size for the Awesome Bar and the suggestions list.

Tab Animations

A few versions back, Mozilla removed the tab animations you would see when you dragged tabs from one location to another, or out as a separate window. With Firefox 17, they make a comeback. Like the change to the Awesome Bar, this is also a cosmetic change mostly, but the users who missed the feature will welcome it back.

Social API – Facebook Integration

Firefox is going social; it’s not clear whether this has anything to do with the operating system being developed by Mozilla or not, but in Firefox 17, they have integrated a Social API that allows you to sign in to your social networks via your browser. Currently, only Facebook is supported and if enabled, you will be able to chat with your friends, view notifications and friends requests, and messages in a sidebar.
You can enable the API in one of two ways: you can visit this link to Facebook for enabling the Firefox Messenger, or you can go to the about:config page and set the value of social.enabled to ‘true’.

Robust Implementation Of Click-To-Play Plugins

Click-To-Play was a security feature introduced in Firefox 14 that disabled all plugins by default and asked the user to manually enable a plugin when it was required to run on a website. With Firefox 17, Mozilla is going further with this security feature and prompting users when their version of Adobe Flash or Silverlight is not up to date. It will eventually include additional plugins. The point is to ensure users are not allowing an older version of a plugin to run and putting their computers at a security risk.

New Markup Panel For HTML

As always, Firefox 17 has something for developers and this time, it’s a new tool for editing the DOM of an HTML page. The tool appears when you have Page Inspector open. You can access it either by hitting the Alt+M shortcut, or clicking its respective button (highlighted in the screenshot below). It allows you to edit HTML pages like you never could before in Firefox without third-party extensions.
ff markup panel

Notification Center Support For OS X Mountain Lion 10.8

Firefox 17 comes with support for Mountain Lion’s Notification Center. We tested this out, but it didn’t seem to work in the Beta version, although you can see it listed in the change log. Perhaps it requires the new version on the stable channel to work.
You can read the full change log (for the beta version) here and download the stable Firefox 17 ESR from Mozilla’s FTP Servers right now from the link below.
The stable version of Forefix 17 can be downloaded from the Firefox website once it becomes available tomorrow. Another thing worth mentioning here is that this release comes as ESR (Extended Support Release) too, much like Ubuntu’s LTS (Long Term Support) releases. The ESR version is identical to the standard release, but is intended for universities and organizations for long-term mass deployment. You can download the  right now.

5 New Features & Changes In Firefox 15

Firefox 15 will graduate to the stable version tomorrow but can be downloaded now. The new version definitely has some new features, and like always, promises faster start-up and a few memory fixes. Apart from that, you will notice no cosmetic changes. Developers on the other hand can enjoy the additional support for HTML5 elements; <audio> and <video> support the played attribute, <source> can now be used for media attributes and Opus Audio Coded support (as per Firefox’s release notes). HTML5 isn’t just what’s new though. The previous version of the browser, Firefox 14, brought full screen support for Mac users, allowed you to opt in to enable plug-ins, added encrypted Google search and better support for gaming.  Firefox 15 brings, in addition to the added HTML 5 support, a new layout view in the element inspector and a responsive design tool.


Options Now In Tab

Firefox seems to be designed on the principal that items like Downloads, Options, and Bookmarks should open in their own separate window while the main browser window is reserved for websites etc. Firefox 15 changes that by allowing users to view the Options as a tab in the main window. It’s similar to the settings tab that opens within Chrome. It is disabled by default, and to enable it you need to open the configuration page (about:config) and find browser.preferences.InContent. Double click to enable it (set its value to true) and Options will open in a tab.
Options firefox 15

Faster Debugger

This latest version also boasts a Faster Debugger. As per the official Mozilla site, this means JavaScript applications will run faster with it. The Spidermonkey’s interface has been redesigned and its impact on the the Debugger has been significant. The interface redesign means more than just a cosmetic change to Firebug; it means a change in functionality and hence a faster tool at your disposal.

Element Inspector – New Layout View

Mozilla revamped Firefox’s element inspector a few versions back, and with Frefox 15 they make a new addition. Now, you can view the dimensions of an object, complete with height, width, padding etc. This not only gives you an accurate idea of how much area an element occupies, but also makes it easier to add and view changes to any one of the attributes applied to an object.
Firefox 15 inspect element

Responsive Design Tool

Firefox 15 has added a new tool for testing responsive design. As opposed to having to resize your browser window, this new tool, the Responsive Design Tool, makes the website itself resizable within the browser window. To enable the tool, go to Web Developer Tools and select Responsive Design Tool(Ctrl+Shift+M). You can drag the lower right corner of the page to resize the website and/or select a preset size from the dropdown menu in the upper left corner. The page can also be rotated.
firefox 15 responsive design

Tabs On Top Disabled

If you’ve always kept tabs on top, this new version might be slightly inconvenient since the option to keep tabs on top has been disabled. To enable it, go to about:config, find browser.tabs.onTop and double click to enable it (set the value to False). The feature, when it’s value is set to True disables the Tabs on Top option; setting the value to False tells your browser to stop hiding it.
firefox 15 tabs on top
You can check out all the changes that Mozilla has made in the official changelog. The changes aren’t huge and if you read the changelog, you will notice that the native PDF feature is limited to the Beta/Aurora  channel. Had the feature made it to the stable version, end users would have something bigger to look forward to. It is good to know that Mozilla is working on native PDF support though, and hopefully it will only be another few releases before it arrives in the stable version.

6 New Features In Firefox 13 That You Should Know About

Firefox 13 is out as we announced just two days ago, and is, by far, one of the most feature rich releases that Mozilla has rolled out since it went on a rapid release channel. Many of its previous versions didn’t really enjoy as much love as the old ones, with users adamantly sticking to Firefox 3, 3.5 and 4. The new version, however, is not only faster (seriously, it’s noticeably faster), but also has cosmetic changes that most end users had been looking for. Additionally, developers have been given serious attention, as always. The new release seems to pack something for just about everyone, and here are the top 6 features you should know about.

Mozilla-Firefox-13 New Features

New Start Page

Firefox 13 comes with a new start page, where the Google search bar remains intact, alongside the subliminal messages from Mozilla just below it. The new addition is a rather large bar across the width of the window, with buttons for accessing the Downloads, Bookmarks Manager, browsing history, Add-On manager, Sync (also accessible from Tools > Options > Sync) and Settings. The bar only appears on the Start Page and not on the new tab one, which is somewhat of a shame, but still an excellent way to utilize empty space at the bottom of the previously barren Firefox landing page. The buttons might just also hint at what Firefox’s Windows 8 Metro tailored version might look like, or not. Cool buttons, nevertheless.
Mozilla Firefox 13 Start Page

The New ‘New Tab Page’

Firefox 13 has revamped the New Tab page, and Speed Dial, which is literally on all popular web browsers (Opera, Chrome, Safari and Internet Explorer), is finally here! Although there are plenty of add-ons for Firefox that added this feature to the older versions, having native support is something entirely different (and more welcoming). Compared to the Speed Dial feature in Chrome, the Speed Dial in Firefox 13 is better, in that it allows you to pin thumbnails of a frequently visited website. The thumbnails themselves resize according to the size of the window, making sure you have optimum visibility, and that you can bank on display area of a large screen. It works the same way in both Safari and Opera, but Chrome and Internet Explorer seem to limit the largest or the smallest a thumbnail can go.
The page is somewhat slow when it comes to picking up on your favorite or frequented sites, but once it does, the thumbnail is captured fairly fast. If, for some reason, you don’t like speed dial, you can click the little grid button at the top right of the new tab page and go back to the old look.

Reset Firefox

Firefox has introduced the Reset feature that lets you start off with a brand new browser, should anything ever go wrong. Your profile and bookmarks are all backed up, and using this feature, what you get is Firefox, literally as good as new. To access the reset feature, go to Help > Troubleshooting Informationand click the Reset Firefox button. The page gives you a complete list of installed extensions and modified preferences. Your bookmarks, history, passwords, cookies and form data will be saved; however, add-ons, themes and site specific settings will be lost.
Troubleshooting Information Mozilla Firefox 13

Faster, Secure, Fewer Memory Leaks

Something you hear about every new version of Firefox, is that it’s faster and handles memory leaks better. Although somewhat contestable in previous versions, the difference in Firefox 13 is more than obvious. Start-up time for a cold start has improved dramatically. A user is no longer left wondering if they actually clicked the icon or not (since start up took so long), and memory leaks, while still there, seem to reach a certain threshold before the pace slows down. Memory does indeed continue to leak, but not as much as it did in older versions. Mozilla has also fixed several security issues, and claim that Firefox 13 is definitely more secure.

Developer Love

Previous versions of Firefox have always had something for developers, and Firefox 13 does not disappoint, either, with support for Google’s SPDY protocol. Additionally, the Firefox support page reports (to quote), “72 total improvements to Page Inspector, HTML panel, Style Inspector, Scratchpad and Style Editor”. There is added support for several CSS properties as well.

Restored Tabs Load On Demand

One of the many things that dragged Firefox down in terms of start up time, was how long it took for you to actually start using it when there were tabs to be restored. Restoring tabs not only taxed your internet speed, but also delayed when the browser could be used, and made it difficult to switch to another tab, since it was still working in the background. Firefox 13, while it still supports restoring tabs, has made it so that all tabs do not load at the same time. When you launch Firefox, all previous tabs are restored, but only the first (front most and selected tab) are loaded. When you click another tab, only then does it begin to load. This makes starting up much faster, and you can begin using your browser sooner.
If you upgrade to Firefox 13 from Firefox 12, the update is a 9.8 MB download, incompatible add-ons will be disabled and the the intro page will have a brief video that spotlights the cosmetic changes in the new version. Enjoy!

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