Tag Archives: Mozilla

Microsoft launces Internet Explorer Developer Channel

On June 16, Microsoft announced that Internet Explorer will now have a Developer Channel release which can run side-by-side with the production/GA version of Internet Explorer on Windows 7 and Windows 8.x. This feature, which has long been available in Google’s Chrome browser and Mozilla’s Firefox, is a pleasant surprise to those who use Internet Explorer.

This release is a continuation of the effort Microsoft, and especially Internet Explorer team has started, to become developer-friendly by being proactive in communication about the roadmap and the features. This release, unlike the previous developer previews Microsoft created, not only runs side-by-side with the existing version of Internet Explorer but also includes changes to the UI as they are made.

Some of the key updates in this release include:

Updates to F12 developer tools

An enhanced debugging experience with event breakpoints that help you get to your event-driven bugs faster.

Richer analysis capabilities throughout the Memory and UI Responsiveness profilers, which support further reduction of noise through multi-dimensional timeline filter, while further increasing the semantic value of the data being reported by lighting up performance.measure() based instrumentation and dominator folding.

An improved navigation experience that provides more keyboard shortcuts (ctrl+[ and ctrl + ]), as well as new header notifications, which allows you to quickly determine whether any of the profiling tools are running or how many errors your page has.

The complete list of updates are on MSDN here.

IE Dev Channel F12 Tools
IE Dev Channel F12 Tools

Support for WebDriver standard

IE Developer Channel also comes with support for the emerging WebDriver standard through which Web developers can write tests to automate Web browsers to test their sites. It’s a programmable remote control for developing complex user scenarios and running them in an automated fashion in your Web site and browser. See how you can setup WebDriver in the IE Developer Channel, and try out this sample WebDriver project.

Support for Gamepad API standard and improved WebGL support

IE Developer Channel comes with support of the emerging Gamepad API standard that lets you use JavaScript to add gamepad support to your Web apps and games.

IE Developer Channel also improves WebGL performance and adds support for instancing extension, 16-bit textures, GLSL builtin variables, and triangle fans. This release improves our Khronos WebGL Conformance Test 1.0.2 score from 89% to 94%.

Status.modern.ie Gamepad Status
Status.modern.ie Gamepad Status

The team is promising frequent updates to the Developer Channel and we shall see how frequent that is. Given the pace and cadence across various other groups at Microsoft, it could be anywhere from two weeks (Xbox Music) to a month (Xbox One, Power BI) or three-four months (Windows, Windows Phone). Whatever it is, for developers this is much better than anything Internet Explorer has done in the past.

You can download the Developer Channel release from here.

Here’s Charles Morris introducing the Developer Channel IE:

Opera Sues Ex-Employee for Allegedly Leaking Trade Secrets to Mozilla

Opera-Sues-Hansen-for-Leaking-Trade-Secrets Opera has been full of surprises this year. First, it ditched its homemade rendering engine Presto in favor of Chromium flavor of WebKit. Then, it emerged that the switch was also accompanied by a significant downsizing. Soon after, when Google announced its new Blink rendering engine, Opera was quick to announce that it will be using Blink and not WebKit. Now, TheNextWeb is reporting that Opera Software is suing an ex-employee for leaking trade secrets to its competitor.

The employee in question is Trond Werner Hansen, who worked with Opera from 1999 to 2006. He is credited as a driving force behind many of Opera’s early innovations, including the search box and the speed dial. He returned to Opera as a consultant from 2009 to 2010. Last year, he worked with Mozilla on designing and developing an iPad prototype called Junior. Hansen can be seen discussing Junior in this video. Opera alleges that the video demonstrates several innovations that it was or is still working on. It is demanding 20 million Norwegian Krone, or roughly $3.4 million, in damages. Hansen who was in the USA, preparing to launch his first music album, has flown back to Norway, and is determined to defend himself vigorously. “When I left the Opera, I did not feel my ideas bore fruit, and I also notified management about. I am a very creative person and I feel that my ideas had value. I would like that my ideas were to reach users”, Hansen told Digi.No. The case is scheduled to be heard at the Oslo District Court on 22 August.

Mozilla to Introduce Support for Private Windows in Firefox 20

Apple introduced the concept of private browsing way back in 2005; however, this feature became mainstream only about three years back. When surfing in private browsing mode, the browser covers your tracks. Browsing history is not recorded, and cookies are automatically deleted once you end the session. Currently, all major browsers support private browsing. However, the implementation varies from browser to browser. Opera, which was the last major browser to support this feature, has the best implementation. It supports not only private windows, but also private tabs. Chrome and Internet Explorer on the other hand support private windows, but not private tabs. Firefox’s implementation is currently the most limited one. It supports neither private tabs nor private windows. If you enter private browsing mode, your current session is halted, all existing tabs are closed, and a new private session is created. However, this is set to change soon.

Mozilla-Firefox-Private-Browsing

Mozilla has been working on re-writing its private browsing implementation for the past 19 months, and is finally ready to showcase its progress. A new experimental build is now available, which features support for private windows. You can now begin a private browsing session in a new window while retaining your existing session. The experimental build is available for Winows, OS X, and Linux. This feature will make its mainstream debut in Firefox 20, which is scheduled to be released in March/April 2013.

[ Download Firefox with Private Windows ]

Firefox For Android Now Available For ARM v6 Based Android Devices

Today, Mozilla announced in a blog post that it is brining Firefox for Android to million more Android devices out there. Until today, Firefox for Android was only supported by Android devices running Android 2.2+ and using an ARM v7 based processors.

However, beginning from today, Firefox for Android will be available to all Android 2.2+ devices that are powered by an ARM v6 processor. This includes quite a lot of popular low-end Android devices like the GAlaxy Ace, Motorola Fire XT, HTC ChaCha and more.

According to Mozilla, more than half of the 500 million Android phones out there are powered by an ARM v6 processor, so this move from Mozilla will definitely help in increasing the user base of the app. However, your Android device needs to have at least an ARMv6 processor that is clocked at 800MHz, along with a minimum of 512MB RAM.

The latest release of Firefox for Android also adds support for hardware and software decoder for h.264 videos on Android 4/4.1, along with initial web app support. The full release notes of the latest release can be found here, while the latest version can be downloaded from here.

 

Apple, Facebook, Google, Mozilla and Others Come Together to Create the Ultimate Resource for Web Development

It is very rarely that you will see competing companies like Apple, Adobe, Google, Facebook, Nokia, HP, Mozilla, Opera and Microsoft join forces to make the world a better place but it really is happening. All these warring Internet companies have decided to create an ultimate resource for all things related to web-development and as a result, we have webplatform.org.web-platform-org

The focus of “Web Platform” is only on open web technologies, and the aim of this website is to provide a one-stop info spot for all things related to web-technologies like HTML5, CSS3, Canvas, WebGL, IndexedDB etc. The initiative is administered by the W3C, and Tim Berners-Lee describes this initiative as,

People in the web community — including browser makers, authoring tool makers, and leading edge developers and designers — have tremendous experience and practical knowledge about the web. Web Platform Docs is an ambitious project where all of us who are passionate about the web can share knowledge and help one another.

“Web Platform” is an open community of developers, and is open for contributions. There are various sections at “Web Platform” like the blog where the website was announced with a customary first post, a Q&A style forum and a chat section. However, the most attractive part is perhaps Web Platform Docs, where one will find resources on various topics presented as a Wiki.

If it lives up to its promises, Web Platform will drive innovation on the web. However, it needs a proper launch with drum-rolls to attract more web-developers.

(Via: TNW)

Firefox 15 Beta Adds Support for Opus Audio Codec

Opus-Audio-FormatOne of the most well-known features of HTML5 is its ability to play video and audio files natively. With HTML5’s <video> and <audio> tags, you do not need to have third-party software like Windows Media Player or Real Player to enjoy multimedia content. Your browser should be able to take care of audio and video files out of the box, independent of the system. Unfortunately, due to a lack of consensus, HTML5 specifications don’t actually specify the codecs in which the multimedia content must be encoded in. This is similar to how to image tag works – the image tag can be used to embed images in all popular image formats including BMP, JPEG, GIF, and PNG. Initially, Internet Explorer and Apple supported the proprietary H.264 technology for the video tag, and Opera and Mozilla backed Ogg Theora. While H.264 posed licensing challenges, Ogg Theora was widely believed to be an inferior solution. Google tried to solve the conundrum by stepping in and proposing WebM, which uses a superior VP8 video codec and Vorbis Ogg audio codec. For audio tag also something similar happened with some browsers throwing their weight behind Ogg and others supporting AAC.

Now, Mozilla is proposing a new audio format called Opus as an alternative to Ogg and AAC formats that have emerged as the de facto choices for the audio tag. Opus is a completely free audio format that was developed by collaboration between members of the IETF Internet Wideband Audio Codec working group, which includes Mozilla, Microsoft, Xiph.Org, Broadcom, and Octasic.
Mozilla is promising better quality to size ratio for Opus than its competitors. According to its tests, Opus is the best-in-class for live streaming and static file playback. In fact, it is being heralded as the first audio codec to be well-suited for both interactive and non-interactive applications. Mozilla’s listening tests show that at 64 kbps, Opus sounds better than both HE-AAC and Vorbis, and a 64 kbps Opus file sounds as good as a 96 kbps MP3 file.

Mozilla is adding support for Opus with Firefox 15 beta, and is hoping that other browser manufacturers will follow suit.

Mozilla, Reddit, WordPress and Others Join Hands to Create the Internet Defense League

The Internet is a wonderful place for activism, and when we speak of activism, what names come to your mind? Reddit, 4chan, EFF? Well, the Internet just got its own vigilante club, with its own bat signal (a cat signal actually) and the timing could not have been better, with the Dark Knight Rising this weekend.

The movement is done in style, and it is extremely appealing for geeks and Internet fans. The EFF has done a wonderful job protecting Internet users, though not many people know about them. The purpose of this league, is to engage more youngsters and get them interested in rights and freedom over the Internet. The League was launched yesterday with real cat-signals being projected at various cities. You can check out the launch page for more details.

nyc-cat-signal

An important part of making an expression is understanding your audience, and this might be a point of failure for the Internet Defense League. The Internet Defense League starts off with a funny name and takes the fun a step further with the cat signal. At the end of the day, it would project itself as a group with strong ethical beliefs and concerns, but these idiosyncrasies might overshadow the seriousness of their cause (though not in my eyes). In other words, good luck explaining to a 60 year old judge or senator the seriousness of your movement, after he sees a cat signal.

If you want to express your support for the movement, head over to their website, join the league and save the Internet.

Mozilla BrowserID is Now Persona, and the Name is Justified

Mozilla wants to change the traditional ways of authentication on the web. Until now, we were habituated to enter a combination of login credentials to sign in to a website. Going further, Mozilla is working on a unique system that requires only an email ID to sign in. The system was dubbed as BrowserID earlier, though Mozilla has recently rebranded it as Persona, increasing the cool factor.

The sole aim of BrowserID, or Persona is to create a secure system for authentication, while giving users more flexibility over a cumbersome login process. Technology has advanced by leaps and bounds, though, we still use decade old authentication processes. It is good to see that someone is working hard to change that, and present it as a part of the user experience.

mozilla-persona-signin

We have seen other single sign-on mechanisms, like Oauth based login from Twitter, Facebook etc. The problem is that, these are all centralized, and the authenticating entity is sitting on a pile of personal information, and gets to know each time you login to any website. Slightly apart, OpenID is a decentralized mechanism for authentication, so it provides an experience similar to what we expect from BrowserID. However, with BrowserID, you are in control of your entire personal information and online behavioral data. Moreover, BrowserID will allow pseudonyms and multiple identities too.

With data breaches becoming the order of the day, this project will relieve enterprises of a large number of responsibilities and legal issues when it comes to storing user data. Needless to say, it will provide for a seamless browsing experience for end-users.

Mozilla Moving Forward with Mobile Firefox OS

Mozilla has officially announced they have hardware partners for the new mobile platform that will be launching. Previously known as Boot to Gecko, Firefox Mobile OS is a complete HTML5 and web-technology based operating system. It was demoed and is available in a pre-alpha version for specific Android handsets, as a flashable image for those eager to test it out.

The first mobile devices to ship with the polished ‘Boot to Gecko’ project will be manufactured by TCL Communication Technology (better known as Alcatel) and ZTE. Both Alcatel and ZTE currently manufacture low-end Android smartphones and will likely ramp up production of devices built for Firefox Mobile OS. Mozilla has confirmed the devices will be using the popular Snapdragon SoC to power the Gaia UI.

In addition to hardware, Mozilla has also received backing from operators in many countries. Deutsche Telekom, Etisalat, Smart, Sprint, Telecom Italia, Telefónica and Telenor have all been partnered with for the possible launch of Firefox Mobile devices and services. Hopefully this will also lead to a dramatic reduction in cost of data access for end-users.

Mozilla indicates once again, they are committed to creating a fully open and accessible platform that conforms to W3C standards. Gary Kovacs, CEO of Mozilla, stated;

 “The introduction of the open mobile OS continues the Mozilla mission to promote openness, innovation and opportunity on the Web for users and developers.  As billions of users are expected to come online for the first time in the coming years, it is important to deliver a compelling smartphone experience that anyone can use,”.

That last bit is a bit reminiscent of Nokia’s S40 and Meltemi plan for “the next billion” – and we know where that has gotten them. Many have tried, and many have failed, but if Mozilla can compete with the likes of Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android, then it will pave the way for true openness with mobile devices.

According to their roadmap schedule, their next milestone will be July 20th, which marks full completion of Gecko and Gaia functionality and moves towards more optimizations. Based on the timeline already completed, we might see a functional developer device within the next few months. Who knows, within the year, you might be staring at the below image while your phone boots up.

Mozilla Building an iPad Browser

On iOS, there are many third party browser options available via Apple’s App Store such as Atomic, Dolphin, Opera Mini, etc. However, one name that was surprisingly missing was Mozilla. So far the company has only offered  an iPhone app that allows users to sync tabs from a PC or Mac to your device.

Last week, Mozilla Product Design Strategy announced that the team is working on a few projects including something called Junior. Junior is a Webkit browser for the iPad with no tabs or search. This browser is operated via simple gestures and a simplified UI, which changes the way we use the web.

Browsing the web is pretty simple. You press one of the three buttons – forward, back, and a plus that displays a list of recent sites, bookmarks, and a search bar. Everything else on the page is the web.

In addition, the team is also working on adding two new features called Search Tabs and Presence. Search Tabs is a feature that will display search results from multiple sites. Presence allows users to communicate with friends and family on the web.

[via The Verge]

Firefox 13 Will Have a Reset Button

You install Firefox on your freshly minted computer. Everything is great for a while. Firefox loads up in seconds, web pages open in a snap, and everything works. But then, over time, Firefox starts acting up. It gets slower and slower. Things that used to work stops working. Sudden freeze-ups and crashes begin appearing. I am sure this is something many of you have personally experienced. As our Firefox profile begins accumulating clutter, the performance and stability of Firefox takes a hit. This might be due to a toolbar you unknowingly installed, or some extension that has a memory leak bug. The thing is that finding out the root cause is both time consuming and frustrating.

Reset-Firefox-Troubleshooting-Option

In order to make things simpler, Mozilla is adding a magical reset button to Firefox. The new option will be available under about:support (accessible via Help –> Troubleshooting Information). Clicking on this button will create a new profile with default settings, which will hopefully solve your performance issues. Firefox will also copy over your browsing history, cookies, saved form history, saved passwords, and bookmarks. This means that you will essentially have a fresh install of Firefox, but with all of your personal data intact.

Reset-Firefox

The biggest drawback of the reset feature is its location. It’s buried deep within Firefox, and is practically impossible to discover. To counter this problem, Mozilla is currently thinking about prompting the user to reset Firefox after it crashes for the third time. It is also exploring the possibility of giving Windows users this option when they are reinstalling Firefox.

Mozilla and Telefonica Team Up to Create Open Web Device

Mozilla has plans for a device that can boot and go online, without requiring a middle app platform like Android or iOS. This is an excellent thought, although there are many initial challenges. The ultimate goal of this project is to reduce the cost of cellphones by allowing them to have less processing powers and compensate local apps with HTML5 based web-apps.

Boot to Gecko wants to create an open platform, that will let developers and users get on the web to use apps, without depending on platform specific technologies. Undoubtedly, in theory, this is as good as any other open idea. However, in my opinion, the ground realities will not permit this project to have a smooth take-off. The mobile space is saturated beyond comparison. While Android has managed to show its head after an aggressive push by Google, it is doubtful whether there is room for another platform in the mobile room.

The Mozilla Blog announced the MWC unveiling, saying,

In a joint press conference, Telefónica revealed their intention to work with us to deliver the very first open Web devices in 2012. These devices, architected entirely on the Web and built based on an HTML5 stack with powerful Web APIs, will mean significant advances in speed and cost reduction for mobile devices in
the future.

The target hardware platform for these devices is a Qualcomm chipset. The plans for this Open Web Device will be submitted to the W3C for standardization.

Here is a proof-of-concept video of Open Web Device from YouTube. It clearly shows the Gaia UI from Boot to Gecko.

Mozilla is Working on a Push Notification System for Firefox

If you are a Google Chrome user, you must have seen how notifications work for Gmail. Google created the Desktop Notification system based on HTML5, and proposed its inclusion in the W3C web standard. The draft for the notification can be seen on this page at W3C.
firefox-logo

Notifications is designed to allow brief messages to be sent to a user however they are connected. Somewhere between email and IM lies Notifications.

Push notifications are a way for websites to send small messages to users when the user is not on the site. iOS and Android devices already support their own push notification services.

Recently, Mozilla has brought out a similar notification system called Push Notification, using a JavaScript API. However, it has also improved on Google’s implementation, and will push notifications for all websites, irrespective of whether they are open in a tab or not. Currently, Chrome shows notifications only for websites that are open in a tab.

With this feature, Mozilla wants to bring the web-application closer to the desktop application. A similar experience on a desktop browser is a good start. Native mobile clients on Android have used push-notifications successfully, for a long time. However, the Push Notification system will also help developers send notifications to their mobile users, without investing in a separate mobile client.

You can visit the Mozilla Wiki for more technical information on notifications, or the Push Notification API in particular.

Firefox 10 Brings Major Behind the Scene Changes with Extended Support

Mozilla has recently announced the latest release of its browser, Firefox version 10. Although this release of Firefox does not sport many evident changes, it is Mozilla’s flagship browser for the year 2012. Mozilla has planned an “Extended Support” feature to prevent the rapid release cycle from affecting developers. Finally, Firefox 10 is the first Firefox version to get this feature, and it will live through 2012.

Changes and Improvements

Detailed information on changes in Firefox 10 can be found at the Firefox 10 Release Notes page. Though, some of the evident changes are the disabled forward button for pages where there has not been any backward navigation, support for full-screen API allowing application to run in full-screen, and a number of bug fixes. Moreover, Add-on compatibility has been taken care of, extensively.

Firefox 10 is the first “Extended Support” version of Firefox, ensuring it will get support and security patches for the next nine release cycles. The main aim of the Extended Support Release (ESR) is,

The shift to a new release process has been difficult for organizations that deploy Firefox to their users in a managed environment. We’ve heard 2 primary concerns:

  1. The release schedule doesn’t allow sufficient time for the organizations and their vendors to certify new releases of the products
  2. The associated end-of-life policy exposes them to considerable security risk if they remain on a non-current version past Firefox 3.6.

More about ESR can be found at this ESR proposal page. This Extended Support Release will be developed parallel to the regular release cycle of six weeks, which Firefox adopted as part of its rapid release strategy, last year.

If you are on the release channel already, your Firefox will be updated to version 10. Alternatively, you can download Firefox 10 at this page.

Finally, Mozilla Thinks of Redesigning the Firefox Home page and New Tab Page

A year ago, Mozilla revamped the development process of Firefox. They started the year with version 4 of Firefox, and released Firefox 9 by the end of the year. This was a giant leap for Firefox, and the improvements in speed and usability are evident in version 9. However, some critical things that matter for the user experience have remained unchanged, like the “New tab” and Home page on Firefox. Finally, after improving performance drastically, Firefox has started focusing on user experience, and the changes are beginning to show in the experimental channel of Firefox, named Aurora.

firefox-new-home

The New Tab page on Firefox is similar to the new tab page of Chrome, where it will showcase your most visited websites in a Speed-dial like interface. This puts your most visited websites in a 3×3 grid where you can drag and re-position the tiles. Therefore, the New Tab page can show your nine most visited websites. However, the new tab is still not as feature-rich as Firefox New Tab King extension we talked about, two years ago.

firefox-new-home

Firefox has to get innovative about these features, if they want to stay ahead of the competition. Right now, it seems like these features are rip-offs of Chrome’s new tab, and Safari’s Home Tab. After seeing these user-experience changes, all I can say is, “better late than never”!

Although these changes were expected in Firefox 12, Mozilla has pushed the release of these new features to Firefox 13. The release date for Firefox 12 is April 24, and Firefox 13 will be released in May. However, you can try these new features before the release, by getting one of the Firefox UX Nightly builds.

(Images via: Extremetech)