Today, Mozilla announced the release of Firefox 11, the next version of the popular web browser. The new version brings in quite a lot of new features for end users and web developers alike.
For the end user, Firefox 11 introduces add-on sync. Add-on sync uses Firefox’s built-in sync feature to ensure that all your Firefox installations are in sync with the installed Firefox add-ons, in addition to the bookmarks, open tabs, history and passwords.
Add-on sync has been a much-requested feature and personally, I’ve been resisting from moving away from Chrome to Firefox for the sole reason that sync is such a seamless and painless experience in Chrome, as compared to Firefox. Another feature Mozilla’s brought in, no doubt targeting Chrome users, is the the ability to import browsing data – including Cookies, Bookmarks and Browsing History from Chrome. Till this release, such an import was possible only from Internet Explorer.
For web developers, Firefox 11 brings in a new Style Editor allowing for on-the-fly-editing of stylesheets. The Style Editor features a two-pane UI, with the file listing on the left and the plain-text editor on the right. The plain-text editor also features syntax highlighting to make it easier.
Firefox 11 also features a new 3D vizualization of the webpage’s DOM tree. Initially introduced as an add-on called Tilt, the 3d visualizer makes use of WebGL to build a multi-layer representation of the webapge’s DOM tree. While it looks gimmicky, it might help few people who’ve been trying to analyze and fix the annoying layout bugs.
For Enterprise users, Mozilla will backport security fixes in the current version of Firefox to a separate point patch, as part of Mozilla’s Extended Support Release proposal.
What’s in the future?
The current version of Firefox brings in preliminary support for SPDY, Google’s alternative for the HTTP protocol. Future releases will undoubtedly improve upon SPDY support. Upcoming releases of Firefox will make addon compatibility less of a hassle. Previously, add-on authors would have to manually update their add-ons when a new version of Firefox was released. Mozilla’s proposal to move to a rapid release schedule caused a lot of anguish to developers and end users alike. Going forward, Mozilla will make all-ons compatible with Firefox 4 and higher, automatically enabled.
Firefox 13 is expected to bring in silent updates – all updates will be automatically & silently downloaded in background and will not be interrupted if the browser is shutdown.
From the Gecko platform point of view, Mozilla will bring in support for a whole lot of new web technologies, including
- WebRTC for real time audio & video conferencing
- Web Sockets will be completed to match the W3C specs. Incidentally, Mozilla has dropped prefixes for Websockets starting from this release of Firefox
- SPDY, HTTP Pipe lining and HTTP Pre-connections
- DASH and WebM support
- Support for key input in fullscreen mode
- Possible support for H.264 & MP3 decoding using codecs present on the OS
Firefox should automatically update your Firefox to the newest version soon. You can also download the latest version from Mozilla’s website.