Performance Tweaks, Improved Management

By Steven Vaughan-Nichols  |  Posted 2005-09-09 Print this article Print

and Standards Also Welcome Additions"> The overall performance of the browser is also better. Were seeing this because Gecko, the layout and rendering engine behind the browser, has been tightened up and made faster.

Another little change that makes a big difference is that you can now drag-and-drop tab and bookmark tool-folder Web sites. This makes it much easier to keep the Web sites youre always visiting in whatever order works best for you at the moment.

Firefox, which has always done well at blocking pop-ups, has improved its pop-up ad protection in this next version. While its coverage is not perfect, I did find it blocked ads that Firefox 1.06 had let through in the past.

The revised browser also makes it easy to get rid of private information with the new Tools/Clear Private Data command. This gives you the option of getting rid of such information as your browsing history, saved passwords, cookies and the like.

For the most part, the interface, while looking the same as ever, has several minor improvements. For instance, the Tools/Options display is now easier to navigate.

There are, however, some beta glitches. The bookmark management window displays the bookmarks in one order, but, at times, the browser displayed the bookmarks themselves in the far less useful order in which I had entered them.

Firefoxs update system has also, finally, been brought into the 21st century. In the past, when you updated Firefox, what you really were doing was downloading a completely new copy of the program and installing it over the old one.

Now, Mozilla has adopted an automatic patching procedure, which will only download necessary changes to your computer. The result should not only be faster updates, but youll also have less chance of running into incompatibility problems.

Finally, the new Firefox is very open-standard friendly. The program comes with support for SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics), CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) 2 and 3, DHTML (Dynamic HTML) and JavaScript 1.6.

This, in turn, enables Web designers to use these standards to, for instance, create sites that work with assistive technologies such as screen readers, screen magnifiers and alternative input device such as Braille displays.

Building on Firefoxs success, Mozilla goes for profit. Click here to read more.

Taken as a whole, this Firefox 1.5 beta makes it clear that it will both make its current users happy and help bring new users to it.

However, dont make the mistake so many people Ive heard from today have of believing that Firefox 1.5 is ready for work. Its not. As a beta, without any technical support, without support for 1.0x extensions, it should not be used as a replacement for Firefox 1.0x or any other browser. Come December and its final release, it will be a different story.

Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest open-source news, reviews and analysis.

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols is editor at large for Ziff Davis Enterprise. Prior to becoming a technology journalist, Vaughan-Nichols worked at NASA and the Department of Defense on numerous major technological projects. Since then, he's focused on covering the technology and business issues that make a real difference to the people in the industry.

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