Firefox 62 Improves CSS Support for Developers, Fixes Bugs

Mozilla's latest web browser release provides new web standards support for developers, speed improvements on Windows and patches for nine security issues.

Firefox 62

Mozilla released Firefox 62.0 on Sept. 5, providing users of the open-source web browser on Linux, macOS, Windows, Android and iOS with new features and security updates.

Among the new features in the desktop version of Firefox is an update to the new tab display page, known as Firefox Home. Since 2012 and the Firefox 13 release, Mozilla has been updating and adjusting its approach to what it shows in the new tab page. With Firefox 62, users can now see up to four rows of site listings, which include top sites visited by the user, recommendations from Pocket and Highlights.

On Windows, Mozilla has improved Firefox performance for graphics rendering for users who don't have accelerated hardware. Firefox 62 on Windows makes use of a technique known as "Parallel-Off-The-Main-Painting," which renders graphics in a more optimized manner than prior efforts.

Although challenged by other web browsers, including Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge, Firefox continues to maintain a large user base. According to the latest set of statistics published by Mozilla, Firefox has a user base of approximately 860 million worldwide.

One of the areas the Mozilla has long advanced with Firefox is support for emerging web standards for developers. In Firefox 62, support has been added for the Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) Shapes specification, which enables developers to describe and use geometric shapes for use in web layouts. Additionally, Firefox 62 includes a Shape Path Editor as part of the CSS Inspector, which is included in the Web Developer tools that are integrated with the browser.

Another new web specification that is supported in Firefox 62 is the CSS Variable Fonts specification.

"Variable fonts are an evolution of the OpenType font specification that enables many different variations of a typeface to be incorporated into a single file, rather than having a separate font file for every width, weight, or style," Mozilla explains in its developer documentation. "They let you access all the variations contained in a given font file via CSS and a single @font-face reference."

Security Patches

Firefox 62 provides patches for nine security issues, of which only one is rated as being critical and three bugs rated with high severity. The critical issue is identified by Mozilla as CVE-2018-12376 and fixes issues with memory safety in Firefox.

"Some of these bugs showed evidence of memory corruption and we presume that with enough effort that some of these could be exploited to run arbitrary code," Mozilla warned in its advisory.

Also of note is the CVE-2018-12383 vulnerability that deals with how Firefox saves user passwords that had been present since Firefox 58.

"If a user saved passwords before Firefox 58 and then later set a master password, an unencrypted copy of these passwords is still accessible," Mozilla warned in its advisory. "This is because the older stored password file was not deleted when the data was copied to a new format starting in Firefox 58."

Firefox 63

With Firefox 62 now generally available, Firefox 63 has entered its beta phase. Security will be a core focus of Firefox 63, with the upcoming browser set to block slow loading web trackers by default.

"Long page load times are detrimental to every user’s experience on the web," Nick Nguyen, vice president of Firefox at Mozilla, wrote in a blog post. "If we find that our approach performs well, we will start blocking slow-loading trackers by default in Firefox 63."

Firefox 63.0 is expected to be officially released on Oct. 23.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner is an Internet consultant, strategist, and contributor to several leading IT business web sites.