Mozilla Firefox 7 Aims to Delight Developers

 
 
By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2011-09-30
 
 
 

Mozilla's new Firefox 7 release presents a new, snappy Web browsing experience for users and brings along a host of new tools for developers.

The new update to Firefox for Windows, Mac and Linux manages memory more efficiently to deliver a nimble Web browsing experience, Mozilla officials said. Firefox is faster at opening new tabs, clicking on menu items and buttons on Websites. And heavy Internet users will enjoy enhanced performance when lots of tabs are open and during long Web browsing sessions that last hours or even days, Mozilla said.

Meanwhile, Firefox 7 features new tools to help developers create faster Websites and Web apps. New tools in Firefox make it easier for developers to build speedy Web experiences for users, including a new version of hardware-accelerated Canvas that speeds up HTML5 animations and games in Firefox. This will enable developers to build more compelling and interactive Web experiences such as Angry Birds or Runfield, Mozilla said.

In addition, Firefox now supports the W3C navigation timing spec API so developers can measure page load time and Website navigation against bandwidth speed, Website traffic and other factors. This API allows developers to test user experiences remotely and easily and quickly optimize Websites and Web apps for different types of users.

Firefox now supports the ellipsis mode for the text-overflow property, said Christopher Blizzard, director of Web Platform at Mozilla, in a blog post about the new developer technology. "This property is supported in other browsers which means developers should be able to start using it in the wild."

Firefox also features updated support for WebSockets. Blizzard said, "First, WebSockets is now enabled by default for Firefox for Mobile. For mobile networks that are high-latency and have high connection setup-up costs, WebSockets offers an opportunity to create a much better experience than is available with polling HTTP. Second, we've updated to the most recent draft version of the WebSockets protocol from the IETF. Somewhat confusingly, this is version 8 of the protocol, but is draft version 10. This will be mostly of interest to people who are building applications on top of WebSockets and tool vendors, but is worth calling out since it affects backwards compatibility."

Moreover, to help improve future versions of Firefox, users can opt in to Telemetry. Telemetry is a tool built on Mozilla Privacy Principles that allows users to provide anonymous browser performance data in a private and secure way that they control.

The following telemetry data will be gathered in Firefox 7:

  • Memory usage
  • CPU core count
  • Cycle collection times
  • Startup speed

According to a Mozilla Hacks blog post, "Traditionally we measured Firefox performance on individual developer machines and our build & release infrastructure. However it turns out synthetic benchmarks do not correspond to real-world Firefox usage: it is difficult to model a "typical" computer in a lab environment. Surprisingly slow consumer hardware, changes in usage patterns, preinstalled bloatware all affect Firefox performance in surprising ways."

That post, itself based on a post by Taras Glek, a Firefox developer at Mozilla, said in addition to transmitting data via SSL, the Mozilla privacy team worked to ensure that no personally identifiable information is sent via telemetry. "Whereas many other software projects stamp this kind of data with a unique per-user ID, we opted for a per-session ID which is reset every time the browser restarts," the post said. "Telemetry is also disabled while in private-browsing mode."

 

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