WebRTC World Feature Article

May 02, 2014

The Firefox Facelift


I’ve been watching too many spy movies because when I heard that Mozilla released a Firefox update – a long overdue facelift – I immediately wondered who they have working at Microsoft that could have sabotaged Internet Explorer for them this week. It’s about time for Firefox to start making some noise again as it’s steadily declined in estimated usage since a high point in 2010. Google Chrome now holds the top spot with a significant lead over both Firefox and IE; a fact I was surprised to learn. I hated G+ so much that I avoided Chrome for a long time, unwilling to trust any new Google venture. Though I eventually downloaded it I still confine bookmarks and daily use to Firefox – out of habit, not loyalty.

Mozilla’s gone big with this release in a bid to remind people why we loved it in the first place. Remember that when Firefox debuted it was heralded for its options, stability and developer-friendly interface, but it’s done little to continue innovating as other browsers have caught up and surged ahead.

Firefox Version 29 reminds me a lot of Wordpress, promoting the idea of being whatever you want to make of it.  Move buttons around, add and drop functions and addons, one click bookmarking and easy syncing are all included. A single pane menu dropdown includes all the top functions, like print, preferences and save page, and can be easily customized by the user.

Mozilla has redesigned the way tabs display, enlarging the currently used tabs to show full page titles and moving unused tabs to either side. I, for one, don’t like that idea since I function really well with 27 tiny little tabs across the top of my screen (it helps make sure I get everything done!). But many users may appreciate that rabbit trail tabs are hidden and will surface again when the tab they’re using is closed.

A big addition that users will grow to appreciate over the next year or so is full support for WebRTC, letting users make video calls, and even share files across browsers from within a simple Firefox interface.

Those are the highlight for average users. If you’re a developer here are the things you’ll want to know about the new Firefox 29, from the Mozilla blog:

  • WebAPIs: There are now more than 30 Mozilla-pioneered WebAPIs,
  • asm.js and Emscripten: asm.js is a Mozilla-pioneered subset of JavaScript that can run at near-native speed for games and other performance-intensive applications.
  • Web Audio API: With Web Audio API, developers can now build robust audio engines capable of new features like positional audio and support for effects such as reverb.
  • CSS Flexbox: The integration of CSS Flexbox in Firefox makes it easier for developers to build user interfaces that adapt to the size of the browser window or to create elastic layouts.
  •  App Manager: Brings the Firefox Web developer tools to mobile app developers.
  • Extension APIs: Developers using the Add-on SDK can now use the new button and toolbar APIs to easily integrate their add-on with Firefox’s new customizable toolbar.

Whatever your user status, give the new Firefox a look, at least until Homeland Security clears IE for service!




Edited by Rachel Ramsey




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