Things You’ll Love About Firefox 3.5

For the upcoming Firefox 3.6 release: go here!

Firefox 3.5 is around the corner. For those who don’t pay attention to development here’s the big features worth checking out. There are lots more, but these are my favorites:

User Centric Features

Private Browsing – Officially it’s called “Private Browsing” but most know it as “porn mode”. Simply put once you turn on the feature nothing about your browsing is saved to your computer until you turn it off. No browser history, cookies, cache, no passwords, download list. Great for shared computers where you may not want the next person to know where you shopped, what you bought etc.

Faster JavaScript – Everyone is doing it. Firefox 3.5 now ships with TraceMonkey which uses a technique, called trace trees to add just-in-time native code compilation to SpiderMonkey, the JS engine in Firefox. Bottom line: faster JavaScript makes JavaScript powered sites like Gmail way faster.

Faster Awesomebar – The awesomebar is a fast way of browsing the web, but the UI can sometimes get a little sluggish. Some awesome work has been done to optimize it for better performance. Faster UI = better browsing experience.

Better Awesomebar – The Awesomebar got a few enhancements including autocomplete for tagging, which is extremely handy as well as editing tags on multiple bookmarks at the same time.

Undo Closed Window – We’ve all done it before. Now you can undo a closed window just like a closed tab.

Drag Tab To New Window – Previously you could drag/drop to reorder tabs. Now you can drag a tab off the tab bar to move it into its own window. This may sound trivial but it actually makes organizing tabs much easier.

Video/Audio – Firefox 3.5 supports the new HTML5 <video/> and <audio/> tags. Specifically it supports Vorbis in Ogg containers, as well as WAV with support for more formats expected in the future. I’ve discussed open video before and suggest learning more about how important this is there.

SSL Error Pages Suck Less – The error pages shown when there is an SSL error were pretty tough on users since they didn’t display anything helpful. The new error pages are a bit more helpful. The bug implementing the changes has tons of details on the changes.

Geolocation – Simply put a website can (if you allow it) gather information about your internet connection and using a location service (provided by Google by default) will calculate your location. No more needing to constantly type in your zip code, or city name to get local information. For privacy you need to explicitly allow it. Geolocation is in a word awesome.

New Icon – Well, it’s not really new. It’s “refreshed” I guess. It’s not a huge change, but it does look really sharp, especially in more modern operating systems that use larger icons like Mac OS X. Alex Faaborg has it on his blog in various sizes for you see.

Developer Centric Features

Web Workers – My personal favorite is web workers. Essentially its background processing in a separate thread for JavaScript. No more locking up the browser’s UI because you need to do some complicated JS calculations. I’ll leave it to the documentation linked above for examples. Very handy stuff.

@font-face – Designers have long been frustrated with the lack of font options on the web. They often resort to using images and flash as a way to expand their font options. With @font-face it’s now possible to use custom fonts and reference them via css. There is however the issue of licensing of fonts used on a webpage since the font file itself is accessible via a web browser.

Native JSON Enough said. Native JSON is fast. var obj = JSON.parse(someJS);

Cross Site xhrxmlHttpRequest() has ushered in a new era of JavaScript. It’s not however without some serious limitations. One of the most obvious limitations is that you can’t use it across hostnames. Until now.

There’s more cool toys, but these are my favorite.

Still not convinced of all the new stuff? Check out this demo, then look at the source behind it. It’s pretty impressive.

25 thoughts on “Things You’ll Love About Firefox 3.5

  1. What about the Qt4 Linux port (Qt4 branch was merged few months ago, but no news since then)? KDE users would love to see that I guess…

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  4. How about fixing the damn Flash fullscreen causing the browser to crash. It is driving me crazy.

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  18. “Drag Tab To New Window – Previously you could drag/drop to reorder tabs. Now you can drag a tab off the tab bar to move it into it’s own window. This may sound trivial but it actually makes organizing tabs much easier.”

    I really HATE this new [i]feature[/i].
    I’m used to drag tabs on my desktop to save links. If i’d want to open it in a new window i would just do right clic>open to new window.
    Tabs were created because we had too much winwows opened and now we’re going back to the dark ages?
    What do you have in mind? Seriously?

  19. I tried Firefox 3.5 for 10 min and I think it was awful! The tabs horrible!Too many of my toolbars wouldn’t work with it (even though they should have) I feel they are getting as bad as IE which I hate! Ill stick with 3 till they come out with something better I will never try 3.5 again YUCK!

  20. humbug. stop with new and improved which is neither. why is the newest better because now you can’t organize bookmarks by name with a single mouse click. and it has been about 2 years now that has produced each new release so that NONE of them will accomodate the 5 extensions that i have used for years. 5 simple extensions that i can’t use together because they become incompatible randomly and then compatible, but never all 5 together.

    so, chrome, ie8, opera? less to live for as each day passes it seems to me.

    humbug.

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