February 16, 2019

Firefox 3.6 Boosts Speed, Tabs, HTML 5 and CSS

Speed, Plug-In Enhancements, Easier Customization

  • January 21, 2010
  • By Sean Michael Kerner
New Mozilla release adds new features to the open source browser.

Sean Michael Kerner

Six months after the last big Firefox release, Mozilla today is rolling out Firefox 3.6. The new browser, which began its life under the codename "Namaroka", includes numerous enhancement over its predecessor, Firefox 3.5.

Mozilla developers issued multiple alpha milestones, five beta releases and two release candidates over the last six months on the road to today's final release. Among the key enhancements in Firefox 3.6 are faster performance, new HTML 5 features and improved customization.

"With this release, we're continuing to push on the things that we think are important for Web browsers that are built for the way people actually use the Web," Mike Beltzner, director of Firefox at Mozilla, told InternetNews.com. "We want it to be customizable and we're obviously working on speed and stability -- those are just constant drivers. We want to make the Web browser the tool that people use to be productive."

Browser speed improvements

On the speed front, Firefox 3.6 is the fastest Web browser ever built by Mozilla. Beltzner noted that on the Sunspider JavaScript performance test, Firefox 3.6 clocked in at 20 percent faster than Firefox 3.5.

"We've actually done other things to speed up the browser as well," Beltzner said. "People often open a bunch of tabs at once at that will use a lot of memory and processor power, so what we've done in Firefox 3.6 is prioritize the tab that is in focus."

What that means is that instead of all the tabs receiving the same degree of system resources, now with Firefox 3.6, the tab that the user is actually viewing will get more system resources than other tabs -- rendering it more quickly for users as a result.

Firefox 3.6 also now includes support for asynchronous scripts, which means that a script can identify itself as being able to run in the background, enabling the rest of the page to render first.

"We've also made improvements to startup speed and in how pages render that will make the browser feel faster than ever before," Beltzner said.

Enhancements for Firefox plug-ins

On the stability front, Beltzner noted that the cause of browser instability and insecurity is often the fault of a browser plug-in. Popular plug-ins like Adobe Flash and Apple QuickTime are updated regularly by their respective vendors, though not all users are aware that the updates are available.

With Firefox 3.6, Mozilla has integrated a plug-in check to help users easily identify when they have an out-of-date plug-in that needs to be updated.

Customizing how Firefox looks has now also become easier, thanks to the integration of the Personas add-on directly into Firefox 3.6. With Personas, users can change the way Firefox looks without restarting the browser.

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