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Firefox 3.6 Boosts Speed, Tabs, HTML 5 and CSS - page 2

Speed, Plug-In Enhancements, Easier Customization

  • January 21, 2010
  • By Sean Michael Kerner

HTML 5 and CSS support

For developers, there are some new HTML 5 and CSS features that Mozilla has integrated into Firefox 3.6. The HTML 5 File API is one such new feature, enabling simple drag-and-drop between a user's desktop and the browser while giving Firefox new capabilities to interact with desktop files.

"What the File API does is that, for the first time ever, Web pages can actually get real access to the file," Beltzner said. "So they can not just treat it as something to upload or download, but they can actually take a look inside a file and react to it."

As an example, Beltzner described how an image file on a desktop could be dragged to a Web site, which could then pull out geographical and other information from the file.

Font support and tools also get a boost in the new Mozilla release.

"In Firefox 3.6 we've added support for the Web Open Font Format (WOFF), which is a compressed version of font container," Beltzner said. "We heard from Web developers that they love downloadable fonts, but they're large. So WOFF takes the size down by a factor of three."

CSS support is expanded in Firefox 3.6 as well, with additional CSS 3 support for backgrounds and support for gradients.

Firefox 3.6 will also change a key tab behavior for users. In all previous versions of Firefox, when a user clicked to open a new tab, it would open at the far right of the tab strip. With Firefox 3.6, tabs will open in the tab adjacent to the one the user is working in. Rival browser Google Chrome already has such a behavior.

"I think people are happy about this," Beltzner said, though he conceded that it's a work in progress. "I think the algorithm we have used needs to be tweaked a bit. It's hard stuff to reason through, as opening tabs adjacent appears magical until the browser gets it wrong, and then it's annoying."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

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