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5 new features in Firefox to improve your web application development

Firefox 3.5 is here and if you have already downloaded you might be enjoying its benefits. Let’s take a look at some features that will dramatically improve your browsing experience and you will want to keep into account for your next web application.

1. Faster. Firefox 3.5 is a lot faster than its predecesors. I’m sure you heard it all over the internet, but what does it mean? Firefox 3.5 speed has been improved in the two main factors involved at browsing time, script evaluation and DOM building and rendering. Now with the new speculative parsing, the HTML parser is never blocked. If FF encounters a <script> tag, it will begin loading it and keep an speculative DOM tree and in case no document.write or something affecting the DOM is issued, the tree, which is no other than the tree that would download if no DOM modifications are issued, will be valid. If more <script> tags are present it will keep different speculative trees.
Javascript evaluation has been improved by using the new TraceMonkey engine resulting in Firefox 3.5 being from 5 to 8 times faster than Firefox 3.x.

2. Downloadable fonts are now supported. The only thing left is that more font foundries would license their fonts or some of them to allow the embedding. It has been rumored that Axel from FontShop would be later licensed to allow @font-face deployment.

3. Gecko 1.9.1 introduced the capability to apply SVG effects to HTML content. You can for example, mask HTML content with SVG. Firefox 3.5 also support the <canvas> tag, allowing for example, drawing text using a canvas.

4. Location aware browsing is a feature that will allow a site to know where you are in the world. You can what your settings are for a particular page in ToolsPage Info, on the Permissions tab, Share Location option. In case you never want to share your location for any site, go to the advanced config settings by opening a tab and entering about:config. Filter the page that appears after you hit enter by typing geo and double click the geo.enabled entry. The value will change from true to false: your location will never be shared and you won’t be prompted by any site to reveal it.

5. Firefox 3.5 now supports <audio> and <video> elements from HTML 5, so you can watch some video types without the needing of an additional plugin. Head over to Dailymotion’s OpenVideo to give it a shot.

About the browsing experience, I like the fact that you can drag tabs out of the window to create a new window. A behaviour seen before in Chrome. The nice thing is that if you close the new window, you can still restore the tab in the former window. In addition to the Recently Closed Tabs we now have the Recently Closed Windows, that will restore a window you have recently closed with all the tabs that were open at the moment you closed it. The history clear has been improved, allowing you to delete your history from even the last hour. Chrome also had this behaviour but you can delete starting from the last day. Also new is the private browsing option. When you finish a previously started private browsing session, the temp files from that period will be completely erased.

What about you? Have you already upgraded your browser?

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