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Forecasting for Firefox 4.0

By Brian LePore

Firefox 4.0 is scheduled for release in February and we here at The BrandBuilder Company felt that you might like to hear how this new version will make your web browsing experience better.

One of the biggest changes you’ll notice right away is that Firefox is faster than ever thanks to a new feature called hardware acceleration, which we’ll talk about later.

The obvious change is to the interface, which has been greatly simplified to remove clutter and show users more of the Web site on a screen. Here’s a quick summary:

  • The default position of tabs has moved to the Title Bar (the bar that runs across the top of any application). There is a custom option that allows users to revert back to the old style by right clicking on any empty space in the application area at the top of the screen and unchecking ‘Tabs on Top’.  This change makes it look like Google Chrome.
  • Windows Vista/7 users have had the Menu Bar (the bar that runs across below the title bar and usually says something like File, Edit, View, etc) hidden by default, and a new Firefox button added to the top left corner. Clicking on that button brings up a menu of the most used features from the old menu bar. The old Menu Bar can be brought back temporarily by clicking on the alt button on your keyboard, or permanently by checking ‘Menu Bar’ on the same screen as the ‘Tabs on Top” option mentioned below.
  • The Status Bar (the bar at the bottom of the screen) has been eliminated and replaced with something called an Add-on bar. The Status Bar was used to display the URL of a link when you placed your mouse over a link. This functionality has been moved to the address bar as a second URL that is displayed. Unfortunately there is no option in the default build of Firefox 4.0 to turn this feature back on, but you can install a Firefox extension that provides the same exact functionality. You can download this extension at: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/235283/

Firefox 4 also includes a number of new features that allow content providers to deliver better Web sites. Some highlights include:

  • The ability to watch high quality WebM video, something Chrome will be switching to exclusively, and better viewing of YouTube video.
  • The ability to validate URL’s and e-mail addresses in Web forms before a form is submitted to the server.
  • New transition features that allow page elements to fluidly transition from one state to another. Just check out our Help Center and mouse over the navigation to see an example of this in action.
  • 3D graphics, which can be a great way to add impact to your site.

Most of the speed improvement comes from a new feature I mentioned called hardware acceleration. Basically this means that it uses hardware that is present in modern computers to speed up the rendering of a page. This feature is only present in Mac OS X, and Windows Vista/7. There are other speed improvements that have been done to the engine, so Windows XP users will still see some improvement.

Brian is a fitness enthusiast, a comic book fanatic and the Senior Web Developer at The BrandBuilder Company.

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Brian is the Director of Development and Social Media for Brand Builder Websites where he oversees the development, strategy, and goals for our software development. He is also a huge fan of Android.
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