January 14, 2011 was a great day for all web users and web developers alike. Mozilla has unleashed the beta for Firefox 4! I carefully use the word “unleashed” as they have undoubtedly let the beast out of it’s cage.
What this means for the Every Day Web User:
Full Hardware Accerleration
The first thing I’m sure you’ll notice is the downright improvement in both load up time and page loads. Everything seems to load at blazing fast speeds. Hardware acceleration is automatically enabled by default for all supported devices; Direct 2D & Direct 3D for Windows, OpenGL for Mac and XRender on machines running Linux. This is a huge plus and makes browsing nice and lickety split. The new version runs about 3x faster on average, sometimes even faster than that!
Firefox Sync allows you to keep all your passwords, settings, history, passwords, open tabs and all types of other customizations in sync throughout all of your devices This is a great way to stay in sync with all your data no matter where you are in the world.
Better Tab Organization
Keep your tabs organized with Tab Grouping. You are now able to take your open tabs and group them together in order to keep things nice and organized.
The latest version fixes a few security vulnerabilities that are present in some of the latest web standards. In a nutshell they removed a feature that allowed hackers to expose your web history. Sites can also tell Firefox to automatically establish a secure connection to their servers (https).
What this means for the Web Developer:
Support for New CSS3 Features
Built-in HTML5 Form Validation
Gone are the days of using scripts and functions to validate your forms. Mozilla has included support for the latest HTML5 validation. Good stuff.
Greater SVG Support
While you were able to use SVG before, you are now able to use SVG files as images as well as background images. This is great for having a nice lightweight and performance councious site or web app.
While this completely open HD video codec isn’t fully supported by a couple other browsers just yet (IE & Safari), it is definitely a promising new codec.
Easier Add-On Development
Click here for a full breakdown of all the new technology behind the new version. Also, for a list of all the new feature click here. The final version of Firefox 4 is scheduled to be released in February; there should be another pre-release version before then so stay tuned. Meanwhile, start preparing yourself for pure awesoneness or download the beta to start experiencing it today.