Firefox 4 – New features for testing shown in London

Date: 22nd July 2010
Author: Deri Jones

Mozilla came to London this month, to explain some of the new features in the upcoming version 4 browser.

The web testing teams here at SciVisum have been Firefox users since way back 1.0 days, and it looks like the new features of version 4 will continue it’s popularity with us and web monitoring and web load tests worldwide.

Of course there are the speed improvements: 27% faster javascript it looks like.

But there are other nice things that will help our daily tasks as testers, comparing the underlying technical issues that impact web performance on each client site.

Confidence in Firefox has built up starting way back when it was so easy to use some powerful plugins that really saved time in the web development and web testing space.

Firefox 4 has a new arrangement for handling add-ons, which will likely only further cement it’s position as the best browser for add-ons: something Chrome hasn’t quite caught up with yet.

Stylesheet CSS3 compliance is improved:  it’ll take a few years until all web designers and web browsers catch up, but as testers we look forward to the powerful features of CSS reducing the number of crazy hacks and horrible work rounds that we come across all too often right now, as designers have to handle the nasty situation of coding for both the latest, sleekest standards while making sure pages still work on old browsers with a grudging reluctance to follow the CSS standards (did anyone say IE8?).

HTML5 is another standards driven area that with increasing pickup will simplify the analysis of what web pages are doing when we’re testing.

Improved start-up-time is nice too – when you’re launching new browsers throughout the day it can save all that waiting.

I’ve ignored other features that will make regular web users experience richer: like scalable vector graphics SVG, and clever Canvas features such as pixel detection.

And right now, it’s not certain if Mozilla’s Prism technology, to allow running off-line apps built in HTML, will be included in Firefox 4 or not.  It would allow an Apps Store to develop along the lines of existing ones out there.

If anyone is using IE as their main browser for daily web performance work, Firefox 4 will add even more time-saving and make the switch even more attractive.