What’s New in Firefox 14

Contributing Editor

Has it really been six weeks since Firefox’s last update? How do Mozilla stay on schedule? It’s becoming increasingly difficult to keep pace of new developments. Despite a few negative comments on SitePoint, I thought Firefox 13 was a great release. Let’s see what version 14 has to offer…

URL Auto-completion

The Awesome Bar (I still detest that name!) auto-complete function previously matched your browsing history, bookmarked sites and open tabs. From Firefox 14, the bar will also auto-complete previously-typed URLs to save you a little more time.

Redesigned Site Identity Icons

One of the more noticeable changes is the site identity block. Up to Firefox 13, a favicon graphic would appear next to the URL but this allowed SSL connections to be spoofed by a padlock graphic.

In Firefox 14, the icon will either be a gray globe (some or all unencrypted content), a gray padlock (HTTPS with a CV certificate) or a green padlock (HTTPS with an EV certificate):

Firefox 14 site it

Page Inspector Updates

The Page Inspector :hover, :active and :focus states UI has been improved. A tooltip drop-down menu is now available when you inspect any element:

Firefox page inspector

On-Click Plugin Activation

Opera, Chrome and several mobile browsers provide an option for plugins to be run on demand. Rather than starting a Flash animation when you visit the page, you’ll see play button on the plugin content area. The feature improves performance, decreases system requirements, has security benefits and prevents irritating music or videos playing until you want them.

The feature is available in Firefox 14 although it won’t be fully implemented for another version or two. To activate it, open about:config and set plugins.click_to_play to true. Once enabled, you can whitelist or blacklist individual sites by clicking the blue plugin icon in the address bar.

HTML5 Pointer Lock API

Pointer Lock (previously known as “Mouse Lock”) provides access to raw mouse movement. In essence, it’s similar to mouse capture events except:

  • movement over time rather than an absolute cursor position can be determined
  • movement can be locked to a specific element
  • movement can be limited in certain directions
  • the cursor can be removed from view

The API will typically be used for applications such as games, 3D modeling and maps. At the time of writing, it’s only available in Firefox and Chrome with prefixes so it’s a little early to depend on the API. For more information, refer to the MDN Pointer Lock documentation.

Miscellaneous Updates

A number of smaller improvements and changes include:

  • The (non-standard) CSS3 skew() transform has been removed.
  • All searches now use Google’s HTTPS search service
  • Native fullscreen support in Mac OS X 10.7.
  • Migration tools for IE and Safari have been redeveloped.
  • A number of international character set issues have been resolved for text-transform and font-variant.
  • Minor navigation bar button style changes are available in Windows.
  • A new textured background is shown when viewing images in the browser.
  • New Ctrl+[ and Ctrl+] keyboard shortcuts locate matching brackets in the Scratchpad and Style Editor.
  • SVG performance has been improved.
  • The Garbage Collector has been optimized further.
  • Several WebGL bugs have been fixed.
  • Various security issues have been addressed.

Firefox 14 is a great update. While users continue to report issues, the browser feels faster, slicker and more stable than it’s ever been. The competition has improved significantly, but Firefox combined with Firebug remains the tool of choice for many web developers.

Firefox 14 can be downloaded from getfirefox.com. Existing users should receive automatic updates or can check at Help > About Firefox.

Free book: Jump Start HTML5 Basics

Grab a free copy of one our latest ebooks! Packed with hints and tips on HTML5's most powerful new features.

  • Van Luu

    Firefox is definitely the best choice for web development!

  • TornadoKat

    As an IT Administrator for a mid-sized company, I read these new feature articles to keep up with what’s new but it seems to me Mozilla has shot themselves in the foot and yet they still keep the gun loaded and pointing at their foot as if they’re anxious to do it some more. As more of the databases my company uses go to hosted solutions using a browser interface, I have seen an increasing number of companies providing these solutions, who once preferred Firefox over IE, now switch to Chrome because they were frustrated with features of their interface frequently broken by new Firefox versions. I ended up banning Firefox due to the number of help tickets generated because of Firefox updates, broken plug-ins, web sites not rendering correctly, etc.

    • http://www.optimalworks.net/ Craig Buckler

      That’s surprising. While the early Firefox 4+ versions caused add-on compatibility issues, the problems have mostly been rectified (Firefox now assumes add-ons are compatible by default). Even then, the browser rarely has major rendering changes between versions.

      Do you receive more Firefox help tickets because the majority of users were using it? Chrome is a simpler browser – it’s add-ons cannot make fundamental changes to the interface. While that should cause fewer issues, I’d be interested to hear if it reduces help tickets.

  • Bat

    New14 and older Firefox13 crashes frequently with bitdefender installed windows7.

  • David

    Off topic, but why does the cursor turn to a point when over your list items? I thought there might have been tags around the lists until I checked Firebug and notice that there is a css style

    li {cursor:pointer !important;}

    Seems a little redundant to me.

  • http://sarugu.com Albert

    Everything is fine. But I don’t like the old HTTPS graphic replaced with gray icon. :(

  • Alex

    Hi Craig,

    I’m working with Firefox for almost a year now and I have two problems:

    1. If I have more then 5 tabs opened in the same time and I make different changes to the code of my website (PHP or CSS) my Firefox is over 400 MB of memory and If i use Memoryfix it’s about 250 MB. After 6-7 hours of handling different websites (sometimes earlier) it’s like an dead man crawling.
    2. If i want I can set my clock after the updates made by Mozilla, I can say right now that on 18.08.2012 we will have Firefox 15 :). In January 2013 we will have Firefox 20 or they will change the name of it to make it ” the new professional and powerful browser from Mozilla”… gg

    I like very much Firefox (I have all browsers installed and I try them daily) but I think these are the general issues with the new “powerful” software today: maximum memory consumption and marketing !

    PS why did Mozilla invented Inspector when we have firebug?

    • http://www.optimalworks.net/ Craig Buckler

      Try clearing your cache and history. Also, while you’re at it, reduce the cache from 1GB to around 50MB. That’s worked for me in the past.

  • http://artanddesign.us Lori

    I have the most trouble getting the footer to stick to the bottom for Firefox. I wish they would fix that sensitivity to the sticky footer problem. Otherwise, it seems to work best for interacting with sites and CMSs.

  • http://techx64.com Tushar Agarwal

    Firefox 14 does feel more faster than the previous version, and above lists implies that significant improvements were made to this latest firefox., and from now on i wont have to use flashh block addon :D. Though one feature i have been truly waiting for is installing and using addons without having the need to restart browser. Hope its made possible soon.