What’s New in Firefox 23

Craig Buckler

It’s that time again. Version 23 of Firefox has been released on Windows, Mac, Linux and Android. You may already have it but, if not, choose Help > About Firefox or download it from getfirefox.com. Let’s stroll through the new features list…

A New Logo

The Firefox logo has evolved to become flatter and less shiny:

new Firefox logo

Is it an improvement? Do you care? It looks less defined on the Windows 8 taskbar but I won’t lose any sleep over it.

No JavaScript or Image Disabling

As I reported last month, Firefox 23 no longer allows you to disable JavaScript from the options menu. In addition, you cannot disable images.

While it’s caused some controversy, I think it’s a good move. Developers and power users can still change the browser’s behavior, but novice users won’t accidentally stumble on potentially dangerous options.

Mixed Content Blocker

When visiting a page which has both HTTPS and HTTP content, a new shield icon will appear in the address bar and automatically block certain content such as insecure scripts. The user can override this behavior by clicking the icon:

HTML5 input range Type

Firefox is the last mainstream browser to offer support for the range input type:

<input type="range" value="50" min="0" max="100" step="1" />

It produces a slider control; no scripting or CSS is necessary!

Developer Tool Options

A new Options panel has been implemented which allows you to enable or disable tools, themes, chrome debugging and remote debugging. Click the gear icon in the top-left of the Developer Tools window/pane.

New Network Monitor

The Network Monitor (menu > Web Developer > Network) provides a view of all network activity. While this information had been available on the console, the new tool provides an easier interface which is similar to those found in Firebug and the Webkit/Blink Inspector:

Firefox Network Monitor

There’s a small expand icon at the right-hand edge of the tool which allows you to analyze the headers, cookies, parameters, response and timings for each request in greater detail.

Unprefixed requestAnimationFrame

requestAnimationFrame is the modern alternative to setTimeout or setInterval. It allows the browser to perform other tasks but runs a callback function the next time it’s free. While it can be called for any long-running processes, animation is the most likely use.

For more information, refer to Simple Animations Using requestAnimationFrame.

RIP blink

Blink has gone. That’s the tag and the text-decoration style — not Chrome’s new rendering engine!

The <blink> tag was evil. It alternated text foreground and background colors to create a migraine-inducing effect. Only GeoCities sites created 15 years ago will be affected.

Miscellaneous Updates

As well as various security fixes, the desktop edition also includes…

  • a simplified plugin installation interface
  • a new share button for the social API
  • search providers can be switched across the entire browser
  • an improved about:memory profiler
  • H.264 video decoding acceleration on Windows Vista, 7 and 8
  • new scrollbar styling in Mac OS X 10.7+

and the mobile version offers…

  • a new setting which shows URLs rather than the page title in the address bar (a personal irritation of mine)
  • the toolbar is hidden when scrolling down
  • basic RSS support (long-tap the address bar)
  • a preliminary implementation of the Health Report
  • various updates to Reader Mode

Firefox remains the browser of choice for many power users and web developers. It may have lost ground to Chrome, but Mozilla’s recent innovative updates are making Google look a little lethargic. The fox is biting back.