By Craig Buckler

What’s New in Firefox 23

By 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 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.

  • Good updates all ’round. Firefox is finally back to the point where I can actually develop and test with it and not wish I was in another browser. I’m too firmly in the Google camp to give up Chrome for my personal and office browsing, but Firefox is back to being a great second option.

  • The “blink” effect took this long to be eradicated, hmmm, now I know why standards are so hard and so time consuming for browsers to follow. Thanks for the writeup. Cheers!

  • Tim

    I of course don’t care what Firefox does on this score, but I find the fixation on flat design boring, and I suspect that we’ll look back and wonder where our heads were. It’s suitable in certain contexts (in fact, I’m using it sparingly on a site I’m working on now), to be sure, but its heavy-handed and ubiquitous use is no a step forward into anything. Maybe people are opting for it because it’s easier to create “clean” design with it.

    Anyway, I’m happy that FF continues to surge forward, as it remains my go-to browser. Still needs some improvement in standards-conformance, of course.

  • John Stanley

    Technically, you can still disable javascript and/or control image loading through “about:config” in Firefox 23.

    There is a good tutorial at:

  • Toby Hart Dyke

    One very irritating change – if there is only a single tab in use, you can’t turn off the display of the tab. That option has been removed, and no, there’s nothing in about:config to remove it either.

    It’s apparently something to do with making sure that themes work consistently. A triumph of aesthetics over usability…

  • Christian

    The BLINK tag was created by somebody at Netscape who was working on the browser and added it in just to see if it could be done. He never expected anybody but himself to know or care about it but then ended up seeing it in the next release and had to tell the team it was never meant to be an official thing.

  • It’s very annoying that firefox remove the javascript option, and image options in contents.

    I am very seriously considering going back to firefox 22.

  • Mirko

    There’s a still working add-on BlockImages that functions the same as removed option from the content menu. Try it.

  • Markitto

    It is beyond me that Mozilla keep releasing so frequently and with every release breaking existing addons from previous release. I just fixed my extension to work in FF 22 just to see it borken in 23.01. This is just a crazy cat and mouse game. This is what you get when you bank on a company that has no commercial customers and revenues. If Google and MS did this with their browsers and break thousands of plugins out there, can can you imagine the kind of negative publicity they would get. Shame Shame, moving to Chrome.

  • edwin

    goodbye firefox..idm cc not working

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