Firefox 3.6 Is Out Now

By Craig Buckler
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One billion Firefox downloadsMozilla has finally released Firefox 3.6. You may have already been offered the update; if not, select Help > Check for Updates… and follow the wizard.

Is it safe to upgrade?

The main problem is add-ons compatibility. Mozilla has been working with developers for several months to ensure add-ons are compatible and most of the popular extensions already work.

However, you may encounter add-ons which fail. Fortunately, the improved upgrade process will warn you when add-ons are incompatible and offer to abort the installation or disable the add-on until a new version is released.

What’s new for users?…

The first improvement you’ll notice is speed. Firefox 3.6 starts noticeably faster, performance has been improved, memory usage has been reduced, and the browser feels more responsive. Google Chrome users may still mock, but it’s a step in the right direction.

Firefox personas are lightweight themes which can be applied without restarting the browser. In essence, personas are a couple of images applied behind the browser controls (similar Chrome’s theming). Personally, I think they’re a frivolous gimmick but I’m sure many users will love them.

Finally, stability should improve thanks to Component Directory Lockdown. It prevents third-party developers sneaking extensions into the browser which can’t be uninstalled … supposedly for “your” benefit.

…and developers?

We have lots of new toys to play with. The more interesting features include:

  • CSS now offers gradients, multiple backgrounds, and scalable images.
  • The new Web Open Font Format (WOFF) is supported.
  • Open native video can be displayed full screen. Poster frames are also supported (an image which represents the video until it’s played).
  • There are further facilities for selecting and handling files, such as drag and drop from your desktop to the browser.
  • An async="true" attribute can be added to JavaScript script tags to indicate that code can be loaded and executed asynchronously.
  • An orientation event is available to detect when a device such as a mobile phone has been rotated. This can be used to switch a page from portrait to landscape view and vice versa.
  • The prototype property of JavaScript function instances are no longer enumerable. I need to test this further, but it could prevent many of the issues associated with scripts extending the functionality of native objects.
  • TraceMonkey, Firefox’s JavaScript engine, is faster.

These are all great additions, but be aware that many will only work in Firefox and could be ignored or throw errors in other browsers.

Overall, Firefox 3.6 is a great browser. If you’re a Firefox user, there’s little reason not to upgrade. The speed improvements may also bring a few disgruntled users back to the Mozilla fold.

Useful links:

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  • Paul

    I’m using Firefox 3.6, the latest and greatest. Its Personas (themes) are quick and gorgeous. Its very fast.

    No wonder it has been downloaded 7 million times in just a few days!!!!
    “FFirefox 3.6 has been downloaded 7,015,334 times since January 21, 2010” –

  • bar338

    I updated this morning and no problems thus far. Just a few addon’s were incompatible. All the staple addon’s work just fine though.

  • SSJ

    Yes mate. Speed is improved and it also become lightweight but I am getting caching issues. Even my Google Results are getting cached and every time when I perform a search on Google, I need to clear the cache so this is the only thing which I think they need to fix somehow otherwise it will be a waste of time for SEO workers.

    Saurabh Shyara
    Owner – A Web Design Company

  • GrahamS

    When will Codeburner for Firebug support Firefox 3.6?
    Its now the only add-on I have that doesn’t support this new FF level.

  • Tarh

    I’ll have to wait to update since I have 9 incompatible add-ons, several of which are critical.

  • Mozilla has been working with developers

    Mozilla has published a list of things we have to do .. I wouldn’t exactly call that “working with” so much as “dictating to”. But that’s probably just me being a little jaded – with each new FF version they put more and more pressure on add-on developers to develop their code in specific ways, and now include automatic code validation for every new update you try to publish to the directory. What this does is parse your scripts and higlight anything they consider to be unsuitable; if you have any such warnings the update won’t be accepted.

    Trouble is, many of their warnings are just coding conventions, not security issues, or stability issues, or in fact anything that really matters. It’s a little irritating, because it just means more work for add-on developers that serves little or no real purpose.

    @SSJ – The last CodeBurner Firebug update was published before there was a non-beta version of Firebug that supported 3.6 available. A new update will be coming soon now that there is. The Firebug team clearly have some special relationship with the add-ons directory, because they get their updates accepted far more quickly than we do!

  • m?

    The Firefox logo was updated since version 3.5, now 3.6 is released. Why you are still using the old one in articles?

  • MacDev

    It seems that Mozilla haven’t bothered to include HTML preview from Dreamweaver and they aren’t going to fix it anytime soon. So if you option+f12 in Mac-land to preview your Dreamweaver HTML, forget it. If you’ve been sucked in by the hype, and you’ve already upgraded to v3.6, you can always roll-back to v3.5.7 here.

    Personally, I’m disgusted and more than a little annoyed.

    More background and howls of protest here:

    Bye bye FF :o|

  • Anonymous

    woah 3.6 sucks, complete sh*t, rolling back to 3.5.7 right now.

  • That Guy

    Wow Windows 7 fresh install, FF 3.6 I thought I had a bad install was just slow. locked up half of by developer extensions are not supported. BLAHHHH… rolled back to 3.5.7 I will sit here for a bit. 3.6 needs some work before I take a second look.