Mozilla Release Firefox 6 — What’s New?

Craig Buckler

Yes, seriously. Despite being less than two months old, Firefox 5 is obsolete. Mozilla released Firefox 6 on August 16 2011. As you’d expect, there are a number of bug-fixes but the list of new features is fairly lightweight.

It’s Faster

Mozilla claim the new browser is 20% faster than Firefox 5 (which wasn’t particularly slow). The speed gains will also be evident to Linux users.

Panorama is Firefox’s tab grouping system. I had a few initial reservations but I now love the feature and use it extensively. Firefox 6 loads inactive groups on demand — it improves start-up times and reduces memory usage.

URL Highlighter

Firefox 6 highlights a site’s domain in the address bar (sorry Mozilla, I still can’t bring myself to call it the Awesome bar!) It’s a feature present in all competing browsers.

Website Permissions Control

Browsers let you control permissions such as cookies, JavaScript restrictions, pop-up windows, password storage, etc. on a global or page-by-page basis. However, you’re unlikely to have the same relationship with your online banking application as you do with Facebook.

The new Data Management Window allows you to set site-based permissions so the same rules apply to every page within a specific domain. The feature is experimental, but you can access it by entering “about:permissions” in the address bar.

JavaScript Scratchpad

The new Scratchpad console allows you to execute JavaScript code. It has access to every object and variable within the current page, but new Scratchpad variables won’t leak into it.

The Scratchpad is similar to Firebug’s console command line, however, it doesn’t require the add-on and allows you to save snippets for later use.

In addition, if you like the Web Console, you’ll be pleased to hear that it can be moved and docked elsewhere.

More HTML5, CSS3 and DOM Loveliness

Web developers will able to adopt the following HTML5 technologies in Firefox 6:

  • The progress tag for graphical progress bars has been added. Colors can be styled with the ::-moz-progress-bar pseudo-element.
  • A new -moz-orient property allows you to set some elements, such as progress bars, to horizontal or vertical orientation.
  • The track element is supported so you can apply text tracks to native audio and video.
  • CSS3 border-radius can be applied to iframes.
  • Custom data attributes (data-*) can now be accessed via the DOM’s element.dataset property.
  • Text decorations such as underlines, overlines and strike-throughs can now be styled in CSS using -moz-text-decoration-line (none, underline, overline, line-through), -moz-text-decoration-style (inherit, solid, double, dotted, dashed, wavy) and -moz-text-decoration-color properties.
  • The new -moz-hyphens property lets you control how hyphenation of words is handled during line wrapping (none, manual, auto).
  • The result of a media query string can be evaluated programmatically using the window.matchMedia() method.
  • Early support for Server-Sent Events has been implemented. This API permits push notifications from the server in the form of DOM events.
  • Touch event support for touch-sensitive screens and trackpads has been included.

Will Firefox 6 Break My Add-ons?

Possibly. Several of my add-ons only started working in Firefox 5 during the past few weeks. I suspect Firefox 6 will cause fewer issues, but you should check the compatibility of essential add-ons before upgrading.

Firefox 6 is available now. You can upgrade in your browser (Help > About Firefox) or download it from the Mozilla website.