By Craig Buckler

Mozilla Release Firefox 6 — What’s New?

By 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 Despite being less than two months old, Firefox 5 is obsolete.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.

  • Bryan Bougher

    Hopefully it won’t be such a memory hog, granted I am a bit of a tabaholic. The accelerated release cycle is fine, but it is not fine that they seem to break widely-used add-ons with every update. Using Chrome more and more.

  • Pretty much given up on Firefox for now. I’ll keep it installed for checking layouts, but a clean install of FF5 on a near-new OS setup initially wiped my profile, and now can’t cope with adding *just* Firebug. Whilst I realise this sort of flakiness *can’t* be representative of the majority experience, FF3.5 and onwards have just wasted more and more of my time on troubleshooting. With Safari & Chrome both being fast and stable, FF currently isn’t worth the effort.

  • Rhys

    Still buggy with dual monitors
    Still no 3d transforms !!!
    Really pathetic Mozilla

  • Anonymous

    By the way, I just paíd $21.87 for an íPad 2-64GB and my boyfriend loves his Panasoníc Lumíx GF 1 Camera that we got for $38.76 there arriving tomorrow by UPS.I will never pay such expensive retail prices in stores again. Especially when I also sold a 40 inch LED TV to my boss for $657 which only cost me $62.81 to buy.
    Here is the website we use to get it all from,

    NOW 100% WORKING

  • You can restore “Broken” addons by installing “Addon compatibily reporter”

  • Cash: You complain about a rapid release schedule, then say it isn’t as good as Chrome? You do realise it was Chrome that started pushing out a new version every few weeks right?

  • For everyone complaining about memory usage, I do believe Mozilla have a separate project going that will be addressing Firefox memory issues.
    Also, for people that are taboholics and see Fx use a lot of memory, open the same tabs in Chrome and add up all the memory the individual processes are using ;). (though I must admit I would love to see a similar model implemented in Firefox so I can see which tabs/add ons are taking up a lot of memory.)

  • Mark Drake

    Cash you bring up a really interesting point. You should check out the developer community over at Mozilla and contribute to the project yourself – really get some things done!

  • Andrew P

    I agree with you Cash. Memory leaks in FF are a real problem for me.
    However, with a pretty reasonable crack at remembering pages when I close it, I can simply close and reopen it – the only trouble being how long it takes to start up.
    Chrome still looks lighter and faster, and less leaky.

  • Levi Morrison

    Yet. :)

  • Dave

    I can’t print websites with firefox 6

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