What’s New in Firefox 25

By Craig Buckler
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Firefox 24 was released in mid-September 2013 and was a little uneventful. That’s unless you’re a Java developer who was unimpressed by Mozilla’s decision to remove “Always Activate” for the plug-in. (Seriously, is anyone still creating Java applets?)

Firefox 25 was released on October 29. The new features list may be smaller than we’ve seen in the past but there are a few gems lurking in the browser. As usual, you can install it by waiting for the auto-update, clicking About Firefox from the Help menu, or visiting firefox.com.

Web Audio API

The Web Audio API permits audio processing and synthesizing in JavaScript. In other words, you can create your own sound effects and add filters to audio clips. I’m not even going to attempt to explain it; the API has options which would challenge the most knowledgeable sound engineer.

The most obvious use for Web Audio is games, although sound effects could augment many app UIs — especially on mobile devices where you’re not necessarily viewing the screen all the time (refer to Should the Web be Wired for Sound?)

Mozilla has created a great Minecraft-inspired demonstration named Songs of Diridum

Songs of Diridum

Move around using W,A,S,D/cursor keys, mouse and space to jump. Explore the map and you’ll notice that sound and music becomes less distinct the further you move away from the source. You can also configure the instruments being played.

The Web Audio API is now supported in Gecko and Webkit/Blink browsers (with a webkit prefix) — only IE does not have support. I suspect most of us need a decent library before it can achieve widespread deployment.

Tab-Specific Find Bar

The Find (in page) bar interface has been simplified. In addition, it’s no longer shown or shared between tabs. It seems to be an improvement since you can now search for different strings on different pages — at the expense of having to re-open the bar.

CSS3 background-attachment: local

In CSS2.1, the background-attachment property could be set to:

  • scroll — the background image scrolls with the page
  • fixed — the background image remains stationary within the viewport as the page is scrolled, or
  • inherit — use whatever property is applied to a parent element.

These work as you’d expect when applied to the body but didn’t consider that individual elements could also be scrolled.

As of CSS3, you can now use local. This positions the background relative to the element’s content. So, if that element uses overflow: scroll or overflow: auto, the background scrolls when the element is scrolled. But it doesn’t move when the page is scrolled.

Firefox is the last browser to add support for local; it’s already available in IE9+, Chrome 4+, Safari 5+ and Opera 10.5+.

Miscellaneous Updates

A number of minor changes have also been implemented:

  • The Profiler tool can save and import test results.
  • Iframes can use inline content.
  • Additional ECMAScript 6 functions are available.
  • Guest browsing on Android allows you to share your phone without that person being able to see your open tabs, history etc.
  • Mobile add-ons can now add indicators to the address bar.
  • The Contacts API is available on Android.
  • The usual plethora of bugs and security issues have been addressed.

The new Australis theme with Chrome-like rounded tabs and simpler icons has been put back to Firefox 28 — due March 4, 2014. Some had speculated it would appear in Firefox 25, so don’t expect the browser to look like this for a few months yet…

Firefox Australis

Firefox 26 should arrive during mid-December 2013.

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  • Ben

    Tab specific find bar is kind of annoying. I often have multiple tabs open of similar things and am searching in-page for the same thing. Now it’s just n times more work to ctrl+f, ctrl+v for each tab :(

    • kikjezrous

      Write addon, become happy.

    • Jon

      Why oh why, I ask you with tears in my baby blue eyes, do developers keep having to fix things that ain’t broke? The tab interface was great, I couldn’t care less if I tried about Web Audio or a single other thing that they have introduced as new “features”. So now I’m going to be nagged constantly to upgrade for the pleasure of having my nicely configured tabs messed up. And in addition I’ll probably have to upgrade my addons and plugins.
      I miss the good old days of IE4, a simple browser that just worked and had no extraneous junk features.

      • kikjezrous

        Ouch. Somebody’s gonna start a flame war with that last line. But it won’t be me. :P (…junk features my pigu… /fume)
        I’m with you, nearly all of what goes on in the Fx updates are hardly relevent to nearly any of us. But there are the web developers, the ranks of which I hope to join soon, and Mozilla has always done their best to give devs the most up-to-date, and recently, innovative tools to work with.
        The tab updates are just to merge the mobile/Thunderbird style with the now oddball desktop style. Honestly, I prefer them. But that doesn’t make the rest of Firefox any less functional.

  • dc

    The Songs of Diridum demo is not Minecraft based at all. If anything it looks more like Cube World. It is just a voxel environment and has nothing to do with the Minecraft game.

  • sam

    when we will be able to use of HTML5

    • Anonymous

      Well, you can use it now. It’s just that now every browser shows a nice calendar control.

      • Anonymous

        Whoops – that was a mistype. I meant: NOT every browser shows a nice calendar control.

  • Anonymous

    I didn’t say it was based on Minecraft – just inspired by it. Or, more specifically, it’s a blocky 3D world. Personally, I’d never heard of Cube World? But I looked it up and the home page states: “My inspirations were Minecraft…”. So yah boo to you, dc!

  • Joan

    Isn’t that Firefox UX?????

  • Korje

    “Chrome-like rounded tabs”? Noooo! Round is so 2007, we need square Metro design. Firefox crew doesn’t seem to know what’s modern.

    • kikjezrous

      @Joan: not exactly, UX is Fx running a mockup of Australis. It’s not complete.

    • kikjezrous

      @Korje: personal opinion, I’m sure. I belive Metro to have no soul, no spirit! Round… is the truth.

  • jfejsa

    It doesn’t mean that everyone likes ‘modern’ things just because you like it Korje. Some; including me prefer round and dislike square Metro. In any case; what’s modern today will be outdate tomorrow and what’s ‘outdated’ today maybe the new modern tomorrow…just look at fashion and furniture.

  • Mike CC

    What annoys me is that Firefox developers are Chrome fans now. It started with the ridiculous galloping version number: my Firefox 25 still looks like Firefox 4 !!!

  • Jon

    As far as web dev goes – been there, done that, got the scars. You can have it and the best of luck to you. If the developers want to come up with a dev-friendly browser, that’s awesome, but what everyone on the internet needs, developers included, are fast, stable browsers that show the largest number of websites correctly. Everything else is secondary to that, and that’s what web dev professionals should be designing for.

  • ale

    Just hit F3 to continue search when switching tabs, works as before, with the exception of tabs where you already searched for something else (in those tabs, next (F3) will search for the old query). Not sure if this is good/smart.

  • Guest

    I’m waiting the new interface called ” Australis “… : D