Where did the last six weeks go? Following the launch of Firefox 6 on August 16, Mozilla released Firefox 7 on September 27, 2011. Auto-updates have not been initiated at the time of writing but you can download the latest version from www.mozilla.org/firefox/.
I experienced several problems with Firefox 6 and its resource hogging on OS X was especially worrying. Like many, I considered switching to Chrome full-time. Mozilla is promising better performance and reduced memory usage in Firefox 7 across all platforms:
Firefox manages memory more efficiently to deliver a nimble Web browsing experience. Users will notice Firefox is faster at opening new tabs, clicking on menu items and buttons on websites. Heavy Internet users will enjoy enhanced performance when lots of tabs are open and during long Web browsing sessions that last hours or even days.
I’ve been using the browser for a few hours and it does feel faster. Memory usage on Windows 7 seems better, i.e. 10 tabs required 280Mb compared to 380Mb on Firefox 6. However, a longer period of testing is required to truly evaluate progress.
Mozilla is collecting performance data and you’ll be asked whether you want to anonymously opt-in when launching the application for the first time.
What’s New for Web Developers?
A few interesting enhancements have been delivered:
- The CSS
text-overflowproperty now supports
ellipsisso “…” appears when the text exceeds the space available.
- Canvas rendering is faster.
- WebSockets is enabled on Firefox Mobile.
- Navigation Timing has been implemented. This allows web applications to measure real-world performance factors and optimize the user’s experience.
I’ve discussed Firefox’s version numbering chaos many times but — so far — Firefox 7 seems less problematical than its predecessors. Add-on developers understand the issues and none of my extensions were disabled. I can’t promise you’ll have the same experience but the situation appears to be improving.
Mozilla is rapidly losing ground to Google Chrome. Firefox 7 is good and I suspect it will convince many to stick with the browser. Whether it’s enough to persuade disillusioned users to return is another matter.
Craig is a freelance UK web consultant who built his first page for IE2.0 in 1995. Since that time he's been advocating standards, accessibility, and best-practice HTML5 techniques. He's created enterprise specifications, websites and online applications for companies and organisations including the UK Parliament, the European Parliament, the Department of Energy & Climate Change, Microsoft, and more. He's written more than 1,000 articles for SitePoint and you can find him @craigbuckler.
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