Firefox 4 to be "Super-duper Fast"

May 11, 2010

Mozilla's director of Firefox promises enhanced speed, adherence to open standards in new Web browser.

Mike Beltzer, Mozilla's director of Firefox laid out plans for Firefox 4 yesterday in an open address to the Mozilla community and end users, promising an increase in the browser's speed, continued support of open standards and improved security and control of user data.

Belzner outlined a number of design changes that would give the appearance of improved speed and allow end users to get directly to their content quicker and more seamlessly. Among the changes announced were fewer controls in the browser bar and fewer pixels between the end user and Web content.

Modal dialogs, which pop-up dead-center in the browser window and effectively disable Firefox until an option is selected ("Would you like Firefox to remember this password") will be replaced by a simple pop-up that appears below the address bar. This pop-ups may disable use of a specific tab until an option is selected, but not the browser as a whole.

Beltzer also touted the ability for updates to apply in the background of the browser, a feature that may not be ready by the time Firefox 4 ships.

Another function Beltzer mentioned was "applications" tabs, which allow users to snap specific tabs to the browser window such as gmail, Twitter or another Web app, where it will be represented by a smaller, application-specific icon.

As expected, Firefox 4 will take advantage of nearly every open standard. It supports bidirectionally connected apps through WebSockets, features improved AJAX interactions and uses CSS3 for easier layout and more robust styling options.

The browser also supports native audio and video through HTML5 and Belzner promises support for WebGL, if not at the browser's launch, then sometime after.

Also planned for Firefox 4 is a permissions manager that displays how each site interacts with a user's preferences and a site identity button that displays instantly which user information a specific website is requesting.

Firefox Weave will be fully integrated into the new browser and single-click sign-on to sites is also planned.
The add-ons feature gets an overhaul allowing a richer experience for end users and add-on developers using Jetpack, an add-on creator from Mozilla, will be forward compatible with all future versions of the browser.

If your browser supports HTML5 (and if you're reading about Firefox, it probably does), you can check out the full announcement here. Belzner expects Firefox 4 to be released by the end of this year.

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