Mozilla Firefox 4: Out of the Oven

Okay, I have to be honest that I’m not a big fan of Mozilla Firefox anymore, but still, they have entered a new milestone step: Mozilla Firefox 4! I know that this browser has been up and around for a while in its beta status, but at that time, I reluctant to try, because it disables almost all of my extensions, and the only reason I’m using Firefox is because of its abundant extensions, just like people using iPhone because of its App Store. So what’s there to try if I can’t access all my extensions? But at least now the Firefox has already leaved its beta status, and then right now I’m trying it. But don’t be wrong: Firefox 4 still disables half of my plugins, and leave a few handy ones that doesn’t concern with user interface.

Now let’s start from the downside of migrating from Firefox 3.6 to Firefox 4. From the ones I see that is disabled is likely:

  • Extensions that concern with user interface, like Tab Kit that handles your tab position, or Fission that gives Safari-like progress bar in the awesome bar. This is understandable because the user interface from Firefox 4 is differ greatly from Firefox 3.6. So, any distraction in the user interface that’s meant for previous Firefox is simply doesn’t match.
  • Extensions that modifies the way Firefox display websites, like Tooltip Plus that gives advanced tooltip when you hover your mouse over a link, or Readability that modifies current website you read into magazine style, and removing any unnecessary ‘extras’. Bummer. I really like that plugin. This is mainly because of the new way Firefox renders its web page. It now using layer that supports hardware acceleration. Any extensions that have modification isn’t allowed to run.
  • Extensions that adds icon to the bar. Any plugins that adds icon is simply stripped out of compatibility. That includes my favorite Delicious and Auto Shutdown plugin. I don’t really get this, but maybe it’s because Firefox 4 got new system to handle icons.

But the one that’s weird, I see that Hide Caption Title Bar plus, a Firefox 3.6 extension that modifies its interface to mimics Firefox 4 user interface, is still compatible. I don’t really get it. This add ons modifies Firefox’ user interface greatly! Well maybe that’s just one of the mystery of Firefox.

But don’t fret, there is a way to keep using your valuable add ons in the new Firefox even though it’s not updated anymore. Warning: may lead to unexpected browsing behavior risks!

Now I’m just toying around and disabling some extensions that I think I won’t needed when Firefox suddenly shows the usual crash window! I didn’t even touched Facebook yet! I think stability is still being the main issue of Firefox 4. This is the main reason why I left Firefox and migrating to Chrome. Chrome itself doesn’t win a big number from Firefox in terms of stability, but at least it got separate memory management for each tab, so that when a tab crashed, it will less likely crashes the whole of the browser. Now it crashes even more and more when I even tried to take a look at the configuration page or facebook. For me, there’s almost no difference in stability.

Now let’s take a look on the upside. The number change from 3.xx to 4.xx is always means a big step for Firefox developer team. Especially for this Firefox 4, where it has already going through 12 beta already. That’s quite a lot number of experimental release to see whether the user likes it or not. I’ve tried the beta once, and it got a hell abundant of happy-or-sad question button all within the browsers. So, it’s safe to assume that this Firefox 4 has already undergone through a lot public preview and review. All the new features that worth to be highlighted are:

  • A blazing performance. As i mentioned before, Firefox implements DOM and Style Resolution performances, a new Javascript engine called JägerMonkey, and a new layers-based graphics system that takes advantage of Direct2D and Direct3D on Windows and OpenGL on Mac to ensure faster website rendering on graphics heavy sites. In common, Firefox 4 is three to six times faster than Firefox 3.6 in terms of running Javascript benchmark. And more, it delivers those high performance graphic hardware acceleration on Windows XP too, not unlike Internet Explorer 9.
  • A new user interface. It now mimics Chrome, placing the tab on top of the awesome bar. And it tries to saves the screen real estate as much as possible, to appeal users with smaller screen estate in a 10″ laptop.
  • Tab App. Like Chrome’s feature, pin tab. It “minimizes” the tab you often used, put it in the far left of the tab line. It also got fresh feature. If, for example, you have gmail tab opened as Tab App, if there is a new mail arrived, Firefox can notified you by glowing the tab. Basically, it will glowing if there is any changes within its page’s contents.
  • Tab Groups. This is a new unique features still not found on other browsers. If you open more than one tab, now in the far right side of the tab line, you can found a new button that lists all opened tab. But there’s more. You can found a feature called “Tab Groups”. If you click it (shortcut: CTRL+Shift+E), you will go to a tab management, where you can create a new tab groups, select which tab goes to which group, and activate whichever groups you want to activate. If the groups is activated, only tabs in that group will be visible. Basically, it’s like when you manually open a bunch of Firefox windows, each window is given specific tab genre. Such as one window for tabs like Yahoo Mail, Gmail, Live Hotmail, etc, other window for tabs like Facebook, MySpace, etc, and another one for tabs like WordPress, Blogger, and such. Firefox is just trying to managing those all window with different tab tasks into one meta-window with tab groups.
  • A new revamped add on window. Now its even easier to search, install, and managing add ons within the browser itself. And it even got its own site page (not as an add on pop up window anymore)!
  • Bookmark Sync. You can sync your bookmark with all your Firefox on different computers, even with your mobile Firefox. Yes, Firefox now already has mobile version of it!
  • Do Not Track feature. It’s a feature that basically tells the website you visit not to track your browsing behavior at that web page. For a privacy-aware person, this is quite a useful feature, but it still depends on the web that you browse, to acknowledge or ignore your request.
  • A new loading animation. Like Chrome, it now using a backward spinning circle animation at the tab when trying to connect to the websites, and using a forward spinning circle animation when the websites are already connected and now downloading.

Like all those technology that’s expected by public, rumors are always up and around that’s circulating within the community about what new technologies that will be rolled out when the new version finally becomes public. Some of those rumors about Mozilla Firefox 4 are:

  • Firefox 4 was said to use the same kind of separated memory management for each tab like Chrome do. Turned out that this rumor is false. But this maybe for a better reason, because using separated memory management eats up tons of memory, like Chrome did. Oddly, I never experienced such things.

Internet Explorer 9 maybe boasted with 2.35 millions of download within 24 hours at the day of its launch, but Firefox 4 is clearly record 4.7 millions download within 24 hours (5.135 millions at the time of this post created), according to the Mozilla Glow site that logs download. Visit the mozilla glow site while it lasts. It’s cool! Btw, from the mozilla glow site at the time this post created, Indonesia is ranked 4th from the Asia country as the most to download Firefox 4 after Japan, India, and China. Asia itself ranked on 3rd after Europe and North America.

Well then, in the mean time, I’ll try out this baby and update this post as necessary. Feel free to give your feedback about how your experience when working with Firefox.


2 comments on “Mozilla Firefox 4: Out of the Oven

    • true. but many browsers are already delivering the same performance on their own way. maybe now only Mozilla Firefox and IE9 that already got hardware acceleration, but I bet many will follow their tracks for sure. Let’s wait for another breakthrough from competitors. =)

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