Firefox simplifies add-on updates; no native Android interface--yet

The latest Firefox release delivers some clever developer's tools and an easier upgrade path for nearly all its add-ons, but the Android version remains in a holding pattern.

Web developer site-building tools are only sexy to developers, but they get a big makeover in today's update to Firefox and that will affect how developers connect to the people who use their sites.

Firefox 10 (download for Windows | Mac | Linux | Android) also dramatically streamlines add-on compatibility, includes a new Full Screen API, and updates WebGL. The Android version, meanwhile, makes some minor improvements as the bulk of development on the mobile version focuses on the native Android interface, currently scheduled for the next stable release.

The biggest change that most Firefox users will see in version 10 is that you'll stop seeing most add-ons marked as incompatible with each new version of Firefox. Around 80 percent of all add-ons will be marked compatible, starting with today's Firefox 10. This follows changes in Firefox 8 that prevented third-party add-ons from installing without permission. The changes in Firefox 10 fix a small but annoying problem when Firefox changed to a rapid-release cycle. Previously, most add-ons would break when Firefox released a major update because there were so many back-end changes, but since March 2011's Firefox 4, it's been a significantly smaller problem.

The new developer tools in Firefox 10 for PCs appear to add some serious heft to Mozilla's already-robust tool set. The new ones include Page Inspector, for checking out a site's structure and layout without leaving the browser, and the introduction of the Eclipse Orion code editor for JavaScript writing in ScratchPad. There's also a Style Inspector, for editing CSS on the fly and without leaving the browser. Don't let the name confuse you, though. It won't offer snarky commentary on your own personal style (or lack thereof.)

The new look for Firefox for Android won't strike many as hugely different, but maybe that's because it looks more like a native Android app.

The new look for Firefox for Android won't strike many as hugely different, but maybe that's because it looks more like a native Android app.

(Credit: Mozilla)

Also on the code side of things, Firefox 10 has added support for CSS 3D Transforms and for anti-aliasing in the WebGL standard for hardware-accelerated 3D graphics. These updates mean that complex site and Web app animations will render more smoothly in Firefox, and that developers can animate 2D objects into 3D without plug-ins. You can read the full release notes for Firefox 10 here.

Mozilla also has released the enterprise version of Firefox, which will release on a slower cycle so that businesses don't have to worry about their internal tools and security protocols accidentally breaking.

Firefox 10 for Android makes some small tweaks, mostly to support anti-aliasing in WebGL and accelerated layers in OpenGL. This means you ought to see the Web render just a bit faster. Firefox Sync is also easier to set up now. You can read the full release notes for Firefox 10 for Android.

Assuming Mozilla keeps its release schedule, which it has done since moving to the rapid-release cycle last March, Firefox 11 will see the release of the significantly faster native Android interface.

CNET Top 5
Companies Apple could buy with their billions
Apple's sitting on a massive pile of cash. Here are five interesting ways they could spend it.
Play Video
 

Member Comments