Paste & Go, Search landed on Firefox 4

When you paste a URL in the location bar or some text in the search bar, you most likely want to visit the URL or search for the terms you just pasted. So, why not paste and go to the web address, or paste and search the pasted terms?

In Firefox 4 you finally can. When you right-click on the location bar you will now get a Paste & Go option, and a Paste & Search option in the search bar. A simple way to save more than a few clicks!

Firefox developer preview brings out of process plugins

Mozilla has released Mozilla Developer Preview 3.7 alpha 2.

It’s necessary to first talk about the name. I think this is the first time Mozilla is using this kind of quirky name for a development release, which reflects it is still not clear what we have here or when we’ll have it. The main goal for this release is to test the out of process plugin (OOP) architecture that allows plugins to run on their own process, improving overall Firefox stability and security.

A few weeks ago, Mozilla announced OOP would come as a minor update (code named Lorentz) to the current 3.6 branch. This developer preview however comes from the trunk (Mozilla’s main development code repository) as OOP hasn’t being ported to the branch yet.

OOP is available only on Windows and Linux at this time and you can see it in action via Windows’ process manager where every running plugin is listed as mozilla-runtime.exe. For example the screenshot below shows Silverlight, Flash, and Foxit Reader running in three different processes. Also note that even as I’m playing two YouTube videos and have several PDFs opened at the same time only one process is created for each plugin. So yes, it means if a plugin instance  crashes, all instances do as well.

Windows system monitor showing out of process plugins behavior

Here’s how it looks when a plugin (Foxit Reader here) crashes. As you can see the rest of the page is there, as is Firefox. Just the plugin area is grayed out and you can click on a link to have the page reloaded.

FoxitReader plugin crash

As Mozilla’s Benjamin Smedberg explains, it is possible to force a frequently crashing plugin in process (along with Firefox code) by creating an advanced preference like dom.ipc.plugins.enabled.nppdf32.dll and setting it to false, replacing the last part with the appropriate plugin library name.

I hope this could happen automatically, so if Firefox detects a % of crashes above a certain threshold (say 30%) it will automatically set the preference and save users a headache or two.

Also worth noting in this release are the first steps of the big Windows theme update which looks very good so far.

Also the bugs that prevented correct tab preview from Windows 7 task bar on Firefox 3.6,  seem to be ironed and it works perfectly now.

However, these last two features will most likely come as part of Firefox 4.0 as planned.

Updated Firefox theme on Linux mockups

Following previous Firefox theme updates for Windows and Mac OS X platforms, here is the mockup for Linux platforms, in this case the Ubuntu distribution.

As with other platforms, the update is planned in a two phase approach.

For Firefox 3.7, plans include combining the stop and reload buttons as their function is mutually exclusive; move the home button to the tab bar, and add a progress bar to each tab instead of the throbber currently features in all platforms. Unlike Windows, however, the menu bar is kept still. Also from other platforms, the keyhole shape for the back and forward icons is in. For cleaner looks, the toolbar separator are also gone. Continue reading Updated Firefox theme on Linux mockups