New theme, top performance, coming to Firefox this year

Mozilla has published the Firefox roadmap for 2012, stating what major new features and changes are to be expected this year.

It turns out the list is pretty long which hints on a very important year for Firefox development and users.

The user interface is due to some pretty enhancements under the new Australis theme revision across all officially supported platforms (Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, and Android). As you can see in the screenshot below, the result is a cleaner interface and very similar in all platforms.

Firefox Australis theme on Mac OS X screenshotFirefox Australis theme on Windows 7 screesnhtoFirefox Australis theme on Ubuntu

Of course, the other huge UI change will be driven by Windows 8 new Metro user interface, expected for later this year. Firefox will adapt to the new interface, but there are no firm plans yet on what it may include. Hopefully, this time, changes will get quicker, and won’t take as much as the year it took to get features like download status on task bar icon or jumplists introduced by Windows 7.

The new user interface should also features the much announced (and needed) download panel which will allow you to monitor your downloads from the main user interface. The feature is very developed right now. I tried an experimental build, and a few bugs aside, it is pretty much working as you can see in the screenshot below.

Firefox coming download button screenshot

Firefox coming download panel screenshot


Firefox Home Tab, a new start point including access to Mozilla’s forthcoming App Store, user’s top pages, search and even a chat panel aim to become your web hub.

Forthcoming Firefox home tab screenshot

Joining the Error console, Web console, Inspector, and Style Editor (coming with Firefox’s next release), a network access timeline and a JavaScript debugger are coming to a web developer menu near you.

There is also a lot of stuff coming to enhance Firefox performance:

  • New improvements to Firefox’s cycle and garbage collectors will reduce significantly some Firefox pauses at unwanted time.
  • IonMonkey, a new JIT compiler for JavaScript.
  • A Firefox service will correct some misled Windows optimizations, resulting in faster startups.
  • Users will get information on what addons are slowing them down.
  • Session restore is being rearchitected to make it faster.

Usability also gets a boost thanks to some important work in the plugins department and else:

  • Plugin click to start. With more Flash ads screaming every day this one can’t arrive soon enough. Similar to Flashblock, basically you will have to click on plugins to allow them to play.
  • Seamless plugin install for popular plugins such as Flash.
  • Inline PDF view based on the pdf.js library (available as add-on) will let you kiss one plugin bye-bye.
  • Link sharing on twitter, Facebook and Gmail, as implemented by Firefox Share, a Mozilla Labs project for about a year now. This one is long overdue. Hopefully the architecture will allow for easy registration of additional services (Pinterest, Diaspora anyone?)
  • Login to Firefox, will allow users to check in to Firefox and access their web data (including passwords, forms, and Sync information).
  • A network installer will reduce download time and installation a better guided process. As Firefox installer size grows this may indeed provide a better experience for users on slow connections.
  • Reader focus, will remove sidebars, header, and other related content to focus on the main article of a web page (HTML5 will help a lot with this, so go implement it!). Similar to Readability.
  • Integrated translation. While Chrome has this, I really hope the implementation isn’t any similar to it. I have tried it on Chrome but found it too intrusive.

There are even more features and enhancements in the pipeline. To learn about them, grab a cup of coffee or a soda, and check the Firefox 2012 Roadmap.



7 thoughts on “New theme, top performance, coming to Firefox this year”

  1. Thank you for posting this post. But as a user from the beginning and the one welcoming all the changes that had happened to Firefox, I must say that most of those changes were promised to us many years ago. I remember talks for new, non-empty and even completely empty Home tab(Home page, you name it) from almost five years from now. The speed and memory consumption is increasing not decreasing as was promised all the time (OK, I can understand that, the feature set of Firefox has gone through the roof also and that has to take it’s tow). In my case the browser stability has gone down over the last couple versions. the crashes are not a monthly issue, nor daily but almost hourly. With only browsing, almost no add-ons, the same pages for years… The visual appearance is generally the same on Linux and quite different as on other platforms. When I accidentally sat behind a Windows computer I first thought that I am using different browser.
    Well, I was about to switch to competition. Your post and links convinced me to stay with Firefox and wait what the future will bring. Words are nice, I hope the updates will bring what is promised. Thank you for your post, Percy!

  2. @Luka
    – A lot of features have been on the ‘want’ list but you have to prioritize because Mozilla’s resources are limited. Thanks to the 6 week development we get new features faster.
    – Firefox speed has been increasing with each release since 1.0. Memory usage has drastically improved since 7.0 and the newest versions (10.0) use at least 60% less than 4.0. Other browsers can’t match Firefox in memory usage.
    – You can’t believe that 500+ million Firefox users have daily crashes but still keep using it. Something must go horribly wrong on your pc. This is probably because of your profile. If it still happens on a completely new and empty profile you might have found a bug in Firefox and you should report it on bugzilla.

    But please don’t put Firefox in a negative light just because you have a negative experience that is mostly unique to you.

  3. On a completely random note, I just read ‘coffee’ as ‘tea’. I don’t even drink tea! Is this a sign of my Britishness shining through?

  4. @Ferdinand: As I tried blank profile, switched off all extensions, do all the things on all the “anti-crash” lists I could find and still has crashes happening every hour or even sooner I did last think – stop having GitHub open all the time (need that page while fixing issues with app I am developing). And crashes seems to stop. So now I copy all the text from issues report into writer and close that page ASAP. I was wrong to accuse Firefox for my troubles. Will investigate this when I find spare time. I am sorry for my mostly negative comment, I was really annoyed (and was searching for a solution several days already) when I wrote it.
    As to the rest of what I wrote I still hope that words will turn into features. That way we will have a great year this year 🙂
    For the memory: I am currently running at 300MB with just this tab, iGoogle page open, 2 extensions enabled (AdBlock+, Brief). I can’t say this is low… But it is not critical, since with more tabs open the memory really doesn’t go through the roof as it used to.
    P.S.: Does any one know or have problems with GitHub? How should I report this error (what info is needed for bugzilla)? And where? Bugzilla or GitHub?

  5. Pingback: Le nouveau thème de Firefox : Australis | Le Libriste

Comments are closed.