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Firefox 4: First Impressions

March 24, 2011 – by Per Christensson

When it comes to Web browsers, I am partial to Safari, but I also use Firefox from time to time. I opened Firefox today and it politely informed me that version 4 was available, so I decided to upgrade.

So far, I am highly impressed with the new version. The page rendering speed is noticeably faster than Firefox 3 and the overall responsiveness of the browser is quicker. Plus, the user interface has been cleaned up and feels more intuitive. While I am not a big fan of tabbed windows, Firefox 4 also has some cool tab features. One that I really like is the "Pin as App Tab" command, which allows you to create small tabs for your favorite sites. This provides an easy way to keep your favorite sites open without taking up too much tab space. Another nice touch is when you type in a URL that is already open, Firefox jumps to the current tab rather than opening a new one. Finally, tab groups have been added, which allows you to organize open tabs into groups of related websites.

While these features are nice, my favorite thing about the new version of Firefox is the improved HTML 5 and CSS 3 support. Based on my initial experience, Firefox appears to have complete support for HTML 5 tags and CSS 3 styles. It even supports CSS transitions, which allows objects to move, rotate, and fade dynamically on a webpage. This capability allows Web developers to create interactive animations without using JavaScript, Flash, or other additional code. Apple Safari and Google Chrome (which both use the WebKit rendering engine) already supported these types of transitions, so it's great to see Firefox support them as well. Now when you view Sharpened.net in Firefox, you'll notice subtle fades as you roll over certain links. Examples include the links in the top navigation bar, links to Glossary terms, and links in the right sidebar of each page.

Regular visitors know that I have a passion for advancing new technologies. Therefore, I am excited to see that Firefox 4 is pushing the Web forward by supporting the latest HTML 5 and CSS 3 standards. It's great news for Web developers who have been waiting to make use of these new technologies. Unfortunately, Internet Explorer 8 still lacks support for HTML 5 and CSS 3, which is holding back a lot of websites from implementing these new standards. The good news is that IE9 will fully support HTML 5 and CSS 3. For Web developers like myself, that release date can't come soon enough.

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