4th Firefox 4 Beta Coming Next Week
Article by George Norman
On 20 Aug 2010
According to the Mozilla Foundation, the Firefox 4 Beta 4 code is frozen and the 4th Beta will be released next week. Mozilla hopes to be able to release Firefox 4 Beta 4 to the public on Monday, the 23rd of August. This 4th Beta will feature all the bits and pieces we saw in previous Beta versions on top of which it will add hardware-accelerated graphics (turned off by default) and a user interface change called Tab Sets (formerly known as Tab Candy).

Hardware-accelerated graphics means that some tasks will be performed by the computers graphics processor, not by its main processor. By using Windows' Direct2D interface, Firefox can speed up the display of text and graphics on newer versions of Windows.

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Tab sets, or Tab Candy as it used to be called, is a feature that works something like this: when you have numerous tabs open, hit a key combo (it’s supposed to be CTRL + Space) and the browser will display each tab as a tile. You can play around with the tiles – create tile groups, take tiles out of a group, label groups, open only a group of tabs.

Right now the newest Firefox 4 version is Beta 3, which comes with multi-touch support for Windows 7 and a new way of representing values in JavaScript.

Here are some other Firefox 4 Beta highlights you may be interested in if you are a regular user:
- The tabs’ default position has been changed; tabs are now at the top. As Firefox Director Mike Beltzner explained, this change has been implemented “to make it easier to focus on the web content and easier to control the tools in your Web browser”. This change is not visible in the Mac OS X or Linux version.
- The Menu bar has been replaced with the Firefox button. This change is visible in Vista and Windows 7.
- The user can search for and switch to open tabs from the Awesome Bar.
- There is just one button for Stop and Reload.
- A bookmarks Button now replaces the Bookmarks Toolbar.
- Crash Protection: Even if the Adobe Flash, Apple QuickTime or Microsoft Silverlight plugin crashes, the Firefox browser will not crash. The browser will not be affected even when if one of those plugins crashes or freezes.
- For now the Add-ons Manager doesn’t look that great, but Mozilla said it will change its UI in the final version of Firefox 4.0.
- Test Pilot Integration .
- Improved responsiveness at start-up and during page loads.

And here are some Firefox 4 Beta highlights you may be interested in if you are a developer:
- There’s a new extension management API
- Significant API improvements are available for JS-ctypes, a foreign function interface for extensions
- Partially supported CSS Transitions
- Full WEbGL support (disabled by default in Beta 1)
- Core Animation rendering model for plugins on Mac OS X
- Native support for the HD HTML5 WebM video format
- The Windows version comes with an experimental Direct2D rendering backend (turned off by default)
- Websockets can be used for a low complexity, low latency, bidirectional communications API
- Thanks to the HTML History APIs, devs can update the URL field without reloading the page
- Lazy Frame Construction allows for more responsive page rendering
- There’s a new HTML5 parser
- Added support for more HTML5 form controls
- A super-early snapshot of the new IndexedDB standard for storage
- Add-ons do not require restart to install
- Crash Protection: Even if the Adobe Flash, Apple QuickTime or Microsoft Silverlight plugin crashes, the Firefox browser will not crash. The browser will not be affected even when if one of those plugins crashes or freezes.
- The JavaScript engine is much faster.

If you would like to get the latest Firefox 4 Beta release, please click here.



Tags: Mozilla, Firefox, Firefox 4 Beta
About the author: George Norman
George is a news editor.
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