Firefox 4 Beta 3 Drops with Multi-touch Support, JavaScript Enhancements
Article by George Norman
On 12 Aug 2010
In Firefox 4’s journey from Beta to a final, stable release, the Mozilla Foundation has announced that Firefox 4 Beta 3 has been released to all the eager Beta testers out there (Firefox 4 Beta 1 was released this July). Multi-touch support for Windows 7 has been added, and a new way of representing values in JavaScript.

“Firefox 4 Beta now has multi-touch support for Windows 7 to enable people to interact with Web content with their hands naturally. Developers can use multi-touch capabilities to leverage touch-enabled devices and provide people with an intuitive and fun browsing experience,” announced Mozilla's Director of Firefox, Mike Beltzner.

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Firefox 4 Beta 3 also comes with a new way of representing values in JavaScript. Mozilla’s browser can now execute heavy, numeric code more efficiently thanks to changes to the C++ representation of JavaScript.

If you are already using Mozilla’s Firefox 4 Beta browser, you can wait for the automatic update prompt to get Beta 3. Or you can push the browser to do an update check right now by clicking Help -> Check for updates. If you are not using Firefox 4 Beta and would like to give the application a shot, you can download the latest Beta here. Firefox 4 Beta 3 is available free of charge to Windows, Mac OS X and Linux users; the browser is available in 34 different languages.

Here is what you can expect to get from Firefox 4 Beta, should you decide to give it a try:

Highlights for the 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.

Highlights for the 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.



Tags: Mozilla, Firefox, Firefox 4 Beta 3
About the author: George Norman
George is a news editor.
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