Firefox 3.1 Beta 2 Available for Download  

Posted by Mohammad Talha in , ,

A second beta of the upstart Firefox 3.1 browser from the Mozilla Foundation was made available to testers late Monday.

Highlights include a new private browsing mode that removes traces of web sessions users want to keep private, a vastly faster JavaScript engine called TraceMonkey, and more support for emerging web standards.

According to a Mozilla Developer Center blog post, Beta 2 is already available for Windows, Macintosh, and Linux in more than 50 languages.

Code-named Shiretoko, Firefox 3.1 beta 1 debuted in mid-October, sporting improvements in its Gecko Web-page layout rendering engine and adding support for some CSS 2.1 and CSS 3 features.

It also added tab-switching previews, similar to those in the Opera web browser, but these were removed in this latest beta by popular demand. Another tab improvement is the ability to drag a tab from one browser window into another.

The address bar, known as the Smart Location Bar or the Awesome Bar, has also been made even more, well, awesome. Version 3.1's bar lets you restrict your address entries using typed characters, for example, to limit results to just bookmarked pages.

The new Private Browsing feature works with a simple menu choice, and any history and cookies created during the session won't be saved. It's a much preferable method than deleting cookies and history manually, which would make unavailable pages you want accessible later. The Private Browsing feature, however, does not keep a user private from the sites he or she visits. Even if users neglect to turn on the Private Browsing Mode, they can still remove history from the past few hours of browsing, or remove all traces of a Web site.

Aside from the new JavaScript engine's improved speed, Firefox 3.1's underlying Gecko 1.9.1 page layout engine has been sped up with "speculative parsing for faster content rendering." It also gives Web developers the ability to use "web worker threads" to perform background JavaScript operations so that pages won't be slowed by time-consuming calculations.

Update: After running the SunSpider JavaScript Benchmark test, we can confirm that the new rendering engine is significantly faster than Firefox 3's. The test does multiple runs of a variety of JavaScript operations, measuring the time it takes to run--meaning a lower number is better. In the results, Firefox 3.1 Beta 2 was nearly three times as fast as the released version 3, taking 2689ms compared with the earlier version's 6535ms. By a small margin it actually beats the previous speed champ, Google's Chrome browser, which took 2763ms. Chrome, however, still handily takes the lead in the "Lots of Text" speed test, which simply loads a Web page containing nearly a hundred thousand characters, taking only 12ms compared with Firefox 3.1's 84ms.

Beta 2 also supports more forward-looking Web standards, such as the w3c's Geolocation JavaScript API. This lets a web page query the browser's location and can be used to plot maps, give directions, attach location information to pictures, and more. The brower also now supports the HTML 5

This entry was posted on Dec 10, 2008 at 9:18 AM and is filed under , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


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