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Posted on June 22nd, 2009 by Matthew Sparkes

First look: Firefox 3.5

Firefox 3.5 is out as a Release Candidate – as close to a final version as you can get without being a final version – so I’ve taken a look to see how it compares to its competitors.

Porn/Private Browsing

Most other browsers already had this feature, and now Firefox does too. With nothing more than a quick Ctrl+Shift+P your tabs will be whisked away and stored safely, leaving you with a fresh window for your… personal research.

When you’re all finished up, the same shortcut will bring back all your previous tabs and send all trace of your secret session into oblivion (it does not erase feelings of guilt).

It works perfectly well, but has a slightly annoying habit of clearing any half-filled forms – like the previous, unsaved incarnation of this blog post. Still, Mozilla has to leave room for improvement, or there would be nothing for them to do between now and version 4.0.

Video/Audio tags

One of the biggest features is support for the video and audio tags from HTML 5. The video tag is the one that will change your browsing experience most of all, because the web is littered with moving images.

It allows clips to be embedded straight into a site, with none of this flash-player nonsense. It’s a very powerful tag; rotating video, adding effects and even green-screen graphics can all be done on-the-fly. Try it out here, if you have a compatible browser. Firefox 3.5, for example.


Speedy JavaScript

The new TraceMonkey JavaScript engine at the core of 3.5 is supposed to give other current browsers a run for their money. I ran the SunSpider JavaScript Benchmark twice on each of the common browsers, and took an average.

The chart above shows that Safari, Firefox and Chrome are all roughly on a par – although, if you want to get picky, Safari is the quickest of the bunch. Opera is sadly left behind, and IE is, well, consistent.

Final update

The last update of note is up there, in the top left of this post. The new logo. The same as the old logo, but a little shinier. Which pretty much sums up the whole browser, really.

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20 Responses to “ First look: Firefox 3.5 ”

  1. Richard Jackson Says:
    June 22nd, 2009 at 7:15 pm

    Shame it doesn’t work with gmx email. gmx just say they don’t support beta versions and firefox don’t respond. Its frustrating not knowing why and if it will ever be fixed

     
  2. Ed M Says:
    June 22nd, 2009 at 8:43 pm

    A couple of years ago I would have downloaded this by now. But it always takes a while for the add-ons to work with a new browser release, and the add-ons give me far more than any new browser release.

    It is like Word, I mainly use Word 97. I have a legal version of Office 2007 which I bought cheaply as a NHS employee, but I prefer Word 97. There seem to be a product life cycle at first the product improves substantially, then only slowly, and then eventually they run out of good new features to add and add in inconvenient ones just to say there is something now.

     
  3. Paul B Says:
    June 22nd, 2009 at 10:52 pm

    @Ed M – I’d agree in principle re: add-ons but once a new version of Firefox hits RC status, it’s usually stable enough for me to start giving it a go. And by changing a preference in about:config you can disable Firefox’s compatibility check, until your add-ons get updated to work with 3.5.

    I can’t say I’ve noticed much difference between Firefox 3 and 3.5 – most of the new stuff seems to be under the hood, or catching up with other browser’s features (e.g. private browsing, javascript speed). Anyway, in my opinion, Firefox is still the browser to beat.

     
  4. hjlupton Says:
    June 23rd, 2009 at 8:48 am

    Only a few years ago FF was the leader of the pack, but right now it feels more like they are playing catch up.

    FF3 on the Mac caused me no end of grief (under OS X Leopard). I had multiple cases of failure to load websites, browser crashes etc. I switched to using Safari 3, which felt snappier and proved much more reliable. Now i’m on Safari 4 and I’m finding little reason for me to want to try FF3.5, Is it possible that FF is slipping? It just feels much bulkier, on the mac at any rate.

     
  5. dauphin775 Says:
    June 23rd, 2009 at 11:25 am

    @Richard Jackson – actually it will work with GMX Mail, but only if you falsely identify your browser as 3.0.x . Enter “about:config” in Firefox, then find the line “general.useragent.extra.firefox” and modify the designation to Firefox/3.0.11. Restart Firefox and you will be able to log in to GMX.

    Unfortunately you won’t then be able to use features specific to 3.5 such as the video tag described in the article!

    However, this procedure does prove that the problem lies with GMX and their rigid insistence that you have to be using certain versions of Firefox. I found this out when using ArchLinux, which employs a debranded, but otherwise identical version of Firefox, called Gran Paradiso. GMX did not work until I changed the identity of the browser to Firefox. I’ve told GMX that I consider this a bug, but they have not responded to me.

     
  6. Mike Says:
    June 25th, 2009 at 4:45 am

    quick Ctrl+Shift+P….

    I wonder how long it will take before some one exiting the, ahem, “privacy” mode, does a key fumble and actual enters the command ctrl+P… and prints their “page of secret research” to the network printer!

     
  7. JulesLt Says:
    June 25th, 2009 at 6:38 am

    It sounds like GMX are rejecting any browser they don’t actively support. This strikes me as a bad move, especially when you come across the odd unupdated web site that insists you ‘Upgrade to Internet Explorer 5′ – it doesn’t give you confidence in a business that they’ve not checked their own website in the last decade. . .

     
  8. JH Says:
    June 25th, 2009 at 8:53 am

    I do hate services that actually query versions, rather than just crashing if they find something unexpected. I had a program once that refused to be fooled by compatability mode, because it queried the registry directly instead of just running until it encountered something it wasn’t designed for. Obviously this was a desktop app, but you get my point.

     
  9. SirRoderickSpode Says:
    June 27th, 2009 at 11:40 am

    @Mike – That is such an amusing point. I so wish I could be there to see it when it *does* happen!!

     
  10. Firefox 3.5 Arrives Today, But Are You Dazzled? | Spin Valley Post Says:
    June 30th, 2009 at 2:30 pm

    [...] – it’s not the fastest browser out there. A SunSpider JavaScript Benchmark test (courtesy of PCPro) shows that it’s currently being beaten by both Google Chrome and Safari [...]

     
  11. Techeroid » Firefox 3.5 Arrives Today, But Are You Dazzled? Says:
    June 30th, 2009 at 2:40 pm

    [...] – it’s not the fastest browser out there. A SunSpider JavaScript Benchmark test (courtesy of PCPro) shows that it’s currently being beaten by both Google Chrome and Safari [...]

     
  12. i-penny Says:
    June 30th, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    [...] fact – it’s not the fastest browser out there. A SunSpider JavaScript Benchmark test (courtesy of PCPro) shows that it’s currently being beaten by both Google Chrome and Safari [...]

     
  13. Firefox 3.5 Arrives Today, But Are You Dazzled? | Stoth Says:
    June 30th, 2009 at 3:00 pm

    [...] – it’s not the fastest browser out there. A SunSpider JavaScript Benchmark test (courtesy of PCPro) shows that it’s currently being beaten by both Google Chrome and Safari [...]

     
  14. Tech News Geek » Firefox 3.5 Arrives Today, But Are You Dazzled? Says:
    June 30th, 2009 at 3:00 pm

    [...] – it’s not the fastest browser out there. A SunSpider JavaScript Benchmark test (courtesy of PCPro) shows that it’s currently being beaten by both Google Chrome and Safari [...]

     
  15. Firefox 3.5 Arrives Today, But Are You Dazzled? Says:
    June 30th, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    [...] – it’s not the fastest browser out there. A SunSpider JavaScript Benchmark test (courtesy of PCPro) shows that it’s currently being beaten by both Google Chrome and Safari [...]

     
  16. Firefox 3.5 arrives - but without Google Gears | PC Pro blog Says:
    June 30th, 2009 at 4:01 pm

    [...] Matthew Sparkes noted in his preview of Firefox 3.5, not much has changed on the surface, with the exception of a rather clumsily implemented Private [...]

     
  17. Top 5 Killer Features in Firefox 3.5 Says:
    June 30th, 2009 at 7:46 pm

    [...] from Technologizer and PCPro show that with TraceMonkey, Firefox 3.5 remains a viable option for web application users. Though [...]

     
  18. Firefox 3.5 – Die 5 besten Neuerungen Says:
    July 1st, 2009 at 11:04 am

    [...] PcPro.co.cuk: First look: Firefox 3.5 var szu=encodeURIComponent(location.href); var szt=encodeURIComponent(document.title).replace(/’/g,’`'); var szjsh=(window.location.protocol == ‘https:’?'https://ssl.seitzeichen.de/’:'http://w3.seitzeichen.de/’); document.write(unescape(”%3Cscript src=’” + szjsh + “w/26/27/widget_26278a9a73345a410e0f4579f80d6407.js’ type=’text/javascript’%3E%3C/script%3E”)); [...]

     
  19. Top 5 Killer Features in Firefox 3.5 « Internet Marketing KB Says:
    July 3rd, 2009 at 10:08 am

    [...] from Technologizer and PCPro show that with TraceMonkey, Firefox 3.5 remains a viable option for web application users. Though [...]

     
  20. Firefox 3.5 Arrives Today, But Are You Dazzled? | Techno Portal Says:
    August 27th, 2009 at 12:23 am

    [...] it’s not the fastest browser out there. A SunSpider JavaScript Benchmark test (courtesy of PCPro) shows that it’s currently being beaten by both Google Chrome and Safari [...]

     

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