Thursday, December 11, 2008

Firefox 3.1 Beta 2 got out and better

When we all thought that Mozilla has almost done fixing the Firefox 3.1 and ready to take it out from Beta version, the company behind one of the most popular desktop web browsers in the whole world has announced yet another Beta 2.

But don't get your hopes down first upon hearing your favorite web browser is still in Beta phase, because apparently Mozilla has added some awesome new features in it. In fact, according to Mozilla, the new Beta turns on a feature designed to make the browser up to 40 times faster.

Let's get to know them better shall we?

Multi-touch gestures for Macs

Back in October, Mozilla's Eddie Lee produced an experimental version of Firefox that allowed Mac users to control the browser with multifingered gestures. In Firefox v3.1 Beta 2, those gestures have been made official. Charlie Sorrel from Wired gave it a try, and felt the gestures are even better than those in Apple's own browser, Safari. Here's the list of what you can do, provided by MacRumors ("Swipe" means a three fingered sweep):

  • Swipe Left: Go back in history (hold Command to open it in a tab)
  • Swipe Right: Go forward in history
  • Swipe Up: Go to the top of the page
  • Swipe Down: Go to the end of the page
  • Pinch Together: Zoom out
  • Pinch Apart: Zoom in
  • Twist Right: Next tab
  • Twist Left: Previous tab

Private Browsing

This feature works almost the same like in Google Chrome's Incognito Mode, or like in IE8's InPrivate Browsing. All traces of your browsing session are deleted when you use Private Browsing -- your browsing history, temporary Internet files, search history, download history, Web form history, and cookies. (For obvious reasons, it's popularly known as "porn mode.") ;-p

To launch a Private Browsing session, choose Tools --> Private Browsing. When you do that, you'll get a warning that Firefox is going to close all of your current tabs to launch a Private Browsing session. But according to Preston Gralla from Computerworld who tried this; you won't be able to have a private browsing session at the same time you have a normal one, something that both Internet Explorer 8 and Chrome let you do.

Faster browsing

The Beta 2 uses TraceMonkey, a JavaScript engine that Mozilla says can speed up page rendering by up to 40 times compared to Firefox 3.0. Also, the new Beta version supports "Web workers" threads, a specification that lets Web-based applications run background processes. This should speed up Web-based applications, as long as developers take advantage of it.

Beta 2 adds another feature to easily erase your browsing history, cookies, download list, and other browser traces from the last hour, two hours, four hours, today -- or all of your browsing history. To use the feature, you select Tools --> Clear Recent History or Ctrl-Shift-Del. From the drop-down list, choose the time period for which you want to delete your traces, and uncheck or check the specific traces you want deleted. Then click Clear Private Data.

Improved tab handling and Smart Location Bar

Beta 2 takes off from where the previous Beta 1 left on the tab handling and the Smart Location Bar features, and Mozilla has made it much better; there's now a "+" symbol at the far right of your tabs, which when clicked upon opens a new tab.

Beta 2 also make a nifty improvement to the Smart Location Bar (which some call the "Awesome Bar"), you can control the Awesome Bar and the results it displays by adding special characters to the end of what you type. You can have the Awesome Bar only display results from your history list, results from your bookmarks, results from the URL itself, or results from pages you've tagged.

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