All posts tagged ‘Aurora’

File Under: Browsers, HTML5, Web Standards

Future Firefox to Bring PDF, WebCam Streams to the Browser

W.T. Monkey loves WebRTC. Image: Screenshot

Firefox 18 is out the door, which means Mozilla has bumped up all the pre-release channels, showcasing features coming soon to a final release near you.

If you’d like to try out a pre-release version of Firefox, head on over to Mozilla’s channel download page and grab either the Beta or Aurora releases. (The former is a bit more stable, but both are pre-release software so proceed with caution.)

The Beta channel contains Firefox 19, which is six weeks away from release and features a few modest improvements, including a baked-in PDF viewer based on PDF.js. It may not mean the end of those annoying (and untrue) buttons that say “you need Adobe Acrobat to view this file,” but at least you don’t, well, need Acrobat just to view a PDF.

The Aurora channel has been bumped up to Firefox 20, which contains a far more interesting new feature — support for capturing local camera and microphone streams with the getUserMedia API.

Here’s how Mozilla describes getUserMedia:

[getUserMedia] is a new HTML5 DOM API that allows the browser to capture local camera and/or microphone streams directly, and not through third party plugins. This means JavaScript developers can now quickly and easily write code to access the user’s camera or microphones (with the user’s permission, of course) without having to install anything because the support is already inside the browser.

There’s a demo page you can try out over on Mozilla’s GitHub page.

The getUserMedia API is just the first of several components that make up WebRTC, a set of APIs which enable real-time, interactive, peer-to-peer audio/video calls and data sharing. Two other pieces of the WebRTC puzzle — PeerConnection and DataChannels — can be found in the Firefox Nightly channel, for those who really enjoy living on the edge (you’ll still need to enable them in about:config, set the media.peerconnection.enabled option to true).

Firefox’s six week release cycle means that — barring unforeseen problems — the PDF viewer will arrive in final form sometime in early March, with the getUserMedia tools coming in mid April.

File Under: Browsers

Aurora Preview Brings Faster ‘SPDY’ Protocol to Firefox

Mozilla recently pushed Firefox 11 out the door and onto the web, which means the Beta and Aurora channels for Firefox early adopters have also been updated.

If you’d like to try either early release, head over to the Beta download page or the Aurora download page, depending on how far out on the bleeding edge of Firefox development you want to go.

Firefox 12, currently in the beta channel, brings a handful of improvements, including some refinements for Firefox’s new built-in developer tools. The beta currently offers updated versions of the new Page Inspector, the Web Console panel and the JavaScript Scratchpad.

Much of what’s exciting about the Firefox roadmap is to be found in the Aurora channel, currently showcasing Firefox 13. Here you’ll find support for the new SPDY protocol — a faster alternative to HTTP — enabled by default. SPDY, which began life at Google, is in the early stages of the standardization process, but when it finally arrives it should make many webpages load twice as fast as they do now over HTTP. Currently not many websites are serving pages over SPDY, though Twitter recently started doing so where possible. On the browser side, Google Chrome already offers SPDY support, as does Firefox 11, though until Firefox 13 hits prime time, SPDY support is disabled by default.

Firefox 13 will see some significant changes for Firefox on Android, with support for multitouch events and a new screen orientation API.

The biggest news in Firefox 13 for developers is that Mozilla is changing the User Agent string to report the type of device — “Mobile” or “Tablet.” That means if you’re relying on a device detection script (and this is a reminder of why you probably shouldn’t be) it’s time to update your device list.

Firefox 13 will also drop the prefix from a couple of CSS elements, namely border-radius and box-shadow. Hopefully you’ve been following best practices and including the non-prefixed CSS rule along with your prefixed versions, otherwise Firefox 13 will stop rendering your rounded corners and drop shadows.

For more info on everything that’s coming in Firefox 13, read through the list of improvements over on the Mozilla Hacks Blog.

File Under: Browsers

Mozilla: Soon Your Add-Ons Will Work With Firefox Beta and Aurora

Mozilla is revamping the way Firefox add-ons are tested. The changes will ensure that fans of the new Aurora and Beta early release channels can test future versions of Firefox and have working add-ons.

Previously Mozilla would not mark add-ons compatible with a new version of Firefox until the add-on author had tested it against the latest release. That frequently meant that those of us who enjoy using Firefox betas had to go without our favorite add-ons until the final release arrived.

Under the new proposal, add-on testing will be automated. Add-ons hosted on Mozilla’s website will be tested against any new Aurora and Beta builds and automatically marked as compatible unless some problem is discovered. For those add-ons that are not hosted on the official site, the updateURL mechanism will accomplish the same thing. The Mozilla blog says that the new setup will mean that the Aurora and Beta channels will be compatible with the vast majority of add-ons.

If you’re a fan of the bleeding edge, using Firefox nightly builds, you’ll still need to disable add-on compatibility check as the new testing model does not apply to nightly builds.

Also note that Mozilla is still working on the tools that will power the new add-on testing scheme so it won’t be in effect for the current Aurora builds. Mozilla expects to be able to automatically bump 4.0.*-compatible add-ons to 5.* during the Beta period, but Aurora users won’t see the benefit until the next six-week cycle begins.

The change in add-on testing is part of Mozilla’s move to speed up the development of Firefox to match that of Google Chrome. The chief difference from the old Mozilla model is that releases will be staggered. In other words, like Chrome, the nightly channel might be at Firefox 7, while the Aurora channel might still be at Firefox 6, the beta channel at Firefox 5 and so on. Aurora, the new channel in the mix, is designed to bridge the Wild-West bugginess of the nightly channel and the much more stable beta channel.

The new add-on development model solves one of the two potential problems we pointed out for those who want to use a prerelease channel alongside the final Firefox release. The other problem is that there may be profile conflicts if, for example, Aurora changes something in your default profile and Firefox final doesn’t know what to do with the changes. For some solutions to that problem, see our earlier writeup.

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