Another Firefox version is all set for release; tomorrow, you should be able to upgrade to Firefox 17 if you’re on the stable release channel. If you’re the slightly adventurous kind who likes to remove a USB without ejecting it first, and you’re on the Beta version, you can upgrade right now to what will inevitably be the final Firefox 17 stable release. Like always, the new version comes with new features, improvements in security and developer tools. This version also has a few cosmetic changes and one major functional change that will effect end users. The most notable features in this new version include a visually enhanced Awesome Bar, the return of tab animations, the addition of a Social API, more robust click-to-play restrictions for plug-ins, the addition of a Markup Panel for developers and last but not least, support for Notification Center in OS X Mountain Lion.
Let’s now take a more detailed look at these new features and changes.
The Awesome Bar i.e. the URL bar that also allows you to send a search query to your default search engine has ben updated. When you begin typing either a web address or a search query in the Awesome Bar, it now brings up suggestions in an easier-to-read list. Unless you compare the two side by side, you might not notice the difference, but there is now more spacing between the individual suggestions and a larger font size for the Awesome Bar and the suggestions list.
A few versions back, Mozilla removed the tab animations you would see when you dragged tabs from one location to another, or out as a separate window. With Firefox 17, they make a comeback. Like the change to the Awesome Bar, this is also a cosmetic change mostly, but the users who missed the feature will welcome it back.
Social API – Facebook Integration
Firefox is going social; it’s not clear whether this has anything to do with the operating system being developed by Mozilla or not, but in Firefox 17, they have integrated a Social API that allows you to sign in to your social networks via your browser. Currently, only Facebook is supported and if enabled, you will be able to chat with your friends, view notifications and friends requests, and messages in a sidebar.
You can enable the API in one of two ways: you can visit this link to Facebook for enabling the Firefox Messenger, or you can go to the about:config page and set the value of social.enabled to ‘true’.
Robust Implementation Of Click-To-Play Plugins
Click-To-Play was a security feature introduced in Firefox 14 that disabled all plugins by default and asked the user to manually enable a plugin when it was required to run on a website. With Firefox 17, Mozilla is going further with this security feature and prompting users when their version of Adobe Flash or Silverlight is not up to date. It will eventually include additional plugins. The point is to ensure users are not allowing an older version of a plugin to run and putting their computers at a security risk.
New Markup Panel For HTML
As always, Firefox 17 has something for developers and this time, it’s a new tool for editing the DOM of an HTML page. The tool appears when you have Page Inspector open. You can access it either by hitting the Alt+M shortcut, or clicking its respective button (highlighted in the screenshot below). It allows you to edit HTML pages like you never could before in Firefox without third-party extensions.
Notification Center Support For OS X Mountain Lion 10.8
Firefox 17 comes with support for Mountain Lion’s Notification Center. We tested this out, but it didn’t seem to work in the Beta version, although you can see it listed in the change log. Perhaps it requires the new version on the stable channel to work.
You can read the full change log (for the beta version) here and download the stable Firefox 17 ESR from Mozilla’s FTP Servers right now from the link below.
The stable version of Forefix 17 can be downloaded from the Firefox website once it becomes available tomorrow. Another thing worth mentioning here is that this release comes as ESR (Extended Support Release) too, much like Ubuntu’s LTS (Long Term Support) releases. The ESR version is identical to the standard release, but is intended for universities and organizations for long-term mass deployment. You can download the right now.