The Future of the Web: Firefox Quantum

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After teasing us with months of nightly builds, Mozilla, the foundation behind Firefox, the first successful open source-browser, launches Firefox Quantum. With more than seventy-five percent of the code refactored (more than 5 000 000 lines of code), Firefox is, technically, worthy of the “new” tag.

The new Firefox browser is the best we’ve put in the market since Firefox first launched, and the world of marketing has changed since that initial launch so we’ve put forward our best marketing to date as well. Jascha Kaykas-Wolff @ blog.mozilla.org

As a devoted Nightly user, I’ve been spoiled by Nightly’s speed for a while. However, the stable edition of Firefox was everything but fast. And while in metrics, it was not that obvious, in real browsing experiences, Firefox was lagging. Not anymore. The new Firefox is blazingly fast. Twice as fast. It’s built on an overhauled core engine with brand new tech from Mozilla’s labs.

Quantum CSS aka Stylo

Stylo (sounds much better than Quantum CSS) is a new CSS engine, designed for today’s hardware. It’s a new multi-core approach that drastically improves performance and power management. The new engine is written in Rust (awesome!) and it’s based on the Servo parallel browser engine project. It takes advantage of modern hardware by splitting up style computation for different DOM nodes across all the cores the smart way.

Firefox New Logo

The new engine also borrows from Chrome’s Style Sharing Cache, by having a look at previously processed nodes to speed things up and, obviously, from Mozilla’s legacy: The Rule of Three.

There is one thing you’ll probably won’t notice, but it’s incredibly useful is Firefox’s tab prioritization feature. The active tab will get increased resource availability and will keep your tab responsive at all times. You won’t notice this simply because the latest release is so much faster.

Photon

Australis is gone. The browser has a new streamlined interface based on the Photon Design System. It’s tailored to the specifics of current browsing trends and is based on extensive research on user behavior.

The Photon thinking resulted in a UI that feels powerful yet intuitive and fast and it’s based on six main principles:

• Adaptable
• Quick
• Aware
• Approachable
• Supportive
• Whimsical

The new interface scales great and looks the same on any device, adding continuity to the browsing experience.

Photon UI (finally!) replaces Firefox’s questionable tab design and replaces them with rectangles. Photon also brings “page action” menu in the address bad and eliminates the separate box for searches.

What’s next?

The new release is a combined effort of more than 700 code authors and 80 contributors all around the world. But it’s just the beginning.

Firefox legacy

In the following months, the team will introduce the Quantum Render. The new render is optimized to take advantage of modern GPU’s that feature hundreds of thousands of cores and deliver a smooth rendering experience.

Will it help Firefox? Perhaps. Or perhaps not. However, what matters the most is for Mozilla to keep going on. Because Firefox is so much more than a browser. Since 1.0, Firefox is the movement for a free internet. A movement for awareness and privacy.

Get the new Firefox

If you haven’t used Firefox in a while, click the fox and let the browser update, then take it for a spin. You can also get the update from here. This time, Firefox is “Fast for Good”.

P.S. One of the biggest feature of Firefox at the time was the extensive add-on gallery. However, the latest release switches to a Chrome-based extension technology. And while the most common extensions were ported to the new platform, there are quite a lot of extensions that are not available for the new release. For workflows were legacy add-ons are a must, there is an Extended Supported release of Firefox, available for download, where the old add-ons will work.

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