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06 February 2012, 15:28

Firefox 11 enters beta, brings add-on sync

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Firefox logo Mozilla has announced the arrival of version 11.0 of Firefox in the open source web browser's Beta channel. The Firefox Beta includes improvements for both developers and users.

For users of Firefox Sync, support for synchronising add-ons across platforms has been added; users can activate the feature via the Sync tab in the Preferences window. The Migration Tool in Firefox has been updated to allow users to import data and preferences from Google Chrome; previous versions could only import data from Internet Explorer and Safari. For web developers, a new 3D view has been added to the built-in Page Inspector. This WebGL-based visualisation tool, previously available as an add-on called Tilt, can be used to illustrate the relationship between the various parts of a web site in three-dimensions.

Previously only available as an add-on called Tilt, the Firefox 11 Beta now includes the WebGL-based visualisation tool in its Page Inspector

Other developer related changes include a new Style Editor tool for editing CSS files and the addition of support for Google's HTTP alternative, the SPDY transport protocol which is off by default. One feature now enabled by default is the Battery API which allows a browser based application to read the status of a systems battery. As the W3C added HTP parsing support to go with XMLHttpRequest's XML parsing, Firefox 11 Beta now supports HTML Parsing.

As with all development releases, use in production environments and on mission critical systems is not advised. Users testing the release are encouraged to provide feedback and report any bugs that they find.

The developers have also released Firefox 12 into the browser's Aurora channel as part of the Rapid Release cycle and detailed some of their work related to improving the Firefox update experience. For example, on Windows from version 12, Firefox will be easier to update, with one less prompt displayed; future versions will bring a new update installation method that will install an update while the browser is running instead of upon restart. Smooth scrolling is now enabled by default and URLs pasted into the download manager are now automatically downloaded. The Aurora channel release adds support for the text-align-last CSS property and, when viewing a page's source, line numbers will now be shown. It also includes improved and updated Developer Tools.

Further information about the current Beta channel version of Firefox can be found in the announcement blog post and in the release notes. This first Beta channel release of Firefox 11 is available to download for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux from the project's site. According to the Releases wiki, the final version of Firefox 11 will arrive on 13 March 2012.

The current stable release is Firefox 10 from the end of January. Firefox binaries are released under the Mozilla Firefox End-User Software License Agreement and the source code is released under disjunctive tri-licensing that includes the Mozilla Public License, GPLv2 and LGPLv2.1.

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