SiliconFilter

Not Delayed: Firefox 11 Still Coming Later Today

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Yesterday, Mozilla announced that it would delay today's planned launch of Firefox 11 for a few days in order to scrutinize a potential security issue and to avoid issues with Microsoft's Patch Tuesday updates today.

Now, however, Mozilla has canceled this delay and announced that Firefox 11 is still on track for today's release. The security vulnerability, it turns out, was already known and patched. In order to avoid the conflict with Patch Tuesday, though, this release will only be available as a manual update today. Once the Firefox team is sure that there are no issues with Microsoft's latest patches, it will push automatic updates to all users.

Since switching to its rapid-release schedule, Mozilla never missed a scheduled release date for Firefox.

What's New in Firefox 11

Once Firefox 11 is available, this is what you can expect from the update:

What’s New

  • NEW
    Firefox can now migrate your bookmarks, history, and cookies from Google Chrome
  • NEW
    With Sync enabled, add-ons can now be synchronized across your computers
  • NEW
    The CSS text-size-adjust property is now supported
  • CHANGED
    Redesigned media controls for HTML5 video
  • HTML5
    The outerHTML property is now supported on HTML elements
  • HTML5
    View source syntax highlighting now uses the HTML5 parser (see bug 482921)
  • DEVELOPER
    The Style Editor for CSS editing is now available to web developers
  • DEVELOPER
    Web developers can now visualize a web page in 3D using the Page Inspector 3D View
  • DEVELOPER
    SPDY protocol support for faster page loads is now testable
  • DEVELOPER
    XMLHttpRequest now supports HTML parsing
  • DEVELOPER
    Files can now be stored in IndexedDB (see bug 661877)
  • DEVELOPER
    Websockets has now been unprefixed
  • FIXED
    Firefox notifications may not work properly with Growl 1.3 or later (691662)

 

 

 

 

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10:37 am


Adobe Makes Designing for Mobile a Bit Easier with ThemeRoller for jQuery Mobile

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The jQuery JavaScript library is one of those tools that most regular users never notice, but that has made creating mobile websites significantly easier for developer over the last few years. For a while now, there has been a design tool called the jQuery ThemeRoller that made it easier for developers to create a consistent design for their apps. Today, Adobe – together with the Filament Group – is launching the first public beta of the mobile version of ThemeRoller for jQuery Mobile. With this WYSIWYG tool, users can easily build a mobile theme, download it and share it with others without ever having to touch the code itself.

theme_roller_large

The design options include tools for creating CSS gradients (to make your buttons look better, for example) and the ability to create up to 26 unique “color swatches” within a single theme. The jQuery blog features a full run-down of the apps’ features.

Another nifty features of ThemeRoller is that it integrates with Adobe’s Kuler App Service. This provides even those developers with very little design sense with libraries of interesting color sets developed by the user community there.

Once finished, developers can then download their creations for use in their own project. You can also collaborate on designs by sharing a URL to your theme with your friends and coworkers.



10:20 pm


Opera: It’s Time to Rethink How We Publish Texts Online

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The way we publish and read text in our browsers today is not that different from the way Egyptians used scrolls over 3,000 years ago. In the real world, though, the scroll gave way to the codex a long time ago, but on the web, we’re still mostly wedded to the idea of scrolling through text. Opera, the developers of the popular desktop and mobile browser of the same name, just released Opera Reader, a prototype of a concept they call “native pages,” which is meant to bring the ideas of a more book-like publishing layout back to the web. The result, which developers can achieve with just a few lines of codes, looks more like the New York Times Skimmer interface than a regular website.

The basic concept behind native pages/Opera Reader is to make it easy to split pages into paged media by using what Opera calls “an innovative new set of CSS constructs.” Opera things that this idea “has the power to dramatically improve the way in which web content is consumers, by presenting it in a much more compelling fashion.”

opera_reader_on_the_web

Instead of scrolling through pages, using a few basic CSS constructs will turn your scrolling articles into more codex-like sites with columns and multiple pages. The idea here is to make these texts easier to read and to make better use of the widescreen monitors that now adorn most of our desks. Browsers that don’t support this technology will just continue to display the same pages as before. Those that do support it, however, will be able to flexibly adjust the layout of the pages multi-column layout on the fly and have users use touch gestures and/or keyboard commands to flip pages.

Whether you are using a tablet, phone, desktop or a laptop to read this right now, chances are you are using a widescreen display. On a desktop and laptop, these are great for watching video, but leave a lot of unused space if you are just reading text online. At least on a tablet or phone, you can just tilt the device and use your screen more efficiently. If successful, the ideas behind Opera Reader could make it easier for publishers to make their texts available for mice-less devices like tablets and on the desktop, where readers would benefit from a better layout of the texts they read.

An Idea Worth Pursuing?

It’s worth noting, though, that online publishing as we know it today is driven by pageviews and the ad sales that come with them. It’s unlikely that existing publishers would quickly flock to this idea, but as a proof of concept, Opera Reader does hold some interesting promises.

As a reader, though, I have to say that I really like sites like the NYTimes Skimmer that let me focus on the text and use a multi-column layout to let me read more text before I have to scroll again.

I can see a few reasons why this idea wouldn’t work, though, as well. On tablets, for example, the scroll metaphor actually works quite well and actually feels more efficient than paging through articles. I also haven’t heard too many people complain about having to scroll through articles and for many, I would guess scrolling now feels more natural than leaving through a virtual book-like environment.

Unlike Opera then, I don’t think this idea of a codex-like page works for every site and every article, but I can imagine sites that focus on long-form content move towards this or a similar technology. I’m not sure it has to be build into the browser, but I think Opera is right to reopen the discussion about how we display our written content on the web.

How to Use it Today

The only way to see Opera Reader in action right now is by installing a special alpha version of Opera 12 (available for Mac, Windows and Linux). Once installed, you can find a number of demos of the native page technology here.

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9:09 pm


Google Wants to Speed Up Your Site With Page Speed Service

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With Page Speed Service, Google just announced a new service that could make your sites load faster.

Just a few weeks ago, Google announced Instant Pages, a service that pre-renders and then quickly loads some of the top search results for Chrome users. Today, Google announced the next step in its drive to make all of the web – and not just Google’s own sites – significantly faster. Page Speed Service wants to bring speed-ups to any site on the net that points its DNS entry to Google.

Mod_Pagespeed as a Service

Quite a few larger sites already use services that offload some of their files to content delivery networks, but this system is a bit different. Just last year, Google launched mod_pagespeed, a module for the popular Apache web server. Page Speed Service basically turns ths module into an on-demand service. By applying “web performance best practices,” as Google calls it, the service can speed up the loading times of your site by between 25% and 60% on average. That is quite a significant number and the improved performance is achieved by concatenating CSS, compressing your images, and gzipping resources.

Caching

This system also agressively caches content, though it’s important to note that this is not a traditional content delivery network and does not support Flash, streaming audio and video content. Google will, however, serve some of your files from its servers around the world, leading to even faster download times for your users who are further away from your server.

Geting Started

Advanced webmasters can easily add the mod_pagespeed module to their own setup, but for those who just want an easy way to speed up their sites and don’t have the in-house expertise to manipulate their server setup – and don’t mind pointing their DNS to Google’s servers – this new system should prove to be quite useful.

It’s worth noting that some services, including the CloudFlare service we use to speed up this site, already offer similar features (including CSS compression, CDN-like image caching etc.).

Page Speed Service is still only being tested by a small number of sites, but you can see how much it could speed up your site here and then sign up for early access here. For now, the service is available for free, but Google plans to charge for it at a later point. While the price is not clear yet, Google promises that it will be “competitive.”

 



3:23 pm