I did a post yesterday about this but today I’ve downloaded a nightly branch build and so here’s the lowdown on what’s new.
The update mechanism now almost works! When I first launched Firefox after installing the nightly, it told me that Tabbrowser Extensions and Gmail Notifier had been updated, and offered to download them for me. While it did download them, it didn’t appear to actually update them, so it’s not quite there yet. But it’s progress.
incidentally you will need to update to the latest Tabbrowser Extensions for this build as older versions do not work.
New ‘Web features’ option pane
The Web Features pane of the options dialog has been changed, largely to accommodate the new ‘Allow web sites to install software’ option. If disabled, this prevents the user from being able to install XPI packages from web sites, however the Exceptions button opens a dialog where you can ‘whitelist’ sites which should be allowed to install XPIs, such as mozilla.org and mozdev.org. This will stop rogue sites using the mechanism to install malware. At the moment it defaults to allowing all sites to install XPIs but I imagine this will change in future.
This feature is borrowed directly from IE6 SP2. If a popup or XPI install is blocked, then the information bar appears, telling the user what has happened, as opposed to merely showing a non-obvious icon in the status bar. With the popup message, you can click on the bar and it will let you show the popup, unblock the site, or let you configure the popup whitelist. With the XPI message, there’s an Edit Options button on the far right. There’s currently a bug here in that if you move to another tab and then move back, the message disappears.
This appears at the bottom of the browser window (above the status bar) when you press ‘ (for link text) or / (for all text) outside of a text area, and works like Find As You Type did, except it’s a bit more intuitive. The text you type appears in the box as well as the first result being highlighted in the page, and there are up and down buttons to move through results. Additionally you can highlight words, which is new. If you prefer the old behaviour where it wasn’t necessary to press ‘ or / then there’s an option on the Advanced pane of the Options dialog to switch this back on.
Status bar re-organisation
All status bar icons are now on the right-hand side, and each has its own box to live in (in the default theme). The first is for the padlock that appears when you connect to a secure site, the second is the icon shown when a popup is blocked (this appears in addition to the information bar, again like in IE6 SP2), and the third allows you to switch to alternative stylesheet if one is specified. The fourth is new and I’ll mention this later. Finally there’s a bigger box which lets the user know if updates are available.
Livemarks are a cross between aggregation channels and bookmarks – Live Bookmarks if you like. If a page has an RSS feed, a lightning icon appears in the fourth box on the status bar, and clicking on it lets you choose a Livemark to add to your bookmarks. The livemark then appears as a folder, with its items as bookmarks in the folder. It’s quite a basic but potentially useful function. incidentally, it also supports Atom feeds.
If you’re connected to a secure site, then the address bar will have a padlock by the arrow on the right and the background will turn yellow. The padlock also appears on the status bar as normal. Therefore, if the address bar isn’t yellow, then it’s not safe to give over credit card details. incidentally, I was connected to Paypal.com with 256-bit encryption – IE can only manage 128-bit, so your data is even safer.
Bookmark Manager update
The Bookmarks Manager now has a folder pane on the left, which should make it easier to navigate. Or at least, it would if it worked properly – right now it doesn’t actually do anything other than look pretty, at least on my system. But it’s still a world away from IE’s very poor ‘Organise Favourites’ window.
The roadmap to Firefox 1.0 gives the browser another couple of months before the final release on the 14th September, so there’s plenty of time for the bugs to be smoothed out. It will ship around the same time as the improved IE6 as part of Windows XP Sp2.