Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Beta 12 released!

Before you all write and tell me, yes, I know the build says b13pre. That's because there was a last-minute security bug that landed and by the time I jumped on it, the build milestone had already been advanced. There's no real purpose in a checkin-and-out to simply massage the version number in a beta, so I left it as was. However, despite the version number, this is beta 12.

Okay, enough of that. Beta 12 has several new features and these are mostly good, some strongly so. First of all, the most visible change is that the hovered URL in the location bar is gone, as threatened, replaced by a Chrome-like strip at the bottom (the same one used to report network activity). I kind of miss the location bar layout, but I adapted back to the old style very quickly. The bar will move to the other side if you hover over it, so it doesn't get in the way. Second, there are small subtle changes (again) in tabs, including the close button, which is now just a tiny grey X in the default theme. The bogus new change is that the content-specific modal dialogue boxes are now super blah (I liked the quasi-Aqua ones in beta 11 better -- these are boring).

In the systems department, JavaScript is also improved -- my iBook/1.33 clocked a 400ms improvement on SunSpider, and Tab Candy is a bit sprightlier -- but the big one is memory pressure. Mozilla has been tracking some leaks in Firefox 4, some minor, some major, all bad, and a big improvement landed in the form of bug 630932. This bug dramatically increases the aggressiveness of the garbage collector and cycle collector, and for those of you like me with memory monitors in the menu bar, you can see the GC/CC quickly grabbing RAM back as you close windows and tabs. TenFourFox has more memory pressure than Firefox did, not just because of Gecko 2, but because we generate and cache machine code for the nanojit. Anything that helps to actively reduce footprint is welcome and this makes a big difference. For those paranoid about memory, here are some other memory leaks Mozilla is tracking, and some of these have fixes planned for final release.

Mozilla also made some significant changes to the plugin architecture on Mac, as I warned you about. I was able to hack around them (I think), but the time is coming when I might not able to. Flash performance seems slightly worse because of the changes (which favour CoreAnimation and hardware acceleration), but it's hard to get accurate metrics. I still advise downloading such videos to disk with any of the available video site/YouTube extensions and playing them outside of the browser.

Specific to TenFourFox, we have a few fixes landed in this release for a new problem and for a couple old ones. One of our oldest and most frustrating bugs was the awesome bar refusing to suggest anymore when you typed a totally novel URL it could not suggest for: when the box closed, it would not open again (though it could still receive keyboard events). I'm inclined to chalk this up to 10.4 being a brat who can't stand not knowing the answer, because I could not find a specific cause, and tweaks to the underlying object had side effects for other auto-complete objects. So, if you can't fix the cause, remove the situation. Starting now, if you type a new URL that the awesome bar doesn't know, rather than simply closing, it just shows a single blank box (actually a single blank stub suggestion). This works with the interface, and the awesome bar works normally. If someone else has a better idea, say so, or send me source code. :P

Also, for those of you who noticed some Command-key shortcuts weren't working, that should now be fixed, and a crash in the JavaScript nanojit was also wallpapered over. So what are you waiting for? Go get it!

I'll post later this week or early next what will happen for the final formal release. Until then, enjoy beta 12.


  1. This version has broken the command-tilde keyboard shortcut that used to switch between open windows.

  2. I can confirm this doesn't work now, but I don't know if this was something intentional on Mozilla's part. I'll wait until they formally release b12 (should be soon) and then file a bug if the behaviour differs. There are some widget changes in this version, so I need to figure out whose bug it is.

  3. for some reason the downloads are super slow

  4. Can't reproduce that generally myself, unfortunately. If you can give some specifics, however, feel free to file a bug.

  5. The floodgap server has been down for several hours.

  6. We had a storm down here that knocked out some network lines. I've just finished fixing everything.

  7. I'm running a G4 processor and I can't delete my bookmarks...OS 10.4.11. What am I doing wrong?


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