Monday, December 23, 2019

TenFourFox FPR18b1 available

TenFourFox Feature Parity Release 18 beta 1 is now available (downloads, hashes, release notes). As promised, the biggest change in this release is to TenFourFox's Reader mode. Reader mode uses Mozilla Readability to display a stripped-down version of the page with (hopefully) the salient content, just the salient content, and no crap or cruft. This has obvious advantages for old systems like ours because Reader mode pages are smaller and substantially simpler, don't run JavaScript, and help to wallpaper over various DOM and layout deficiencies our older patched-up Firefox 45 underpinnings are starting to show a bit more.

In FPR18, Reader mode has two main changes: first, it is updated to the same release used in current versions of Firefox (I rewrote the glue module in TenFourFox so that current releases could be used unmodified, which helps maintainability), and second, Reader mode is now allowed on most web pages instead of only on ones Readability thinks it can render. By avoiding a page scan this makes the browser a teensy bit faster, but it also means that edge-case web pages that could still usefully display in Reader mode now can do so. When Reader mode can be enabled, a little "open book" icon appears in the address bar. Click that and it will turn orange and the page will switch to Reader mode. Click it again to return to the prior version of the page. Certain sites don't work well with this approach and are automatically filtered; we use the same list as Firefox. If you want the old method where the browser would scan the page first before offering reader mode, switch tenfourfox.reader.force-enable to false and reload the tab, and please mention what it was doing inappropriately so it can be investigated.

Reader mode isn't seamless, and in fairness wasn't designed to be. The most noticeable discontinuity is if you click a link within a Reader mode page, it renders that link in the regular browser (requiring you to re-enter Reader mode if you want to stay there), which kind of sucks for multipage documents. I'm considering a tweak to it such that you stay in Reader mode in a tab until you exit it but I don't know how well this would work and it would certainly alter the functionality of many pages. Post your thoughts in the comments. I might consider something like this for FPR19.

Besides the usual security updates, FPR18 also makes a minor compatibility fix to the browser and improves the comprehensiveness of removing browser data for privacy reasons. More work needs to be done on this because of currently missing APIs, but this first pass in FPR18 is a safe and easy improvement. As this is the first "fast four week" release, it will become live January 6.

I also wrote up another quickie script for those of you exploring TenFourFox's AppleScript support. Although Old Reddit appears to work just dandy with TenFourFox, the current React-based New Reddit is a basket case: it's slow, it uses newer JavaScript support that TenFourFox only allows incompletely, and its DOM is hard for extensions to navigate. If you're stuck on New Reddit and you can't read the comments because the "VIEW ENTIRE CONVERSATION" button doesn't work because React and if you work on React I hate you, you can now download Reddit Moar Comments. When the script is run, if a Reddit comments thread is in the current tab, it acts as if the View Entire Conversation button had been clicked and expands the thread. If you're like me, put the Scripts menu in the menu bar (using the AppleScript Utility), have a TenFourFox folder in your Scripts, and put this script in it so it's just a menu drop-down or two away. Don't forget to try the other possibly useful scripts in that folder, or see if you can write your own.

Merry Christmas to those of you who celebrate it, and a happy holiday to all.


  1. Celebrating Xmas or not, this is an opportunity to thank you again for the great gift that TFF is. ;-)

  2. I'd just like to say THANK YOU for your continued work on TFF, and Merry Christmas!

  3. It's too bad that there isn't a way to narrow down the fail point. I just checked and there are 77 open bugs [1] dealing with Firefox going all the way back to 2014 and some of the bugs that mention button issues seem to be from the same time frame as Firefox 45.


  4. Happy new year! Thank you very much for keeping our PPC Macs on the web!

  5. Happy New Year CK!!
    Have just completed an ULTIMATE G4/G5 RetroGaming build (320GB worth). Share am glad TFF is there to help keep it able to go online! If you have an extra HD kicking around, would be happy to image it to a drive for free for you - pretty much all the best entertainment possible in OSX+Classic systems.


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