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07 Feb 12 Firefox 11: extension synchronisation, Chrome migration

Version 11 of Firefox is in beta testing. It offers complimentary modules synchronisation.

Firefox 10 has been released as a final version so the beta channel has now welcomed Firefox 11 for additional end user testing. For the highly anticipated silent update function, users will have to wait for version 12. This feature works on Windows Vista and Windows 7, with users only being asked a single time whether they accept the UAC’s (User Account Control) request for installation, meaning that the following updates can be transparently made when the browser is restarted.

This function will be very similar to that already seen with Google Chrome. Firefox 11 makes things possible that previously weren’t, meaning importing data and preferences from Google Chrome (bookmarks, browsing history, cookies, profiles). Until now, for new users to Firefox, this data migration has not been an option from the Chrome browser, although it has been possible from Internet Explorer, Opera and Safari.

Firefox-11-beta-synchWith Firefox 11, synchronisation possibilities have been improved so that extensions are now also handled. For installations of Firefox across a range of machines, the user will now be able to find the same extensions in their user profile. The range of synchronization options – which can be found in Options – now includes: bookmarks, passwords, preferences, history, tabs and add-on’s.

Firefox Version 10 has been enriched for developers, and Firefox 11 will continue with this through the release of Page Inspector (examines the code in Web development) which allows you to visualize the structure of a HTML document in 3D. The tool is based on WebGL and you will need compatible hardware to be able to run it.


A new tool for Style editing (accessible from the Web development tools) allows developers to edit the CSS files for a page and to directly see the impact this has on the application. The CSS files can then be backed up.

It should also be noted that Firefox 11 also handles Google’s SPDY protocol which has been put forward to be part of HTTP 2.0. This communication protocol has the aim of transporting content around the web, offering assistance to HTTP, with Mozilla talking about it as being a successor. Their aim is to reduce the latency time via multiplexed streams, request prioritization and HTTP header compression.

Mozilla explains that: “This will improve page load times and will reduce the load on servers as the headers are compressed and fewer connections are used. All pages are loaded into SSL with SPDY, making browsing safer“.

They do state that SPDY isn’t activated by default though. Users will have to go into Firefox’s settings (about:config in the address bar) and ensure that network.http.spdy.enabled is set to true.

Download Firefox 11 beta (Windows, Mac OS X, Linux)


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