Mozilla Firefox 18 Boosts Performance with IonMonkey

Open source browser debuts new JavaScript engine, CSS improvements and security updates.

Mozilla is out with its first Firefox release of 2013 today, accelerating the open source web browser with a new engine.

Firefox 18 includes the IonMonkey JavaScript engine that Mozilla first started testing in September of 2012. IonMonkey can improve performance by as much as 25 percent for JavaScript heavy pages, by introducing an extra layer of JavaScript optimization known as intermediate representation (IR).

IonMonkey is the latest in a long list of monkey-titled JavaScript engines from Mozilla dating back to 2007 and including such names as JaegerMonkey and SpiderMonkey.

"Of course we continue to evolve and optimize the performance of our javascript code so that future versions of Firefox will have even better performance, Johnathan Nightingale, VP of Firefox Engineering, told Datamation.

CSS

With each new Firefox release, Mozilla also extends its embrace of emerging HTML5 and CSS3 web standards. The Firefox 18 release is no exception.

"The new version of Firefox includes experimental support for WebRTC and CSS flexbox, both disabled by default by available for early testing by web developers," Nightingale said.

Web Real Time Communications (WebRTC) is a new standard for enabling real-time communications connectivity via the web. WebRTC can enable a browser for example to directly place a VoIP call. Google has included preliminary support for WebRTC since the Chrome 21 release in August of 2012.

The CSS3 Flexbox standard is all about providing a layout format that can flex to fill a given space.

"We have also included full support for the w3c touch events spec," Nightingale said. "This version includes faster CSS gradient performance, HTML5 transferable objects, and support for ES6 proxies in JavaScript."

Security

The Firefox 18 release also provides a number of security fixes, including one for an issue that Google and Microsoft addressed last week. SSL Certificate Authority TURKTRUST mistakenly issued a pair of certificates that were then used to create fraudulent credentials for Google.com.

"We have revoked trust for the two mis-issued certificates, effective with this week's release," Nightingale said. "We are investigating whether built-in online certification blocklisting would be an improvement. In the interim, our current process allows us to effectively protect our users."

Mozilla is also using the Firefox 18 release as an opportunity to improve security for its Android mobile edition. Starting with Firefox 18 for Android, Mozilla is now including phishing and malware protection.

"Phishing and Malware Protection works the same across all Firefox browsers, regardless of the product -- both use Google's Safe Browsing protocol to compare sites you visit to downloaded lists of reported phishing and malware sites," Nightingale said.

Mozilla has included Google's Safe Browsing technology as part of the Firefox desktop browser since the Firefox 2.0 release in 2006.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.




Tags: open source, Firefox, Mozilla Firefox


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