Feeds

Latest Firefox boosts video chat, 3D graphics, JavaScript performance

WebRTC and asm.js support enabled by default

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

The Mozilla Foundation has shipped Firefox 22 to the release channel, bringing with it improved support for web-based real-time communications and a significant performance boost for some JavaScript applications, among other features.

The new version comes with support for the nascent WebRTC API enabled by default for the first time. Technically still a work in progress at the Worldwide Web Consortium (W3C), WebRTC is a proposed standard that enables browser-based voice calling, video chat, and peer-to-peer data sharing.

Other than Firefox 22, only the latest versions of Chrome OS and the desktop Chrome browser support WebRTC so far, but other browsers are expected to incorporate it as the standard matures.

In February, Google and Mozilla showed off a cross-browser video chat session between a beta version of Chrome and a nightly build of Firefox. As of Tuesday, those same capabilities are available in the stable branch of the Firefox browser.

Also new in Firefox 22 is OdinMonkey, a module for the browser's JavaScript engine that provides special optimizations for code written using asm.js.

Not technically a W3C standard, asm.js isn't really a new web language, either. Instead, it's a subset of JavaScript designed to strip away some of the cruft and questionable features, leaving only a lean, restrictive form of the language that's much easier for compilers to optimize.

Because asm.js code is still 100 per cent valid JavaScript, it will run in any modern browser. But with OdinMonkey's special optimizations enabled, Mozilla claims Firefox can execute asm.js code with performance only about twice as slow as the equivalent native code – which is saying something, for a JavaScript engine – and it plans to do even better in future.

The main downside to asm.js is that its syntax is so sparse and its coding standards are so strict that it's not very human-friendly. Instead, programmers are expected to write their code in some other language – such as C or C++ – and then compile their source into asm.js code for execution in the browser using tools like Emscripten.

To demonstrate the technique, last August Mozilla offered BananaBread, a demo that took advantage of Emscripten, asm.js, and Firefox's then–newly enhanced WebGL graphics capabilities to deliver a fully interactive 3D gaming experience based entirely on web standards.

Incidentally, Mozilla has improved Firefox's WebGL rendering performance yet again in version 22, with the introduction of asynchronous canvas updates.

The new release also includes a number of minor new features, bug fixes, and improved developer tools – for the full skinny, you can check out the official release notes, here.

As usual, current Firefox users can get the new release via the automatic update feature. Those who would like to try out the open source browser for the first time can download version 22 for Windows, OS X, or Linux from the official Firefox website. ®

3 Big data security analytics techniques

More from The Register

next story
This time it's 'Personal': new Office 365 sub covers just two devices
Redmond also brings Office into Google's back yard
Oh no, Joe: WinPhone users already griping over 8.1 mega-update
Hang on. Which bit of Developer Preview don't you understand?
Inside the Hekaton: SQL Server 2014's database engine deconstructed
Nadella's database sqares the circle of cheap memory vs speed
Microsoft lobs pre-release Windows Phone 8.1 at devs who dare
App makers can load it before anyone else, but if they do they're stuck with it
Half of Twitter's 'active users' are SILENT STALKERS
Nearly 50% have NEVER tweeted a word
Internet-of-stuff startup dumps NoSQL for ... SQL?
NoSQL taste great at first but lacks proper nutrients, says startup cloud whiz
Batten down the hatches, Ubuntu 14.04 LTS due in TWO DAYS
Admins dab straining server brows in advance of Trusty Tahr's long-term support landing
IRS boss on XP migration: 'Classic fix the airplane while you're flying it attempt'
Plus: Condoleezza Rice at Dropbox 'maybe she can find ... weapons of mass destruction'
OpenSSL Heartbleed: Bloody nose for open-source bleeding hearts
Bloke behind the cockup says not enough people are helping crucial crypto project
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.