Badass JavaScript

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Firefox 18 Released with 25% Faster IonMonkey JS Engine, PDF.js Viewer Built-In, CSS Flexbox, WebRTC and more

January 8th 2013

Browser releases are always exciting for web developers, and Firefox 18 is no exception.  Coming just seven weeks after Firefox 17, version 18 brings many new features for developers and users alike.

The first major feature is the new IonMonkey JavaScript engine, which Mozilla claims is up to 25% faster than the old engine.  It works by first translating JavaScript to an intermediate representation rather than directly to machine code, and then it performs optimizations on the IR code before translating that to machine code.  Benchmarks do show the performance increase as well, getting a 26% faster score on the Kracken benchmark and a 7% faster score on the V8 benchmark over Firefox 17.

Another awesome piece of news is that the PDF.js project, which Mozilla has been working on for some time now is finally baked right into the browser so you can view PDFs without plugins.  PDF.js is a PDF viewer implemented entirely using JavaScript and web technologies.  Firefox 18 also receives the new mozPrintCallback API for canvases which enables high quality printing support for PDF documents as well.  I’m hoping that API becomes standardized and implemented across a variety of other browsers in the near future, because programmatic printing support in web browsers has previously been a big pain in the neck.

Firefox 18 also includes support for a variety of new web standards, including initial support for WebRTC, CSS Flexbox, W3C touch events, retina support and more.  Check out the Firefox 18 for developers page for more details.

Another interesting API that has been added is navigator.mozPay, which promises an In-App-Purchase like feature for web applications.  It will be interesting to see where that goes as well.

Firefox 18 looks like a good update for developers and users, so definitely download it and play with some of the new features!