First look: Firefox 8 adds Twitter search, tightens add-on controls

Mozilla?s Firefox 8 gives users more obvious control over add-ons installed by third-party program

Mozilla debuted Firefox 8 just six weeks after Firefox 7 , in keeping with its rapid release cycle. Among the changes are new controls for preventing unwanted add-ons and the addition of Twitter as a choice in the Firefox's search bar. The new release also fixes some bugs.

Built-in Twitter search

Built-in Twitter search

Mozilla added Twitter to the Firefox 8 search bar for Windows, Mac and Linux. Firefox 8 users can search for topics, #hashtags and @usernames from the built-in search box. The new Twitter search feature is available in English, Portuguese, Slovenian and Japanese versions of Firefox, and more languages are due to be added in future releases, Mozilla says .

Tighter control over add-ons

Tighter control over add-ons

Firefox 8 by default disables add-ons installed by third-party programs. If a Firefox 8 user installs a third-party program that attempts to install its own add-ons, Firefox requires the user to explicitly opt in to any additions. "[A]dd-ons installed by third parties present a number of problems: they can slow down Firefox start-up and page loading time, they clutter the interface with toolbars that often go unused, they lag behind on compatibility and security updates, and most importantly, they take the user out of control of their add-ons," explains Justin Scott, product manager for add-ons at Mozilla, in his blog .

Say yay or nay to old add-ons

Say yay or nay to old add-ons

In addition to requiring users to opt in to new add-on installations, Firefox 8 asks users to confirm previously installed extras. Users who upgrade to Firefox 8 will see a dialog box asking them to select the add-ons they want to keep installed. "By default, all of the add-ons the user has installed from within Firefox will be kept, but add-ons installed by another application will be disabled unless the user chooses to keep them," Scott said in his blog .

Added preference to load tabs on demand

Added preference to load tabs on demand

Firefox 8 lets users load tabs on demand, which makes it faster to restore windows with many tabs, Mozilla says. Users can enable this option in the Firefox menu, under options/preferences, in the general tab.

Added CORS support for cross-domain textures in WebGL

Added CORS support for cross-domain textures in WebGL

Mozilla introduced support for the WebGL standard, which allows websites and Web apps to display hardware-accelerated 3D graphics without third-party software, in Firefox earlier this year. Firefox 8 adds support for Cross-Origin Resource Sharing (CORS), which lets developers load WebGL textures from other domains in a secure way, according to Mozilla. "Most prominently, this feature allows for impressive 3D mapping applications such as Google MapsGL and Nokia Maps 3D," writes Mozilla developer Benoit Jacob in his blog.

Improved CSS hyphen support

Improved CSS hyphen support

The updated hyphens feature in Firefox 8 is designed to tell the browser how to split words, depending on the size of the browser window, to improve the layout of text when line-wrapping is in use.

Added support for HTML5 context menus

Added support for HTML5 context menus

"Using simple HTML5 markup, Firefox enables Web developers to customize the options users have in the right click menu and saves them from having to build their own menu," Mozilla explains .

Bug fixes

Bug fixes

Firefox 8 addresses the following security vulnerabilities :
MFSA 2011-52: Code execution via NoWaiverWrapper
MFSA 2011-51: Cross-origin image theft on Mac with integrated Intel GPU
MFSA 2011-50: Cross-origin data theft using canvas and Windows D2D
MFSA 2011-49: Memory corruption while profiling using Firebug
MFSA 2011-48: Miscellaneous memory safety hazards (rv:8.0)
MFSA 2011-47: Potential XSS against sites using Shift-JIS

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