Firefox 18 Goes Live with ‘IonMonkey JavaScript Engine’

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Mozilla has just released its first version of Firefox for 2013, Firefox 18. Firefox is basically an open source Web browser which is available free on the web. Firefox 18 seems to be the most stable browser version to date. It is available for Windows, Linux, Mac and Android.

firefox 18

The biggest enhancements in Firefox 18 have been the new JavaScript Compiler – IonMonkey, the Preliminary support for WebRTC, and the support for Retina Display on OS X 10.7 and above.

The official version of Firefox 18 can be downloaded from the website Firefox.com; you can also automatically upgrade the older versions from there. In case you need the updated version for Android, you can do so from the Google Play Store.

The biggest change brought about in this release of Firefox is the new JavaScript JIT compiler IonMonkey. IonMonkey had been in development for almost a year.  IonMonkey is the current version of the previous versions of JavaScript engines SpiderMonkey, TraceMonkey and JägerMonkey.

According to claims made by the company this new JavaScript engine will enhance the performance of the browser making it about 25 per cent faster than its previous versions. This improved speed will be particularly noticeable when Firefox 18 is used to display Web applications, play browser based games and access other heavy JavaScript pages.

chart_18

To further endorse their claim Mozilla is asking users to check out the difference in speed by trying out a 3D Web Game “BananaBread” developed by them. IonMonkey is a more traditional compiler and its architecture facilitates optimization of JavaScript when run with other programming languages.

Quoting what the team from Mozilla had to say about IonMonkey:

“It essentially has three steps:

  • Translate JavaScript to an intermediate representation. (IR).
  • Run various algorithms to optimize the IR.
  • Translate the final IR to machine code.”

According to them this is going to make research about the JavaScript compiler much easier in time to come. Currently IonMonkey is the default compiler for FireFox 18.

Another long awaited feature that has been introduced in Firefox 18 is the support that it has added for Retina displays. A new algorithm to scale images has been put in to place, resulting in high resolution and much improved images on sites which depend on the browsers scaling feature. This has definitely been a welcome move.

Firefox 18 has also included preliminary support for WebRTC. WebRTC is an open project that is being supported by Mozilla, Google and Opera. Its basic endeavor being to enable users to get high quality video and voice communication live through any browser without having to install plug-ins or any other third-party software.

Another improved addition to Firefox 18 has been the built-in PDF viewer. This is definitely going to make a lot of people very happy.

One feature that was not included in this release and quite a few people might miss is the animated themes. Firefox 18 has done away with animated themes. In their statement they have sited performance issues regarding speed to be the reason for doing away with this feature.

Security has been another aspect on which Firefox 18 has worked on. It has included anti-malware and anti-phishing features that will alert a user every time it comes across any website with a malicious intent.

Download Firefox 18 for Windows | OS X

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Vishal Gaikar

Article by Vishal

I am Vishal Gaikar, Software Engineer, Web Addicted, Living in Maharashtra, India. If you like This post, you can follow Tricks Machine on Twitter, also you can add me on Google+.

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