Browsers - Firefox

Apple's subtle anti-competitive practices and the web

Apple has a history of stunting the web’s progress on its platforms. On iOS, Apple doesn’t allow fully independent third-party browsers, requiring all apps to leverage its Safari browser when rendering web-based content. While browsers like Chrome and Opera are available in the App Store, they must use Apple’s Safari browser behind the scenes to render web pages, rather than their own. That means Apple has a monopoly on how iPhone and iPad users access the web. To push developers toward building native apps on iOS rather than using web technologies, Apple ignores popular parts of the open web specification that other browsers implement, to its own benefit.

A technology called WebRTC, for example, allows video calling in a web browser without additional software. It powers tools like Google Meet. But Apple was incredibly slow to implement the specification, leaving out key pieces of functionality, and the technology didn’t work when embedded inside apps.

Apple also handicapped an emerging standard called Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) — which, like Electron, allows developers to build native-like apps for both desktop and mobile — by partially implementing it in a way that makes it too inconsistent to rely on. PWA doesn’t have the same problem if users open apps in Chrome or Firefox, but iPhone and iPad users can’t install third-party browsers, which makes PWA-based technology a non-starter.


Apple’s subtle, anti-competitive practices don’t look terrible in isolation, but together they form a clear strategy: Make it so painful to build with web-based technology on Apple platforms that developers won’t bother. Now that the App Store is not accepting apps built using Electron, developers will likely find creative ways to work around it, but Apple is setting up for a continual cat-and-mouse game as it plans to exert more control over which apps can run on the platform in the future.

Mike Taylor - A case for browser-engine diversity... - View Source 2019

Given the recent demise of Presto and EdgeHTML rendering engines, and dominant market share growth for Chrome (and its Chromium engine), can we make a case for browser engine diversity in a decreasingly diverse browser engine world? In this talk, we’ll talk about web compatibility, interoperability, the web standards process, and hopefully conclude that we should care about these things in 2019.

Cutting the mustard with only CSS

JavaScript can be pretty brittle, so having a way to exclude browsers that don’t cut the mustard via CSS can be really useful, especially if you don’t want to serve them large amounts of CSS that they won’t properly understand. Since we can’t prevent loading a stylesheet via feature queries, the media attribute on a <link> element seems the next best thing. Andy Kirk has come up with a few combinations:

Code language: HTML

  Print (Edge doesn't apply to print otherwise)
  IE 10, 11
  Chrome 29+, Opera 16+, Safari 6.1+, iOS 7+, Android ~4.4+
  FF 29+
<link rel="stylesheet" href="your-stylesheet.css" media="
  only print,
  only all and (-ms-high-contrast: none), only all and (-ms-high-contrast: active),
  only all and (pointer: fine), only all and (pointer: coarse), only all and (pointer: none),
  only all and (-webkit-min-device-pixel-ratio:0) and (min-color-index:0),
  only all and (min--moz-device-pixel-ratio:0) and (min-resolution: 3e1dpcm)
  Print (Edge doesn't apply to print otherwise)
  Edge, Chrome 39+, Opera 26+, Safari 9+, iOS 9+, Android ~5+, Android UCBrowser ~11.8+
  FF 47+
<link rel="stylesheet" href="your-stylesheet.css" media="
  only print,
  only all and (pointer: fine), only all and (pointer: coarse), only all and (pointer: none),
  only all and (min--moz-device-pixel-ratio:0) and (display-mode:browser), (min--moz-device-pixel-ratio:0) and (display-mode:fullscreen)

Go beyond console.log with the Firefox Debugger

Promo art for the Firefox Debugger Playground: a styled insect with the words "go beyond console.log" below it.

console.log is no debugger. It’s great for figuring out what your JavaScript app is up to, but it’s limited to spitting out a minimal amount of information. If your code is complex, you’ll need a proper debugger. That’s why we’ve added a new section to the Firefox Devtools Playground that’s all about debugging. We’ve built four basic lessons that use the Firefox Debugger to examine and repair a simple JavaScript to-do app.

The whole web at maximum FPS: How WebRender gets rid of jank

A cut away diagram of an aircraft engine, with various parts labelled with "Quantum Flow", 'Quantum DOM", "Quantum Compositor", "Quantum CSS (a.k.a. Stylo)", and "Quantum Render (feat. WebRender)".

Do you want a deep and nerdy dive into the web browser rendering and how the upcoming WebRender rendering engine for Firefox will use the GPU more like games currently do?

[T]here’s another big piece of Servo technology that’s not in Firefox Quantum quite yet, though it’s coming soon. That’s WebRender, which is being added to Firefox as part of the Quantum Render project.

Saying Goodbye to Firebug

The Firebug logo: a stylized beetle with an orange, flaming carapace.

Firebug has been a phenomenal success. Over its 12-year lifespan, the open source tool developed a near cult following among web developers. When it came out in 2005, Firebug was the first tool to let programmers inspect, edit, and debug code right in the Firefox browser. It also let you monitor CSS, HTML, and JavaScript live in any web page, which was a huge step forward.

Firebug caught people’s attention — and more than a million loyal fans still use it today.

So it’s sad that Firebug is now reaching end-of-life in the Firefox browser, with the release of Firefox Quantum (version 57) next month. The good news is that all the capabilities of Firebug are now present in current Firefox Developer Tools.

The story of Firefox and Firebug is synonymous with the rise of the web. We fought the good fight and changed how developers inspect HTML and debug JS in the browser. Firebug ushered in the Web 2.0 era. Today, the work pioneered by the Firebug community over the last 12 years lives on in Firefox Developer Tools.

Browse Against the Machine

[T]he web looks more and more like a feudal system, where the geography of the web has been partitioned off by the Frightful Five. Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple and Amazon are our lord and protectors, exacting a royal sum for our online behaviors. We’re the serfs and tenants, providing homage inside their walled fortresses. Noble upstarts are erased or subsumed under their existing order.