Mozilla Developer News reports on Alpha 2 of Bon Echo (Firefox 2.0) which looks like it’s going to be a really nice release.
The close button for each tab can now be found on each tab which makes it a ton easier to use. In Firefox 1, links where webmasters have specified to open in a new window will open in a new window. This is quite frustrating as you can often end up with multiple windows, each with multiple tabs. Firefox 2.0 will override this behavior and will open these pages in new tabs rather than new windows.
I absolutely love the built in spell checker. It looks like spell checking is enabled by default on textarea fields and off by default in input boxes. The spell checker will underline any misspelt words in red. You can correct them by right clicking them or you may choose to add it to your dictionary. I can tell this will probably be one of my favourite features in Firefox 2.0.
It’s a little strange when your editing HTML in a textbox as Firefox underlines "href" and stuff. Now if Firefox could detect if the textbox is editing HTML and highlight the HTML and ignore terms such as "href", that’d be great.
If only it’d work with WYSIWYGs such as TinyMCE, it’d be perfect.
Search & Suggest
I’m not sure what I think of this feature. Basically, Firefox 2.0 integrates a "Google Suggest"-like feature into the browser search box. The autocomplete is enabled for Google and Yahoo!
When I first saw this, I wondered who was using my computer to research testicular cancer but I inspected it using LiveHTTPHeaders (using Nightly Tester Tools) and it looks like Firefox was indeed using Google’s Suggest feature to complete the field.
When you use Yahoo, it’ll use Yahoo’s own autocomplete server.
Notice also the new search box is a lot wider and has the search engine selection on the right hand side along with a search button. This is more like IE7’s search field.
The new feed reader is beautiful.
True to Firefox’s aims of promoting open choice on the internet, Firefox doesn’t try to force you to use Live Bookmarks to read your RSS. It can integrate with external feed reading applications and websites such as Bloglines and Google Reader.
Firefox was one of the driving forces behind promoting RSS autodiscovery where webmasters would add a link tag to their page with the URL of their RSS feed. It’s great to see the openness of the new RSS reading in Firefox – hopefully we won’t be seeing sites with buttons to subscribe in Google Reader, Yahoo!, Bloglines, etc.
- Extensions and Themes have been amalgamated into the "Add-Ons" window. The Add-Ons window looks a little like the Options window with Extensions and Themes along the top. When you’re installing an extension or theme, a third item appears along the top which shows the progress of the Installation.
- Firefox 2 has microsummary support. I haven’t been able to test it out yet but it seems really cool. This page has screenshots and code snippets.
- Places has disappeared. Although this is disappointing, Firefox 2.0 is still a very nice update without it. Looking back on Firefox 1.5, a lot of people were disappointed that RSS Pretty Print was removed. Looking at the feed handing in Firefox 2 which is a ton better than the Firefox 1.5 version, it was the right decision. I’ve no doubt that postphoning Places until the next version of Firefox was the right decision.
Please remember that Bon Echo Alpha 2 is a technology preview and not intended for end users. However, it’s pretty stable and I think it’s usable for day to day browsing for technology enthusiasts and early adopters.