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Mozilla release Firefox 17 with new Facebook and social app integration

Published on November 23, 2012
Tags: Web Development London

The release of Firefox 17 by software developer Mozilla offers many new features, many of which offer numerous performance improvements and an integrated preview of Firefox’s impending integration with Facebook, known as Facebook Messenger for Firefox. This social integration in the form of a social sidebar, will form part of a social API which will in the future support other social networks.

The Facebook Messenger for Firefox app is completely opt-in, meaning that once you visit the Facebook Messenger for Firefox page and turn it on, you’ll see a social sidebar onto which you can receive Facebook chat and updates, comments and photo tags. There is also a ‘Like’ button in the URL bar so you can like pages and share websites that haven’t yet added their own.

Other key features of the Social API include giving web apps, news feeds and document editors a more permanent position in your browser’s window. By Mozilla choosing to extend their Social API they are moving the position of social websites away from tabs and into a social sidebar so that you can browse any number of internet pages while staying in touch socially on facebook, without having to switch tabs or even log in.

The future of social media and internet browsers

What does this mean for the future of internet browsers? It means that other social websites such as Twitter might follow something similar, allowing for easier integration between social networks and browsers. It could also form the focus of other websites who start looking for ways to tap into the Social API by building tools which will enhance their presence and communication on the internet.

In regard to privacy, Tom Lowenthal of Mozilla’s Privacy and Public Policy team says that, “Nothing will change in regard to the privacy of your data”. Although facebook is tracking what you do, it doesn’t mean that the site has access to any additional information present in your browser. It’s the same as whether you’d logged into the site without any of the new social features.

Another important element of Firefox 17 is that it marks the second “Extended Support Release” (ESR) which is a version of Firefox from Mozilla which is a community-led project. It allows organisations to benefit from the speed, flexibility and security of Firefox while getting the support they need. The ESR is designed for groups who deploy and maintain the desktop environment in large organisations like universities, schools, county and city governments as well as businesses.

Web developers will also find that it has many additional tools such as HTML editing, while the Style panel now allows developers to manipulate styles on a page. The new Style panel can do this same thing and work in real time with the document object model (DOM). It also gives greater access to rewriting any website copy as the live previews means you can quickly edit ideas without going into HTML templates or opening a text editor. 

By Chelsey Evans

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