Category Archives: JavaScript

Firefox 46 released

It’s a major new revision for Firefox, so there are lots of cool new features and enhancements to discuss, so Mozilla actually announced the release on their main blog. Typical of Mozilla announcements, the version is never mentioned.

At least the announcement lists the changes: “improved look and feel for Linux users, a minor security improvement and additional updates for all Firefox users.” Not much there. Turning to the release notes, it looks like the minor security improvement is related to Javascript. Other changes include ten security fixes, and fixes for a few other bugs.

Since several security vulnerabilities are addressed in 46.0, anyone using Firefox should install the new version as soon as possible.

Big web performance boost expected with WebAssembly

Javascript is the universal programming language of the web. Almost all web sites use it to some extent, including this site (boot13). Although many users (including myself) use Noscript and similar systems to block Javascript when browsing unfamiliar sites, it’s difficult to use many popular sites without it. For example, I spend a lot of time using Google Analytics, and I’ve configured Noscript to allow JavaScript code to run on that site.

One of the problems with JavaScript is that it’s a scripted language. That means your web browser has to parse JavaScript code, one line at a time. This is a very slow process, and contributes to slow loading times on many major sites.

Various efforts to speed up JavaScript have come and gone, without much traction. Now, several major software developers have teamed up to try again. A new JavaScript assembler called WebAssembly (aka wasm) is under development by Mozilla, Microsoft, Google, and Apple. It’s too soon to know exactly when WebAssembly will start appearing in web browsers, but we’re hopeful that it will become the new standard when it does.