Software

Developers: These are Mozilla's Firefox changes that will affect you in 2018

Mozilla's roadmap of Firefox changes planned for 2018 features updates that will allow for remote debugging, W3C pointer events, shadow DOM, custom elements, and more.

Mozilla's Firefox roadmap for 2018 features numerous changes for consumers, focusing specifically on speed, personalization, improving the mobile experience, and eliminating intrusive web content.

The changes coming to Firefox aren't solely for consumer benefit, though: Developers can expect a wide array of enhancements to Firefox over the rest of 2018, mapped out all the way through Firefox 64, which is due for release in December.

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The list of changes developers need to know about is extensive. Mozilla said its plans for its web platform and tooling are focused on making significant improvements, which you can find more about below.

What developers can expect from Firefox in 2018

Mozilla has a lot planned for 2018. Here's what developers can expect, in chronological order:

  • W3C pointer events will be supported starting in Firefox 59, due out in late March.
  • CSS overscroll behavior, which allows developers to control what happens when a user reaches the boundary of a scrollable area, will also be added in Firefox 59.
  • ES6 Modules are coming in Firefox 60, due for release in May. ES6 allows the use of ECMA modules.
  • A new public key web authentication API will be out with Firefox 60.
  • CSS shapes will be able to be applied to floats in Firefox 61, set for release in June. This will allow inline content to wrap around CSS shapes instead of a float's boundary box.
  • Variable fonts, which allows a single font file to behave like multiple ones, will also be coming to Firefox 61.
  • Along with variable fonts comes new font tooling. This will be shipped in steps throughout the Firefox 61 to 63 releases.
  • A three-panel inspector will be added in Firefox 61. The panel can be detached from the main browser window, allowing developers to write and debug CSS at the same time.
  • The Shape Path Editor will add support for the Shape Outside CSS property in Firefox 61.
  • A service workers panel will be added in Firefox 61. Mozilla said it wants to provide "a solid Service Worker debugging experience that matches Chrome's."
  • Source map improvements scheduled for Firefox 61 are, according to Mozilla, "Going beyond what any browser currently provides [to] map variables and correctly step through original code."
  • Performance profiling tools that Mozilla said were a hit when Quantum Flow was released are being added to GeckoView in Firefox 61.
  • Framework support for Firefox is scheduled to be improved in Q3, though it isn't tied to a specific release. Of the update, Mozilla said it aims to "attract back modern web app developers into our tools by matching up how devtools represent frameworks to the mental models of developers."
  • Context-based devtools feature recommendations will also be included in an upcoming, unspecified Q3 release.
  • Firefox onboarding tools for Chrome developers are also scheduled for Q3.
  • Remote debugging tools are getting an overhaul sometime around October, between the release of Firefox 62 and 63. The new version will replace WebIDE with "a modern and well integrated flow that doesn't get in the way," though Mozilla doesn't specify what that means.
  • Shadow Document Object Module (DOM) APIs will be included in Firefox 63, set for release in October. Shadow DOM separates style, markup structure, and behavior in a separate hidden DOM to protect it from interference with other code.
  • Custom elements will be added in Firefox 63 as well. (Note: Both Shadow DOM and custom elements can be enabled now by toggling dom.webcomponents.enabled and dom.webcomponents.customelements.enabled in About:Config to True.)
  • A Flexbox inspector is being added in Firefox 64, which is scheduled for mid December. It will allow developers to highlight and debug the flexbox layout tool.

Also see

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Image: Firefox

About Brandon Vigliarolo

Brandon writes about apps and software for TechRepublic. He's an award-winning feature writer who previously worked as an IT professional and served as an MP in the US Army.

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