Keeping track of where Firefox is going is difficult given you have at least two horizons to keep your eyes on. Here we have a brief look at what to expect in Firefox 22, currently in beta and close to being rolled out.
The big news in Firefox 22 is either WebRTC or asm.js depending on your particular interests.
WebRTC isn't new but now it is deemed stable enough to be on by default.
What can you do with WebRTC?
Why is it big news that WebRTC is on by default?
If you write a script that makes use of WebRTC to, say, access the users video camera then the browser will ask if this is okay. However, if WebRTC isn't enabled it just doesn't work. So if WebRTC isn't enabled by default you are going to have to first tell the user they need to enable it and then get permission to use the camera. The more likely it is that WebRTC is present and functioning in a browser, the more likely it is that WebRTC apps will be used, become popular, and replace proprietary solutions such as Skype.
Now to the curiously named OdinMonkey and asm.js.
What can you do with asm.js?
Is asm.js fast enough?
It is good news that asm.js is in the beta and will soon be in the stable release but ... this is still just a Firefox feature. You can't expect asm.js to speed anything up on Chrome or IE.
There are also some minor but important new features in Firefox 22.
You can now change the playback rate of HTML5 media. You can manage Firefox social services in the Add-ons manager and the Mac OS X download progress bar has been improved. If you use WebGL, you will also be pleased to hear that it now renders faster because the Canvas update is asynchronous.
Also new is default support for CSS3 Flexbox, a new font inspector. The HTML5 data and time tags are now supported. There are also two new APIs - the Web Notification API which allows you to show notifications outside of the browser as if they were native OS notifications; and the clipboardData API.
The clipboardData API is big news for programmers wanting ways of getting data generated by a web app into a native app. For example, if you create an app that generates some graphics then you can now give the user the easy option of copy and pasting it into a desktop app. At the moment it isn't clear how compatible this is with the clipboard operations available in Chrome (22 on) and in IE.
Firefox 23 is already available in the Aurora channel and at the moment the new features look mostly to be more developer tools. Stay turned for more information.