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Anticipated Firefox 39 Released After Stability Issues Cause Delays

| by James Chesters Follow 2 Followers on Jul 08, 2015. Estimated reading time: 2 minutes |

Mozilla has released Firefox 39, after initial stability issues with the latest version.

Chad Weiner, director of product management at Mozilla, told InfoQ: "Our pre-release testing uncovered an unusually high number of stability issues caused by a third party application that we believed might impact a significant numbers of users."

Some members of the community missed the original unstable release, and enquired in Mozilla's support forum why 39 was past due. Users were told that a "widespread last minute startup crash" had been discovered, and that the release had been postponed until the issue was patched. A stable version was released a few days later.

The much-anticipated release brings with it support for CSS Scroll Snap Points, new sharing features, and improved dev tools.

Matthew Claypotch, in the Mozilla Hacks post Trainspotting: Firefox 39 writes that the team are "listening to developers on UserVoice, and using their feedback to make tools that are more powerful and easier to use." This includes enabling drag and drop for nodes in Inspector's markup view -- with developers now able to click and hold on an element to drag it where they would like it.

Another improvement in the latest release is CSS Scroll Snap Points. According to information supplied by the Mozilla Developer Network "The scroll-snap-points-x CSS property defines the horizontal positioning of snap points within the content of the scroll container they are applied to." In simpler terms, Claypotch describes this as letting web developers "instruct the browser to smoothly snap element scrolling to specific points along an axis."

For network requests from dedicated, shared and service workers, Firefox 39 has enabled the Fetch API. Fetch provides a generic definition of Request and Response objects, allowing them to be used where needed in the future, including service workers and Cache API. It is noted that Fetch is now generally available to web content, and the Cache and CacheStorage are now available behind a flag.

Away from developer tools, the release integrates Firefox Share into Firefox Hello, Mozilla's in-browser video chat tool. The subject of a Mozilla blog post earlier this week, the update allows users to share the link to a Hello conversation with any their integrated social media networks.

Another important feature new to the 39 release is the built-in Phishing and Malware Protection contained in Firefox. The protection works by by checking the sites that against a frequently-updated list of reported phishing and malware sites. When files are downloaded, Firefox checks their digital signature and compares them against its list of known safe publishers.

Privacy concerns about the feature were previously addressed by Sid Stamm, senior engineering manager of security and privacy at Mozilla, in the article Improving Malware Detection in Firefox.

Firefox 39 also resolves several critical security bugs, including vulnerabilities found through code inspection. The bug included "three uses of uninitialized memory, one poor validation leading to an exploitable crash, one read of unowned memory in zip files, and two buffer overflows."

Other critical bugs including Miscellaneous memory safety hazards (rv:39.0 / rv:31.8 / rv:38.1), were also fixed. Developers can read more about version 38 in the release notes.

Mozilla welcome newcomers who want to be part of the Firefox project, and there are many ways that InfoQ readers can contribute to Firefox. A full list of options is available on the Mozilla Developer Network where Mozilla also publish a number of How To guides

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