New features in Gecko 1.9

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Gecko is the rendering engine used in browsers such as Firefox, SeaMonkey, Camino, Epiphany, Netscape, and more.

The next version (1.9, currently available as a preview release) introduces a whole load of new features and fixes to the engine. In my last post I mentioned the speed increase thanks to the move to a new graphics layer and changes to rendering order, as well as support for the APNG format and fixes to the CSS to allow it to pass the Acid2 test. But there’s more. Here are some new features of interest to developers:

OS X users will be happy to hear that Cocoa is used for widgets instead of Carbon. For non Apple‐heads, that means that form objects will be rendered as shiny and round instead of grey and square:

Carbon and Cocoa buttons

The CSS2.1 inline‐block and inline‐table values for the display declaration have been implemented. I believe that Opera is the only browser to support the latter, while the former is more widespread — even IE7 supports it!

Potentially a big one, if I understand it correctly: the non‐standard script object is no longer supported. There seems to be some confusion over this, but my interpretation is that script tags without the required type attribute will no longer work; that is, no more:

<script language=“Javascript”></script>

Also slightly nebulous is the news that the engine now supports stylesheet switching as per the WHATWG Wep Apps 1.0 proposal. As far as I can see, this allows you to define a number of alternate stylesheets with the rel=“alternate stylesheet” attribute; I’m a little confused as this has been implemented in Firefox for a while, but maybe it means it will be part of the engine from now on.

Other new features include: XML documents rendered as they download (instead of after they’ve downloaded), a whole load of DOM and Javascript updates, lots more SVG support (although not as much as I’d like), and — as the voiceovers for multi‐CD collections have it — many, many more.

You can grab a copy of the Gecko 1.9 pre‐release preview here, although do bear in mind that this is alpha software, with all the risks inherent to that.

2 comments on
“New features in Gecko 1.9”

  1. IE7 doesn’t support display:inline-block. All it does is triggering hasLayout. If you apply it to a block it will still be block, for instance. Although if you apply it to inlines then they will be inline‐blockish.

    AIUI, the “Script” object is some internal object of sorts (I haven’t found any real documentation about it, only seen it being mentioned in passing in documentation) that is not necassary and causes security issues. So it was removed. It has nothing to do with the HTML “script” element.

    Presumably Gecko’s implementation of stylesheet switching didn’t exactly match the HTML5 spec before, but now it does.

  2. Ah, thanks for clearing that up. I’m still a little confused about the Script object change; it’s important enough to be mentioned in the release notes, but nobody seems to understand it!

    Peter Gasston [March 28th, 2007, 20:53]