(This is a quick translation of a post I wrote in French earlier today)

Firefox 4 Beta has just been released. It brings seed, a better UI tons on new things for extension developers (hmm, JetPack!) and Web developers.

In this post, I'll focus on the Web development part.

In my opinion, combining CSS3, new APIs (including WebGL) and HTML5 is enabling the Web as a development platform to make a huge leap forward. I have worked with the amazing Paul Rouget in order to have a video of his demos in order to share my excitement.

For those who have installed Firefox 4 Beta 2, a good PC with a decent discrete graphic card and have enabled Direct2D hardware acceleration, here are 3 spectacular demos:

  1. Video, CSS Transitions, @font-face and SVG filters
  2. Video, SVG Clip-path and CSS Transitions
  3. WebGL, video and Transforms

Paul Rouget during the demo movie

For those who are more in a hurry or want more details, please check the video and the article on Hacks.mozilla.org.

What you see on the screen is just a Web page, using standards that are being specified and implemented (HTML5, CSS3, SVG, WebGL, new APIs…). What I find fascinating is that by combining these technologies, one can do things that were deemed impossible even recently:

  • Native video with an Open and unencumbered coded (WebM)
  • Good fonts ( @font-face, WOFF)
  • Declarative Animations (using CSS3, and soon SVG/SMIL)
  • SVG Filters and Masks applied to HTML elements (Gaussian blur effect, a B&W filter on videos, a round-shaped video
  • 3D (the WebM video used at the end as a texture to a 3D rotating cube just floored me)
  • WebSockets, for a persistent bi-di communication between the server and the browser, used in this case to control remotely the presentation from an Android phone running a pre-Alpha version of Firefox for Android.
  • Drag & Drop, Indexed DB and local storage, the File API, Geolocation and device orientation and all the tech features I won't mention.

Of course, the Open Web still has to compete with proprietary approaches such as monopolistic AppStores or proprietary plug-ins. But it never has been has powerful and innovative as it is now, and that's what is making me excited!