Mozilla introduced Firefox's new tab page at the end of January 2012. It basically was the company's take on Opera's Speed Dial page, displaying nine frequently visited pages with options to pin select pages to the interface to have them available at all times. The new tab page should provide Firefox users with an option to load popular pages faster.
Firefox users who are not interested in the page can either disable their browsing history in the program, change the new tab page url to another one, e.g. about:blank, or replace it with one of the many add-ons that have modified the new tab page for the last years.
Firefox users on slower low-end systems may have noticed that it may take time before the new tab page is displayed on their machine completely. The static HTML page needs to be parsed and rendered which is why you may see a noticeable delay. That's a problem considering that opening a new tab page is one of the most common operations in the browser.
Mozilla in Firefox 17 - that is the current Nightly version of the web browser - has implemented a change that should improve the performance when loading the new tab page in the browser. The solution preloads part of the data in the background so that it takes less time to render the new tab page.
A simple idea would be to preload the newtab page in the background and when gBrowser.addTab() is called move the newly loading docShell to the background and swap it with the preloaded docShell.
The user can now interact with the instantly loaded tab or just navigate away. When another tab is opened we just swap again because the previous tab should now be loaded in the background. If it's not loaded yet (which should almost never be the case) we can just not swap and let the new tab load normally.
The feature has landed in Firefox 17 in form of a preference that is disabled by default. To enable it load about:config in the browser, filter for browser.newtab.preload here and double-click the entry to set it to true to enable it. To disable it again at a later time, perform the same operation and make sure the value of the parameter is set to false in the end.
The second change is subtle: Mozilla removed the connecting indicator when a new tab page is loaded in the browser.
Currently, the text string “Connecting…” appears very briefly in the title of a newly-created tab before the text is replaced with “New Tab.” This text should not appear for two reasons. First, because it’s visible for too short a time to be read, and no text we display should be unreadable. Second, because it’s inaccurate, as New Tab uses cached rather data and requires no connection.
The tab should be blank before “New Tab” displays, and preferably “New Tab” would be displayed so fast as to appear instantaneous on a new tab.
It is automatically active in the latest Firefox 17 builds.
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