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An 18-Year-Old Firefox Bug Has Been Fixed by Mozilla

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An 18-Year-Old Firefox Bug Has Been Fixed by Mozilla-GadgetAny

As more significant issues arise with procrastination sets in, we all have a to-do list with tasks that have been there for too long. Even Mozilla, which just patched a Firefox issue that had been reported for the first time 18 years prior, can attest to this.

A problem with how Firefox presented text containing the::first-letter CSS pseudo-element was detailed in Bug 290125, which was initially reported on April 12, 2005, just a few days before Firefox 1.0.3 was made available. According to the author, Gecko ignores any declared line height and takes the line height of the parent box into consideration when floating left a:first-letter (to create a drop cap). Opera 7.5+ and Safari 1.0+ both handle this properly.

According to Mozilla developer Jonathan Kew, “In the past, Gecko [Firefox] implemented the behavior allowed by CSS2 whereby a floated::first-letter is “boxed” tightly around the glyph shape, rather than using constant font-ascent and -descent metrics that may leave a lot of blank space depending on whether the character has any ascender/descender or not. But neither webkit [Safari] nor blink [Chrome] carry out this function, which causes webcompat issues when sites are built expecting their behavior.

Firefox Bug
philippe / Bugzilla

Even though there are some reported Firefox issues that are even older, such as one that involves floating CSS components and dates back to August 1999, it’s excellent (and mildly funny) to see Mozilla fix a bug that is so old that it technically qualifies to vote in the US.

The original issue was that Firefox for Mac handled line heights differently than Firefox for other platforms, however this was resolved in time for Firefox 3.0 in 2007. The problem was then reopened in 2014 after it was determined during a meeting of the CSS Working Group that Firefox’s unique handling of line heights did not comply with the CSS specifications and was leading to compatibility issues. In contrast to other browsers, it caused some websites, like The Verge and The Guardian, with huge first letters in blocks of text to render erroneously in Firefox.

The problem was still listed as low priority, therefore development moved slowly until it was ultimately marked as repaired on December 20, 2022. The new code should be present in Firefox 110, which is scheduled to become universally available in February 2023.

Jozeph P

By Jozeph P

Journalism explorer, tech Enthusiast. Love to read and write.

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