Mozilla is working on a new form autofill system in the Firefox web browser that will replace the current system eventually.
Form autofill is a handy feature, as it allows users of the browser to fill out form fields automatically. The current implementation uses frecency (frequency + recency) for that, and has been part of the browser since 2009.
Firefox displays suggestions when you type in a form field. It displays a sorted list of options for the field, and filters them once you start typing.
The new form autofill that will launch later this year in Firefox changes this mechanic. Basically, what it does is use profiles to fill out all matching fields on the form immediately, instead of just a single field.
Instead of having to fill out each field of the form individually, you’d simply pick one of the available profiles to fill out all fields at once.
Note: The feature landed in Nightly. It is a work in progress, and things may change. You can give it a try right now if you run Nightly, but some things won’t work properly right now.
Setting up the new Form Autofill in Firefox
The new Form Autofill requires that you set up at least one profile in Firefox. The browser picks those up automatically, and you can select them on a form by form basis if you have added multiple profiles to the browser.
Step 1: Open the Privacy options
Load about:preferences#privacy in the Firefox address bar. This opens the privacy preferences of the browser. Locate the “forms & passwords” section on the page.
Make sure that “enable profile autofill” is enabled. Click on saved profiles to manage the profiles.
Step 2: Add or edit profiles
Firefox lists all profiles that exist on the page that opens. You can add, remove or edit profiles here. Click on the add button to create a new profile in the Firefox web browser.
Step 3: Fill out profile information
The next page lists the fields that are currently available for profiles. You can fill out some or all of them.
Some restrictions apply currently. Only the United States is supported under Country for instance, some fields are missing, and data transformations for some types are not supported either.
Click on the save button once you are done. Firefox takes you back to the list of available profiles. You should see the new profile listed there, and may click on edit at any time to change data, or remove to delete it completely.
Mozilla notes that the new autofill functionality won’t work on most sites right now, as it is currently limited to forms that support the @autocomplete attribute on elements. This will change soon when heuristics are added to determine the right field types when @autocomplete is not supported.
Mozilla plans to ship improvements soon. These include, among others, options to save data to profiles when you fill out forms, a preview of all data when you highlight a profile, and support for select dropdown fields.
I’m looking forward to this new autofill functionality of the Firefox web browser. I wish Mozilla would add support for custom fields as well, to make the system even more flexible than it is right now.
You can follow development on the official Form Autofill Wiki page on the Mozilla website.
Now You: do you use form autofill regularly, at all?