Sunday, January 30, 2005


Firefox: after the hoopla

I really find it strange I can find no one who will say anything negative about Firefox. If Firefox is supposed to be a revolution in browsers, I'm pretty disappointed. Sorry, it just ain't that different from any other browsers, and I've tried a few.

Most of the new bells and whistles in Firefox I find useful in only special circumstances. Tabs might be useful when I need to move back and forth between different sites, but is no real advantage if I'm just hopping from one site to another without returning to previously visited sites. The RSS feed into the bookmarks is a cool concept, and an aid to help me scan news articles and deep link to them, but...I find I don't really want to deep link to news articles that much. I can't make out much from the short headline appearing in the bookmark feed, and I lose the larger context of the stories and how they are played out in the publication.

I really only have found one superlative feature: the realtime search within a page (though I don't like the placement of the search at the bottom of the window.)

Now, to commit heresy, I need to point out what is wrong with Firefox. First I don't like how it loads the page: it handles CSS with jerky fits, and that annoys me, who while focusing on a section of the page, see it jump around. I also don't like how there is no history button. "Go" is not a good label for where to find history, and the items listed are too few, requiring one to pick History off the Go menu, an extra step. The go forward and go back buttons are too small, and too close to the very small drop down arrows to go forward or backward to a specific page. I often click on the wrong part of the forward/backward cluster, and either get a listing of pages when I just want to go back a page, or vice versa.

Finally, I hate the included search window. In the default skin, it is too small to put much of anything, and one has to hit return to search, no possibility of using a mouse. The Google bar for IE does it right, providing space to enter text, a memory of what you entered, and the ability to switch between versions of Google. I find myself using IE just so I can use the Google bar.

I have to hope Firefox will improve in usefulness, and not just be the toy of developers wanting to add new whistles while core needs are neglected.

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