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Firefox Thoughts

weather: mostly clear
outside: 7.5°C
mood: nerdy

From chatting with PJ's Little Brother, I realized that I never weighed in with an opinion on Firefox here. Not that anyone cares, but... y'know... you'd think that I, of all people, would have something to say about it.

I tried Firefox for a few days and that was about as long as I could stand it. I think it could be a good browser when it grows up, but I'm going back to Mozilla for the time being.

There was no appreciable decrease in the memory usage from the Mozilla browser-only install on both my machines, home and work. This is my biggest beef with Mozilla. I've seen it go up to 100M+. When it was still "Phoenix", Firefox was actually far worse than Mozilla. I'm not sure if it was a whole order of magnitude, but it was enough that even I was disgusted. But now, it's merely just-as-yucky, which doesn't impress me either.

I have a Mozilla custom keyword 'lj' that maps to http://www.livejournal.com/~%s. To go to a journal, I type lj <username> in the address bar. Because I know how the views are named in LJ, I can also go lj <username>/friends?show=P. This jumps to anyone's Friends view. If I'm in the Friend List, my entries will show up there. I do this often to check my formatting and colours in other peoples' layouts. I do weird things with my entries sometimes and I casually care that it doesn't look totally whacky-dooky to you.

Firefox automatically converts to the URL-encoded format for keyword substitution strings, so what I type gets expanded to http://www.livejournal.com/~<username>%2Ffriends%3Fshow%3DP which, of course, 404s on me.

Type about:config in the Address bar.      *SWOON*

Anyway, I've played with the network.standard-url.encode-utf8 and network.standard-url.escape-utf8 settings to no avail. It always converts all characters in the %s substituted string that are outside of A-Z, a-z, 0-9 ranges. Mozilla only converts spaces and leaves other ASCII-range characters intact.

There are no real bookmark groups in Firefox. They're implemented as just folders that you right-click on and move down to "Open in Tabs". This is option is at the bottom of an arbitrary length menu, which means I can't really rely on muscle memory.

In Mozilla, I can single left-click on the bookmark group and they'll all open in separate tabs.

I go by muscle memory a lot and the difference in context menu item order for the Tabs is pissing me off. The "Close Other Tabs" in Firefox is where the "Reload All Tabs" option is in Mozilla. I keep closing all tabs except the current one when I want to reload them all. And there are other things that are in different places too and I keep poking the wrong thing.

It doesn't support an explicitly linked shortcut icon in the stylesheet. It's pointing at the shortcut icon for the root of the domain and not at the one referenced in the stylesheet.

And — yes, this is almightily important to me — there's still only partial support for Devanāgarī ligatures in Sanskrit.



( 30 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 25th, 2005 05:25 am (UTC)
I have the same custom keyword, and used to be able to do lj username/info. But because I didn't extensively use any versions of Firefox before 1.0 PR, I didn't catch that it was a Firefox quirk. I finally made a new keyword to pull up the info last week, despite switching to Firefox as my primary browser a while ago.

One thing I didn't like about bookmark groups in Mozilla suite was that you couldn't make a folder into one.

Now that you mention it, I'm trying without avail to remember what pushed me from Mozilla to Firefox.

What are you reading in Sanskrit?
Mar. 25th, 2005 05:41 am (UTC)
One thing I didn't like about bookmark groups in Mozilla suite was that you couldn't make a folder into one.

From a software perspective, I'm thinking you wouldn't want to do that. You can have an arbitrary depth of nested folders, but you can't have nested bookmark groups. Every time someone wants to make a folder into a group, you'd have to check it for subfolders... and then what? flatten the tree? just not allow it?

You could bookmark any two random tabs to make a group, then in the bookmark browser, drag all of them in.

I'm trying without avail to remember what pushed me from Mozilla to Firefox.

Probably the viral marketing aspect of it all =D

What are you reading in Sanskrit?

Absolutely nothing. I can't read Sanskrit at all, but it's an interesting visualization feature to me as a QA person. =D
(no subject) - compscilin - Mar. 25th, 2005 06:14 am (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 25th, 2005 05:28 am (UTC)
I don't think the "when it grows up" tag is necessarily fair - after all, a lot of the things you don't like aren't necessarily problems, they're just UI differences between Moz-proper and Firefox. (For instance, the open in tabs thing.) Personally, I like the way the folders thing works.

I tried the url encoding issue you mentioned, and yeah, you're right. I suspect it's the way the %s variable is handled, and I'm willing to bet there's some way to fix it (perhaps something other than %s - maybe there's an un-escaped version). Of course, the easy way to get around it (which also takes less typing!) is to make a second keyword - say, ljf, so you could just do "ljf " to do the same thing with fewer keystrokes. It's an imperfect solution, but works ok.

On the memory thing: yep, Firefox still has a pretty heavy footprint. My personal experience is that it's smaller than Moz's, but I also haven't used Moz for a few versions. (Moz may have since improved, but back when it was still Phoenix, it ran a lot faster than then-Moz.)

On the style-sheets: I haven't tested it, but I believe it - sounds like a genuine bug. Wonder if it's been reported.

About the whosit-whatsits in Sanskrit: um. Ok. Maybe they'll finish it soon...?

I'm a little surprised by how many differences there were in functionality that you mentioned - Firefox is supposed to be built from the same basic code-base, so you'd think that the basic functionality would remain the same. I honestly thought it was just the Moz web rendering engine (I was going to say html rendering engine, but it's so much more than html nowadays...) with the other apps stripped out and a new gui front-end. You're shaking my world-view down to its very foundation, damnit!
Mar. 25th, 2005 05:54 am (UTC)
I suspect it's the way the %s variable is handled, and I'm willing to bet there's some way to fix it (perhaps something other than %s - maybe there's an un-escaped version).

I'm hoping they don't decide that's a bug and fix it in Mozilla =P


But without the %s, I don't get the option to put in the username at runtime...

You're shaking my world-view down to its very foundation, damnit!

Sorry... =P It's the QA in me =D =D =D
(no subject) - ntang - Mar. 25th, 2005 05:58 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - bride - Mar. 25th, 2005 06:00 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ntang - Mar. 25th, 2005 06:00 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - bride - Mar. 25th, 2005 06:02 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ntang - Mar. 25th, 2005 05:59 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - bride - Mar. 25th, 2005 06:01 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ntang - Mar. 25th, 2005 06:03 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - bride - Mar. 25th, 2005 06:12 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - compscilin - Mar. 25th, 2005 06:05 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kalev - Mar. 25th, 2005 04:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - bride - Mar. 25th, 2005 10:05 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kalev - Mar. 29th, 2005 07:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - bride - Mar. 29th, 2005 08:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 25th, 2005 05:59 am (UTC)
Re: ljf - I says:
But without the %s, I don't get the option to put in the username at runtime...

My brain fart. I understand what you're saying, now. Yeah, that would work =)
Mar. 25th, 2005 06:24 am (UTC)
I hated switching from mozilla to firefox. What pushed me over the edge was that there were a lot of extensions that would only install in firefox, and firefox just had better extension support. The usefulness of adblock, targetalert, textlinks, imagenuke, bugmenot, etc. just overpowered my attachments to the mozilla gui. I've even gotten used to typing 'g search query' [enter] rather than 'search query' [down] [enter] into the location bar.
Mar. 25th, 2005 06:27 am (UTC)
Re: better extension support

Yeah, I can see that. =)
Mar. 25th, 2005 07:51 am (UTC)
Tangential to the Sanskrit thing:

Can somebody please, please hold a gun to the head of every computer user in the world and make them use Unicode? Please? I get a pretty large amount of email in Chinese, and 90% of the time, at least, it's in either Big5 or GB, meaning that I have to manually change the message encoding settings. Web browsers seem to be pretty good at auto-guessing, but e-mail clients (well - Thunderbird, which I'm quite fond of) just doesn't try at all. Also, even after I change a message's encoding, it's not remembered, so the subject line still shows up as gibberish in the folder display pane.

This may be a job for Superman.
Mar. 25th, 2005 07:56 am (UTC)
*sigh* I hear ya.

That's why I tend to use web mail services... except Hotmail which I've learned how to use to convert Chinese characters back and forth between different encodings =D
Mar. 25th, 2005 12:33 pm (UTC)
After a brief period of being enamored with Firefox, I went back to Opera, my favourite browser for many years (I've even bought the license :) Here's why (although the experience might be different on other platforms / in other environments, mine is Linux Gentoo + KDE)

1. Opera is quite faster. I've read that it's faster with back/forward because it stores the fully-rendered pages in memory, as opposed to Mozilla/FF which stores only the html and has to render the page each time. But Opera is faster in any situation. Even switching between tabs and using preferences menus ! which can be quite sluggish in FF (somewhat better in Mozilla, maybe I just have too many FF extensions...)

2. There are little differences all over the user interface - most notably, there's an option in Opera to switch between the site-defined styles/colors/fonts and the user-defined ones, instantly and with one click. There are FF extensions for this, but everything is switched separately (colors, styles and fonts) and it's not instant, you have to click reload to activate each change. I use this function A LOT, so it makes a really big difference to me. Similarly, little differences in the rendering style, for example, a page with images toggled off looks much neater in Opera because it doesn't try to replace the images with the empty spaces of the same size + an ugly broken icon (such a waste of page space !) but instead shows little rectangles with the alt text.

3. FF extensions can conflict with each other, and often have to be reinstalled after the FF upgrade, or lose their functionality. (I expect it to be the same with Mozilla, because it's a necessary evil of the extension development model). No problem with Opera because the development is centralised. The only Opera "extension" I use is Tobb's theatre toolbar setup and theme, and it's very well supported and upgradable, there's always an appropriate version for each version of Opera.

4. FF extensions can't be copied from one computer to another in order to instantly have the same configuration of the browser on another computer. I don't know if it happens because the extensions are tied to a specific computer or because the browser versions on all my computers are slightly different. The fact is I can do it easily with Opera.

5. Opera is more stable (crashes less often, doesn't hang as FF occasionally does)

6. Last but not least, Opera has a kick-ass cat theme (Tobbs' theater cat eye - the buttons are big yellow-and-green cat eyes on black background, which expand their irises on mouseover) which doesn't exist in Moz/FF (no cat themes for Mozilla ? there's a nice cat theme for FF, but it's nothing close to cat-eyes...)

Anyway I occasionally use Moz/FF for the following reasons:

1. Sometimes I really want some of the extensions, especially the adblock and the one-click proxy switcher.

2. The plugins still work better in Moz/FF, for example there are some Flash games which do not work at all in Opera or are buggy, while working perfectly in Mozilla (I use Flash only for games). There are some Javascript-based sites which work in Moz/FF do not work in Opera or do not have full functionality (for example Gmail). One kind of site (Netcache appliance administration web interface, the machines we use as proxy servers) works only in Mozilla, but neither Firefox nor Opera.

3. Sometimes I just want a different browsing experience / environment, it's vitally important to try new things and habits to avoid getting "stuck".

Erm... sorry for being kinda offtopic, but heck, I just like Opera too much :) even that it's not entirely politically correct (not open source :(

oh and if you do sometimes look at my friendspage, sometimes it's SCREWED because of somebody's quiz results ! like right now... (need 5 more new entries for the offending entry to scroll away), my layout (Opal) is too sensitive to the unbalanced table tags :(

Mar. 25th, 2005 07:00 pm (UTC)
Everything cat_irix said, plus Opera has:

  • one keyboard character mapped to "Back" and "Forward" (Firefox has two, so you have to take your hand off the mouse),

  • one keyboard character mapped to increase/decrease font size,

  • right-menu choice to clone a page (including its history),

  • a go to URL function (highlight anything that looks vaguely like a URL, right click, go there),

  • and it opens new pages in a tab (not window) by default.

(no subject) - cat_irix - Mar. 25th, 2005 09:51 pm (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 25th, 2005 09:59 pm (UTC)
I tend to try to use my browser as vanilla as possible. All I have are my bookmarks.html and hostperm.1 for cookie and image site blocking. I don't have any extensions at all. If I rely on too much customization, I feel powerless when I use someone else's machine or a new machine that has nothing. =P

I might try Opera again because Moz's memory usage is starting to really bother me.

I always have my Task Manager displayed in my system tray to watch the CPU usage (I'm all control-freak like that). Sometimes, I'll be reading and I'll notice my Task Manager system tray icon thing shoot up to 100% for no bloody reason. I open TaskMan to look and Mozilla is at 99% CPU.

The last time I uninstalled Opera was either because it kept crashing on me or it didn't have a nice tiny-icon theme/skin. I hate humongous buttons and icons that take up too much real estate at the top. I use the Pinball theme. Everything is teeny and stays out of my way =)

But I see some really cool minimalist skins now, so I might try 7.5... Thanks! =)
Mar. 25th, 2005 02:57 pm (UTC)
I don't have a lot of super geeky stuff to add, but I just started using Mike's UNIX laptop and it has Firefox. It's slower than any Windows program that I've ever used. I've dubbed it the 'molasses browser'. It makes me miss explorer.
Apr. 8th, 2005 10:08 pm (UTC)
yay. =)
yay, I made your journal! =) ... albeit it is a super geeky entry, but nonetheless... sweeeet. ;) -allen
Apr. 9th, 2005 12:34 am (UTC)
Re: yay. =)
Haha =)
( 30 comments — Leave a comment )


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