Tag Archives: firefox

Firefox 4: The Tabs Will Be on Top

It seems like Firefox 4, when it is finally released, will have its browser tabs above the URL bar. Google Chrome is probably the most known for this practice, though Apple did originally intend to have the same UI change in Safari 4. (Due to complaints during the beta period, Apple reverted the tabs to their previous position.)

Why is this so important? First of all, it’s different. So there will doubtlessly be complaints. Secondly, it fits with manila folder tab metaphor better. Alex Faaborg, a user experience designer at Mozilla, has a video explaining everything.

The developers are also hard at work optimizing the revamped browser for speed. Some improvements include “multithreaded HTML5 parsing, GPU-accelerated rendering, and a new JavaScript VM+JIT.” Hopefully UI snappiness and decreased launch times are part of the “half or more of the engineering effort on Firefox 4″ that is going toward performance improvements.

The release for Firefox 4 is tentatively scheduled for November 2010, though it’s certainly possible it could change.

The Safari Challenge

I happened across an interesting post by Chris Coyier recently: The Safari Challenge. Besides being a creative example of the “blogazine” concept, it sums-up an issue that has been bothering me lately. Should I be using Firefox or Safari?

I’ve traditionally been a Firefox guy. I like Firefox. I like the peeps at Mozilla, and they do great things. I also like Apple, and when I can, I try to use Apple products. So for an entire week, I decided I was going to suck it up and just try and make the switch to using Safari as my main web browser. No going back and forth, no half-assing it. All-or-nothing. Some people claim to be able to use different web browsers for different things. Not me, I can’t do that. I can’t even have more than one pair of shoes without getting confused.

I, too, have long been a Firefox user. I’ve liked the browser ever since it was first released back in 2004. It’s still my primary browser, even since becoming a full-time Mac user. There are several extensions that I depend on, such as the veritable Firebug.

But it just seems so slow. All of its major competitors are now so much faster than the browser that single-handedly put an end to Microsoft’s decade of browser domination. What went wrong? Why isn’t it being rectified?

Safari is a great browser, but I can’t give up functionality for the speed, however tempting it may be.

Chris’s title, The Safari Challenge, is more apt than he probably thought. That is the very challenge Mozilla faces: to catch up to the speed of Safari and Chrome. Hopefully it will be soon.

Change Firefox 3.6’s Tab Behavior

Firefox 3.6 was released at the end of last month, bringing with it speed and RAM usage improvements and the new TraceMonkey JavaScript engine. However, it also brought a small UI change that some people may not like. When opening opening a link in a new tab, Firefox now uses the Chrome/IE school of thought, inserting the tab beside the one you are currently viewing. The old behavior was for the tab to open on the far right of the stack.

Want the old tab behavior back? There’s a simple about:config fix.

Open a new tab (:P) and type about:config into the address bar. You should end up in the configuration key editor. Paste browser.tabs.insertRelatedAfterCurrent into the “Filter” field. This should narrow down the listing to a single item. Simply double-click the row to toggle the setting from “true” to “false.” You can then close the tab and go back to your browsing.

Is Firefox Losing its Focus?

Firefox is a great web browser, certainly the most extendable. In the beginning, one of Firefox’s strong points was how lightweight it was. It wasn’t full of extraneous features, it was pretty snappy. It did one thing, web browsing, and it did it well. But lately it has become rather heavy, especially in comparison to newcomers to the browser field like Google’s Chrome browser. It eats up a bit of RAM, takes awhile to start, and it just doesn’t feel as quick and nimble as Safari or Chrome.

I have to wonder, is Firefox losing its original focus? Is it time for a massive overhaul?

It has become apparent that the average user values startup time and UI responsiveness far more than extensions or other power features. Maybe it’s time that performance be given the spotlight once again, and extensibility given a back seat until the issue is sorted out.

My ideal browser isn’t Chrome, Opera, Safari, or even Camino; it’s a faster Firefox. I haven’t jumped ship because I would find it hard to get things done without certain extensions. I can’t see Chrome having similar extensions any time in the near future, and I’m not a fan of how Google has given Mac support a lower priority.

Edit: Just two days after I wrote this, Firefox 3.6 was released. Already, it’s a step in the right direction. The latest version uses significantly less RAM.

Tweetie Retweet URL Replacer

As you may know, my favorite desktop client is Tweetie for Mac. If you use Twitter through a desktop client (whether it’s Tweetie or some other), you probably wish you could click those green retweet buttons and have them open in your client instead of taking you to Twitter.com.

Now you can, at least, if you use Tweetie for Mac.

I whipped-up a quick Greasemonkey script, known as Tweetie Retweet URL Replacer, that rewrites any Tweetmeme button you come across to load the retweet into Tweetie.

Tweetie Retweet URL Replacer Greasemonkey Script

This works on the same principle as the bookmarklet that Atebits supplies on the Tweetie website.

At the present, the userscript only works with Tweetmeme buttons, but I may expand it to include other popular widgets in the future.

OpenDNS Feeling Lucky Fixer For Firefox

Do you use OpenDNS?

I have for awhile, since my ISP’s DNS servers can be kind of flaky sometimes. The one thing I don’t like about the service is how it hijacks mistyped domains and I’m Feeling Lucky searches that Firefox would usually redirect to the site I’m looking for, sending me to an OpenDNS search page with some ads on it. Sure, it helps support the service, but as a Firefox power user, the added time-waste is frustrating.

Luckily there’s a solution. The Feeling Lucky Fixer extension for Firefox restores the functionality to the browser, allowing you to simply type a website’s name (e.g. “imdb”) into your URL bar and wind up in the right place. Huzzah!

OpenDNS Guide

Mozilla Announces Firefox For iPhone

Firefox Icon on iPhone Home ScreenMozilla has announced that Firefox will be coming to the iPhone soon, this summer if there are no major delays.

The browser, dubbed “iFox” internally, is a fairly full-featured port of Firefox with a full implementation of the Gecko rendering engine and the TraceMonkey JavaScript processor. It is extensible via an add-on API similar to it’s desktop cousin, and it is bundled with an exclusive mobile version of Flash.

Apple has been working with Mozilla to bring the app to the platform in a way acceptable to both parties. It will land in the App Store as a free application.

P.S. April Fools!

Browser Extensions: A Call For Standardization

I use Firefox as my main browser, and have since it was released pretty much. Over that time I have become dependent on a variety of extensions. ColorZilla, Web Developer, Firebug, StumbleUpon, etc.. I use them daily, and a browser without them would feel…incomplete to me.

What if I wanted to switch to another browser, say Safari? The new Safari 4 Beta is pretty good. I couldn’t take those wonderful extensions with me. (Of course, I’m happy with Firefox…providing Mozilla can fix it’s slow launch time soon…)

Many browsers support extensions of some sort. Safari and Internet Explorer do now, following Firefox’s lead.

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How Much Longer Will IE Last?

Internet Explorer CSSInternet Explorer is notorious for it’s laughable support for W3C standards. Look around in the web design community and you’ll find that a lot of designers do not like the browser one bit, as a result of having to find workarounds so a page that will display in most other browsers will work in IE as well.

Security isn’t exactly the browser’s strongpoint either, as the public is becoming increasingly aware of.

Microsoft has been losing market share in the browser area for the past few years, as people move away from IE. Slowly but surely, IE’s userbase is decreasing, and other browsers are picking up the switchers. Internet Explorer has 43.6% market share as of February, down from the 54.7% early last year, or the 91.1% from early 2005.

Firefox is up to 46.4% market share now, while Chrome, Safari, and Opera collectively have roughly 7%. (Chrome has shown very fast growth considering its age.) The general public is becoming more aware of browing alternatives, and the security benefits of switching to them. More people are buying Macs too, which include Apple’s Safari browser instead of Internet Explorer. People are learning, and moving away from IE.

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Firefox Extension: The Web Developer Toolbar

Web Developer Toolbar is one of my favorite Firefox extensions. It makes design and development so much easier.

It can resize your browser window to a specified size (great for getting a rough idea of how a page will look at a lower resolution), check to see if your HTML, CSS, or RSS validate, easily disable JavaScript or CSS, make hidden elements visible, and much more. There are eleven menus full of useful tools. I don’t use half of them myself, because I forget they’re there…

One of my favorite features is Command+Shift+F (Ctrl+Shift+F on PC). It puts you into a DOM inspection mode where you can click an element on the page and get a variety of details, such as the element ID and class, the DOM path, and a multitude of CSS attributes.

If you do even a little bit of design or development, I guarantee you this add-on will make your life easier.

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